Leaving Laodicea
444 - It All Comes Down to Denial

444 - It All Comes Down to Denial

January 10, 2020

When Jesus instructed His disciples, and the others, about what it meant to follow Him in Matthew 16:24-25, He spoke of "desire to come after me" and then "let him deny himself."  We looked at desire in our last message, and now we will turn our focus to what He meant by "deny himself."  Note the requirement and sequence in the verse below.  First, there must be desire ("if anyone desires to come after Me").  Then, a denial and the corresponding action showing the commitment to deny himself ("take up his cross").  And finally, the invitation to "follow Me."  Jesus shows surrendering to Him must follow in this order.  In essence, first meet the conditions, and then come "follow Me."

Jesus said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" - Matthew 16:24-25.

The word deny (aparnéomai) when followed by the pronoun heautón (oneself, himself) means "to deny oneself, or to disown and renounce self and to subjugate all works, interests, benefits, and enjoyments to another."  The word is also translated "to speak against, contradict, to avoid, reject, nullify, to stand firm against, resist, oppose." When Jesus said we must "deny" ourselves, the impact of our denial affects all areas of our life.

Deny, Denial, and Denied!

In Matthew 10, Jesus speaks of confessing Him before men or risk having Him deny us before His Father.  It is an extremely troubling warning from Christ that left no room for doubt or excuses.  He said,

"Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.  And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" - Matthew 10:27-28.

Who is the One we are to fear?  Exactly, the Lord.  If so, do you have the fear of the Lord in you?  How has that fear changed your life so far?

"Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin?  And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore (the consequences of speaking what the Lord tells you to say); you are of more value than many sparrows" - Matthew 10:29-31.

But then it gets quite serious for those who do not heed the Lord’s warning.

"Therefore whoever confesses Me (where) before men, him I will also confess (where) before My Father who is in heaven.  But whoever denies (refuse, avoid, reject, resist, oppose) Me (where) before men, him I will also deny (refuse, avoid, reject, resist, oppose) before My Father who is in heaven" - Matthew 10:32-33.

Can you imagine being denied by Christ before the Father?

Fear and Excuses

But if I confess Jesus, my friends will not include me.  Or my spouse will reject me even to the point of separation or divorce.  Or I’ll lose my job and source of income.  Or I’ll be persecuted, even to the point of possible imprisonment.  Or… you choose the excuse.  They are all the same, lame.  But Jesus anticipated these excuses.  He continued:

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.  For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter in law against her mother in law ’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.'  He who loves father or mother more than Me is (what) not worthy of Me.  And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is (what) not worthy of Me.  And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is (what) not worthy of Me. (Therefore) He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life (why) for My sake will find it" - Matthew 10:34-39.

Or are you a follower of Jesus according to what works best for you?  Have you truly counted the cost of being one with Him?  Is He the center of your life?  Is He your very life?  Do you want Him to be?  If so, everything begins at the beginning.  And it all begins with desire.

Do you want to follow after Jesus?  No matter what?  Come what may?   If so, then keep listening.

The following is a study on What it Means to Follow Jesus.

200 - What Happened to Masculine Christianity?

200 - What Happened to Masculine Christianity?

April 8, 2013
Sometimes, when the tides of life turn against us, the church sounds like the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz:  

"Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the "ape" in apricot? What have they got that I ain't got?" 

Answer:  Courage!

Do you have courage?  Enough courage?  Overcoming courage?  If not, then keep listening.

The following is a study on Spiritual Warfare.
178 - Giving All to the One Who Gave All

178 - Giving All to the One Who Gave All

June 7, 2012
One of the most challenging passages in the entire New Testament is found in the book of Romans, chapter 12.  It reads:

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

If you think you've got a pretty good understanding of what Paul was saying, think again... and keep listening.  You're in for a wild ride.

The following is a study on Romans 12:1-2.
174 - Where is the Remnant?

174 - Where is the Remnant?

April 26, 2012
James tells us there are two kinds of people... those who "do" and those who "hear and refuse to do."  And the difference between them is profound.  One is "blessed in all that he does" and the other is "self-deceived."

Which one are you?

Where are the men and women of God who hear the Word and strive, with all that is in them, to obey what it says... no matter what? Where are they?  Where have they gone?  

What happened to the remnant?

The following is a study on James 1:22-27.
173 - Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Happen to… uh, Me?

173 - Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Happen to… uh, Me?

April 5, 2012
James tells us that how we stand up under trials, no matter how severe, are a strong indicator of our salvation.  In other words, if we endure, good sign we are saved.  If we don't, well... that could be a pretty good sign that we're not.

Warren Wiersbe puts it this way:

"Our values determine our evaluations.  If we value comfort more than character, then trials will upset us.  If we value the material and physical more than the spiritual, we will not be able to ‘count it all joy!’  If we live only for the present and forget the future, the trials will make us bitter, not better."

So where are you when it comes to trials?

The following is a study on James 1:1-12.
157 - The Persecution Promise

157 - The Persecution Promise

July 30, 2011
Did you know that one of the true signs of saving faith is the fact that you will face persecution?  Consider the following:

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs— heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.  Romans 8:16-17

Are you wondering exactly what that means and how it plays out in our lives today? 

Good.  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on John 15:18-27.
151 -  Time to Come and Die

151 - Time to Come and Die

April 23, 2011
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, before he died at the Flossenburg Concentration camp on April 9, 1945, summarized in his book, the Cost of Discipleship, the Christian life like this:

"When Christ calls a man,
He bids him to come and die."

Is that true?  Does Christ really demand total abandonment of self to follow Him? 

Is that what was portrayed in the gospels?  Because it certainly isn't what is esteemed in current Christian circles today, is it? 

And why not?

The following is a study on the Cost of Following Jesus.
142 - “I Think it Means What it Says!”

142 - “I Think it Means What it Says!”

January 29, 2011
A couple of quick questions: 

Are you tired of living the high points of your spiritual life on the backs of long-ago, past dead Christian heroes?  You know, we talk about the child-like faith of George Muller, the courage of Corrie Ten Boom or the single-minded devotion of Jim Elliott... but what about us?  What about you and me?  What would you give to live the truly "abundant life" that Jesus held out before His disciples? 

Do you think a life like that is possible?  For you?  For anybody? 

And if it is, what must we do to enter into the realm of spiritual fervency that produces the kind of spiritual fruit the Lord longs for?

The following is a study on Psalm 1.
121 - No More Lame Excuses

121 - No More Lame Excuses

June 17, 2010
Did you ever wonder why it is so easy for us to trust the words of the Lord for our eternal security, yet not trust Him for our daily bread? 

Think about it:  When Jesus says He is "preparing a place for us and will come again to receive us to be where He is"— we have no problem with that.  We hold on to those words, cherish those words, are encouraged by those words. 

But what about when He also says "to seek His kingdom and all these things (food, shelter, clothing) will be given to us?"  Do we have the same faith in temporal promises as we do in eternal ones?

Daniel did. 

The following is a study on Daniel 1:8.
118 - The Sin of Compromise

118 - The Sin of Compromise

May 23, 2010
Have you ever considered how pragmatic we are as a society and as a church?  How the mantra of "expedience" seems to be the law of the land today. 

"After all," we reason, "if it works for you, go for it."

Now compare that to the mindset of the likes of Daniel, Job, Noah, Moses, Paul, Stephen and other who counted life in this world not worth living if they had to compromise their faith and obedience to survive.

Where are these men today?  Where are those who will stand for truth, no matter what?  Come what may? 

Oh where, oh where have the real Christians gone?  Oh where, oh where can they be?

The following is a study on Daniel 1:3-8.