Each new year comes with the intentional focus to change through discipline. We make internal discipline decisions to change our external lives. There is a crucial principle we often overlook which is to 'deny ourselves'. This is anything that takes a conscious effort to remove what’s not good in our lives. The thing is people try to do it all on their own. The Bible is not a self-help book like other behavior change books we might read. It provides the ultimate help from the Helper himself, the Holy Spirit.
First, you should know what you continually need to deny yourself from and that’s from your sinful nature. You see the sinful nature hungers to please the 'flesh' or your 'self.' You might not realize it, but a lot of your decisions made are to please your flesh such as sexual pleasure, money, and ambition for success. Now, sex is good within marriage and money is great as proper stewardship to give generously, but we use these things for personal gain. There is apart of you that whats to do good, but there is a constant struggle. You either do what you do not want to do or you don't do what you should do. This is the best way to describe sin via our actions. In the end there is a penalty to sin. Sin separates from God then it also separates us from what God desires for us. Sin leads to death of our purpose in this life and death in eternal life.
There is something that holds us all back from the abundant life we desire. It is a three-letter word that distorts our whole world and that is ‘sin.’ Sin is sticky and can be difficult to get a grasp of. Sin splinters our heart and it has to be soften through love to remove it. Sin is Selfish Immoral Negligence. It is any wrong in our lives. It can be a simple as a lie or as terrible as murder. In the end, sin is sin no matter the severity of it. Lust is equal to adultery (Matthew 5:28). Anger is equal to murder (Matthew 5:22). The whole point is to show how sin can drive us to do traumatic acts if we continue to be a slave to it. These are warnings that help us be aware of the power of sin. We are all slaves to it. If you knew you were a slave, you would do anything to escape from it. The best way I can describe the struggle with sin is Romans 7:14-25. Sin is described as the following:
I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead I do what I hate. But if know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life-that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.
There is a lot of confusion within these verses, but what we see is that sin makes us want to do the opposite of what we should do. When we start to know the difference between right and wrong, we typically chose the wrong. Sin is something we all can do both knowingly and unknowingly. Sin can make us all go crazy until we get out of its entanglement and realize its true hold in our lives.
I believe it is sin that keeps us from going to the gym consistently. I believe it is sin from pursing the abundant life we are meant to have. I believe it is sin that prevents you from being the best version of yourself. Another way to simplify sin understanding is as follows:
Selfish: Anything that is about ourselves such as selfish ambition, passions, desires, lusts, idolization, wants, and cravings. When get our self entangled with our flesh. When you remove the fleshly desires you will remove your selfish desires, which are sinful.
Immoral: Wrongdoings such as evil acts, malicious behavior, sexual immorality, lies, deception, manipulation, and corruption.
Negligence: Knowing what we should do, but don't do it.
I challenge all of you to do what you know you should do (James 4:17). Everyone knows the next step, but it takes courage and love to lift us forward. I pray that you take that step and embark on the journey you have been putting off for so long. You might be feeling convicted right now and I pray for the Spirit of God to give you courage. Give you the ability to go take on what you have to take. Also, help you let go what you need to let go.
Surrender to the Holy Spirit and the power of God. This will truly set you free from your sinful nature and you will no longer be a slave to its urges.
What is the best way to deny yourself? With the visualization that you have crucified your sinful nature like Jesus was crucified on the cross.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Galatians 5:24
We must crucify our sinful feelings, passions, desires daily. Then we are to pick up our cross and follow Him. This is how we develop true spiritual growth. Over time as we keep nailing our sinful nature our passion and desires will shift more to God. Then we will want to do what He desires and be passionate about His passion, which is people.
This verse really paints the picture of nailing what was old and leaving it there. Jesus hands and feet were nailed to the cross, so we can be cleansed our all sin. It is important for us to nail our passions and desires of our sinful nature to the cross. This could be any sexual lust or lust for power. We know what that may be, so make sure to nail it daily. Hammer it into your cross and never remove the nails. All you need to do is declare yourself to Him and His purpose for your life.
Lord, I chose to deny myself, but I need help. I have tried constantly to do it on my own. I call and surrender to the Holy Spirits leading in my life. Renew my mind and attitude. When I deny myself, I can be for others and speak your Words. I declare that I will nail my desires to the cross and at it entails. I will pick it up and follow you. I won’t deny you Lord for you are my Father. Amen.
Learn the freedom and understanding to deny yourself from your sinful nature. Nail your sinful nature to the cross, crucify it, and then pick up your cross. This will free you to see everlasting change in your life. Combat this by choosing, following Jesus, and conform His example in living. Take up your cross and follow Him daily. When take the necessary steps to deny yourself then you will save yourself. Ask Him to be your Lord and Savior. He died for your sins so you can have eternal life but also an abundant life here on earth. Your sins will lead to your death. See how good God is because of Christ and choose Him for your life. Make the choice to repent which is to truly regret your past and turn to God because of Jesus. Make the decision to R.U.N from your sinful nature. Run to God then run with God:
Repent: deeply regret what you have done and ask for forgiveness. Then make the real internal decision to change your life.
U-Turn: Make a complete U-Turn to God by accepting what Jesus has done for you. Jesus is God's peace offering to all of us. Look to Him and follow His example.
New: Then you are made New! The old is gone and your new life can begin. Believe you have been changed within your heart and mind because you believe in Jesus.
Lord, I believe Jesus died and rose again. I confess my sins and choose Jesus as my savior. Come into my life. Teach me how to live and how to love. Thank you for dying for me and rising again. In Jesus name, Amen.
“And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.” Romans 7:18-20 NLT
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.” Romans 8:12 NLT
“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” Galatians 5:16 NLT
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.” Galatians 5:24 NLT
“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 NLT
“Jesus called the crowd together with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me].” Mark 8:34 AMP
“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23 NIV
“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Mark 8:34 NIV