Summary: Jesus says to 'deny ourselves' if we want to follow after Him. Have you ever wondered just what He meant by that command? We live in a society that does not want to deny ANYTHING, but yet if it profits us we will deny almost everything...
Date Written: October 21, 2010
Date Preached: October 24, 2010
Where Preached: Oak Park Baptist Church (AM)
Series Title: Reaching Our Community – TRUE Fellowship – Sermon 4
Sermon Title: Denial – The ACT of TRUE fellowship
Sermon Text: Matthew 16:24-26 [ESV]
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
We live in a society today that teaches us that NOTHING is out of our grasp, and that we should NEVER say that we can’t have something or deny ourselves any pleasure or treat!
We see this in the commercials we watch on TV and in advertisements for vacation resorts… we even see it in Walmart commercials… it goes something like this… “Go ahead! Buy it! YOU DESERVE IT!” In fact, I would say that true denial of self wants or self perceived needs is one of the most hated things in our society today!
However, on the other hand there are many in this world that are willing to deny themselves anything…if it means that they can look better, lose weight, climb higher, achieve position and power… in other words if it benefits them, its ok for them to deny themselves of things.
However for the most part, denial of self is something we don’t talk about too much, we don’t WANT to talk about and we avoid like the plague. After all, who wants to deny themselves of anything that they can achieve or receive? Right?
You have heard me say this before, and I can tell you that you will hear me say it again and again… “There are many things in this world that we can have or partake of that are NOT bad things, in fact they could even be considered GOOD things… but as Christians we are not here to partake of the good, but we must always strive to partake of the BEST!”
Jesus spoke to His disciples right after He had shared with them about His identity and His mission and destiny here on this world… He had confirmed to them that He WAS the Messiah, and He told them that He was destined to die, that He would be rejected by the religious leaders and put to death, but on the 3rd day that He would raise from the dead!
The disciples did not understand what Jesus was saying when He laid out HIS mission and destiny so it is easy to understand how they could have missed what He was laying out as their mission and destiny as His followers! Jesus tells these disciples that there mission and destiny is to deny themselves, to take up their cross on a daily basis and follow Him.
The term Luke uses here describing ‘to follow Him’ is the Greek word, ah-koll-eh-theh-oh, which means, to follow one who precedes… Jesus was setting the standard and they were to FOLLOW in His footsteps! But when we look at this passage we need to understand that Jesus was not simply speaking to His disciples around Him on that day… but this message is for a much broader audience!
We find this made evident in v.24 when Jesus says:
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after Me…
This takes a command given to the 12 Apostles and those other disciples that followed Jesus during His earthly life… and spreads that command to any and everyone who accepts Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior! If you want to follow Jesus… if you desire to be a disciple of Jesus… here is what you are called to do!
But as we look at this passage, I want us to focus in on one particular phrase… and that is –deny himself- Just what is Jesus saying when He tells us to deny ourself to become one of His disciples?
Now Scripture is very adamant about what Jesus is teaching here in this verse and it is made evident all throughout the Bible… and we will get to what it says here in a few minutes, but before we do that I want us to look at what self denial means to the world around us and how many believers become confused and misled by the enemy when it comes to this ‘self-denial’ principle!
Self – Denial – Denying self for YOURSELF! Egocentric Self-centered
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.