Commands of Christ

Deny Yourself

Where is this command found?

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?”

Luke 9:23–25

Applying This Command

This command is based on the powerful truth that a believer conquers through his death—not through his life. When Jesus told His disciples He would die, Peter rebuked Him. Jesus firmly responded, “Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men” (Mark 8:33).

It is man’s way of thinking that tells us we experience the good things of life by guarding our lives. In reality, we enjoy the good things in life by losing our lives for Christ’s sake. This is the message that Jesus continued to teach after giving this command.

It is significant that the Greek word used here for deny, which is aparneomai, is used in the Gospels three times in Christ’s command and nine times to describe Peter’s denial of Jesus. The message is clear—either we deny ourselves or we will deny Jesus.


Bible Verses for Meditation

In addition to meditation on Luke 9:23–24, meditating on the verses below will provide you with further insight and understanding of Christ’s command: Deny Yourself.

John 12:25–26

“He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”

I Corinthians 9:27

“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

Acts 20:24

“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”

Galatians 2:20

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

Philippians 3:8

“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.”

Related Episodes

From the Podcast

Dive deeper into the command Deny Yourself with these episodes from the Commands of Christ podcast!

Study Question

Q: Why did Jesus rebuke Peter for trying to protect Him and forgive those who actually killed Him? (See John 18:10–11 and Luke 23:34.)

A: When a detachment of soldiers arrived at the Mount of Olives to arrest Jesus, Peter attempted to protect Him by striking the high priest’s servant with a sword. Jesus commanded Peter, “Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (John 18:11).

Peter did not yet understand that a believer conquers through his death and not through his life. This powerful truth is the reason Jesus rebuked Peter for trying to protect His physical body and also forgave those who crucified Him. As He was hanging on the cross, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). He was saying, in effect, “They do not know that what they are doing is fulfilling all the prophecies of Scripture and conquering the power of Satan.”

It is easy to believe that we experience the good things of life by guarding our lives. In reality, we enjoy the good things in life by losing our lives for Christ’s sake. This is the message that Jesus continued to teach after giving the command to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.

For Further Study

You can learn more about the command Deny Yourself in the book Commands of Christ: Series 4.

Other Resources

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