Sabbath, June 11, 2005
“Self-denial and crosses meet us at every step on our heavenward journey.” –Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 79.
• To understand that self-denial is a basic point in our preparation for heaven.
• To realize that self-denial is not a self-imposed punishment but a way to freedom.
• To realize that gratitude and love lead to self-denial.
• To remember that self-denial should be learned from infancy.
SELF- DENIAL-A SIGN OF DISCIPLESHIP
1. What is the starting point of a Christian life?
Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
“The life of Christ was one of self-sacrifice and self-denial at every step; and with consistent, Christ-like tenderness and love, His true follower will walk in the footsteps of the Master; and as he advances in this life, he will become more and more inspired with the spirit and life of Christ. (ST April 16, 1912)” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1092.
“Follow Him in befriending the most needy and friendless. Follow Him in being forgetful of self, abundant in acts of self-denial and selfsacrifice to do others good; when reviled, reviling not again; manifesting love and compassion for the fallen race.” –Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 178.
2. To what point did Christ’s spirit of self-denial bring Him and may bring us also?
Philippians 2:6-8 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
“He laid aside His glory, His dominion, His riches, and sought after those who were perishing in sin. He humbled Himself to our necessities, that He might exalt us to heaven. Sacrifice, self-denial, and disinterested benevolence characterized His life. He is our pattern.” –Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 549.
“Shall the world’s Redeemer practice self-denial and sacrifice on our account, and the members of Christ’s body practice self-indulgence?– No; self-denial is an essential principle of discipleship.” –Signs of the Times, November 25, 1886.
“The absence of self-denial in His professed followers, God regards as a denial of the Christian name.” –Counsels on Stewardship, p. 54.
3. What is one of the most difficult natural desires to overcome?
Proverb 23:1-3 When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: And put a knife to thy Throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.
Philippians 3:18, 19 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.
“It is a most difficult matter to unlearn the habits which have been indulged through life and have educated the appetite. The demon of intemperance is not easily conquered. It is of giant strength and hard to overcome.”
–Counsels on Health, p. 609.
“Our tables are frequently spread with luxuries neither healthful nor necessary, because we love these things more than we love self-denial, freedom from disease, and soundness of mind. “What a pity it is that often, when the greatest self-denial should be exercised, the stomach is crowded with a mass of unhealthful food, which lies there to decompose. The affliction of the stomach affects the brain. The imprudent eater does not realize that he is disqualifying himself for giving wise counsel, disqualifying himself for laying plans for the best advancement of the work of God. But this is so.” –Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 53.
MOTIVE FOR, AND EVIDENCE OF SELF DENIAL
4. What motivates a spirit of self-denial?
2 Corinthians 9:15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.
2 Corinthians 8: 9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
“It is when divine light shines into the chambers of the mind with unusual clearness and power, that the feelings of the natural man are overcome, that selfishness loses its power upon the heart, and that desires are awakened to imitate the Pattern, Jesus Christ, in practicing self-denial and benevolence.” –Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 471.
“Every soul that accepts Jesus as his personal Saviour will pant for the privilege of serving God and will eagerly seize the opportunity to signalize his gratitude by devoting his abilities to God’s service. He will long to show his love for Jesus and for His purchased possession. He will covet toil, hardship, sacrifice. He will think it a privilege to deny self, lift the cross, and follow in Christ’s footsteps, thus showing his loyalty and love.” –Testimonies to Ministers, p. 394.
5. What does self-denial have to do with consecration and sanctification?
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
“When the apostle appeals to his brethren to present their bodies ‘a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God,’ he sets forth the principles of true sanctification. It is not merely a theory, an emotion, or a form of words, but a living, active principle, entering into the everyday life. It requires that our habits of eating, drinking, and dressing be such as to secure the preservation of physical, mental, and moral health, that we may present to the Lord our bodies, not an offering corrupted by wrong habits, but ‘a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.’” –The Sanctified Life, pp. 27, 28.
6. What are some practical signs of self-denial?
“Self-denial means to rule the spirit when passion is seeking for the mastery; to resist the temptation to censure and to speak faultfinding words; to have patience with the child that is dull and whose conduct is grievous and trying; to stand at the post of duty when others may fail; to lift responsibilities wherever and whenever you can, not for the purpose of applause, not for policy, but for the sake of the Master, who has given you a work to be done with unwavering fidelity; when you might praise your self, to keep silent and let other lips praise you. Self-denial is to do good to others where inclination would lead you to serve and please yourself.” –Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 521.
“Do not talk about your meager wages. Do not cultivate a taste for expensive articles of dress or furniture. Let the work advance as it began, in simple self-denial and faith.” –Selected Messages, vol. 2, p. 188.
SELF-DENIAL FOR EVERYONE AT ALL TIMES
7. In what way is John the Baptist, as a forerunner of Jesus’ first coming, an example for us today?
Matthew 3:4 And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey
“John separated himself from friends, and from the luxuries of life. The simplicity of his dress, a garment woven of camel’s hair, was a standing rebuke to the extravagance and display of the Jewish priests, and of the people generally. His diet, purely vegetable, of locusts and wild honey, was a rebuke to the indulgence of appetite, and the gluttony that everywhere prevailed.” –Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 71.
Regarding the “locusts,” the Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, p. 842, among others, gives the following definitions: “An American fabaceous tree, Robinia Pseudo-Acacia, having thorny branches and white flowers. The durable wood of this tree. Any of various other trees, as the carob and the honey locust.”
“No one can practice real benevolence without self-denial. Only by a life of simplicity, self-denial, and close economy is it possible for us to accomplish the work appointed us as Christ’s representatives.” –Messages to Young People, p. 320.
8. Are children exempt from practicing self-denial?
“Children are to be educated to deny themselves…. It flashed upon me with great force that in every home there should be a self-denial box, and that into this box the children should be taught to put their pennies they would otherwise spend for candy and other unnecessary things. …
“You will find that as the children place their pennies in these boxes, they will gain a great blessing. . . . Every member of the family, from the oldest to the youngest, should practice self-denial.” –Child Guidance, p. 132.
“Our children should be taught to deny themselves of such unnecessary things as candies, gum, ice cream, and other knickknacks, that they may put the money saved by their self-denial into the self-denial box, of which there should be one in every home. By this means large and small sums would be saved for the cause of God.” –Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 329.
FOR MEDITATION AND FURTHER STUDY
• Let us make a list of the benefits God has given us that fill our souls with gratitude.
• Let us make a list of the areas in which self denial is still difficult for us to practice and make it a point of prayer.
• Let us study and discuss this subject with the members of our family in a spirit of humility and prayer until everyone agrees to keep a self-denial box at home, if we do not already have one.
• Let us consider this testimony: “Study the principles of health reform and teach your children that the path of self-denial is the only path of safety.” –Child Guidance, p. 409.
• Let us learn the following statements by heart after having meditated on them, and let us pray they may become part of us:
“Self-denial is to do good to others where inclination would lead you to serve and please yourself.” –Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 521.
“Self denial and crosses meet us at every step on our heavenward journey.” –Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 79.
“Resolution, self-denial and consecrated effort are required for the work of preparation.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 1096.
“Self-denial, self sacrifice, is to be woven into all our experience.” –Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 116.
“The most difficult sermon to preach and the hardest to practice is selfdenial.” –Counsels on Stewardship, p. 29.
“We should not live for ourselves, but for others.” –Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 647.