Self is the great usurper of God’s place within our hearts. When the self becomes an idol, it becomes an obstacle between God and us.
The Lord is clear in His demands that all who would be His followers—no exception—must deny self, take up the cross daily, and follow Him (cf. Luke 9:23-26). There can be no misunderstanding; we are meant to put to death all selfishness.
Opposing the self from once again usurping God’s place is a work we must engage in for the remainder of our lives here on this plane of existence. Self will not die quite so easily; it refuses to roll over and play dead. It will persistently fight to be our god.
Humanism is the philosophy that puts Man at the center. Self-worship is the final objective of this ungodly philosophy. It denies God His rightful place as sovereign and the sole authority.
Of course, humanism employs respectable and harmless sounding jargon. It promises much but delivers little. Creeping its way into the church, it coaxes Christians to talk about their ‘achievements’ for God; to talk about what makes us proud that we have done in His name.
Talking about ‘achievements for God’ in humble tones is no less boasting in light of what the Lord says.
“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty'” (Luke 17:7-10 ESV).
With self at the centre, not only does our relationship with God suffers as a result but our relationships with our fellow-man suffer as well. Selfishness is more than a vice; it is a manifestation of the sin of usurping the Lord’s place.
Think about a marriage. When both spouses are selfish and cares only about his/her own interests, will the marriage be happy? It is hard to imagine that it will be blissful and fulfilling.
The Bible speaks of the opposing attitude to selfishness. Paul says: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Php 2:3-4).
Jesus our Lord demonstrates to us the very spirit of selflessness.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Php 2:5-8).
When we are added to the Lord’s body, we have in fact declared that all idols—the greatest of which is the self—are now dead to us and no longer own us. We are the Lord’s, and to His sovereignty only do we bow in submission.