Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Deny Yourself

This morning part of my Bible reading had me in Leviticus 16 -- I know, one of the most thrilling passages of the Bible.  In Lev.16 Moses gives instructions about the annual day of atonement.  It is a day when the sins of the nation would be confessed and brought before God in humility, a sacrifice would be offered on behalf of the people, and the nation would rest in the forgiveness of God.  Among the description of rules and rites that the chief priest was to observe is this instruction to all the people, "It will be a Sabbath day of complete rest for you, and you must deny yourselves." (Lev.16:31 NLT)

On the day of atonement the people were called to rest and deny themselves.  Deny themselves of things they wanted to do, needed to do.  Even the things they got to do only when they took a break and rested were off-limits.  I am sure there are times where you feel like you would be happy to deny yourself the things you would rather not be doing anyway.  Like the character Quintas said in the movie Gladiator, "Sometimes I do what I want to do, the rest of the time I do what I have to."  There are things that they had to do that had to be denied, and there were things that they wanted to do that had to be denied as well.  On the day of atonement they had to deny themselves.

When Jesus described His kingdom and discipleship He said that if anyone would be His follower he must, what?  Deny himself, take up his cross and follow Jesus.  The Jewish crowds that were following Him would most likely have related these words to the day of atonement.  Only Jesus' teaching was that there would not be one day a year of rest and denial, but a daily walk of rest in Him and denial of our self to be His follower.  He took our sins upon Himself.  He became sin that knew no sin.  The life of following Jesus is about pursuing Him alone, denying ourself.


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