“Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.’ “
In Luke 9:23 Jesus tells His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself take up his cross, and follow Me.” In the dictionary, to deny means to disown to the fullest extent. When Jesus took up His cross, He was fully submitting His will to God. When we deny ouselves and take up our cross, we must disown to the fullest extent our own ambitions, goals, and desires. We must submit under God’s plan for our life. In Jeremiah 29:11, God says, “For I know the thoughts that I think torward you…thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” God has a plan for our life and we must learn to submit ouselves under His will.
Notice in Luke 9:23 that it says to take up our cross daily. Every day our old fleshly desires will tempt us and try to control us. If we go one day allowing ourselves to follow the desires of the flesh, it will be even harder to let go of them. The more we practice self-denial, the less tempted we will be by the desires of the flesh.
Taking up our cross and following Jesus may sometimes be painful, whether it’s having to hear people mock us and laugh at us for choosing to give our life to Jesus, or having to learn to continue following Christ even when we don’t understand what He’s doing. But isn’t it pain that draws us closer to God? Isn’t it pain that makes us stronger? Jesus never promised us an easy life if we follow Him (Matthew 7:14), but He did promise that with every step we take in this life He would be right there to guide us in the right direction (Deuteronomy 31:6). He promised that he is preparing a place in heaven for those who follow Him (John 14:2-3). So when we are tempted to follow the pleasures of the flesh, let’s choose the path of self-denial, take up our cross, and continue following Jesus.