"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matthew 16:24-26
Self has been said to be the part of man that 1) wants it's own way, 2) does not want to be criticized, 3) wants to be praised, and 4) has an appetite. The more self has it's own way, the more it wants it. The less self is criticized, the less it wants. The more self is praised, the more it wants. One can see from that definition that self wants to reign as lord of one's life. Therefore, for one to be saved, they must come to the end of self.
"Coming to the end of self" is not a phrase used in the Bible but a principle taught. This is what Jesus referred to in Mat. 16:24 when He said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." "Deny" means to forget one's self or to lose sight of one's self and one's own interest. To do that one must die to self. Paul said it this way in Gal. 2:20, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
"I am crucified" is one word in the Greek with the tense being perfect, which means that there was a completed act of crucifixion of the old man in past time having present finished results. Paul also said of himself in Romans 6:6, "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." The words "is crucified with" are one word in the Greek with the tense being aorist, which means point action. Paul was crucified with Christ when he got saved. At the point when salvation occurred "Saul" was crucified and "Paul" was made alive, a new creature in Christ.
Crucifixion requires an executioner, who is the Holy Ghost. One can kill himself many ways but he can not crucify himself, that is the work of the Holy Ghost in Godly sorrow as He reproves (convicts and convinces) one of sin, righteousness, and judgment. (John 16:8-11) That is why "salvation is of the Lord." It is His work to bring man to the end of himself so that he can be saved.
It is clear in Mat. 16:24-26 that Jesus is speaking about salvation when He ask two questions in verse 26, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" The word "deny" in verse 24 is in the aorist tense which means point action. When the Holy Ghost begins to work in a sinner's life, He brings (draws; John 6:44) him to a point where crucifixion takes place, which is at the end of self. This principle is a must in one's life if he is to be saved. As long as self is alive that person will not want the Lord to reign over his life.
One of the best Bible examples of this principle is Jacob. Jacob's name means "supplanter" which means to take the place of, especially through scheming. That was the characteristic of Jacob's life as he took the birthright and blessing from Esau by scheming, as a result he fled from Esau in fear of his life. We see him as he had an encounter with God in Gen. 28 still trying to make a deal. Gen. 28:20-22 states, "And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee." Note the "if" in verse 20 and the "then" in verse 21. Self was still very much alive in Jacob.
Jacob didn't get saved in Genesis 28 because one does not get saved by making deals with God, but by taking Jesus as Lord. That Jacob did not do this here is evident from his own statement in verse 21, "then shall the Lord be my God." For the next 20 years his life still followed the same pattern of scheming as he dealt with Laban. As he heads back to Bethel, knowing that he would have to face Esau, he devises his own plan to soften Esau's heart. Concerned that his plan may not get the job done he prays in Gen. 32:9-12. This is the first time recorded that Jacob prayed to God. When self gets backed into a corner it usually likes to have a bit of "extra insurance" by asking God to help out.
Jacob then got alone at the brook Peniel where he wrestled with a man, whom he later referred to as God, until the breaking of day. Jacob was trying to get loose from God, trying to get out from under conviction. This would compare to Paul's "kicking against the pricks" in Acts 9:5.
Gen. 32:25 reveals that when God saw He could not prevail against Jacob, He touched the hallow of his thigh, the strength of his legs. Jacob now was helpless and he could not outrun Esau because he did not have two good legs any longer. At this point Jacob grabbed hold of God and then God said, "Let me go, for the day breaketh." (Gen. 32:26) Jacob replied, "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me."
This was the point where Jacob came to the end of self and God became his Lord. He got saved and became a new creature. His name was changed to Israel which means "a prince of God." His life begin to show he was different because he put away strange gods (Gen. 35:2) and built an altar for the first time (recorded) in his life.
All this resulted because God brought him to the end of self. Self got off the throne of his life and the Lord go on. That's what happens when one gets saved.
Have you ever had a place where you came to the end of self and Jesus became Lord? If you do not then you had better examine yourself! (II Cor. 13:5) You may not have called this experience by the same name as I, but the principle had to occur. This principle of "coming to the end of self" must have occurred in one's life if they possess real salvation.
THE PERSUADER - Feb.-March, 1993