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Self-Denial: A Command of Christ

Hopefully by now you have read my article entitled “Unfaithful Servants” in the March issue. If you haven’t read it, please do so before you read this one.

In that article, I wrote about our oftentimes way­ward walk as young people. I ended by exhorting God’s people to watch and wait, for the coming of Christ is at hand. This isn’t an exhortation from myself, but it is an exhortation given to us by Christ Himself in Matthew 24. I would now like to take a closer look at our walk on this earth and at how we must go about this waiting.

What must our walk on this earth consist of? What is it that we must do to separate ourselves from this world? We must want to be different from the world. We must want the world to see that we are different. We must want wayward Christians to become like one of us. We as young people must not hinder other young people from coming to our church because they see that our walk differs from our teachings. If we are a hindrance to others, are we properly walking as Christ has instructed?

Perhaps the most clear instruction that Christ gave to us was when he told us to deny ourselves if we are going to follow Him. He says in Mark 8:34-38, “Whoso­ever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man gain in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Here plainly and explicitly the Savior tells us how we are to serve Him.

Deny yourself.

Deny. This word typically has an ugly meaning for human beings. Self-denial goes directly against our pride. We live in a society which teaches us to look out only for ourselves. We are told to better ourselves in the world in any way possible. We are told to work hard so that we can accumulate and acquire as much material wealth as possible. Every ad or billboard that we see is designed to make us desire earthly possessions. We are constantly looking above ourselves to find someone who is better off than we are. We then try to bring ourselves up to his level.

Therefore, when Christ tells us to deny ourselves, we are faced with a problem. We are told to obey Christ, but on this earth, we will be looked at in a funny way. We will be called strange. People, we are like the rich young man of Mark 10 who approached Jesus and asked what was necessary to have eternal life. Jesus tells the man to keep the commandments, and the man tells Jesus that he does this. Jesus then tells the man in verse 21, “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up thy cross, and follow me.” We read in vs. 22 that this grieved the man since he was very rich. He did not want to part with his earthly riches in order to have eternal life. Do we too feel that denying ourselves of earthly riches is too great a cost? Is this any cost at all compared to the price which Christ paid for us?

What does this denial consist of? As I have said we must deny ourselves of earthly, material riches. We must also deny ourselves of those things which would associate us with the world or would hinder us from serving God. Notice this point. Anything which would hinder us from serving God.

Therefore, if our entertainment hinders us from serving God, we must deny ourselves of this entertain­ment. If we have to be home at 10:00 on a Saturday night so we stay awake in church, we must tell our friends this. If we cannot properly date and serve God at the same time, we must break off this relationship. If our clothing causes others to stray from serving God, we must wear other clothing. If we by our language aren’t serving God, we must clean it up. If we have been blessed with earthly riches, we must give of these rich­es to the needy. Jesus didn’t exclude young people when he told the young ruler to give to the poor. The list is endless, but I trust that you get the point. People, this self-denial must be a constant thing. We must deny ourselves not only of bad things, but also sometimes of things which of themselves aren’t bad. Things that nor­mally are good, but for a time may hinder us in our walk. We must always be looking at our lives and see­ing if we are living for Christ

This isn’t easy. It can be humbling and embarrass­ing at times. However, we must be proud of our walk. I Peter 5:6, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”

The time to act is now, young people. We must walk the new life of regenerate people even when we are only teenagers. Otherwise when we are 40 or 50, we will look back on our actions as young people and cringe. We will surely be ashamed if we lived a bad life. Rather, let us walk surely even now. Proverbs 10:9, “He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: but he that perverteth his ways shall be known.”

The reward is great. However, it isn’t immediately realized. Set your sights on the heavenly reward and on heavenly riches, young people. Indulge yourselves with the things necessary for the heavenly kingdom. Then, we will be selfless on earth. We will be living a good life for Christ with our eyes fixed on heaven and on the eternal reward we so eagerly desire.

 

NOTES:

First, a word of thanks to everyone who has written for the BEACON LIGHTS in the past few months. Occa­sionally an article will appear in my mailbox from someone who we did not even ask to write. You can tell that these people have something important to say and it is something that we need to hear. A special thanks to these people who have taken the time to write.

Second, a word of welcome to Daniel Kleyn who has joined our staff and will be an associate editor. Daniel, a member of Hope P.R. Church, is currently studying at Grand Valley and the Lord willing will be attending our seminary. He has written for us several times already and again in this issue he writes in our Question and Answer column. Welcome Daniel!

Third, we need questions. Not many people today ask for questions. Usually people ask for answers but for our Question and Answer column to continue, we need more questions. Please send us a question today!!