All others are walking to perdition! The most subtle, stubborn, and tenacious foe

(John Angell James, "Self-Renunciation")

"Don't you know that your body is a sanctuary of the
 Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God?
 You are not your own, for you were bought at a price;
 therefore glorify God in your body." 1 Corin. 6:19-20

Recollect that the renunciation of SELF, as well as of SIN,
was one of the solemn transactions of that scene, and that
time--when you bowed by faith at the foot of the cross,
received mercy through Jesus Christ, and yielded yourselves
to God. You then abjured, not only self-righteousness, but 
self-seeking, self-pleasing, and self-living. Self, as a
supreme object, was renounced.

Self, until then, had been your loftiest aim; self-love your
highest affection--but then you transferred your aim and
your affection to another object. The Christian has no right
to ask what he will do with himself; or to what he will give
himself; or how he will employ himself. He is no longer at
liberty to inquire how he shall spend his energies, his time,
his properly, his labor, and his influence; for he is not his
own--he is bought with a price.

He is not to live for fame--and please himself with the
applause of his fellow creatures.

Nor is he to live for riches--and please himself with
increasing wealth.

Nor is he to live for health--and please himself with
the glowing energies of a sound body.

Nor is he to live for taste--and please himself with
the pursuit of literature, science, or the arts.

Nor is he to live for social enjoyment--and please
himself with an agreeable circle of friends.

Nor is he to live for ease--and please himself with
unmolested quiet.

In short, he is not to consider himself as his own
master--to please himself supremely in any way;
nor his own property--to employ himself on his own
account, and for his own benefit. He is not to imagine
that personal gratification is to be his end and aim--for
the accomplishment of which he may lay down his own
schemes, select his own course, and pursue his own
methods--as if he had an independent and sovereign
right over himself. Self is . . .
  "the old man" to be crucified with Christ;
  the body of sin to be destroyed;
  the corrupt nature to be put away;
  the law in our members to be resisted;
  the lusts of the mind to be subdued.

Self is the enemy of God--to be fought against; the
rival interest with Christ in our soul--to be subdued;
the means by which the devil would hold us in
alienation from holiness--to be opposed.

Self is the most subtle, the most stubborn, the
most tenacious foe
with which grace has to contend,
in the soul of the believer. SELF lives, and works, and
fights--when many other corruptions are mortified. Self
is the last stronghold--the very citadel of Satan in the
heart--which is reduced to the obedience of faith.

Why do believers murmur at the painful dispensations of
Providence, and find submission so hard an achievement?
Because self is disturbed in its enjoyment!

Why are they so easily offended, and experience such
difficulty in showing forgiveness? Because self-esteem
has been wounded!

Why are they covetous? Because self is gratified by its
increasing stores.

What is vanity--but the indulgence of self-love?

What is ambition--but the exultation of self?

What is pride--but the worship of self?

Why are they so reluctant to give their time and labor
for the good of others, and the glory of God? Because
they want it for ease, and the enjoyment of self!

Why are they peevish, quarrelsome, and discontented
with the little annoyances of life, which are everywhere
and continually occurring? Because they want to settle
down in unmolested ease, and undisturbed quiet, to
enjoy themselves!

But is this right? Is not this living as if we were our own?
Is not this living for ourselves? Is not this forgetting that
we are purchased property, belonging to another?

My dear friends, do consider this subject. Weigh well the
import of the condition of Christian discipleship, as laid
down by our Lord: "If any man will come after Me, LET
HIM DENY HIMSELF." Self-denial, not self-pleasing, is
your business! And the evidence of our being disciples
is in exact proportion to our disposition thus to take up
our cross.

If we are coveting ease, quiet, soft indulgence, luxurious
gratification--and are dissatisfied, and discontented, and
contentious, and peevish, because we cannot please
ourselves, nor get others to please us, as the supreme
end of life--how can we dream that we are the disciples
of Him, of whom it is declared, "He pleased not Himself,"
especially since it is said, "Let the same mind be in you
which was in Christ Jesus?"

For whom then are we to live, and whom are we to
please, if not ourselves? Who is to come in the place
of self? GOD! And for this obvious reason--we are
God's! God's servants! God's property!