Deny Self? Did Jesus really say that? It doesn’t fit in today’s world.
Is it just me or does it seem like the self culture has take over?
Just a quick search of any of these terms brings up thousands of ways that you can improve, better, love, and glorify yourself. It is in complete opposition to the teachings of the Bible:
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
Do nothing from selfish-ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)
The Danger of Self Being in Control
To examine one self is not always bad. The scriptures encourage us to search our hearts for sin, to want to understand how God gifted us to serve him, and to improve ourselves based on His Word. And of course, taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually is critical to us being able to give proper attention to the little ones that we are entrusted.
However, it seems the culture of today encourages us to turn inward to our own power, needs, and desires, and then set out on a self-reliant mission. It is then that Christ is an afterthought and self is ruling the roost. Oh, we may pray but only asking Him to bless what we have already been determined to do.
The danger is that we decide we need less of Christ’s rule and the Holy Spirit’s power. We decide we can do it on our own and we start to focus on selfish ambition over God’s will. Let’s examine if we are doing what we need to deny self and take up our cross.
Signs we may be letting the self culture take over:
- We are more concerned with our self-image than our Christian impact.
- We begin secretly “competing” with others.
- We promote self waaaay toooo much.
- We need the approval of others.
- We feel insecure and anxious.
Some good questions to ask:
- Where is most of my time spent?
- What do I think on most of the time?
- Where does most of my money go?
- How have I had an impact on others this week?
- How is God being glorified in my life?
Can I just say that social media has not helped any of this. But, it can be a great measure tool to see if any of these signs fit us. Are we posting too many selfies, too much self-promotion? Are we jealous of others successes, followers, likes, attention, etc? Do we get disappointed to not get the interaction or results we desired?
Deny Self. Enthrone Christ.
This is the answer! Christ has to remain seated on the the throne! We cannot for a minute let our guard down and think that being prideful, doing it on our own, or being the ruler of our own heart and mind is going to lead to anything but disaster. Romans 8:7-8 tells us, “the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God…it cannot please God.”
So, then how do we dethrone self? Well , good thing for us that God already knew that we have a sin problem that defaults to self being in control. So, he gives us wonderful guidance in His word.
- Confess your sin of putting self first. (See also: How to Keep a Clean Heart)
- Psalm 32:5 I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.”And you forgave the guilt of my sin.
- Realize that we are in a Spiritual battle that requires a spiritual fight.
- Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms.”
- Pray constantly.
- Colossians 4:2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
- Meditate on the word of God.
- Joshua 1:8 “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
- Serve others.
- 1 Peter 4:10. Every believer has received grace gifts, so use them to serve one another as faithful stewards of the multi-colored tapestry of God’s grace.
- Give generously.
- Proverbs 11:24-25 One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.
Importance of Christ in Control
I just want to wrap up speaking to the importance of recognizing the self culture and combating it with the servant culture of Christ. We are responsible for those we have influence on, including our little ones, so the more we show them a woman who puts Christ first and others above ourselves, the more we are teaching them how to humbly imitate our Lord.
We also have the opportunity to set ourselves apart from the world to be a testimony to Jesus. We do this when we show others some one who is more concerned with glorifying God and making sure they feel and understand His love, than with proving, promoting, or putting self first! Dethrone (deny) Self. Enthrone Christ!
Let’s take a cue from Jesus on humility and put God first and self second! Philippians 2: 5-8 says,” Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (See also: Live Like Jesus)
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