My meditation on Jesus' Demand to Deny our SELF
As far as you are concerned, you yourself are God's greatest rival.
It is astonishing when you realize how much SELF — self-seeking, self-admiration, self-dependence, yourself insisting on it's own way, self-comfort, security of the self, fun for the self —enters into almost every thought and intention of your day. Even setting dreadful self-righteousness aside, our natural man is there always in the way, jumping up & down, between us and the Glory of God.
Our hearts deceive us as we seek SELF's praise in what we supposedly do for God or for other men & women in the Body of Christ. How keen we are, especially those standing in front of the crowd, for the admiration and applause of other people. Did you feel SELF swell last Sunday when the people lined up to congratulate your sermon? How eager is SELF to be pre-eminent, to be seen as exalted above our peers.
How intensely do men work if they see some advantage over another or the possibility for SELF to be seen as "rightly" more important than another man. How fiercely and with cunning will a man seek a position in which other men will defer to his opinions. How many sought-after career promotions are unvarnished attempts to appear more valuable than the others? How many Mothers groom and discipline their little ones so that they appear "rightly" superior to the other children? How many youths are driven to study not to serve or glorify God, but rather to surpass others so that SELF is exalted as it deserves and the coveted entrance to that University is realized, which will almost certainly seal their doom. How deceitful is this self-esteem trumpet blasting in our elementary schools.
Count the ways that your SELF draws you away from the very heart of God!
The work of yourself is stealthy and devious and its influence and power are extensive. The spirit of a man knows the man and armed with this knowledge the corrupt heart deceives the man and draws him from seeing his moment-by-moment need of Christ's Throne of Grace, and worse, draws him from loving God with his whole heart — to loving and serving SELF moment-by moment with his whole corrupt heart.
Only by persistent death and denial of the SELF (the blessed art of mortifying our sin natures, that is so hard to learn) can we keep this rival from perverting our motives, lowering our aspirations, and corrupting our affections that are to be turned away from SELF to Things Above.
O, Christians, declare relentless war on this enemy, SELF who obscures and robs God of his rightful, thorough Glory.
I learned this because this is my heart. Dearest Savior, rescue me from my SELF!