Tom: Thanks, Gary. You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him. In this segment of our program, for the last few weeks we have been discussing what the Bible has to say about self versus what the world teaches about self.
Dave, part of the problem for Christians in this is that self-teachings contrary to what the Bible teaches are so common place, including within professing Christianity, that many Christians think self-love, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-image, self-worth, and so forth are what the Bible teaches. Now in your out-of-print book Beyond Seduction, which we hope to reprint in some fashion some time in the future, you give some biblical and logical reasons why such concepts are contrary to the Bible and destructive to humanity’s welfare. So let’s begin with what the Bible means by self.
Dave: Well, Tom, let me just interject here for a moment to remind our listeners where these ideas—how they came into the church. I think in this book we quote Bruce Narramore, for example, nephew of Clyde Narramore. I call him, I guess, one of the godfathers of Christian Psychology, at least in America. He’s followed a lot of them from Europe, and he says it was humanistic psychologists, Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, who first made us aware of the need of self-love and self-esteem and so forth. “This is a good emphasis; we need to get on to this,” basically he says. Now, it’s very interesting: he himself admits no one studying the Bible on their knees in the last 1,900 years ever got that idea out of there; they got it from the humanistic psychologists. Then they said, “Oh, sounds pretty good. Let’s see if we can’t go back to the Bible and massage some verses around it and make it seem like this is what holy writ always meant, but nobody really understood it.” So, we are getting an understanding from the humanistic psychologists.
Now, what does the Bible teach about self? Well, Jesus said, “Except you deny self, take up the cross and follow me, you can’t be my disciple.” Does that mean I’m supposed to, you know, just be a nothing person? I think that I’m just part of a blob of humanity here, indistinguishable from everyone else? No, we recognize we have a concept of self; you’re not me, and I’m not you, and not someone else, and that is essential for our functioning, even for our sanity. But “self” in the Bible is man acting independently of God, cut off from God. That’s how it happened in the Garden of Eden. That’s where self had its awful birth: when Eve cut herself off from God and began to decide that she could do what God told her not to do. So I have to recognize—even though I recognize I’m not you, you’re not me, and so forth—that I am an individual. I am a person. Jesus said, “Follow me.” He must have been talking to someone. We believe—in contrast to the Calvinist, for example, or Martin Luther, who wrote an entire book, The Bondage of the Will—we believe that man does have the power of choice, that he makes a genuine choice. This is what the Bible calls the heart. But the Bible also says, “Give me your heart.”
So recognizing that I have the independent integrity to decide for myself, I make a decision to give that over to God so that His will becomes my will—so that I say, as Christ said as a man, as Paul said, “Not my will, but Thine be done.”
Tom: Dave, along that line, you mentioned humanists such as Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, and so on. There is a humanistic view of self-denial, and how does that differ from a biblical view?
Dave: Well, as I recall, we deal with that a bit in the book. It’s very interesting, Tom. Self-denial is different from the denial of self. Self-denial would be self still on the throne, but really to my own glory. I’m denying myself this—Well, I never smoked a cigarette in my life—“I’m going to give up cigarettes,” or “I’m going to give up alcohol,” or “I’m going to give up this,” or “I’m going to knuckle down and live this straight-laced, narrow-minded, sober and sad, self-denying Christian life, and miss out on all the fun.” But that’s “self” still in control to my own glory.
“But I’m denying things to myself.” And I think that’s the attitude of many people who—I’ve seen so many people come forward in an emotional service to surrender to the Lord, you know, and then they re-dedicate themselves later, and re-re-rededicate, and so forth, because they were the hero; God was the villain; and they were going to deny some of the things that really were their right, but you know, this was what God wants, and so forth. It’s not until I realize that God really loves me, He’s wiser than I am, His way is best, that I can from my heart say, “Lord, thank you that you are willing to accept me as a living sacrifice.”
The Scripture says that we are to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to the Lord. So, Lord, here I am, everything I am, everything—please, guide my thoughts! With David we can say, “Search me, O God. Know my heart. Try me; know my thoughts; see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
And when I realize, as Jeremiah tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked,” then I say, “Lord, please, I give myself completely to you, and I am asking you to guide me and make me what you want me to be.”
Tom: Dave, the confusion out here about self, not only with, as you mentioned, psychology—introducing these ideas, developing “self” into, really, the solution to all of mankind’s problems—but I am also thinking about religious confusion. Popular today, many people are participating in yoga. And we go back to the yogis—that looks like a denial of self; what about that?
Dave: Well, although I suppose—I’m sure most people who are involved in yoga in the United States don’t realize this is a spiritual exercise. They think these are exercises beneficial for health, to loosen yourself up, limber yourself, and so forth. Actually, the yoga—it would go back to Shiva, known as the destroyer, one of the trimurti of gods in Hinduism; he is called Yogeshwara, the master of yoga. And you read about yoga in the Bhagavad Gita. Yoga is how we bridge this chasm between us and God, and finally, the goal of all yoga is self-realization.
