This is laying down our will and desires to pursue God’s purposes, and is similar to self-sacrifice – that is, selflessness, or giving up our own interests to help others. It is only as we die to the ‘old self’ and all that is wrong that we can live for Him and His life will be outworked in us.
Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself…” – this is putting God and His Kingdom first (Mt 6:33; Lk 9:23-25). This is an unreserved and unashamed demand of Christ to us; He gave His all for us that we in turn might give Him our all and is outworking the greatest command to love God (Mk 12:30). Not only does it mean making choices that are contrary to the selfish, inner nature but having the determination and motivation to deny their demands in an on-going, uncompromising stance.
Being voluntary in nature, self-denial applies only to personal rights but not to responsibilities
when fasting), it is not abusing or harming the body, which is a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. We are to manage and care for our bodies keeping them under control, and submissive to our spirit and soul (1 Cor 3:16,17, 9:27).
Self-denial is not a morbid, fatalistic attitude but a liberating mindset that loosens the hold of this world’s values for Jesus said, “A person’s life does not consist in the abundance of their possessions” – a relationship with Him is the most important thing (Lk 12:15; Jn 17:3). It is an emptying ourselves of all but love, being outward focused towards those in need (Jn 15:13). It requires sacrificial service, loving the hard to love, spending and being spent for the cause of Christ, loving our neighbour as ourself and the list goes on.