By thomas Watson, 1675
Be convinced of the incomparable excellency of Christ. He is the quintessence of goodness. He is compared to a head of gold—for riches, Song of Solomon 5:10; to the Rose of Sharon—for perfume, Song of Solomon 2:1; to a bright morning star—for beauty, Revelation 22:16. Jesus Christ is all that is good and lovely. He is all we can require for satisfaction, or that we can desire for salvation. He is fully commensurate to our needs. He has eye salve to anoint us, white raiment to cover us, and His blood to heal us. We shall never deny ourselves for Christ—until we see glory and a beauty in Him. Christ is all marrow and sweetness. He is better than life, estate, or heaven!
Endeavor after a vital principle of grace. Grace will do that which flesh and blood cannot do. A man may do that by skill—which he cannot do by strength. A burden of great weight may be lifted up by pulleys, which cannot be lifted up by strength of arm. Grace will teach one the art of self-denial, which cannot be done by strength of nature. In particular, labor for three graces.
Humility. A proud man admires himself; therefore he cannot deny himself. A humble man lays his mouth in the dust. He has lower thoughts of himself, than others can have of him. He renounces himself. He opens to God as the flower opens to the sun. He will have—what God will have for him. He will be—what God will have him be. He is like melting wax. God may set whatever stamp and impression He will, upon him. The humble man is the self-denier.
Love. Who will not deny himself for a friend whom he loves? He will part with anything he has. He will gratify him who he loves, though it is to his own loss. He whose heart is fired with love for Christ—will stop at nothing for His sake. Gregory Nazianzen said of his Athenian learning, that he was glad he had anything of worth, to esteem as nothing, for Christ. Love for God will devour self-love.
Faith. Abraham was a great self-denier. He left his kindred and country and was willing to travel to any place where God would have him. Whence was this? It was from his faith. Hebrews 11:8, "By faith Abraham obeyed and went out, not knowing where he went." He who believes that Christ and heaven are his—what will he not relinquish for Christ's sake? The stronger a Christian's faith is, the more eminent will his self-denial be.
Pray much for self-denial. Prayer sets God to work, Psalm 10:17. Let this be your grand request—a self-denying frame of heart. Self-denial does not grow in nature's soil. It is a fruit of the Spirit. Beg God that He will plant this heavenly flower in your soul. Say, "Lord, whatever You deny me, do not deny me self-denial. Let me rather lack great abilities, nay, let me lack the comforts of the Spirit—rather than self-denial."
There may be going to heaven without comfort—but there is no going there without self-denial.