“If anyone would come after me,
let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
(Jesus Christ, as recorded in Luke 9:23, ESV)
In this verse Jesus informs us of three aspects of the Christian life: self-denial, cross-bearing, and following after Christ. The first of those is self-denial, which means refusing to make self that which controls your life.
Jesus and his cause are to be taken up as the Christian’s chief loyalty. To follow Christ you must deny personal control of your own life. Jesus modeled that for us in his sacrificial death. It was God’s will that he die on the cross, and Jesus was fully committed to obeying that to which God had called him.
The attitude of Jesus can be seen in his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane before his crucifixion, “Not as I will, but as you will” (see Matthew 26:39). That attitude of self-denial should characterize the life of every Christian.