Humans are remarkably creative at self-reliance and often in the name of religion. We have this uncanny ability to place ourselves at the centre of everything. This is certainly true regarding our relationship with God, because something inside strives to make self the centre of God’s attention. In so doing we become idolaters, justifying why self is entitled to be and have what self wants at God’s expense.
Phrases like self-love, self-forgiveness, self-defence, self-harm, self-esteem, self-righteous, and self-reliance are some of the more common terms used. Consequently, mankind does a thorough job of promoting self in that we sacrifice everything godly in our self-pursuit of God. This is often the reason new believers struggle, because they continue to place self at the centre of their new relationship with Jesus Christ.
Self or Christ
The apostle Paul understood that coming to Jesus means you “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires” (Ephesians 4:22-24). Belief in Jesus Christ is not some morbid self-harming religious ritual, but an honest appraisal of your incurable desire for self to be elevated above God. Therefore, faith in Jesus begins with a healthy spiritual denial of self as centre of your life.
Paul continues; “…be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). Here is the bullseye of faith in Jesus; accepting that God’s righteousness must be allowed to change the way you think and behave. This is how you become an expression of His righteousness and not your own. Jesus Christ does a total make-over, a full regeneration, creating a new you which increasingly displays God’s holiness (2Co 3:18).
Your old self-motivated ways of thinking are reborn to become Christ-motivated thinking. Paul explains further; “our old self was crucified with him (Jesus) in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Romans 6:6). In order for your enslavement to self and sin to be ended, a death had to occur. And since you and I wouldn’t and couldn’t die to sin, Christ died our death on the cross of Calvary in our place, as our substitute.
Jesus’ cross deals with self
Jesus took God’s wrath for your sin, and God was satisfied with Jesus self-sacrifice on your behalf. Your faith; your dependant belief in Jesus death is what God responds to by granting you forgiveness and a “new self”. Your old self was idolatrous, your new self is Christ exalting. Your old self defaulted to sinful thoughts and behaviour, your new self defaults to loving obedience through surrender.
Your old self wants to be its own saviour and would prefer to suffer eternal consequences rather than humble itself before the Almighty. Such is the extremity of self-righteousness which is proud toward God. Self-reliance fails terribly to make peace with God, but Jesus Christ has already made peace with God on your behalf – believe it and live in the blessing of it. This is why Paul says “he himself (Jesus) is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14).
Once you have wholeheartedly embraced the peace offered by God through faith in His Son, there will be little room for the spiritual anxieties this world forces upon you. Once you receive your Heavenly Father’s forgiveness, you will be equipped to forgive others as you have been forgiven (Col 3:13).
I encourage you to embrace belief that denies self-reliance and embraces Christ. He really is the most wonderful Lord and Saviour.