Why choose a life of self denial?
Its something seldom talked about anymore. Things like self control and self denial have all but become dirty words to us, yet it is Jesus who teaches that if you want to become a follower you must deny yourself and take up your cross (Matthew 16:24). The key to answering why is whether or not you actually want to follow Jesus. You see we have used words like believer to describe those who are Christian for years, but I find words like believer to be inadequate. I can believe in something and not actually do anything about it. You can tell me how safe bungee jumping is and how there are systems in place to make sure that you’re not going to hurt yourself. In fact I can watch people bungee jump all day long and not see anyone get hurt and so I can believe that its safe to jump, but its another thing to climb to actually jump. You see there are far too many Christians who stop at believing in Jesus, but for all their belief they never actually become followers. They never take that step. Why self denial? Because only when you deny yourself can you truly make Jesus the Lord of your life and Jesus must be Lord if He is really going to have an influence in your life. It is then that you can truly put off the old self and become the new creation that scripture promises.
Self denial and fasting?
To me the practice of fasting is really the practice of self denial. It’s denying yourself the pleasures or even needs of this life in order to truly pursue God. What if our lifestyle as believers became one of fasting? I bet the church would live in more power because we would clear the clutter and be more tuned in with Jesus. It is because of this that I think we need to re-examine this lost practice that Jesus implored us to do. I think that we need to relearn the value of self denial.