“If any man come to me, and hate not…his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26
One of the worst and most dangerous things I have ever been taught, which I was taught decades ago courtesy of the American world of psychology, is I should love myself. I was taught I “hated myself” and needed to learn to “love myself” when in fact I was despicably, sinfully, undeniably consumed with self. I was utterly broken thanks to others’ sins and most assuredly my own, could barely function doing even the most basic of things, and the answer to the addictions, post-traumatic stress disorder, debilitating depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, etc. was to love ME, find and achieve MY dreams, live MY purpose for MY life for MY glory for MY happiness – and help a few people along the way so I could feel good about MY SELF, and live happily ever after and tell the world all I – yes, ME, ME, ME – had overcome! So I was taught. I became ever more consumed with ME, spiraling downward, ever more broken.
Even more tragic than the influence of psychology, I came under Christian false teaching. Eloquent excited pastors from pulpits, Bible verses galore all twisted around, books filled with delicious tantalizing perverted prosperity teaching. Never mind what God actually says in His Bible about self. I learned the answer to life’s woes was for all of us to love ourselves and live happily ever after by waving our magic wands at God and having enough faith to get Him to give us what we wanted and assumed we deserved. I was farther from God’s Truth than imaginable.
By God’s grace alone, He led me to repentance and began by His Spirit and through sound teachers to set me free. The truth about self. Self has to die. Why? A genuine Christ follower has to die to self & live for Christ. All the selfish, self-centered, self-seeking fleshly ways have to be crucified so the Spirit of God can truly live in and through us, so we live according to God’s ways and not ours, so our greatest love is not ourselves but the Lord and others. It is a daily, hourly, moment by moment death to what we desire to satisfy our fleshly lusts to live to love and worship and please God forever instead. This involves a hatred of self (our sin nature, or our flesh without Christ) and a love above all else for Christ. Self is the old person we are before we repent and place our trust in Christ whereby God forgives us and makes us new in Christ. We who follow Christ still have this sin nature and have to continually take it to the cross to die so we instead live for Christ. We must live not for our fleshly pleasure but to bring pleasure and glory to God. The agony of denying and dying to self is incomparable to the unfathomable joy of living in Christ’s fellowship and under His lordship forever and ever drawing closer to God through Christ!