34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
The Christian must die to Self daily.
1Corinthians 15:31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
We know that the basis of unbelief is worship of Self, but Self worship is also the curse of most Christians. We seek to serve our flesh through food, comfort of living, pleasure, and entertainment. In fact, it appears to be the focus of our lives. We are running errands for a corpse. Our lives have no eternal value because we have made a god of our flesh, which will die forever one day in its present form, and although our body will be redeemed and united with our soul and spirit in heaven, its present form, for all its miraculous abilities and components, is dying. We fundamentalists even glory in whatever suffering we can cause our flesh to appear spiritual, thereby glorifying ourselves and not Christ. When I hear a Christian say that they deliberately stayed up most of the night to pray and they didn’t mind being exhausted because they were doing it for the Lord I want to puke because they were, in fact, doing it for themselves, their own feeling of spirituality, and those feelings of superiority that a Pharisee so smugly holds, just by virtue of their telling everyone.
Matthew 6:16 ¶ Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
Let others praise you.
Proverbs 27:2 Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.
Better yet, let God praise you at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Read 1Corinthians, chapter 3.
2Corinthians 10:18 For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth
Read His Book and allow Him to change your affections and your hearts and quit trying so hard to do things in the flesh, thinking yourself so spiritual. Then, come together with a body of believers to worship Him in spirit and in truth. What we have done is to create ministries and edifices that must be fed like our flesh and we can’t even begin to give preeminence to the Holy Spirit because we have chained ourselves to the demands of our carnal worship.
To serve Satan one only has to serve one’s self. We are all Satan, in type, aspiring to be our own god at some point, thinking of ourselves as higher than the Highest. Satan is not only an individual who really exists, but is a representative of mankind’s highest aspirations, ideals, and morality without the God who created them. Notice to get our compliance, he need only offer a suggestion or pose a question like “yea, hath God said?” (Genesis 3:1) Not a lot of arm twisting there, is it?
Although I am no fan of the Puritans, who executed religious dissenters and publicly whipped and banned Baptists from the church-state run Massachusetts Bay Colony, the great English Puritan leader, Oliver Cromwell, spoke a great truth when he said the following in a different context; “I know a man may answer all difficulties with faith, and faith will answer all difficulties really where it is, but we are very apt, all of us, to call that faith, that perhaps may be but carnal imagination, and carnal reasonings.” (http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=2183&chapter=201030&layout=html&Itemid=27 At the General Council of Officers 1 at Putney, 28th October 1647. - Puritanism and Liberty, being the Army Debates (1647-9) from the Clarke Manuscripts with Supplementary Documents)
To deny one’s self requires the mortifying of the flesh and reckoning one’s self dead to sin and the excessive pleasures of the flesh, certainly.
Romans 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
Colossians 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
But, to deny Self also requires that all things be done for the glory of Christ and not ourselves. At what point, a Christian must ask him or herself, does something I do for God become, not about Him, but about me? This is a great puzzle for those who claim to follow a risen, living Saviour rather than a dead idea of what it means to simply be a philosophical Christian.
Many people have done great things for Christ which weren’t for Christ but for themselves. We can see their celebrity status in how the world approves of them or, even if it disapproves of them, how much attention it gives them. No man or woman can be unaffected by this attention. Most glory in it.
But,what about you? Will your works for Christ be exposed at His Judgment Seat as a vain representation of self-worship? Are you sure?