Then he (Jesus) said to them all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”(Luke 9:23, ESV)
For most Christians, the call to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Christ is not new to us. Yet, I think we’ve got in the habit of selectively applying the denial of self to what in our minds are our “Big Sins”. Let me explain myself, when you came to faith Christ, what was the first area that God began to sanctify you in? This is what you might identify as your “Big Sin”, probably the one you struggle with the most. It may have been pride, anger, selfishness, lust, greed or whatever area it was, as time went on, you saw God changing you. During this time you may have had a tendency to hyper focus on the one “Big Sin” in your life, forgetting that Christ came to sanctify every aspect of ourselves. The point I’m trying to drive home is this, the denial of self does not only apply to what we consider to be our “Big Sins”, it applies to our daily interactions, daily struggles, and daily conflicts. Even the seemingly insignificant situations in daily life are great avenues to deny one’s self and follow Christ. Being humble while in the midst of a conflict or patient when there’s a misunderstanding, can be some of the greatest examples of denying oneself and following Christ in daily life. I have witnessed misapplications of this verse in certain Christian circles. The confusion starts when they lose sight of Jesus command to take up your cross daily, and instead, they equate this verse with the conversion experience which can lead to a lot of bad theology. For instance, if we are saved on the basis of denying ourselves, then salvation is not by grace, but through works, which the Bible clearly opposes.
(see Ephesians 2:8-9) For by Grace you have been saved through faith; it is a gift from God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. The act of denying yourself, taking up your cross and following Christ is not simply a one-time thing; we are commanded to do it daily. That’s the theme of this blog, following Christ in daily life, that He may be glorified!