Self Denial

And he said unto all, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever would save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

— St. Luke 9:23-24

We must be jealous for God against ourselves, and look well to the cunning and deceitful Self, until it is thoroughly and utterly denied, and God is to it also All-in-all—till we have left it quite empty of our will, and God has come into it. Until then, its very denials, its very turnings from things dear to it for the sake of Christ, will tend to foster its self-regard, and generate in it a yet deeper self-worship. The Self will please itself with the thought of its unselfishness, its devotion to God, its forsakings for his sake. It may not call itself, but it will soon feel itself a saint, looking down upon the foolish world and its ways. In a thousand ways will Self delude itself. Christ sought not his own, not anything but the will of his Father: we have to grow diamond-clear, true as the white light of the morning. Hopeless task! –were it not that he offers to come himself, and dwell in us.

We must note that the thing has to be done daily: we must keep on denying. It is a deeper and harder thing than any sole effort of most herculean will may finally effect. For the will is not pure, is not free, until the Self is absolutely denied. It takes long for the water of life that flows from the well within us, to permeate every outlying portion of our spiritual frame, subduing everything, until at last we are delivered into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. Every day till then we have to take up our cross; every hour to see that we are carrying it.