One of the major idols we worship is ourselves.
Parents make sacrifices for their children. They go through ordeals so their children will not have to go through them. Not so with Christ. He goes through ordeals because He wants us to also go through them and follow His examples.
Accordingly, Jesus denied Himself. Then He says: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself.” (Matthew 16:24).
Jesus denied His exalted throne of glory in heaven to come down to earth as a menial servant of men. The King of glory: “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:7-8).
Disciples are now required to follow Jesus’ example.
When we deny ourselves, Christ increases, and we decrease. (John 3:30). We forget out past and forget our sins because: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has (God) removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12).
We also forgive ourselves for past sins and forget about them. We no longer define ourselves by them. As new creations in Christ Jesus:
“Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19).
Thus, Christ denied Himself by associating with prostitutes and sinners, and He ate and dined with even extortionate tax-collectors. (Luke 5:30-32). We must also follow His example if we are to be “the salt of the earth.”
If we are to deny ourselves, we must stop worshipping idols. One of the major idols we worship is ourselves. Every day, we bow down and worship at the church of the self. We are devoted to ourselves. We feed ourselves, clothe ourselves, and adorn ourselves. We glorify ourselves and exalt ourselves.
This self-worship must come to an end.
Women are the greatest self-worshippers. They worship and magnify every part of their bodies, from their hairs to the eyelashes, eyebrows, earlobes, lips, necks, breasts, nails, fingers, and hips.
All of us; men and women, are preoccupied with ourselves and mindful of me, myself, and I. Moreover, we obey our flesh in its lusts and desires. This also needs to stop.
Ignore your needs and concentrate on the needs of others: “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4).
Never be too busy to listen to the needs of others. “Do all things without complaining and disputing.” (Philippians 2:14). “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.” (1 Peter 4:9).
Do not trust yourself. Trust only God. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Only God can. You cannot.
Henceforth, you are your greatest enemy. The only evil person you know is yourself. Therefore, die to the self. Do not waste time defending yourself in interpersonal relationships. Accept that you are always wrong, and the other person is always right.
Never condemn anybody. Jesus says: “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned.” (Luke 6:37).
The disciple of Christ must make a habit of ignoring himself. Stop paying attention to what you think, what you want, and how you feel. “Make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” (Romans 13:14).
We must not be addicted to anything, for we must remain under the singular authority of Christ. Thus, Paul says: “All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (1 Corinthians 6:12).
Give up your right to think your own thoughts: “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:7).
Stop talking to yourself. Start talking to God instead, even in your mind: “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8).
Do not be bothered by what men think about you. (John 5:41). Solomon says: “Man is tested by the praise he receives.” (Proverbs 27:21). Jesus concurs: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.” (Matthew 5:11).
When we deny ourselves, we lose our possessions. Jesus says: “Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:33). As a result, we have nothing, nevertheless, as God’s children, we possess all things. (2 Corinthians 6:10).
As Christ’s disciples, even the money we earn is no longer ours. We can be called upon to give it to someone else at a moment’s notice. Therefore, we do not spend all the money we have on ourselves.
We recognise that we are stewards of the money we have and not the owners. Jesus says: “If you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?” (Luke 16:12).
So, we do not lavish money on worldly things. “Having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” (1Timothy 6:8).
Loss of rights
When we deny ourselves, we lose all our rights with men and only have rights with God. Marriage is not an institution where we stand up for our rights, but one where we lose them. Never seek fulfilment in marriage, in having children, or in having a good home. Only seek fulfilment in Christ and His righteousness. (Matthew 5:6).
With Christ, we lose our right to live by our own rules. We give up our right to live by our own righteousness.
We give up our right to self-defence. Jesus says: “I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” (Matthew 5:39).
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45).
We give up our right to hold a grudge. Instead, we bear with one another and forgive one another, just as Christ our Saviour forgave us. (Colossians 3:13).
We also give up our right to revenge wrongs done to us. Paul says: “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19).