Jesus professes to have a unique knowledge of God. Jesus says: “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27)
To serve God we are not called to choose self-denial or sacrifice, rather are we called to fulfill God’s purpose. The basic principle is not to choose the cross but to obey God’s will. Should the principle on which we work and serve include rebellion, then Satan will obtain and enjoy glory even through our sacrifices. Saul might offer sheep and oxen, yet God never accepted them as sacrifices to Himself because there was a Satanic principle involved.
Our self-love keeps us from surrendering to the guidance of the will of God, and eliminates the sense of gratitude we should have toward God for all the blessings God lavishes upon us. By calling upon us to deny ourselves, bear our cross and hope for eternal life, even as we thank God for the blessings of this life, we are to abandon once for all the image of ourselves we have created through our blind self-love, in order to be conformed to the image of selfless and self-giving love that is revealed in Jesus Christ.
Human reason tells us to avoid dishonour and disgrace as the worst of plagues, but faith in Christ reveals to us that being reviled for the sake of his name is the highest honour we can receive in this life.
Since we do not belong to ourselves, we should cease to live for ourselves, but should rather deny ourselves. We are not our own: in so far as we can, let us therefore forget ourselves and all that is ours. Since we belong to God, we should live and die for God alone, and order all parts of our lives by his will alone. Thus, we are God’s: let us therefore live for him and die for him.
And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever; the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:16–17
He who hopes to preach so as to please everybody must be newly come to the ministry; and he who aims at such an object would do well speedily to leave its ranks.