I don’t think it is a big surprise to anyone that life is hard. If you haven’t figured that out yet, you either haven’t lived long enough or you’ve been really lucky. There is no escaping the difficulties of life—relationships, careers, finances, death—just life in general. These struggles occur on the physical side of life.
The spiritual side of life is no different. Oblivious to many people, there is an enormous struggle going on in the hearts of men. The truth is we are subject to a mighty force called Self from the day we are born. Like the physical side of life, there is no escaping this struggle.
I fear that many of us have been misled about our Self. I have chosen to capitalize this word to give it the proper emphasis, acknowledging its power and position. We seems to have the idea that Self is the real me—the “I’ve gotta be me” mentality. It is considered to be something akin to personality, to be cultivated and protected, or else it might go away and the real me lost.
Strong individuality is part of the American culture. We have been taught that “rugged individualism” is linked to patriotism, courage, and success. We are proud when we can hold our heads high and declare, “I did this.” Even greater honor is given to one who says, “I did this by myself.”
It has taken years of grappling with this issue for me to see Self for what it is. It may come as a shock to you, as it did to me when this was clearly spelled out. As long as my idea of Self was merely a concept, I considered it in the gray area—the things I don’t have to take a stand on. But once I know the truth, I become accountable for what I do with that truth. (Read that again.)
J. Oswald Sanders, an internationally-known theologian, wrote this about Self: “In the heart of the believer, Self occupies the same relation to Satan as does the Holy Spirit to Christ, it is Satan’s representative in the heart. Even after many gross forms of evil have been evicted, Self remains to contest and usurp the claim of Christ to the throne of the redeemed life. It is guilty of high treason against the King of Kings, and is therefore worthy of death.”1
I believe we must wake up to the fact that our spiritual lives are being attacked, overrun, and controlled by this force known as Self. Like his father, Satan, Self is an all-out liar. He is also Selfish, Self-centered, Self-indulgent, Self-confident, Self-conscious, Self-willed, Self-assured, Self-exalting, and Self-justifying. In America, we even have what is known as the Self-made man. While we sometimes boast or jest about these qualities, in reality, they are the marks of Satan reigning in a life.
Do any of these describe you? They certainly describe me! Even in subtle ways that are difficult to detect and believed to be part of my personality, yet so totally unlike my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Unless we recognize what is going on in our personal world, we will not be able to do anything about our predicament. Our muddled interpretation of Self will keep us paralyzed, and we will continue losing the battles, yielding to its power, and remain defeated Christians. Furthermore, our progress to be transformed into the image of Christ is on hold.2
The first step to freedom is the acknowledgment of bondage. The person who claims he or she has no bondage is simply not a candidate for freedom.
Until we acknowledge Self for what it is and admit that Self is reigning in our hearts rather than Jesus, we have no hope of being set free from its dominion over us. A mental ascent to the idea that we are legally set free from Self is not enough. Yes, we are legally free because of faith in the sacrificed blood of Jesus, but unless we appropriate that truth and apply it to our own personal lives, we will remain in bondage. After our eyes are opened to this truth and we knowingly allow this to continue, we are participating in “high treason against the King of Kings.”
Now I know and now I am accountable. I have never in my entire life been so motivated to oust the culprit of Self from the throne of my heart. I denounce this Self-led rebellion against my God, and by the mercy and grace of God I will find His provision for ridding my life of its control. Does anyone out there care to come along with me? ~ Janie Kellogg
1J. Oswald Sanders, Christ Indwelling and Enthroned, CCWM, Santa Ana, CA, 1949, pg. 46
22 Corinthians 3:18
For other related posts see poem “Since Self Is On the Throne,” Treasure in Earthen Vessels, March 6, 2013 (In Poetry Category)