Only a person with a perfect knowledge of mankind could have dared to set forth the terms of discipleship that our Lord Jesus Christ expects of His followers. Only the Lord of men could have risked the effect of such rigorous demands: “Let him deny himself!” Can the Lord lay down such severe rules at the door of His kingdom? He can-and He does! If He is to save the man, He must save him from himself. It is the “himself” which has enslaved and corrupted the man. Deliverance comes only by denial of that self.
No man in his own strength can shed the chains with which self has bound him, but in the next breath the Lord reveals the source of the power which is to set the soul free: “Let him take up his cross.” The cross was an instrument of death-slaying a man was its only function. “Let him take his cross,” Jesus said, “and thus he will know deliverance from himself!