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Jesus made it clear for any and all who desire to follow after Him. The key, the first step, the gateway to entering into a fruitful joyful discipleship relationship with Him is to “deny yourself”.

Matthew 16:24–26 (NKJV) Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Deny yourself. It sounds simple enough. It’s not that simple for many. I’ve met quite a few men and women who gloss over this important command. Others pick and choose how they will sort of, kind of, deny themselves “things”, “episodes”, and unwanted things.  They approach their Christian lives like going through their closet and pulling out the things for Goodwill. I don’t want them anymore anyway so let’s give them away and make room for new things I will purchase for myself.

Still others I’ve spoken to have a real, valid question, “how do I deny myself”?  Is that you today? Are you searching high and low for the ‘secret’ to a fulfilling, full life?

What if we rephrased the question, thought of it another way? What if the command was given to you as, “you must give up any and all rights you think you have”?

The only way to enjoy the gracious blessings of God in relationship is to learn to daily, moment by moment, give up your literal or perceived rights and choose to follow Him.  Here are just some of the rights the true Jesus follower and disciple MUST surrender. These are biblically non-negotiable.

1. We give up the right to take revenge (Rom. 12:19–20)

Romans 12:19–20 (NLT) Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”

2. We give up the right to have a comfortable, secure home (Luke 9:57–58)

Luke 9:57–58 (NLT) As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”

3. We give up the right to a good reputation (Matt. 5:11)

Matthew 5:11 (NLT) “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.

4. We give up the right to spend money however we please (Matt. 6:19–21)

Matthew 6:19–21 (NLT) Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

5. We give up the right to hate an enemy (Matt. 5:43–47)

Matthew 5:43–47 (NLT) “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.

6. We give up the right to be honored and served (Mark 10:42–45)

Mark 10:42–45 (NLT) So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

7. We give up the right to understand God’s plan before we obey him (Heb. 11:8)

Hebrews 11:8 (NLT) It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.

8. We give up the right to live by our own rules (John 14:23–24)

John 14:23–24 (NLT) Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me.

9. We give up the right to hold a grudge (Col. 3:13)

Colossians 3:13 (NLT) Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

10. We give up the right to complain (Phil. 2:14, 1 Thess. 5:18)

Philippians 2:14 (NLT) Do everything without complaining and arguing,

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT) Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

11. We give up the right to put self first (Phil. 2:3–4)

Philippians 2:3–4 (NLT) Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

12. We give up the right to express one’s sexuality freely (1 Cor. 6:18–20)

1 Corinthians 6:18–20 (NLT) Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

13. We give up the right to rebel against authority (1 Peter 2:13–15)

1 Peter 2:13–15 (NLT) For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you.

I’m especially grateful to Margaret Ashmore and Elisabeth Elliot for listing out these rights to surrender


  • Tacey Kearin says:

    Great teaching thank you. It’s not easy but will be worth it in the end.

    • Christine says:

      Pastor Ed, I always love your teachings. I have learned so much from you. Denying self is definitely not easy. I want to please GOD regardless of the cost and I will come back to this often as I learn to put others before myself. Thank you and God Bless you always. Christine

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