Eschatological Desire Motivates you for Self-Denial & Asceticism

Let me just say that self-denial and asceticism is not part of our delights in life. But Jesus commanded it.  

Matt 16 24  Jesus says “let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”.

Taking up the cross, means crucification. Crucify our flesh to the Lord. If you ask someone to do that, he will probably rebel. Let me say briefly that self-denial and taking upon the cross, actually debunk us from the tight reign of this material world upon us, upon our lives, desire, imagination. To be really genuine Christian, there must be a sense of heavenliness in our lives, and we can’t just talk like someone who’s so earthly material bounded, i.e. earthly pleasures etc.

Let me define: Asceticism: the practice of strict self-denial as a measure of personal and especially spiritual discipline the condition, practice, or mode of life of an ascetic rigorous abstention from self-indulgence

Abstention from self-indulgence. The kind of conversation we have as Christians have to reflect that heavenliness. Not so self-indulgence on earthly pleasures only.

Colossians  If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 

Col 3 days set your mind on things above…..because you have been raised with Christ. Seek the things that are above. What’s all this? This is all heavenly desiring language. The only way we can be such heavenly minded, is based on what Calvin writes as below:

First, it’s by means of greater eschatological desire. What’s eschatological? a belief concerning death, the end of the world, or the ultimate destiny of humankind specifically any of various Christian doctrines concerning the Second Coming, the resurrection of the dead, or the Last Judgment

Eschatology is about the second coming of Christ.  It’s about the end of the world, about the ultimate destiny of humankind.

John Calvin writes: Motivation to self-denial and any ascetic discipline must always by means of greater eschatological desire, for “the only way to make right progress in the Gospel is to be attracted by the sweet fragrance of Christ so that we desire him enough to bid the enticements of the world farewell.” [1]

So what’s eschatological desire? It’s the desire that comes with the second coming of Christ, at the end of the world, when Jesus will take all his elect into his eternal bliss (joy) with him in the heavenly kingdom for all eternity. All eternity, its more than a million years! (Just to get perspective) while our lives in this world is only up to like 100 years only. That will completely transform our worldview in life. When you realize that there is a trillion years and more coming, and if you really believe that, you will drop everything to seriously examine that! So that’s what Jesus says in a parable, a man who fund riches treasures under a field, went and sold everything he has, and bought that field. That’s it!

So contrast that with the worldly pleasures, traveling to see nations, cities, eating good food, traveling and sight-seeing, all these are mundane worldly pleasures. It’s fleeting. We can have some of them sometimes, or not at all. We must not be bound by them.

But how do we get out? By the end of the world (eschatology) desires of that bliss coming by Jesus. That’s what turn our eyes from the earthly to the heavenly. In fact he says with that we can say farewell to worldly enticements farewell.

We are organic beings. We must have something to look forward to , for us to make the sacrifice of self-denial, and ascetic. We can’t be told to do it, because we don’t like to. But if we see the joy ahead of us, that eschatological desire and hope, we are then willing to do it. Just like Jesus endured the cross for the sake of the joy set ahead of him. Heb 2: looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Let me end with this:

Psalm 37Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
    and your justice as the noonday.

[1] John Calvin, The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians and the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.  (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1964)

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