From the very first sin, self has been in the heart desire and ambition. With ‘self’ being the idol of the heart, it strives to raise itself to the highest possible position in all areas of life. From religion to relationships, ‘self’ lurks as the internal resident, always looking for dominance.
Woe 2 – Matthew 23:15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.” These fake religious leaders were self-righteous in their pursuit of reproducing error. Travelling long distances, they used their money, time, and energy to win others over to their false beliefs. While ‘self’ hijacks its own affections, it also looks to replicate its self-styled religious passion into others. ‘Self’ is evangelistic by nature, with the scribes and Pharisees providing a good example of the many ways it works.
But it all started with Lucifer in heaven. Even before his sinful intentions were exposed, the Lord had identified his core problem, your heart is proud, and you have said, ‘I am a god’… (Ezekiel 28:2). Pride and self-promotion as god were in Lucifer’s heart. Likewise, these crippling qualities exist in the heart of every sinner to this day.
Lucifer, not being content to suffer the consequences of his original sin alone, took a great number of other angels with him in his heavenly revolt (Rev 12:4). So, it comes as no surprize, that in the garden of Eden, Satan successfully got Eve to think of self as she considered the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate… (Genesis 3:6). Eve’s heart was won over by appealing to her self-desires, how she would benefit from eating the forbidden fruit. To this day, the seductive force of ‘self’ works powerfully in sinful humanity, always striving to concur within, then to concur others.
Realise that ‘self’ never affects only one person. It, by nature, must infect others. Everyone surrounding the self-orienteered person is impacted, no exceptions. What’s worse, is that the ‘self’ missionary wants its followers to cover it’s sinful dominance by lying, or even worse, by choosing silence on the subject as ‘self’ continues the conquest.
So, with such a determined enemy working within, Scripture speaks clearly on how ‘self’ should be dealt with in the church of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul, realising the deceitfulness of self, addressed it head on in Ephesians 4:22-24, where he gives pointed instruction. Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
This is simply another way of explaining repentance, which reverses the thoughts and behaviour of ‘self’ by continually turning its focus onto Jesus Christ as Lord (Rom 10:9-10; Heb 3:1). Repentance begins by acknowledging the danger of ‘self,’ then, it takes action to change the desires and behaviours of the pre-salvation expressions of self. Why, because the believer understands that the old self only corrupts through deceitful desires. Now, the child of God chooses to put on the new self, which expresses God’s righteousness. In this, the missionary efforts of the old self are replaced with the new missionary efforts to replicate Christ in others instead.
To be continued…