Summary: An in depth study of the demands of true discipleship.
"Three Laws of the Discipleship"
Pt. 1 -- Self Denial
Introduction: As I begin today's message let me say that the definition of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ has changed radically from what the Savior spoke of in this section of Matthew's Gospel. In this chapter it is easy to see that even the disciples who were intimately acquainted with the Master had a very superficial view of what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. They were wrong in their concept of His office as the Messiah and this misconception led them to make statements that the Lord knew had no real depth of commitment. Peter in particular was ready to "die" for the Lord but instead he "denied" the Lord on at least three occasions. Within the space of just a few verses the Lord turns from commendation to condemnation. Like many Peter knew the right doctrine and made the right declaration but because of the lack of real understanding of the Lord's mission he went from "rock" to "rebuke!" This man who in one moment had heard the gracious word from the Master's lips became a "mouthpiece" from hell! Jesus shakes the horror of this moment like Paul "shook of the serpent in the fire" and proceeds to clarify what it means to be His true disciple.
Many of you are here this morning and you can probably articulate what you think it means to be a disciple of Jesus but the only definition that really counts is what Jesus himself says about the subject. Over the next three weeks we are going to make an in-depth study into the subject of discipleship. Notice that Jesus begins His teaching with "...if any man will come after me..." that is, be a disciple and follower of him, it being usual for the master to go before, and the disciple to follow after him: now let it be who it will, rich or poor, learned or unlearned, young or old, male or female, that have any inclination and desire, or have took up a resolution in the strength of grace, to be a disciple of Christ. John Gill
Today we will examine the first aspect of the Lord's teaching about true discipleship and His kingdom found in the phrase, "...let him deny himself..." What does this mean? Listen to the words of John Gill:
"...let him deny sinful self, ungodliness, and worldly lusts; and part with them, and his former sinful companions, which were as a part of himself: let him deny righteous self, and renounce all his own works of righteousness, in the business of justification and salvation; let him deny himself the pleasures and profits of this world, when in competition with Christ; let him drop and banish all his notions and expectations of an earthly kingdom, and worldly grandeur, and think of nothing but reproach, persecution, and death, for the sake of his Lord and Master." John Gill
How then do we deny self-denial...?
I. Surrender of self to Christ v. 25
a. We follow the pattern of surrender
The pattern for surrender is Jesus himself. In the garden when in the agony of prayer our Lord prays a prayer that indicates His total yieldedness to God's will when He prays, "...Father, not my will but thy will be done..." and in Philippians 2:5-8 Paul writes:
Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
b. We focus on the paradox of surrender
There is no doubt that the reason that many do not understand the biblical principle of discipleship is because it is fundamentally a paradox. The paradox of surrender is that if we seek to preserve our life we will ultimately lose.
C. S. Lewis said: "Don't let your happiness (life) depend on something that you may lose"
c. We find power of surrender
The opposite is also true. To win we must lose, to live we must die, to be conquerors we must conquer ourselves. Jesus says that "...whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it..." Notice that Jesus does not imply that all those who "...lose their life..." will find it. There is a qualifier. It is a life lost "for His sake..." What do we find? We find a purpose for living that satisfies our soul. We find a power for living that is life changing. We find a presence Who is with us in every walk of life. We find a promise of life everlasting. We find a possession that no moth or rust can corrupt, nor can thieves break through and steal, and we find place of eternal, everlasting bliss in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ himself!