Self Denial is the Result of the Spirit’s Work in Your Life

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

Luke 9:23

Jesus calls us to daily deny ourselves to follow Him. You can’t live half in and half out. You must be all in. You must be willing to die to your own self-interest and live life fully for Christ if you are going to be a follower of Jesus.

Thinking about Jesus’ call reveals our need for Him. We can’t live for Jesus in a self-denying way without Him first changing our desires. The change in desire from self to Jesus reveals the work of God in our life and assures us of our salvation.

Do you see self-denial and Christ-centric living in your life? Do you put Jesus before all other things? Are you willing to give up all for Jesus? If so, you can be assured of your salvation. You would and can only do those things because the Spirit is at work in you.

Why do I have to join a church?

To relate to God, you must do it “covenantally.” He wants all of you; he wants every aspect of you; he wants every bit of you.” It’s silly, but it’s natural that American Christians will say to me, “I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Why do I have to join a church?” I say, “What do you mean?”

“Where does it say in the Bible that I have to join a church?”

“On every page,” if you understand the covenant. All joining a church means is you’re willing to make a public vow that makes you accountable for your whole life. That’s what we don’t like because, “Who needs that? The most important thing is the personal and the spontaneous.”

No! The most important thing is every part of you has to go to him. You’re supposed to make yourself a whole burnt offering on the altar. That’s what it says in Romans 12 where it says, “Make yourself a living sacrifice, a whole burnt offering, to the Lord.”

 Keller, Timothy J., The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive (New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2013)

The Redeemed Live Holy Lives by Gospel-driven Reflection

“When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language, Judah became his sanctuary, Israel his dominion.” – Psalm 114:1-2

When God led Israel out of bondage in Egypt, He did so because they were His people. In the desert He tabernacles among them. His presence took up residence in the Temple, in the Holy of Holies. Likewise the nation was to be comprised of holy people who were set apart unto God. Their holiness was to mark them as different from the other nations allowing them to witness to the changing power of the One true God.

Just as Israel were to be a holy people where the Lord dwelled, we are to be holy as well. Peter expands on the idea when he writes,

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:14-16

As children of God we are to be holy just as Christ is holy. Christ is the key. Just as Israel was redeemed from physical bondage in Egypt, we are redeemed from spiritual bondage by Jesus.

“knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” – 1 Peter 1:18-19

As Christians then, we are to be holy, aligning ourselves with God’s will and focusing our attention on Jesus as the motivation to live holy lives. Until we recognize that there is no other savior but Jesus, we will always run to other gods, to idols, to those things we believe will provide what only Jesus can.

In order to pursue holiness, your focus has to be on Jesus and the gospel. Holiness is not the result of work-driven effort, but of gospel-driven reflection.