Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Matt 16:24
The above verse is often interpreted as denying oneself things in this life to serve God. While this does apply to some extent, as I read this verse today, it was revealed to me the main emphasis is about rejecting self-righteousness in favor of the righteousness of God in Christ.
The main problem with the traditional interpretation is that it makes our salvation about ourselves and not about Jesus. Taken the traditional way the interpretation is one of works and is in direct contradiction with Jesus words and numerous others in the New Testament that clearly indicate salvation is through faith by grace only (John 3:16). This works needed interpretation creates a law. It leads one to believe if you are not doing these things you are not saved. This incorrect reading is then used to condemn and create guilt, leading some to question their salvation. This contradicts that a believer is under No Condemnation - Rom 8:1, John 3:18. You can also clearly see a problem with the traditional interpretation of Matt 16:24 when the following verses are read.
If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. Col 2:20-23
If Matt 16:24 is speaking about denying our SELF- righteousness, considering it crucified and putting on Jesus righteousness, it makes more sense and does not contradict numerous scriptures like all of these HERE.
put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Eph 4:22-24
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal 2:20
For in it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Rom 1:17
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor 5:21
So everyone who acknowledges me (Jesus is my righteousness) before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me (my self-righteousness is what I stand on) before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. Matt 10:32-33Freedom in Christ HERE.Read more HERE.