“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” —Matthew 16:24
“It’s an invitation to the highest intimacy, but yet we often avoid it because we think the price-tag is too steep. What we haven’t understood, though, is what we’re buying…self-denial is such a small price to pay for the incredible delights of loving communion with our Lord.
“If you can receive it, here’s the secret: Self-denial can serve as a catalyst to help propel you forward into greater joys of intimacy in the secret place. Self-denial and intimacy go hand in hand.
“Denying oneself is not the same as taking up one’s cross. To take up the cross, at least in one sense, is to crucify the sinful passions of the flesh. The cross has to do with the death of the flesh, the carnal man. Self-denial, however, has to do with good and healthy passions.
Self-denial is the deliberate curtailing of healthy passions and desires for the sake of pursuing Jesus harder.
To clarify, here’s just a sampling of the many ways self-denial can be invoked:
Fasting from or curtailing intake of food or drink; Cutting back on sleep time; Bypassing good entertainment; Saying no to social invitations/fellowship; Lessening time given to recreation/exercise; Taking a temporary hiatus from marital relations; Accepting a vow of celibacy; Spending less when you could afford more; Etc.
“None of the above activities are sinful. Practiced in moderation and balance, they are gifts of God that we might enjoy a fulfilling and satisfying life. But some people want more than a happy life. They want to know Jesus; they aspire to achieve kingdom conquest; they desire to accrue eternal treasure; they long for the outpouring of God’s Spirit in this generation. So they’re pressing into the kingdom with spiritual violence.
Self-denial is Christ’s gift to us that enables us to turn up the furnace of our love seven times hotter.
Some spiritual benefits of self-denial include:
The more you deny yourself, the more the scales fall from your eyes. You will begin to see the world for what it is…The world denies itself nothing, so when you embrace self-denial you are doing something other-worldly. Self-denial demonstrates that we do not love the world nor the things in the world…
When you begin to see how worldliness has infected your lifestyle, grace is released for embracing personal change. The simple truth is that the Lord Jesus honors self-denial. He loves the passionate resolve and humility of those who willingly embrace self-denial, so He rewards it with grace to gain personal purity and true holiness.
“Preparation For Prophetic Ministry
When something is practiced in excess, you cannot have a voice to that while practicing it in moderation. To have a voice to the excessive, you must sanctify yourself from even the balanced, healthy expression of that practice. Jesus sanctified Himself from the good and normal in order to have a voice into the excessive and imbalanced. Those who carry a prophetic message to the body of Christ usually will embrace self-denial on almost a daily basis.
“Ability To Hear God
One of the prime benefits of self-denial is the way it empowers us to hear more clearly from God. Answers, guidance, direction, insight—all seem to flow more freely when self-denial is freely and willingly embraced with grace in the heart…Self-denial has a weakening effect on the human vessel. It makes us more vulnerable…When we embrace weakness, His grace rushes in to strengthen us. Those who embrace self-denial will be stronger in hearing God’s voice and understanding His will.
“Self-denial is practiced in secret. It is done quietly and exclusively for God, to be seen by His eyes alone. When practiced in purity before our loving Father, self-denial serves to awaken the flow of life in the secret place.”—Bob Sorge
“I will carry my cross Lord, but more than that, I will deny myself daily even from those legitimate things that limit my growth in grace. Teach me Lord what to deny and how. Show me things that I need to forsake so that I may grow in my intense love and experience of the Almighty. How I so much want more of You Lord, and no price will be too great to pay. I want more Lord. All the trinkets and pleasures of this world have no power over me. I want You more than everything this world has to offer. Help me burn with such a fiery desire for Your presence. Take me deeper Lord. Deeper still. I am restless where I am. No price is too high to enter deeper with You. Oh Lord, see my tears for more of grace. Have mercy on me. Life on this shallow threshold is not life. I voluntarily embrace self-denial if that will grant me access into the divine encounter. This I plead for today. In Jesus name. Amen.”