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Sermon Follow-up: "Everyday Christians Embrace Self-denial... Every Day"

Hello Godspeed,

It was great to be together yesterday! I hope we’ll “stay together” this week as a church — praying for each other, reaching out to help one another, and reaching out for help when you need it in any way. If you have a special need, please feel free to call the church office at 401-545-0724.

We talked yesterday about taking up our cross daily and following Jesus — from Mark 8:27 - 9:1.

The basic points were:

 - Jesus died to Himself
 - The early Christians died to themselves
 - We must die to ourselves every day

These five takeaway points summarize what we said about what dying to ourselves may look like:

1. In a church full of people who grew up hearing that we need to earn our salvation, we must deny all attempts at self-righteousness. Paul says, in Philippians 3:9, "That I may be found in Him not having my own righteousness.” We have to remind ourselves that we have no righteousness of our own. Our good deeds are a reaction to Jesus saving us, not a way of saving ourselves. We need to confess self-righteousness often.

2. In a world that is almost completely given over to sexual gratification outside of marriage, we need to renew our commitment to self-denial. Sexual fulfillment seems to have been elevated to a constitutional right. We hardly ever talk about self-denial, but the Bible does, as indicated in the following verses:

"Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body." 1 Corinthians 6:18

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:13

"For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God." 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5

"But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Matthew 5:28

"So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions." Romans 6:11-12

"Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry." Colossians 3:5

3. I need to preach to myself for a minute - feel free to listen in. I may not indulge a complaining spirit; I must deny my desire to gripe and complain. I had a grouchy week. Half the time, through out the week, I felt justified about grumbling and complaining out loud. Really little things don’t usually make me grouchy. Really big things don’t make me grouchy too much. It’s the mid-level life problems that make me grouchy. Lack of sleep + short on time + concern about someone’s spiritual or physical health = grouchy Tim. So I feel like I have the right to indulge my bad mood. But I don’t have the right to indulge my sin. Nor does God expect me to humanistically suck it in. I need to deny both my self-indulgent grouchiness, and deny my tendency toward self-sufficiency and say, “God, I am feeling nasty, please change my heart, and please change my behavior. I can’t do it." That’s another example of everyday self-denial.

4. We must deny self-determined beliefs, i.e. mix and match theology. Some Christians don’t like all the Bible. They say, "Well, I know the Bible teaches that wives are to submit to their husbands, but I just don’t believe that." Or that husbands are to be the spiritual leaders in their home. "Well, that’s just not me. I don’t really believe that’s for me." What? If you are doing that, I want you to be honest and picture yourself walking up to God and saying, “I know You said that, but I just don’t want to believe it. I don’t like that part.” That will help us be honest about what we’re really doing — and repent of it.

5. Finally self-indulgence. We believe that we have a right to sin in some self-indulgent ways because we are good in other ways. We work hard. We put up with so-and-so. Your co-worker or boss is the worst person in the world. No one has ever had to work for a guy like this. So you deserve a little ….what? Your favorite sin. Hey, I did good by God all day, I can confess my sin later. I just need to relax. God will understand.

Psalm 16:11 reminds us of why we are denying ourselves. It’s not to be Spartans. It’s not for the sake of self-denial at all. It’s for the sake of our happiness and joy. We deny ourselves of sin, in order to experience deeper joy. To experience the joy that God offers us. Ironically, we deny ourselves of lower pleasures for higher ones. The reward is God himself. Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forever more.” We turn away from our sinful self, and we turn to the joy of the Lord.

Titus 2:11-14 says, "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.