Tuesday, December 18, 2007

To deny. What does it mean?

Words. There are thousands of them, yet each one has a specific meaning. How many words, though, do we use in regular day to day life that we do not truly know the meanings of? We have often been surprised when doing word studies to learn the meaning of certain words that our family regularly uses. Many times, the meaning is so much deeper and more encompassing than what we had ever thought.

One of these words is the word 'deny'. Last year, our family studied the word deny in regard to the Scripture passages that use that word and as a result, we discovered that two different Greek words are translated into English as the same word 'deny'. One, arneomai, means - to deny, disown, renounce, repudiate; to say no, etc. The other, aparneomai, is a strengthened form of arneomai, meaning 'to deny utterly'. Utterly, as defined by the Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, means to the full extent; fully; perfectly; totally.

The majority of the words 'deny' and its various forms (denies, denied, etc.) in our English translations are translated from the Greek word arneomai, but what we found interesting is that the stronger word, aparneomai - to deny utterly, is used in Mark 8:34: "And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.'"

Realizing this led us into an in-depth study on what does it truly mean to deny ourselves in order to follow Christ. It is to deny ourselves utterly, completely; to not do anything simply for self-pleasure, but only for the purpose of either glorifying our God in heaven, or edifying our brothers and sisters in the Lord. If it is not fulfilling these purposes, it is of self and anything of self and not of the Lord is sin. This is a convicting thought! And one that, for us anyway, needs a lot of examination of our hearts to see what areas of our lives we are still satisfying our own pleasures and not serving the Lord fully and completely.

We should be asking ourselves these and similar questions: Why am I doing this particular task? What is my heart attitude? Am I doing this as a service to others and to God or simply because I want to do it? Why am I reading the Scriptures? Because I know I need to, or because my heart is eager to learn and grow in my walk with Christ? Trying to develop this "examiner's heart" in our lives is somewhat difficult, as every thought, facial expression, spoken word, action, activity, etc., all need to be examined closely through the light of God's Word to see if we are being obedient to Him. Truly denying oneself begins in the heart and it takes conscious effort. We need to be constantly "taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5); and to have the attitude "which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5) being holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16).

This past year has truly been enlightening for us, but we also are seeing how much of our time is spent in satisfying our own selfish and often petty desires. After the examination and discovery of areas of self in our lives, comes the surrender of these to Christ. The cry of our hearts is that we rest in our Savior. That as we go through our day, it will be less of us and more of Him. What joy to know that His promise is true that if we give our heart and will fully to Him, He will guide us in the path of Truth. May we, as "bondslaves" of God, strive to continue growing in our Lord, to "also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith," (Hebrews 12:1-2a) so that we may be presented to our Bridegroom, "pure and spotless".

-Posted by Sarah and Leah


  1. That is one of the best articles I have read on self-denial in many years. I found your blog by doing a word search on the Greek 'arneomai' and was not disappointed but inspired by what you wrote. Thank you.


  2. Thank you so much for your encouraging words, Randy! We were glad to hear that the article was a blessing to you.

    Thank you for commenting! :)

  3. I was doing a search on the word deny when I found your article. It is life transforming and divinely inspired. May the Lord richly bless you both as you continue to touch hearts.

  4. Thank you, Anonymous, for the comment and for the encouraging words! It was wonderful to hear that the post was a blessing to you. Thank you again!

  5. Wow, this is very interesting! I really love to look up the words from the bible in their original Greek and/or Hebrew form to really find out what they mean. I'm thankful to have read this because there are some things (ridiculous things) that I've been feeling like I need to rid myself of and have been having trouble doing so...
    I admire what I've read in your two blogs about you and your family. It's inspiring. I long to be more close to the Lord and please Him. I feel like I need to make my life a lot simpler so that I can enjoy the blessings (I often feel irritated and rushed) well, I thank you for your words :) God Bless you!!!!!!

  6. Welcome to our blog, Speiro, and thank you for your comment! It was so encouraging to read what you shared and to hear of your heart for the Lord. And we are glad that what was shared here could be an encouragement!

    That's great that you like to look up the original Greek and/or Hebrew words . . . it can be so enlightening and also broaden and deepen our understanding of Scripture. At least, we have found it to do so. :)

    Thank you for your encouraging words, and may the Lord guide and direct your steps as you continue to seek to walk in His ways.

    Blessings to you in Christ!