I used to live in Southern California, and I remember every time we drove south to San Diego, we would go by the Self-Realization Foundation founded by Yogananda, and he introduced hundreds of thousands of people into yoga; he was probably one of the early yogis here. And the goal is to realize that atman—that is, the individual soul—is identical with Brahman, the universal soul—the great mind; this would be…Science of Mind would believe in this same thing, basically, and that I want to realize—it’s called self-realization; this is a self-realization fellowship. What am I going to realize about self? That I am God; I’m really identical with Brahman, you know, the universal mind. And so in Hinduism they have a saying, “That thou art.”
“I want to realize that that’s what I am.” And that’s how they say they bridge the chasm between the individual and the universal so that the yogi would say, “This sense of my belonging, you know, the sense that I am someone separate from all others is maya—it’s an illusion, and I have to somehow overcome that illusion.
Now Tom, you’ve talked with enough guys. I don’t know what you did in university, but I was a Christian at that time. You were not, but probably you weren’t into drugs anyway; but I talked to enough of these people who when they got high on LSD or some other drugs as well—mescaline, peyote, and so forth—they lost all sense of their own separation from the universe. They became the universe: they were the rocks; they were the trees.
In fact, I was talking to a young man just about two weeks ago in New York, and he was telling me the same thing that I have heard from many others. Here’s a half a dozen of them, and they drop LSD in a room together, and—well, he’s off on a trip. But he finds out everybody else in the room is on the same trip; they are all in the same landscape. They are meeting the same creatures; they are talking about it to one another. Now there is no scientific explanation for that other than this is a delusion. It’s a demon playing a videotape in your brain, only that demon is playing the same one in everybody’s brain. There is a common source of this, and it’s based upon the same four lies that the serpent introduced to Eve in the Garden of Eden. One of them is you’re not going to die, because, you know, what you think is God—this voice that told you don’t eat of these trees—actually the trees and the earth and you, you’re all one, so you couldn’t possibly kill yourself from eating of the tree. That, in fact, is going to make a god out of you, and this is the doorway to godhood, which this voice didn’t want you to know about.
Tom: Right. So the denying of the individual self according to Eastern religions, it’s really—in basketball it’d be a pump fake. It’s not really denying self, but it’s realizing that you are god; so it’s not even close to what the Bible teaches about denying self, taking up the cross, and following Jesus.
Dave: See, Paul says it like this—Galatians:2:20: “I am crucified with Christ.” Well, he didn’t say then like Buddha desired, “It’s like a drop of water dissolving in the ocean that all becomes one.” No, no, Paul said, “Nevertheless, I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me.”
“I’m still here; Christ is living in me. But I have submitted myself to Him now.” That takes an act of the will. So self has not been dissolved, self has been denied in the real way that the Bible teaches: so that Christ can have His way in my life and use me. I’m still an individual; I’m still a person, but now He is going to take me and use me, and what a joy that is.
Tom: Dave, also in a spiritual or religious sense—as you know, I grew up Roman Catholic. And by the time this program’s aired we’ll be in what we called Lent, and Lent was a process for me of giving up things, of making certain sacrifices, and so on, although there were points throughout where I didn’t have to be consistent, you know—Sundays and so forth. But 40 days of denying self: is that biblical?
Dave: Well, no, it’s not biblical, of course. We deny self all the time. I am crucified with Christ: that’s how it happens in Christianity. We mentioned a week or two ago, Buddha’s problem was his great desire was to escape all desire. Now that’s not what the Bible says, but my desire now becomes to be what God wants me to be. My desire—well, we have a hymn that says, “My desire: to be like Jesus in everything that I think and say and do.”
So, we still have desire—we desire to please Him; we desire to win others to Christ. “But it’s no more I,” Paul says, “but Christ living in me.” This is the solution that the Bible offers: the death of self through accepting Christ’s sacrifice on the cross; His death is my death, whereas all the other religions, the big “I” is still there, but I’m showing you what a good guy I am, because I’m going to give up this, and I’m going to give up that, and I’m going to give up that. Self is still in control. But for the Christian, no, Christ is in control now.
Tom: And Dave, the verses that you give in your book Beyond Seduction from John—here is the words of Jesus: “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work.” That’s John:4:34. And John:5:19, 30, and then, 6:38—I’ll read those: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do....I can of mine own self do nothing....For I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of him that sent me.” And lastly, John:14:10, Jesus says, “The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself, but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.”
Dave: Mm-hmm. That’s an amazing concept, I guess you could say, that the Bible presents to us in the Trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit never act independently of one another. The Father doesn’t do anything without the Son and the Holy Spirit. In John 16, for example, “When He the Spirit of truth is come, He will not speak of Himself.” Well, that doesn’t mean He won’t talk about Himself, it means He will not speak independently. Whatever the Trinity does—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit— they are one. “I and my Father are one.” The Babe born in Bethlehem amazingly! The Bible is consistent, Tom, all the way through; you couldn’t have engineered that.
Tom: Must be God’s Word then, Dave.
