Christian Self-Denial
Matthew 16:21-24
From that time forth began Jesus to show to his disciples, how that he must go to Jerusalem…

After the noble confession of Peter Jesus "began to show unto his disciples how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suite." This intelligence roused all the devil in Peter, so that he took that Blessed One whom he had just acknowledged to be the "Son of the living God," and began to rebuke him. Simon was not innocent of selfishness in his concern for the life of his Lord, for he shrewdly concluded that the servants might suffer with the Master. Jesus strongly resented this evil spirit of the world, and urged the absolute necessity of self-denial.


1. The will of God is the creature's law.

(1) Ether expands, flame ascends, water finds its level, the blade of grass pushes sunward. Theories may be hazarded to explain these things, but the theories will need explanation. Sooner or later we come back upon the principle that the will of God is the creature's law.

(2) Man is no exception. His intellect, conscience, affections, will, are as truly creatures of God as the instincts of animals, the habits of plants, or the properties of matter.

(3) God does not coerce the human will, but he gives us a law with sanctions. The very superiority of our endowments should influence our heart to love and serve him to the limit of our ability.

2. Yet our inclinations cross the will of God.

(1) Originally this was not so. We were created in innocency and uprightness. Our senses let in the evidences of the power, wisdom, and goodness of our Creator. Our intellects were filled with admiration of his perfections; our hearts glowed with love to him; our obedience was loyal and delightful.

(2) But in an evil hour this Eden was blighted, and we became earthly, sensual, devilish.

3. Therefore now the necessity for self-denial.

(1) Without, it we cannot regain the forfeited favour of God. Worldliness must be fought and conquered. The flesh with its affections and lusts must be crucified. Waywardness must be resisted.

(2) Without self-denial that favour cannot be retained. Let the duty of reproving sin be neglected because it is unpleasant, and the relish for the worship of God will go, and his service will degenerate into formality. Let the duty of giving bountifully to the cause of God and humanity be restrained because the love of gain is pleasant, and the life of God will languish and expire.


1. The human race is one great family.

(1) Polygenists should consider the striking differences in persons confessedly of the same nation and race, and how they might be aggravated by the influence of climate, diet, and habits of life extended over many generations. The same class of dog that in the tropics will grow a thin covering of hair will in the arctic regions grow a thick coat of wool.

(2) Developmentarians who trace the American Indian to the broad-nosed simian of the New World, the African to the Troglodytic stock, and the Mongolian to the orang, should consider that no two tribes of men differ as the orang and chimpanzee.

(3) Moses ought to know what he was writing about, living as he did within a few generations of the origin of our race. If the accepted chronology may be taken as correct, he was contemporary with men who were contemporary with Abraham, and Abraham was contemporary with men who remembered Noah, and Methuselah was at once contemporary with Noah and Adam. Could Moses have imposed on the men of his generation a fanciful account of the origin of their race which the traditions of every family might be presumed to contradict?

(4) Sin, not science, is the true origin of polygenism. Sin is dissocializing. It expels brotherly love, generates hatred, variance, emulation, strife, sedition. It originates wars and tyrannies.

2. The necessities of the family call for self-denial.

(1) Some of these are physical. Should not our luxuries minister to the necessities of the hungry and naked and homeless (see James 2:15, 16; 1 John 3:17)?

(2) Some are spiritual. What is done for the headmen abroad and at home? For the street Arab? For the inhabitant of the mansion who habitually neglects the means of grace? Do we give money? Do we give personal service to Church work, which is more valuable than money?

(3) The temper of the world will tax our self-denial. Meet a hypocondriac, and he will weary you; but you may release yourself by asking after the health of his soul. The subject is unpalatable to the impenitent, but without encountering resentments we cannot clear our consciences of the blood of souls.


1. He stooped to the form of a servant.

(1) Born in a stable; cradled in a manger; associated with poverty.

(2) But who is this? The King of glory!

(3) Can the sticklers for precedence be the servants of this great Exemplar? How small in his great presence are the artifices (of pride! How contemptible is borrowed greatness!

2. He exercised himself with fasting.

(1) At the entrance upon his ministry he fasted in the wilderness as our Exemplar. If we would be successful in our spiritual conflicts we should in our measure follow him here.

(2) In this age of wisdom men see no reason in fasting, and vet here is a kind of devil that will not depart without faith; and here is a kind of unbelief that will not go out but by prayer and fasting.

3. He took up his own cross.

(1) He went to Jerusalem to suffer. There he "suffered many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes." The false accusation, the shame, the spitting, the scourge.

(2) There, at Jerusalem, he literally carried his cross. On it he was "killed."

(3) And every man has his cross to lift and carry, and perhaps on it to be killed for Christ's sake. It is not his place to rebuke Jesus for bringing him to it, but, when he finds it, to lift it and shame the devil. - J.A.M.

Parallel Verses
KJV: From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

WEB: From that time, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and the third day be raised up.

Christ Foretelling His Death
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