“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Galatians 2:20-21 (NIV)
It may come as a surprise to some, but denial of self is mentioned in all four Gospels. The Bible does not teach us to pander and spoil ourselves to death rather die to self so that we may live for Him – the One Who died to save our scrawny necks. Scripture is upside down from the world’s way of thinking. The Bible teaches us that we are to give to get, we are to die to live, to crucify and flee from sin rather than indulge in it or wink at it. I can assure you God does not wink at our transgressions – rather grieves over them as He knows there is always death to sin – death to love or trust or relationship or whatever. It is never for our good. It harms. It always harms. That is why we are warned against it over and over and over again in Scripture. God desires beauty for us not death, the oil of gladness instead of the spirit of mourning, a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. We are to be oaks of righteousness, plantings of the Lord for the display of His splendor. When we wallow in the pigpen we miss out on His best for our lives.
We are not our own. We have been bought with a high price and we are to honor God with our bodies in all we say and do and think. We are the only one accountable for this one life we have been given and there are no do-overs. None. It is a terrible thing to waste a life. The saints of the past took this seriously. The great Apostle Paul beat his body and made it his slave so that he himself would not be disqualified for the prize and he groaned for his lost brothers. The seed has to die before it brings forth new life and the same is true for believers in Christ – it is not a physical death we are talking about here (although it can be) but a spiritual death. Death to self to live for Him. That my dear friends is taking hold of the life that is truly life. There is much joy in this process which is unearthly in its nature. The God of all creation is calling us for our good and for His glory. Listen to Him.
Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” Luke 9:23-25 (NIV)