Dave: It has to be, because these people didn’t know one another. They came from different societies, cultures, and so forth—times in history. But Isaiah:9:6 says, “Unto us a child is born,” that’s the Babe born in Bethlehem, “Unto us a son is given…” that’s the eternal Son of God, “the government will be upon his shoulder,” so we know that’s the Messiah. The next verse says, “Of His kingdom and peace there will be no end.” So surely this is the Messiah. “His name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor,”—well, that’s okay, the Jews would accept that. But then it says, “The mighty God,” and then it says, “The everlasting Father.” Now, how can the Babe born in Bethlehem be the Father? That’s staggering! But this is the unity that there is in the Trinity, and without the Trinity, Tom, there’s no salvation. This is the true God, and you can’t have it any other way. Well, this is who He is.
Tom: Dave, some of the ideas that are floating around, promoted, sometimes heavily promoted— with the time we have left in this segment and then next week, we are going to pick up on some others. But we are going to talk about things like unconditional love, self-worth, because many people have an idea—even self-image—they have an idea about these things that we would like to, the Lord willing, clarify these things according to the Scripture.
Now, unconditional love: everybody likes these ideas—“Well, I love you unconditionally,” and so on. You know, it’s almost that it’s been pushed so far that we’ve lost the biblical sense of what that phrase means.
Dave: Well, how about the common sense as to what that word means?
Tom: There you go.
Dave: It’s like tolerance, Tom. “Oh, well, we should be tolerant.” Well, do you want the police to be tolerant of crime? Do you want the doctors to be tolerant of disease? No, we don’t want that, obviously. So, unconditional love—what the person means when he says that, “Love me unconditionally…”
Tom: “Don’t correct me.”
Dave: That’s what they mean: “don’t correct me.” But if you love someone, you want to correct them. Jesus said, for example, “As many as I love I rebuke and chasten.”
Solomon said, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”
Now, there is such a thing as right and wrong. If my child is about to drink a glass of poison, shouldn’t I stop them from doing it? There are people who are self-destructing; they are destroying themselves; they are believing lies—I mean, some of the lies that are believed today by the young people…I can remember the hippie generation and so forth: it was free love and the peace sign, and “give peace a chance.” I mean, Tom, it’s nonsense! What do you mean “give peace a chance”? Here’s a government invading with tanks and bombs, and I stand there making a peace sign and say, “Well, let’s give peace a chance!” That’s a bit ridiculous, but these were the flower children, and the same ideas are current today.
Tom: They call it post-modern, Dave—Generation X.
Dave: Right. So nothing has any meaning; words have no meaning, so “just love me unconditionally.” Well, wait a minute! Love has to have some common sense; love has to have a mind and a will. It’s not just a feeling. So unconditional love? Well, there are conditions. I mean love unconditionally, certainly—God loves the sinners, but He doesn’t love their sin. He loves the sinners enough that He wants them to repent; He wants them to get right with Him. “What do you mean you’ve got to get right with God?”
Well, that’s what we call justice. You know the ridiculous illustrations that I use, Tom. Here’s a 300-pound linebacker, and the play is over, and the poor guy that has been tackled is just getting up and this guy comes and slams him right in the back. Well, of course, a few whistles blow.
Tom: Flags fly.
Dave: [chuckles] Flags fly, and this big linebacker turns around and says, “You narrow-minded, dogmatic fundamentalist! I mean, why can’t you be tolerant?” You can’t play a game without rules, and you can’t run a household…Tom, you’ve got five children; I’m sure you learned that you can’t run a household without rules, and you can’t have a rule without consequences. If you just keep saying, “Don’t do that, don’t do that, don’t do that,” well, that means nothing; they are going to do what they want to do. So God created this universe. He runs it; it’s His universe. Now, you may think you can run it. Go ahead, give it a try, but you will soon find out—and one day you will be punished. There must be consequences, or it isn’t going to work.
Tom: Dave, you mentioned my household. We have two laws in our house. The first was the law of love, all right? We wanted everybody to go by the law of love. Second was the law. If they didn’t go by the law of love, the law came down on them. So, it worked; good kids—I’ve got good kids.
Dave: Tom, it is the only way it can be. So this unconditional love—it’s empty-headed nonsense. What do you mean? “Oh, just let me kill myself, just let me believe any lie, just let me do anything.” Well, that may be the way a young person thinks, but they need to have some education. The board of education needs to be applied to the seat of learning, but they call that abuse today. But Solomon said, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child.” They have things they have to learn—that’s why they go to school, hopefully to learn something, but some of the schools make it even worse. “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from them.” Well, if man will not accept correction in this life, then he will endure eternal correction separated from God. He’s a rebel; he doesn’t want to follow God’s will or God’s way, or God’s laws, then he will not be part of the new creation, the new universe. God is making a new universe and those alone will be in it who have submitted themselves to Him, and who have received Christ as their Savior—the Lord Jesus Christ who died for their sins, paid the penalty. That’s the only way the penalty must be paid. If you accept this, you are crucified with Christ; you’ve given up life as you would live it; Christ has come to live in you and use your life; then you will be in the new universe.