By: Bro. Stephen Iluman (Bishop)
This is an open door teaching that will give more awareness to both faithful and unfaithful Christians. God had used so many ways to teach His children and they are all written for our learning – Romans 15:4. For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. The purpose of this lesson is to enable everybody both wise and fools to consider God, in his or her mind first before any other thing no matter – Matthew 6:33. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. From the Old Testament Moses was an example of self-denial – Hebrews 11:24-26. 24 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. It is proper for all of us to understand why we are not doing well with our various talents given to us – Luke 10:38-42. 38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[f] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” With this introduction, both wise and fools along with both faithful and unfaithful must have learnt one or two things from this topic, what does it take to deny self? If we all are to serve God, there can be no excuses as we have it today. The cost of discipleship had revealed what it will take to deny self – Luke 9:57-62.
57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
The problems in the world today is that many does not know what it takes to deny self like the young rich ruler – Matthew 19:16-22, Mark 18:18-23, Luke 18:18-23. 18 Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ”21 And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” 22 So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 23 But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.
Self sacrifice is what God had done through Jesus Christ – John 3:16-17. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. Acts 20:28. 28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church [a]of God which He purchased with His own blood. Christ on His own will tell you now or answer the question, what does it take to deny self-according to Matthew 16:24-27, Mark 8:34-38, Luke 9:23-26. 24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.
Himself also laid an example by denying Himself of earthly materials, pleasures and treasures – Matthew 4:8-11. 8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, [a]“Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” 11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
My dear brethren, the truth might be bitter but we cannot do anything against the truth but for the truth – 2 Corinthians 13:8. In addition like Paul said, Galatians 4:16, Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth? Paul who knew the truth stood by it and denied himself of earthly popularity as it is in the world today – 1 Corinthians 1:10-13. 10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all [a]speak the same thing, and that there be no [b]divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are [c]contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I want everybody to understand that Paul did a lot of corrections and passed through many sorrows, sufferings and afflictions – 2 Corinthians 11:22-33. What does it take to deny self? It is also revealed through Paul – 2 Timothy 4:6-8. 6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
My observations in this generation is that people no longer care about what it takes to deny self of food to fast and pray – Matthew 17:19-21. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your [a]unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 [b]However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Christ Himself fasted – Matthew 4:1-11. Many are not caring of what it takes to deny self of sleeping as Christ – Luke 6:12. 12 Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. Luke 22:41-46 – 41 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” 43 [a]Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45 When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow. 46 Then He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.”
Before I conclude, there is no justification for whatsoever will hinder you from worshipping God acceptably but you can declare yourself as a fool as the rich fool – Luke 12:16-21. 16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 18 So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ 21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
I thank God Almighty as I am the happiest person on earth to know what it takes to deny self as I refused to remain the treasurer of the New Life for all in the then Bendel state after hearing the pure gospel of Jesus Christ in the year 1969. This was a denominational organization, very attractive financially.
May God help us all to enable us know what it takes to deny self in this sinful world of attractions in Jesus name – Amen.