A Life of Sacrifice
Denying Yourself as the Authority and Focus of Your Own Life
Denying ourselves as the focus and attention of our lives allows us to follow Jesus and accomplish His will for our lives.
Life often requires us to give up what we want in order to accomplish the goals of our education, military training, and family. When you become a cadet or midshipman, you sacrificed a lot of other things you could be doing in order to become an Officer. In the same way, Jesus has a plan for our lives that requires us to deny our own interests so that we can adopt His interests and become a godly Officer. Jesus said in John 10:10, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?“
The next three lessons will unpack the three phrases, “deny himself”, “take up his cross”, and “follow Me”. Let us look at what it means to deny ourselves.
Jesus told Peter that He must go to Jerusalem, suffer, die on a cross, and rise from the dead. Peter could not stand the thought of Jesus dying. Peter rebuked Jesus, telling Him this would never happen. Jesus told Peter to “Get behind me, Satan,” because he was not looking to God’s interests, but to man’s. Jesus exposed Peter’s attitude of self-interest, which led Jesus to tell all His disciples that they must deny themselves. They were to deny what they wanted, and seek what God wanted.
There is a conflict between your flesh and God’s Spirit.
When we became a Christian by believing in Jesus, the Holy Spirit came to live in our lives. The problem is that our sin nature (the part of us that wants to rebel against God and rule our own lives) is still present and active in us. Daily, we must make the decision to deny our old sin nature and yield to God’s Spirit to guide us. Paul puts it this way in Galatians 5:16-17:
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”
Paul then goes on to compare what life looks like that is controlled by the Flesh verses controlled by the Spirit.
Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmi- ties, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these… Gal. 5:19-21a
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Gal. 5:22-23
- Head – Understand that there is conflict in me between the Spirit and the flesh. Understand that daily I must deny my selfish interest so that I may delight in God’s interests.
- Heart – I have a desire to deny my interest so I can fully experience God’s interests.
- Hand – I will daily in prayer and deeds deny my flesh and yield to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in me.
Click here to connect to a Valor Community.
For more resources on how to integrate your military training and faith, visit…
Dr. Preston is the national director of Valor, Cru’s ministry to cadets, midshipmen, and veterans on college campuses. He is a member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggies Corps of Cadets class of 1988. For twenty-five years, he has helped prepare men and women to be on mission in the military and beyond. David and his wife, Laura, live in College Station, TX.