Repentance means more than saying, "Lord, I am wrong." It also means saying, "Lord, You are right!"
Repentance means facing the truth about your sin — the truth that it must end now. It is a crisis moment of truth, a place of recognition where you admit, "I cannot continue in my sin and have the Holy Ghost living in me. If I do, I will lose everything. Lord, You're right about sin bringing death upon me. I see that if I continue in it, it's going to destroy me and my family. God, I make no more excuses."
Simply put, repentance is a confrontation with your sin. The battle is fought before you get to the cross — it takes place as the Holy Spirit deals with you.
The same is true of self-denial. In short, self-denial is a confrontation that says, "Sin ends now — at this point!" Contrary to what many "comfort preachers" say, self-denial is not some heartache you have to bear, or some infirmity of your flesh. When Paul said, "I die daily," he meant simply, "I have to deny that I can continue in sin and still have Christ's favor. I don't have a special dispensation from God to hold on to a pet sin just because I do good works. No! I agree with the Word of God and I deny all my rights to continue in sin."
The glorious truth of the gospel is that if we die with Jesus, we also come into the glory of His resurrection and into newness of life. His cross is our cross, His death is our death, and His resurrection is our resurrection, through our identification and union with Him. That is the real cross we bear.
Yet this is the cross that many so-called ministers of the gospel have done away with. The real cross is not about lovely words describing our Savior's suffering and bleeding on Calvary. No, the true meaning of the cross is that Jesus bled and died to bring our sin-sick souls into glorious liberty and freedom — to break every chain of sin that binds us.