Denial of Self vs. Self Rejection

Self Denial Vs. Self Rejection (I told you we would talk about this later! - from previous blog: Help )

Jesus calls us clearly and regularly to deny ourselves (as we have discussed in other posts). The request to “deny yourself” is to remove your will and desire from the equation in order to follow Jesus (as this is the only way we can really follow Jesus). It is a call to look to Jesus and only Jesus as the motivation and purpose for your journey from that blessed day when He calls you to follow Him. This is not a call to look at everything you are and be displeased with it. This is not a call for you to look critically at your physical, mental, emotional, psychological, or other features and qualities and demean them. The call for denying oneself is simply a call to get yourself out of the way so you can follow Jesus.

A Story of Self-Denial from a Summer Camp Leader

So I am rejecting myself? NO. Read the story of self denial linked above, I encourage you to do that. In that story you will see a very clear depiction of why we need to deny ourselves in terms of getting ourselves out of the way of Jesus’ work, but not participate in self-rejection while trying to do so. Here is the clearest incident where Jesus or the NT uses the phrase “deny yourself”:

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

-Luke 9:23-27

Okay, then, what is self-rejection?  Great question, and an important one, glad you asked! Self-Rejection actually springs from pride in ones own abilities or expectations.  Although self-rejection appears to be a hatred for oneself, it comes from a deep seated expectation or belief that we are AWESOME because of ourselves (Remember: The Lord is the only Savior).   Self-rejection comes from us taking a simplistic human view of what we are supposed to be by the world standards and determining how useful, beautiful, talented, smart, productive, popular, etc. we are (or aren’t).

Here is a list of evidences we might be engaging in self-rejection (from the Institute for Basic Life Principles):

 Inability to Trust God

If a person rejects God’s design for his physical appearance, he probably will have difficulty putting confidence in the Designer’s plan for other areas of his life.

Excessive Shyness

Fear of rejection by others motivates us to avoid the risk of interaction with others.

Difficulty in Loving Others

“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 19:19). If we cannot accept our design and love ourselves in the right way, we will have difficulty loving others.


Complaints about unchangeable physical features, abilities, parentage, and social heritage are indications of self-rejection.

Wishful Comparison With Others

Desiring to be different in areas that cannot be changed is a clear evidence of self-rejection. “ … Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” (Romans 9:20).

Over-Attention on Clothes

Undue concern for clothes may be an attempt to cover up or compensate for physical features that are perceived as “bad.”

Floating Bitterness

Many people have said, “I hate myself!” They may be referring to their words or actions in the past, or they may be referring to their whole being. In the latter case, their final hatred will be directed toward the One Who made them.


It is healthy to want to do our best, but when the time expended outweighs the value of the accomplishment, it is an indication of self-rejection—condemning your best as “never good enough.”

Attitudes of Superiority

A person with an attitude of superiority actually feels inferior but is trying to narrow his field of comparison.

Awkward Attempts to Hide Unchangeable Defects

Actions and statements that reveal an attitude of self-consciousness may indicate self-rejection. However, we can trust God to transform our weaknesses: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (II Corinthians 12:9).


Lavish spending on expensive items may be an attempt to gain admiration and acceptance from others.

Wrong Priorities

Self-rejection may be reflected in a neglect of God-given responsibilities in order to spend much time in pursuit of that which could bring acclaim from others.

This is the major difference between self-rejection and denying ourselves:  One pridefully and selfishly says we cannot be used because we don’t meet the worldly definition of awesome (self-rejection) and the other says God has made us with intrinsic abilities and gifts, for a purpose, and we just have to get out of the way so He can work through us and do awesome things (self-denial).   One says we are supposed to be awesome but we aren’t (SR).  The other says God made us, awesomely, and He is going to do awesome things through us (SD).

(Scripture Encouragement Against Self-Rejection)

Remember, God made us, and He made us the way He did in order to best bring about His glory. We are made correctly; we look, sound, smell, walk, talk, smile, laugh, run, jump, etc. the way God intended for us. Our ultimate value comes from our participation with His ultimate Will, not from the expectations placed on us by ourselves or the world.

“When old thoughts of rejection come back, they need to be taken captive to the obedience of Christ “

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

-2 Corinthians 10:5

The pride of self-rejection prevents us from denying ourselves and allowing God to do the awesome work He desires to do through us.  If you are in a state of self-rejection, I want to leave you with one last scripture passage to encourage you, Psalm 118, which focuses on God’s love in spite of anything the world tells us.

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!

Let Israel say,
    “His steadfast love endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say,
    “His steadfast love endures forever.”
Let those who fear the Lord say,
    “His steadfast love endures forever.”

Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
    the Lord answered me and set me free.
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
    What can man do to me?
The Lord is on my side as my helper;
    I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in princes.

All nations surrounded me;
    in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side;
    in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
They surrounded me like bees;
    they went out like a fire among thorns;
    in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
I was pushed hard,[a] so that I was falling,
    but the Lord helped me.

The Lord is my strength and my song;
    he has become my salvation.
Glad songs of salvation
    are in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the Lord does valiantly,
    the right hand of the Lord exalts,
    the right hand of the Lord does valiantly!”

I shall not die, but I shall live,
    and recount the deeds of the Lord.
The Lord has disciplined me severely,
    but he has not given me over to death.

Open to me the gates of righteousness,
    that I may enter through them
    and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord;
    the righteous shall enter through it.
I thank you that you have answered me
    and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone.[b]
This is the Lord's doing;
    it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Save us, we pray, O Lord!
    O Lord, we pray, give us success!

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
    We bless you from the house of the Lord.
The Lord is God,
    and he has made his light to shine upon us.
Bind the festal sacrifice with cords,
    up to the horns of the altar!

You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
    you are my God; I will extol you.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!

-Psalm 118

Scripture Used in this Post:

Luke 9:23-27

2 Corinthians 10:5

Psalm 118

Scripture Encouragement Against Self-Rejection