If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself. Matthew 16:24.
Individuality is the husk of the personal life. Individuality is all elbows, it separates and isolates. It is the characteristic of the child and rightly so; but if we mistake individuality for the personal life, we shall remain isolated. The shell of individuality is God’s created natural covering for the protection of the personal life; but individuality must go in order that the personal life may come out and be brought into fellowship with God. Individuality counterfeits personality as lust counterfeits love. God designed human nature for Himself; individuality debases human nature for itself.
The characteristics of individuality are independence and self-assertiveness. It is the continual assertion of individuality that hinders our spiritual life more than anything else. If you say—‘I cannot believe,’ it is because individuality never can believe. Personality cannot help believing. Watch yourself when the Spirit of God is at work. He pushes you to the margins of your individuality, and you have either to say—‘I shan’t,’ or to surrender, to break the husk of individuality and let the personal life emerge. The Holy Spirit narrows it down every time to one thing (cf. Matthew 5:23–24 ). The thing in you that will not be reconciled to your brother is your individuality. God wants to bring you into union with Himself, but unless you are willing to give up your right to yourself, He cannot. “Let him deny himself”—deny his independent right to himself, then the real life has a chance to grow.
Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986).