Who Will You Deny, Yourself or Christ?

Who Will You Deny?

How would you describe a temptation? (A strong desire for some wrong pleasure.)

We must understand temptation is not sin, it is common all mankind, and we are bound to face it. Temptation and sin are very different. During the temptation, we have an option, and it makes us decide who we will obey and who we will deny. Will we obey Christ and deny ourselves, or will we disobey Christ and deny His Lordship over our lives? Sin is self-love that decides we will be lord and please self by giving into the temptation. Sin is self-centered living, a life apart from God and His Lordship.

Temptation is common to all of us. Although, what tempts me may not tempt you, temptation is still a trial all of us face every day.

James 1:12-15 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

God does not tempt anyone. He has set before us life and death, blessings and curses, and given us the free will to choose. He desires that we choose life and blessings.

The temptation begins in the mind. When we are stressed, angry, hurt, sad, lonely, afraid, or bored, we desire a diversion—an escape from reality. We think about our desire, and then we are enticed (tempted). Now we must make a decision. Who will we deny?

If we act on that temptation and use it for our gratification, we sin. Sin gives a brief moment of pleasure, then it gives birth to death in our lives (we suffer the consequences of sin).

Lifelong temptations (addictions, habits) are the toughest to overcome. Temptations have the power to make us forget every Scripture that convicted us, every promise we made, and all the teaching we have heard. The possibility of giving into temptation is so likely that the only safety is to fall on our knees and focus on Jesus, instead of the temptation. In Jesus Christ, there is power over everything that is not of God. So, we must focus on Jesus, the only One who can give us victory over temptation and sin.

If you are saved through faith in Jesus Christ and born again of the Holy Spirit through baptism, God promises to abide in you via the Holy Spirit. God, the Holy Spirit, enables us to endure temptation and empowers us to deny ourselves and to obey Christ. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. So don’t pity yourself, excuse yourself, or blame God for your weakness. If you are His child, thank God for His grace to overcome the weakness and temptation!

As long as you are in the battle, you are still alive in the war and not a captive of the enemy!

Colossians 3:1-3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

We need to put our earthly, sinful nature to death and rid ourselves of all evil practices, which is walking in true repentance. We also need to put on the Holy Spirit, which is our new nature in Christ. This is not a one-time thing. Denying self and asking the Holy Spirit to be our Lord is something we do moment by moment every day, because temptation is always close by.

For example, old friends will tempt us by saying, “Don’t be so holy; so seriously pure and chaste. Lighten up, live a little. Come with us.”

God says in Proverbs 1:10, “My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them.”

They are not really your friends. Do not give in to them or yourself to any practice that is not in keeping with a holy God. We need to keep the right company and avoid this kind of temptation. That is why we are to meet together as Christians and fellowship, which includes laying aside our pride, confessing our sin, and receiving encouragement and prayer from each other.

Our Lord was led into temptation, but did not sin. He taught us to pray—“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

Hebrews 4:15-16 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Many of us suffer from temptations from which we have no business to suffer, simply because we have not asked Jesus Christ to deliver us and give us grace to deny ourselves and defeat the temptation.

Temptation is not something we may escape. Do not think we are tempted as no one else is tempted. What we go through is the common to mankind. However, for the child of God, there is a way out of temptation.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Unfortunately, it is likely all of us have been overcome by temptation recently instead of overcoming it by the grace of God. Nevertheless, I still have good news! Jesus Christ has atoned for every failure! Don’t give up! Confess your sin to God and receive forgiveness and grace to repent.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

So believer, ask God every day for the grace to repent and for grace to follow the way out of temptation. The way out is Jesus, for He said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Jesus is the Way. Focus on Him, not the temptation. He will lead you out of temptation.

Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

Denying self requires us to give up anything that would hinder our doing the will of God. It means we must take our wants and desires off the throne of our heart and make Jesus and His will the governing authority in our lives. There is room in each life for only one master.

Jesus also said we must take up our cross daily and follow Him. "Taking up our cross" refers to giving our whole life to God, as Jesus gave His life for us. It is a total dedication to His service in anything He says. This will lead us to willingly deny self. Whatever He wants with my life is what must be done with it. What I want no longer matters, but I give myself for Him, just as He gave Himself for us.

It all comes down to a simple fact: Deny yourself or you will deny Jesus! And Jesus said, “If you deny me before men, I will deny you before my Father.”

Furthermore, if you’re living for self, you’re not following Jesus. Self is the center of every church conflict, every personal spiritual struggle, and every sin. Therefore, get self out of the way and let Christ have His way.

How do we do that? There is only one way! Ask God daily for the power and grace of the Holy Spirit. Apart from Him you can nothing but sin.

Luke 11:13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

We need the power and grace of the Holy Spirit to overcome temptation! The Holy Spirit is God in us and He will give us grace to deny self and to follow Jesus.

Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age

Galatians 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Romans 8:12-14 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation--but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

Now faithful obedience to God is not some form of legalism, nor is it a way to become righteous. Our righteousness comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Obedient faith is love for Jesus. The Holy Spirit gives us grace to love Jesus Christ more than ourselves. We obey Him, not because we have to, but because we love Him.

Jesus said in John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

It is as simple as that. When we love the Lord and we want to please Him, we’re willing to do everything He asks and do it the way that He wants it done. And we won’t argue with Him about it. We obey because we desire an intimate love relationship with Christ who gave His life for us, showed us mercy, and delivered us from the pit we got ourselves into.

So, when the Lord asks us to believe, we’re willing to trust Him and His Word completely. When the Lord asks us to repent of our sins, love for Jesus Christ turns us away from temptation and sin that offends Him. If we love Jesus, we will not continue to offend the Person who’s been so merciful to us, took our punishment on a cruel cross, rose again, loves us, and prepares a place for us—you and me, who don’t deserve it.

In conclusion, it’s impossible for anyone in their own strength to obey the law for very long. Eventually, and quickly I might add, we’re overcome by the weakness of our flesh.

There is only one way to walk in the freedom and joy Christ has won for us: by believing Jesus is the Son of God who deserves our obedience. If you believe that, accept His free gift of salvation and righteousness by repenting of being your own boss and give your life to Jesus through baptism. Then God the Holy Spirit will abide in you and give you a new life. Live this new life by spending time with Christ in His Word, praying, listening, getting to know Him intimately, denying yourself, and following Him by doing what He says.

Again, I repeat Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

The fact is, you’re going to need grace upon grace as you go forward with Jesus. Salvation, joy, peace, love, power, and blessings—all of these are yours as you enter the fullness of His amazing grace. It is up to you seek God the Holy Spirit with all your heart, to deny self, to obey Christ, and to walk in the freedom He has provided by His grace.

   July 2019   
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