There are nails in that cross!

(Thomas Watson, "The Beatitudes" 1660)

"If anyone would come after Me, he must deny
 himself
and take up his cross daily and follow Me."
    Luke 9:23

Self-denial is the highest sign of a sincere Christian.
Hypocrites may have great knowledge and make large
profession—but it is only the true-hearted believer who
can deny himself for Christ.

Self-denial is the foundation of godliness, and if this
foundation is not well-laid, the whole building will fall.
If there is any lust in our souls which we cannot deny
—it will turn at length, either to scandal or apostasy.
Self-denial is the thread which must run along through
the whole work of piety.

A man must deny self-esteem. Every man by nature
has a high opinion of himself. He is drunk with spiritual
pride. A proud man disdains the cross. He thinks himself
too good to suffer. Oh deny self-esteem! Let the plumes
of pride
fall off! Let us shake off this viper of pride!

A man must deny carnal self. This I take to be the
chief sense of the text. He must deny fleshly ease.
The flesh cries out for ease. It is loath to put its neck
under Christ's yoke or stretch itself upon the cross. The
flesh cries out, "Oh! the cross of Christ is heavy! There
are nails in that cross
which will lacerate, and fetch
blood!" We must deny our self-ease, and be as a deaf
adder, stopping our ears to the charmings of the flesh!
Those who lean on the soft pillow of sloth, will hardly
take up the cross.

This self-denying frame of heart is very hard. This is "to
pluck out the right eye." It is easier to overcome men and
devils, than to overcome self. "Stronger is he who conquers
himself, than he who conquers the strongest walled city."

SELF is the idol, and how hard it is to sacrifice this idol,
and to turn self-seeking into self-denial! But though it is
difficult—it is essential. A Christian must first lay down
self—before he can take up the cross.

Alas! how far are they from self-denial—who cannot deny
themselves in the least things; who in their diet or apparel,
instead of martyring the flesh—pamper the flesh! Instead of
taking up the cross—take up their cups! Is this self-denial—
to let loose the reins to the flesh? Oh Christians, as ever you
would be able to carry Christ's cross, begin to deny yourselves.

"Everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or
father or mother or children or property, for My sake, will
receive a hundred times as much in return and will have
eternal life!" Matthew 19:29. Here is a very choice bargain!