Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
Many people who mean well will use this verse out of context as a means to control and bully people(it would seem) and put them back under some type of law(trying to earn God’s favor). They inadvertently take the focus off of Christ and His finished work, and put it on self and self efforts.
However, context shines light into this error.
Jesus foretells of His death, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” – Luke 9:22
Then after, “24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it…”
“26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My Words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
In the context of this passage, “deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me,” means to be prepared to be rejected and killed for the message of Christ, the Gospel.
“Deny himself” is not talking (in context) about denying “a sinful self,” but denying your own will to live as Christ did in the garden of Gethsemane. By the way, our sinful self is dead with Christ, and we have a new self that is sinless. Anyways, Jesus’ will was to live, nevertheless, He submitted and said “Not My will, but Your will be done.”
So a simply explanation of this passage is, “Be willing lay down your life to die and be rejected every day for the Gospel, if it comes to that, and follow Jesus’ example of laying His life down on the cross.”
“Not my will, but Your will be done.”
Again, it’s not about us, it’s about Jesus. We only love because He first loved us.
God has made us new creations in Christ, the old has passed, behold the new has come. And if you have Christ Jesus you are righteousness, sanctified, and redeemed according to 1 Corinthians 1:30. And just to hammer the point that we are completely new, we have what Ephesians calls, a new self, created like God, truly righteous and holy.
Be blessed, and be transformed by the renewing of your mind in the Living Word!