If there is only one expression in Scripture of an important and pervasive principle, It is the principle of death and denial-of dying, of saying no to oneself and to the world in order that we might say yes to Christ. This principle is found throughout the New Testament. (Rom. 6:5-6, Gal. 5:20, 6:14)
This should not be difficult for us to understand, if we are Christians. However, the difficulty is not with understanding so much as it is with application; and it is here that most of us fall down. If we are really going to experience death and denial that, in one sense, is the basis of the Christian life, then we must be willing to say no to anything that is contrary to God’s will and way for us.
First, it means saying no to anything that is contrary to God’s revelation of himself; that is, anything contrary to the Bible. Second, if we are going to experience death and denial, we must also no to anything that is not the will of God for us. But there is also more. In the biblical scheme of things death is always followed by life, crucifixion by the resurrection. It is this that is truly exciting and for which we are willing to die.
So what is the difference between a joyless Christian and a joyful Christian, a defeated and a victorious one? Death and resurrection! The joyless Christian may have died and risen with Christ in some abstract, theological sense, so that he can in the same sense be termed “a new creature in Christ.” But he has certainly never known it in practice. On the other hand, the joyful Christian has found satisfaction in whatever God dispenses to him and is truly satisfied, for he has said no to anything that might keep him from the richness of God’s own blessing and presence, and has risen into new life.