This is our core being, which the Bible also calls the ‘old nature’, the ‘old man’, or ‘the flesh’. It distinguishes us from others – and is the person we have the most problems with as the biggest battles we encounter are within.
The root of sin is the love of self, which negates our love for God and others. Self took command in the Garden of Eden and has attempted to rule us ever since. Our carnal, selfish ego doesn’t like to own-up by taking responsibility for mistakes but instead tries to blame others while proudly accepting praise and boasting of personal achievements, yet in humility we must realise we can’t do anything of eternal significance without Him (Zech 4:6; Jn 5:30, 15:5).
This self-nature cannot be made better – God declared that it must to die, with the provision made to deal with it through the cross, replacing it with His life within us. Christ literally died by crucifixion on the cross, taking our place through a divine exchange. Ours is a figurative death, but it is also painful and slow. It is our responsibility to accept God’s pathway for dealing with the inherent inner rebellion and wrong values, looking beyond the present to what is yet to be (Heb 10:34, 12:2; 1 Pet 2:23).
Self-centred or Christ centred?We largely view things as to how they affect us personally. What’s in it for me? What will it cost me? An obsession with self, leads to depression, instead “He [Jesus] must increase, and I must decrease”
If I am the centre, my world is a very small place
(Jn 3:30). We need to recognize that ‘Life’ is not all about me. When we became a Christian, we transferred our allegiance from self and its master Satan, to our new master – Jesus; the challenge is for this to become reality for unless our claiming Him “Lord” is outworked in obedience these are empty words and have eternal consequences (Mt 7:21-27; Lk 6:46; Jn 14:15; Rom 6:16; 2 Pet 2:19). What steps am I taking to ensure Jesus takes a greater prominence in my life with my selfishness and fleshly desires reducing? The greater the determination to cast off the old life, the sooner we can enter into the victory and inheritance God has in store for those who walk in the Spirit and not the flesh (Rom 8:13; Gal 5:16,24,25).
Although there is a strong tendency to put personal comfort, concerns and gain above the needs of others, the Bible challenges us to not just think about ourselves (Rom 12:10; Phil 2:3-5). After becoming a Christian our focus and motivation should drastically change from the world’s pattern of self-seeking pleasure to one of self-denial of the sinful pleasures, directing our full attention to loving God with every part of our being (Mk 12:30; Rom 6:13). We must recognize that in our unyielded self is ‘no good thing’, and while we may desire to do good we can’t do it. Instead we continue to do evil, for without divine intervention we are at the mercy of every whim of the flesh and subject to peer pressure (Rom 7:18-20). The outer shell of our self must be broken so the nature of the Holy Spirit can show forth, for although at salvation He takes up residence within us, the visible and ongoing life transformation is dependent on our willingness and co-operation (Rom 12:2; 1 Cor 6:19; Gal 5:22,23). As Christians, we should recognise His Lordship and live by His agenda, being obedient servants who respond with the attitude, “Be it unto me according to your word…Not my will but yours be done” (Lk 1:38, 22:42).
View yourself as an agent of God not as sovereign
lives in me” (1 Cor 15:31; Gal 2:20). May this be our experience with the nails of ‘our Calvary’ driven right through our self-life. Communion is a time of reflection on the death and resurrection of Jesus, but also a time to reaffirm the place of the cross in my life. We are not to let sin reign in our lives, so that we obey its evil desires but are to put to death the wrong deeds of the body (Rom 6:12, 8:13; 1 Pet 2:24). We are given numerous opportunities each day ‘to die that I may truly live with Him’ (Rom 6:5, 12:1). Our greatest daily challenge is to walk in humble dependency maintaining the vital connection. A previous right choice does not guarantee the same response next time as our sinful self is literally still alive and can readily ‘come back to life’ in areas we may have considered were ‘dead to sin’ for temptation is continually present, ‘crouching at the door’ (Gen 4:7). Only by following our Father’s directives can we ensure that our own self does not usurp His lordship
We only have legitimate control over our own lives so our efforts to bring transformation by the power of God should be concentrated on ourselves, rather than endeavouring to put other people’s lives in order (Gen 3:12,13; Mt 7:3-5). The command to love our neighbour as ourselves obviously infers a proper love of self by neither thinking too highly (which leads to pride) or too lowly (which is false humility) but having a valid estimation as redeemed children of God (Mk 12:31; Rom 12:3; 1 Jn 3:1).
Wounded personalities and self care
When the personality is wounded or crushed the temptation is to succumb to addictions, isolation, bitterness, co-dependency and destructive habits to relieve the pain. In so doing we, live far below our potential and God’s ideal, yet through the diligent outworking of our salvation we can begin to regain what was lost through sin and become the masterpiece we were created to be (Jn 10:10; Rom 6:19, 8:5-8). Because our self-nature reacts to our surroundings and circumstances this influences our attitudes and is the root cause of all relationship conflicts. Humanity is created in the image of God, having the ability to love, plan, think and communicate on a high level (Gen 1:27). We each choose how we use these faculties – either by submitting to Christ, endeavouring to live in victory and helping fulfilling His purposes or responding to the evil nature within and sinning through rebellion (Mt 28:19,20; Rom 6:12-14; 1 Cor 3:10-15; 2Cor 5:15; Jas 4:7).
We live for God through our physical bodies so we have a responsibility to care for them through exercise together with the types and amount of food consumed (Rom 12:1,2, 13:14; 1 Cor 6:19,20). This calls for self discipline and wise choices. We should also monitor the input into each aspect of our total being, balancing – spiritual, mental, and emotional needs. The Israelites were very lenient in maintaining any discipline or accountability – ‘I’ ruled their lives as “Everyone did what was right in their own eyes” (Jdg 17:6). Sin is always the problem with “people being lovers of self, making their own rules of conduct” (2 Tim 3:1-4). This concept of justifying actions with ‘if it feels good, it’s OK’ elevates self to the highest authority with everything evaluated by my desires and rights, ignoring God and His principles and disregarding the welfare of others.
Jesus said, “the devil has no hold over me” as there was no sinful tendency in His life that the enemy could exploit (Jn 14:30). With the Holy Spirit’s help we should be coming into increasing freedom and victory in Christ, by closing off all avenues whereby Satan has had an influence over us in the past. The account of Ishmael and Isaac illustrates the major conflict between what is of the Spirit and that of the flesh (Gen 21:9,10; Gal 4:29,30, 5:17). Just as in the natural realm with the ongoing Arab/Israeli conflict so it is in the spiritual with our ‘flesh’ in opposition to the Spirit. God limits Himself to working through us to bring about His purposes by our level of co-operation with Him, however, all must be done according to His ways, not by us assuming He will bless our departures from His Divine plans (Isa 55:8,9).
See also: accountability, carnal, divine exchange, entry points, flesh, hedonism, human/humanity, humility, identity, independence, individual, not being ministered to, others, personality, self-denial, selfishness, self-esteem, temptation.