What does it mean to deny yourself?

I asked a brother here yesterday what he thought Jesus meant when He told us to deny ourselves. This brother said, That it means to avoid sinning. I said, That’s true, but Jesus meant something deeper than that, even to the root of sin : that we would even deny WHO WE ARE : That is, any self-identity we have which is independent of identifying with Christ. Christ is now our identity.

Many of the younger Christian generation now project themselves. They seem to be only self-aware, in their own world, and not dead to their own selves, not denying themselves, as Jesus said we must if we want to be His disciples.

Yes, some of them know the Bible quite well, but bcos their own ego is still so very much alive, nearly everything they say is self-referring – in reference to themselves, as if they are the center of the universe. And this tends toward self-glorification and self-promotion, and does not tend toward Christlikeness.


6 Responses to “What does it mean to deny yourself?”

  1. Al Says:

    Hi Ian, maybe this is another way of saying the same thing, but I understand denying myself as putting away my own aspirations and dreams. Sometimes I think it can mean denying parts of our personality that confiict with being Christlike.

  2. ian vincent Says:

    Thanks bro.

    Just to clarify, i’m talking about identity, not personality.

    We all have unique and different God-given personalities, yet our identity in Christ is something deeper than our personality, and sure, He shapes our personality.

    Gal 2:20 should be true in our life, but it doesnt mean we will all have the same personality – conformity to Christ is not a common conformity to one personality type – identity and personality being two separate things.

    You might find two brothers who are both selfless people, who truly have Jesus as all their identity and self-worth, yet have very different personalities.

    I agree, dying to selfish ambition is fundamental. And also being aware that that same ambition can resurface in us later with a “spiritual” justification and disguise.

  3. ian vincent Says:

    The person who has Christ Jesus as their identity (Gal 2:20) no longer has an identity separate from Him : they no longer think of themselves as having a separate life and existence to Jesus (1 Cor 1:30).

    Therefore all the normal ways the world, and the religious system, operates, no longer applies to them.

    They don’t need the praise of men. They don’t need to be congratulated. They don’t even need to be honored or thanked anymore (though its nice). They no longer seek anything from men (Matt 6) but from God alone.

    They certainly don’t demand any payment for preaching and teaching the word. God pays them.

    Serving God is not a career, it is now their LIFE – the meaning of their life, and not a job or career choice, or a business.

    IDENTITY means the MEANING OF OUR LIFE : To live is Christ, and to die is gain... Christ Himself becomes the meaning of our life – THAT is what identity means.

    The point is, they no longer NEED or DEMAND any thanks, any glory, or any honor, or any position etc… Their self-worth and self-esteem is no longer based on any of the things it would normally be based on. These are not normal people. They are followers of Jesus.

  4. ian vincent Says:

    Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle…

    Jude 1:1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ…

    2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ…

    These brothers identified themselves, foremost, as slaves (doulos) of Jesus Christ.

    What type of men were they?

    Do we see in them the kind of SELF DENIAL which our LORD Jesus commanded US to have?

    Thru their lives, do we see what Jesus meant when He said, Deny yourself! ?

    Thru such, we have a pattern which shows us what self denial means.

    The very nature of their lives and their ministries, and the churches they influenced, reveals a nature of self denial.

    They could VERY EASILY have merchandized their “brand” and sold their manuscripts, and charged fees, and set themselves up financially, and built a very successful business on the back of their own fame. But they didnt. Why? They denied themselves, and submitted themselves to Jesus Christ.

    Modern Christianity screams the opposite : Seek your own! Make a name for yourself! Go and get what you want!

    The total polar opposite to all that the Apostles represented.
    When someone cuts us off in the traffic, or when someone speaks rudely to us, then, i spose, we discover how much we are dead to our SELF life. It’s good to know, eh. So it’s good that God arranges these encounters, so we know.

  5. Al Says:

    Thanks for clarifying that Ian. Personality and identity sure are different things. It seems there can be times when personality gets in the way of identity when behaviour or reaction is enacted. Particularly when the old man rears up. I think you made that point well in your last comment.

    personality: the complex of characteristics that distinguishes an individual or a nation or group; especially : the totality of an individual’s behavioral and emotional characteristics

    identity: sameness of essential or generic character in different instances b : sameness in all that constitutes the objective reality of a thing : oneness

  6. ian vincent Says:

    Agreed, bro.

    I’m sure the identity we have in Christ can’t be defined in exactly the same way that identity or identification would normally be defined, bcos our identification with Him is unique, being truly spiritual and the essence of the new creation.

    I mean, a lot of people in the world speak of themselves as identifying with someone or something, but with us, it is so much more than that, for God has transformed, and is transforming, us into the image of His Son.

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