Denying Self or Denying Jesus?

Luke 9:23 ESV

“And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’”

When Jesus Christ died on that cross for our sins it was so that we would be delivered from our slavery (addiction, bondage) to sin and so we would now walk (in conduct, in practice) according to the Spirit in righteousness and in holiness, in obedience to our Lord and to his commands, in the power and wisdom of God, and so we would no longer walk in sin. For he died that we might die with him to sin and live to his righteousness (Romans 6:1-23; Romans 8:1-14; Ephesians 4:17-24; Titus 2:11-14; 1 Peter 2:24).

So when Jesus took up his cross it was to put our sin to death so that we would no longer live as slaves to sin but as slaves to God and to his righteousness. So for us to take up our cross daily is for us to daily die with him to sin and to self. And then we are to follow him, which means that we do what he says and we go where he sends us and we do and say what he commands us to do and to say, i.e. we obey him daily.

And to deny self is to deny our sinful flesh, and it is to deny our selfish wills in order that we might now walk in holiness and in righteousness and not in sin, and that we would obey the Lord in doing what he wants us to do instead of us just charting our own course for life and us doing just what we want to do. For Jesus doesn’t save us from our sins just so we can go to heaven when we die. He saves us to give us new lives in him which are now to be lived for his glory according to his divine purpose and will for our lives.

Luke 9:24-25 ESV

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”

So, when this talks here about someone saving his own life, that is not a good thing. It has to do with holding on to your life of sin and not being willing to forfeit your life of sin in order to follow Jesus in obedience. Many are still holding on to living in sin and for self, and so they are forfeiting the lives they could have had in Christ Jesus, and they are forfeiting salvation from sin and eternal life with God that could have been theirs.

But it isn’t just that. They are literally opposing Jesus Christ and his gospel message by continuing to live in their sin after the light of the truth of the gospel has been given to them. And many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ are literally fighting against the Lord and against his gospel message when they choose to hold on to their sins rather than to relinquish them in order to follow our Lord in his ways and in his truth.

So, if you are professing faith in Jesus Christ, and you are confessing that he is your Savior and Lord, and that heaven is your eternal destiny, but while you deliberately and habitually sin against the Lord in open rebellion and in direct defiance to him and to his commands for how we are to live, then you are fighting against him. You are not for him. You are not of him, and you do not have eternal life with him as long as you continue in your sin.

So if you desire salvation from sin and eternal life with God you have to lose your life, i.e. you have to die with Christ to sin and be reborn of the Spirit of God and now you must no longer walk (in conduct, in practice) in sin and according to the flesh, but now you must walk in obedience to your Lord in holy living according to the Spirit of God and according to the gospel of our salvation, and you must continue in that walk of faith until the very end.

Luke 9:26 ESV

“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

Being ashamed of Jesus and of his words is not just about being shy about sharing the gospel with people. If we are ashamed of Jesus and his words we are embarrassed by them and we don’t want to be associated with them. Now many people are professing faith in Jesus Christ and so it would appear that they are not ashamed to be identified with Christ, but appearances can be deceptive. Many people profess with their lips but deny with their actions.

So being ashamed of Jesus and of his words is not necessarily about being unwilling to be identified as a Christian, at least this would be so in America. For Christianity is the primary religion here and many people profess to be Christians even if they are not. So many people will profess Christ as Savior and Lord who do not honor him as Lord and who have not let Jesus literally deliver them from their slavery to sin. They are Christians in name only.

So when this talks about being ashamed of Jesus and of his words, this is about not surrendering our lives to him, not submitting to him as Lord, not following him in obedience, not dying to sin and to self, but continuing to live in sin and for self and to go one’s own way and not the ways of holiness and of righteousness. This is about refusing to give up our lives of sin, and it is about opposing and denying Jesus and his words by our actions.

If all we ever do is just claim to be Christians and claim to believe in Jesus and in his gospel and claim heaven as our eternal destiny, but by our actions we do the opposite of what it means to be a follower of Christ, then we aren’t really Christians. For if we continue in deliberate and habitual sin against the Lord Jesus, and if we do not walk in obedience to his commands and live in his righteousness, then we will not have eternal life with God.

So, please take this to heart.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-32; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 2 Pet 1:1; 1 Co 15:58; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Heb 10:26-27; Rom 2:6-8; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 5:3-6; Col 3:5-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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