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Denying Self and Confronting Your Ego 

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24 

You escaped Earth’s gravity and touched the stars. You never knew you could have such joy and excitement as you found in your initial salvation experience. Then, you floated back down to reality. It dawned on you that this is a life to be lived, not just an experience to be enjoyed. You must “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:1-2. 

But—surprise, surprise—you find that you cannot easily define yourself differently.  Maybe you’ve always been strongly independent.  You may be self-willful, proud, selfish, a maverick or even rebellious.  Suddenly, you realize that God is putting you through a series of trials to purge you of your ego-dominated life. It doesn’t go well. Unwilling to let go of your old definitions, your joy dissipates, and you grow miserable. Ultimately, you must decide: Christ or you? 

First, understand that God is not your enemy.  You are contending with your ego not with God.  It’s all based on why God saved you.  He is trying to develop you for his use. “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:6-9. 

It is important to respect yourself but beware of pop psychology.  What psychology calls self-esteem, the Bible calls sin.  Pride, lack of submission, rejection of spiritual authority, rebellion and egotism run counter to the will of God in your life.  “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” 1 John 2:16.  Dethrone yourself and enthrone Jesus Christ.  He is the summation of your purpose in life. “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8.

You belong to God—body, soul and spirit. “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Cor. 6:19-20. 

As a transformed person, you must now make your life’s decisions from the perspective of your Christian identity.  Career choice; move to another city, marriage, major purchases, everything that can affect your life are decisions that require Christ to be number one. Practice submission.  Submission equals discipleship.  In the clash of wills, God must win! Be alert to self-will.  Self-denial must now become your strategy for life.  Spiritual disciplines, including prayer, fasting, Bible reading, attending church and Christian fellowship, will keep you victorious. 

Always examine yourself (your heart, attitude, motives and affections) in the light of the Word of God. “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you unless indeed you are disqualified?” 2 Corinthians 13:5.

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