Deny Yourself for Greater Joy

Audio Transcript

The call for self-denial teaches the pursuit of satisfaction in God.

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:34–36)

The reason we have to take up our cross and deny ourselves is not that we are liable to have too much pleasure in God, but that we are so liable to find our pleasure elsewhere. And that bent must be crucified and denied over and over. Many people who start to like Christian Hedonism, fail to see this side of it.

Flannery O’Connor described self-denial and the quest for joy like this:

Always you renounce a lesser good for a greater; the opposite is what sin is. . . . Picture me with my ground teeth stalking joy — fully armed too as it’s a highly dangerous quest. (126)

Indeed it is. It may cost you your life, and everything you have. “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25). If someone offers you eighty years of pleasure in this world, then eternal misery, you better hate your life in this world, or you will not be a Christian Hedonist. You will be a fool.

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