No one is pressed to follow Christ by force and neither is the Kingdom gained through a soft and luxurious life, neither does it come by merely praying and participating in the rituals of worship; it requires self-denial. This means we must separate our souls from all the roots of outward show and vain glory, depriving ourselves of the pleasures that make us cling to the world, to flesh and blood and to earthly dust.
When we do this it is part of the inner death; that is the intentional death, which is followed by the unintentional. After that a man is free to carry his cross daily, to bear the insults of the world around him, the injustices of his environment, the insolence of evil men, the betrayal of relatives, friends and disciples, painful diseases and diminishing faculties. It is through all these tribulations that the devil tries to master him, and, at his weakest point, hopefully cast him into doubt and denial of the faith. All of these constitute the outer death, which is the unintentional death.
Without the inner or intentional death i.e. the denial of one’s self, it is impossible for man to have the strength to carry his cross daily and follow the Lord. It will be impossible for him to bear the outer or unintentional death. The Lord wisely therefore gave us the commandment to deny ourselves before bearing the cross.
[Fr Matta El-Meskeen, Christ is Risen Truly He has Risen]