“Deny Yourself”, a Harsh or a Compassionate Demand?

Seemingly, Luke 9:23&24 are harsh words, “Then Jesus said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?”  Let’s look at these verses from the back to the front. 

“Gain(ing) the whole world” seems awesome to us…right?  You may highlight the memorial ceremony of Queen Elizabeth II, “Global recognition with such pomp and reverence.  Who wouldn’t want to have that level of status!?” No disrespect to the former Queen and the good deeds that she performed during her life, but 1 John 5:19 paints another story, “the whole world (and its system) is under the control of the evil one.”  Here’s the deal.  She died at 96…nothing in this world is permanent.  Behind the doors where she lived, there has been a “royal family” full of strife, divorce, and hypocrisy in a world of hatred, fear, distrust, anger, selfishness, and narcissism…man hating and killing man for their own glory. Why is this? The devil dominates this world with a goal “to steal, kill and destroy” John 10:10.

Recognizing the personal anxiety, confusion, and strife that we constantly experience in our crazy, messy, egotistical world, Jesus demands us in the verses above to deny (yourself) and take up your cross daily and follow me.”  His words seem to be so harsh and unfair! What an audacious request! But is it?  On the surface, these words seem incredibly unjust.  Actually, they are compassionate, insightful words.  Jesus is not saying for us deny things to ourselves.  He is telling is to die to self and live for Him.  Christ is crying out to us to deliver us from this world with its hollow agenda.  Wholeheartedly, follow Him as Lord (“lose your life for me that it will be saved). His desire for each of us is to live a life of permanence, peace, purpose, love, and unselfishness focused on Jesus.

When you bottom line the vast differences between the world in the domain of the devil versus eternal life in the kingdom of God, it becomes crystal clear why Jesus is so demanding.  Let’s look at the contrast:

Galatians 5:19-21 lists for us the things found in this world, The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.”  Ugly but so true!

Now, look at Galatians 5:22&23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.”  Life in the fullness of the Spirit.

The contrasts between what this world offers, and the “fruit” delivered by the Holy Spirit are worlds apart!  The devil is such a master deceiver!  When Jesus says for us to “deny ourselves, and take up His cross daily,” please realize that He is enabling and guiding us towards eternal life in the sphere of His love delivering us out of this temporary world of sin.

1 John 4:9, This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

4 thoughts on ““Deny Yourself”, a Harsh or a Compassionate Demand?”

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