Self-Discipline vs Self-denial

(Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh. Colossians 2:21-23

The idea of self-discipline seems so good. I only wish we were all able to genuinely produce whatever type of change we wanted to see in ourselves. I was recently asked what is the difference between self-discipline and self-denial. I said self-discipline is pushing ourselves or putting pressure on ourselves to change and self-denial is saying no to self altogether. The pressure of self-discipline is often maintained through goals or rules. The emphasis is generally on working and doing as the means to change. If we change as a result of self-discipline, we feel proud of what we have accomplished. This type of practice may help us deal with the first two areas that are not of God: the lust of the eyes, and the lust of the flesh; Yet will, more then likely, fill us completely full of the third areathe pride of life, which also, is not like God. Self-discipline then is busy and noisy which is the opposite of the gratefulness to the Lord who wants us to grow in Him.

On the other hand, self-denial is not merely saying no to ourselves, as it is saying yes to the Spirit of God. When I say yes to the Spirit of God, it is an automatic no for myself.  So the Spirit of God gains control of my life. It is something God does in and for us. Let me ask: Is the way we get more of  God through self-denial or do we get more of God, which results in less of us? Isn’t this self-denial? Please, do not try to deny yourself to get more of God because you never will. Why don’t we decide now to pursue more of God, and we will surely find, that will mean less of us! 

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30  

Don’t say I must decrease so that He can increase, but rather say He must increase therefore I must decrease. It is dangerous to get the decrease ahead of His increase.