--by R. David Reynolds

Billy Graham has said, “Salvation is free, but discipleship costs everything we have” [--Edythe Draper, Drapers Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992)]. In our text this morning Jesus confronts us with what it will cost anyone who wants to be His disciple. It will cost such a Christian everything he has. Discipleship is the theme in Mark 8:34-38. This is evident in Jesus command, “Follow me” in verse 34. The term “Follow” in the New Testament is reserved for the subject of Discipleship, and it implies total commitment on the part of the disciple to Jesus as Lord. “General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, was asked the secret of his amazing Christian life. Booth answered, ‘I told the Lord that He could have all that there is of William Booth” [--James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1988), 98.]. To be His Disciple I must: “Deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Him. As Billy Graham says, “It costs me everything I have.”
If I am a Disciple of Jesus, He literally becomes my way of Life, my rule of conduct. Every action and every decision I make is made in the light of “WWJD,” What would Jesus do. As Jesus led a life of Self-denial; so as His disciple I must “deny myself.” Self-denial means I submit everything I am to His control: all my pleasures, all my interests, all my works, all my desires. I hold no area of my life back from Him and His control. No one else can take this step for me; it is a choice I must make on my own free will; one I feely choose to undertake.
Self-denial is not the denial of things. Warren W. Wiersbe in A Time To Be Renewed explains it so well: “To deny self does not mean to deny things. It means to give yourself wholly to Christ and share in His shame and death. To take up a cross does not mean to carry burdens or have problems. I once met a lady who told me her asthma was the cross she had to bear! To take up the cross means to identify with Christ in His rejection, shame, suffering, and death” [--Warren W. Wiersbe in A Time To Be Renewed. Christianity Today, Vol. 32, no. 5.].
Oswald Chambers in the September 13th devotional in My Utmost for His Highest explains self-denial as “Surrender for Devotion”: “The surrender here is of my self to Jesus, with His rest at the heart of my being. He says, ‘If you want to be My disciple, you must give up your right to yourself to Me.’ And once this is done, the remainder of your life will exhibit nothing but the evidence of this surrender, and you never need to be concerned again with what the future may hold for you. Whatever you circumstances may be, Jesus is totally sufficient” [--James Reimann, ed., My Utmost for His Highest: An Updated Edition in Today’s Language (Grand Rapids: Discovery House Publishers, 1992), September 13th.]
Self-denial is submission of my