Sunday morning we will be studying Matthew 16:21-28. This is an important passage of Scripture which fully summarizes what it means to be a Christian. It highlights both the necessity of the cross in salvation and in our sanctification. Jesus not only tells Peter that He must go to the cross, but so must Peter, and thereby, you and me. We are to deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Jesus.
But what does Jesus mean by denying yourself? Pastor John MacArthur says:
So, self‑denial then is the way in and it becomes the life pattern. We say no to self and we say yes to the Spirit of God.
What does it mean to live a life of self‑denial, dying to self? What does that really mean? Have you ever thought about that? Think of it this way. When you are neglected, unforgiven, or when you are purposely set at naught and you sting and you hurt with the insult of that oversight, but your heart is happy, being counted worthy to suffer for Christ, that is dying to self. When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed and your advice is disregarded and your opinions are ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart or even defend yourself, you take it all patiently in loving silence, you're dying to self.
And when you lovingly and patiently bear any disgrace, any regularity, any annoyance, when you can stand face to face with folly and extravagance and spiritual insensitivity, and endure it as Jesus did, that is dying to self. When you are content with any food, any money, any clothing, any climate, any society, any solitude, any interruption by the will of God, that is dying to self. And when you never care to refer to yourself in conversation or record your own good works, or itch after commendation from others, and when you truly love to be unknown, that is dying to self. When you see your brother prosper and have his needs wondrously met, and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy and never question God, though your needs are greater and still unmet, that is dying to self. And when you can receive correction, and reproof from one of less stature than yourself and humbly admit inwardly as well as outwardly that he's right and find no resentment and no rebellion in your heart, that is dying to self.
Are you dead yet?