Denying Self and Following Christ (Matt 16:24) - Sermon

Text: Matthew 16:24 
Sanjaynagar, Sunday, July 17

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. (Matt.16:24)

The first requisite for one to be a follower of Jesus Christ is denying oneself, then taking up one's own cross and following Him.

A little while ago, Jesus had asked what his disciples thought of Him. Peter answered, "You are Christ, the Son of the Living God," and Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jona, for flesh and blood [meaning man] has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven." Peter may have felt elated and so began imagining that he was someone important now. So, when Jesus immediately began speaking of His death and resurrection, he took Jesus aside (just think how daring does blind pride make one) and began rebuking (!) Him saying that such things won't happen. Jesus immediately rebuked him saying, ""Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." Then, He went on to say that one can only be able to follow Him if he has first denied himself.

Four Kinds of People Who Can't Follow Christ

1. Mr. Prideful alias Self-Boaster

Remember the story of the Pharisee who went to the temple and boasted of himself. He was not justified in the sight of God. But the sinner who stood afar and beat his breast was. God resists the proud but exalts the humble, the Bible says. The proud man is filled with thoughts of himself so much that he can't bend to receive the gifts of God.

2. Mr. Spiteful alias Rebel

There are some who keep opposing all good and right things, because of a rebellious nature. They may be filled with arguments to support their rebellion and are puffed up, having not the Spirit of God (1Tim.6:3-5). Such people bring divisions and seditions (Jude 18,19) and will perish because of their rebellion (Jude 11). They take things lightly and mock the things of God, and so can't look into God's reality, deny themselves and take up their cross. Such people will never inherit the promises of God.

3. Mr. Self-Piteous alias Negative

There are some who cringe and perish in their self-pity. They don't have faith and so can't rely on God. They keep looking at themselves and pass their days in self-pity. Such people can't follow Christ. Satan attacked Job in many ways; first, he destroyed his wealth and family, but Job didn't sin; so, he afflicted his body; still Job didn't sin; then, he brought in his friends (religious people) who began condemning him and he soon fell to self-pitying, talking negative words, despising his life, and crying why he was suffering without any hope. But, God broke in and revealed to Job that his thoughts were too small before the magnitude of who God was, His sovereignty, power, and control over the whole universe. Job immediately repented and surrendered in faith to God. God blessed him.

Self-pity and worry doesn't add any positive thing to life. Bring your negative lifestyle and turn it positive by allowing the Lord to wash it in His blood. Cast your burdens on Him, and start giving thanks, for He really cares for you.

4. Mr. Backslider alias Loser

Proverbs 14:14 says that the backslider in heart is filled with his own ways. Such a person cannot walk with Christ for long; sooner, he turns back, and gives up the walk of the cross for the sake of his own thoughts, doubts, desires, and imaginations. The Scripture admonishes us:
"Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him."
But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. (Heb. 10:38-39)

Let's keep moving forward in step with the Lord. Let's forsake all traces of pride, doubt, and fleshly desires and submit ourselves in total humility before the Lord. He will bless us with His grace. Those who follow Him to the end, will inherit His promises and His kingdom.


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