Jesus said if anyone wants to follow him they must “deny himself” (Matthew 16:24).
But what does it mean to deny yourself?
William Barclay answered well:
“To deny oneself means in every moment of life to say no to self, and to say yes to God.
To deny oneself means once, finally and for all to dethrone self and to enthrone God.
To deny oneself means to obliterate self as the dominant principle of life, and to make God the ruling principle, more, the ruling passion, of life.
The life of constant self-denial is the life of constant assent to God.”
(Taken from The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 2, p. 167).
By this definition, someone can only say yes to Christ after they’ve said no to themselves. One’s Christianity begins only after their old life ends. Christ is only Savior to those who have dethroned themselves as king.