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

There is another kind of forsaking that may fall to the lot of some, and which they may find very difficult: the forsaking of such notions of God and his Christ as they were taught in their youth, of which they have begun to doubt the truth, but which to cast away seems like parting with every assurance of safety. By holding with a school he supposes to be right, a man but bolsters himself with the worst of all unbelief—opinion calling itself faith, unbelief calling itself religion. But for him who is in earnest about the will of God, if is of endless consequence that he should think rightly of God. He cannot truly know his will while his notion of him is in any point that of a false god. If such a man seem to himself to be giving up even his former assurance of salvation, in yielding such ideas of God as are unworthy of God, he must none the less, if he would enter into life, take up that cross also. He will come to see that he must follow no doctrine, be it true as word of man could state it, but the living Truth, the Master himself. Many good souls will one day be horrified at the things they now believe of God. If they have not thought about them, but given themselves to obedience, they may not have done them much harm as yet. But there are those who find them a terrible obstruction, and yet imagine, or at least fear them true; such must take courage to forsake the false in any shape, to deny their old selves in the most seemingly sacred of prejudices, and follow Jesus as he is presented by himself, his apostles, and the spirit of truth. We must look to how we have learned Christ.


by James House

we have to look to it, how we have learned Christ.

Have we learned Christ from our mothers, fathers?  Have we learned Chris from grandparents?  Dear friends?  From a Sunday School teacher?  Trusted minister?

Most of us have learned of Christ through at least some of these relationships. All of us owe a debt to everyone who has directed our hearts and mind toward Christ.   We naturally feel affinity to those who have impacted our spiritual growth.  Of course we feel greater affinity and loyalty to parents and loved ones that have had a hand in our spiritual development.

Why must we learn Christ, not just of him?  That we know God, our Father:

I know no other way of knowing that there is a God but that which reveals WHAT he is—the only idea that could be God—shows him in his own self-proving existence—and that way is Jesus Christ as he revealed himself on earth, and as he is revealed afresh to every heart that seeks to know the truth concerning him.

But have we learned Christ?  How do we know whether we have learned Christ rather than just learned some things about him?   Tradition is powerful. Communication between people is prone to misunderstandings.  The feelings within the heart can only be poorly put to words.

A true Christian heart will, must, have courage - including the courage to cast off incorrect beliefs of our Lord and Father that were given to us by people we love.

Of all things let us have the truth—even of fact!

The truth to the soul is as light to the eyes: you may be deceived, and mistake something else for light, but you can never fail to know the light when it really comes.

Each of us must find Christ for ourselves.  Must do so by reading and studying His words, and scrutinizing the stories of his life - and then applying obedience to the commands and example set forth by Him.  Thus, and only thus can we really learn Christ.   

the Word of God liveth and abideth for ever, not in the volume of the book, but in the heart of the man that in love obeyeth him

The Lord says: Be ye perfect. Dost thou then aim after perfection, or dost thou excuse thy wilful short-comings, and say, To err is human—nor hopest that it may also be found human to grow divine? Then ask thyself, for thou hast good cause, whether thou hast any part in him.

(Quotes from Thomas Wingfold, Curate,  by George MacDonald).