Summary: Jesus said pick upi the cross and deny yourself...
MARK 8:31He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." 34Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels."
That is a pretty powerful text. So much so, that this instance is also spoken of in MAT and LUKE. The thing that strikes me in this text is Jesus’ response to Peter. Pretty disturbing...Jesus rebuked him, called him Satan, and told him "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." Jesus LOVED Peter.....built the church on him....but called him down whenever Peter tried to impose his own will instead of Gods will.
I wonder how many of us "do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." Jesus tells us how we need to come to Him, doesn’t He? He told not only the disciples, but everybody...vs 34 "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. So what I would like for us to look at is "How do we DENY ourselves?" Because obviously we need to. The first thing I want to do is define the word "deny". The on-line dictionary lists several defintions among them are these
1.deny oneself (something); restrain, especially from indulging in some pleasure; "She denied herself wine and spirits"
2.refuse to recognize or acknowledge; "Peter denied Jesus"
We know that Jesus instructs us to deny ourselves. Are we to avoid indulging in any and all pleasure? This example uses wine, but some of us need to "deny" ourselves that extra trip to the refrigerator! Or maybe "deny" the enjoyment we get out of talking bad (gossiping) about someone. Or we could "deny" ourselves whenever we feel like we have done something really good and special but it seems someone else is getting credit for your work! How frustrating is that?
Let’s look closer at "deny". If someone accuses you of something you didn’t do, your initial reaction is to "deny" those charges. And hey, if someone tries to accuse you of something really, really bad, you don’t just "deny" the allegations....you vehenemently deny it! "Hey, I did NOT do that!" We get passionate about it! And should, if you are innocent! Sometimes though, people deny things that ARE true. Have you ever seen someone deny something that you absolutely KNOW they did.....even have evidence...and they deny to the very end! There are several, I’m sure, murderers on death row that are still denying their crimes....even though DNA evidence has caught them dead to rights...so to speak.
So is "denying ourselves" simply a matter of saying "I didn’t do it?" Of course not! That’s not at all what Jesus was talking about here. What Jesus is saying here is that we must put the things of God above the things of man....including the things that WE think are more important to us, we must "deny" these thing in order to "take up our cross and follow Him". It is absolutely urgent that we understand here tonight that we MUST do this in order to follow Christ. That’s what Jesus said...
So what must I do to deny myself, Pastor? Denying self requires us to give up anything that we would want or seek that would hinder our doing the will of God. This does not mean that, if we want something, it is necessarily wrong. It means we must take our wants and desires down from the throne and place Jesus and His will as the governing power in our lives. There is room in each life for only one master. MAT 6:19"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.