Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Today at study we looked at Jesus' teaching in Luke 9:23: " If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him first deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me." I thought that I would take a look at the four instructions in this verse over the next week, to try to drive home just exactly what it is Jesus has put before us.
The first instruction is to "deny yourself." Jesus is not recommending a monastic lifestyle here. He's not saying that owning new things is wrong, and He's not telling you to pass on dessert. The concept of self denial starts with the word "self."
What makes up humans? Beyond flesh and bones, we have a sin nature that tends to rule the roost, unless we place our faith in Jesus Christ. We must understand and even accept that our flesh desires life without God. God represents rules and regulations and we naturally believe we know more than God, we don't need God and we definitely don't want to submit to God.
You all know people who live like that. So why do you submit yourself to God and His word? Because of the grace of God in your life. He has breathed life into your dead body and soul, given you understanding by taking the blinders off your eyes and called you into a new and perfect relationship with Him through the blood of His Son.
But the flesh still battles the new nature, and that's when self denial takes place. When you know what God says but don't want to do it His way, that's the place when you are called to deny yourself. This life is no longer all about you, but when you give the lordship of your life to Jesus, it becomes all about Him.
Few questions for you:
*Why is it so hard to love your neighbor as you love yourself? (They're not overly lovable people...)
*Why is it so difficult to submit to your husband? (He's wrong most of the time and has he really earned your respect?)
*Why do you have to go to church? (It's full of hypocrites anyway...)
*Does the Bible really make a difference in my life? (Most of it seems like gibberish to me...)
*Why is it so hard to be patient with your wife? (Heaven knows she's not the most logical person who ever walked the earth...)
*Do I really have to give money to the church? (There's barely enough to pay my own bills and others can foot the bill for a while...)
And the list goes on and on. There are basic life instructions in God's Word that we excuse-away out of our lives because we are not willing to deny ourselves and do it God's way. We think that our way is sometimes better than His way which pushes Him off the throne of our life and puts us right exactly where our sin nature wants us - ruling and reigning through our sin-encrusted sense of right and wrong.
So Jesus starts with saying that the Christian life is first a call to self denial. This goes against everything the world holds dear and so, friends, be prepared to find this particular task a struggle. Our flesh hates it and the world rejects it so we have an uphill battle putting this instruction into practice.
Today, work on self-denial. But it doesn't stop there...there's more...