Does God Want Us to Love Ourselves?
Tom: Thanks, Gary. You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage all who desire 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 the Lord.
Dave, as you know, and many of our listeners know, we’ve been going over the topic of love—God’s love, loving God, what God’s Word says about love, and I think we’ve been through some very helpful—at least for me, and I hope for many of our listeners, some very helpful verses on what God’s love is about. And as we mentioned before, it’s something that we do. There’s no specific definition, but throughout the Scriptures we find Jesus, who is the perfect example for us of God’s love: all that He says, all that He does, all that He did, and what He asks us to do. He says, “A new commandment I give you. If you love me, keep my commandments.” And those are the very things that are a blessing to us because of what He did, and that we are to bless others, to be used of Him to that end.
But, Dave, this program is called Search the Scriptures Daily, and we’re not only concerned about what the Lord has taught us in His Word, what His Word says, but we’re also concerned about what the world and the church teach, to some degree, that really doesn’t conform to God’s Word. And the particular topic that I want to get into today is self-love. That’s comes out of the world, doesn’t it?
Dave: Yeah, there are many things, of course, that don’t conform to the Word of God, but when things are being taught in the church or by the church, and they claim that this is Christianity, or they claim that this is biblical, and in fact, they’re not, that’s what we’re concerned about.
Tom: Yeah, and I’m sure, as we get into the subject, that it’s going to upset many listeners, because I think—well, I don’t think, I know that they’ve been led down a primrose path with regard to the truth of God’s Word regarding love and loving self.
To begin with, the Great Commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength,” as we’ve mentioned. And the second commandment is like it: “We’re to love our neighbor as ourself.”
Dave: That takes in the whole Ten Commandments, right there.
Tom: Now, is that—the second commandment, is that teaching us to love ourselves?
Dave: The Bible never tells us to love ourselves. Now in the second— “the second commandment is like unto it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Well, obviously Jesus is not saying, “Love your neighbor as you inadequately love yourself. You don’t love yourself very well, but I want you to love your neighbor like you don’t love yourself well enough.” That’s the impression you get from the people who are teaching self-love. We even have seminars—special teaching in the church—on “you’ve got to love yourself before you can love your neighbor or you can love God.” But Jesus doesn’t say that. He says, “Love your neighbor like you already love yourself.” So, apparently, we don’t have any problem in that department. In fact, rather than teaching self-love, Jesus is saying, “What do you do in the morning when you get up? You brush your teeth, you comb your hair, you feed yourself, you clothe yourself—give your neighbor some of the attention that you are already giving to yourself. How about paying a little attention to your neighbor? Love your neighbor like you already love yourself.”
So, He is not teaching self-love. He is, in fact, correcting self-love.
Tom: Dave, in chapter 16 of your book, you begin with the scripture 2 Timothy:3:1-2: “In the last days perilous times shall come. Men will be lovers of their own selves.” And then you begin the chapter by talking about how humanistic ideas have crept and continue to creep into the church. On the basis of what you said, going back to the verse from Matthew 22 . . .
Dave: This is just Bible now.
Tom: Right. This is just Bible, and for the most part, people would understand that just by reading that. But there’s a humanistic bias that has caused many in the church to interpret that contrary to what the Scriptures actually teach. It’s bad exegesis. No exegesis.
Dave: Unfortunately, it comes from the world. Bruce Narramore, the nephew of Clyde Narramore, said it like this: (I’m simply quoting him, and he is speaking for Christian psychologists as a whole.) He said, “It was humanistic psychologists, Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, who first made us aware of the need of self-love, to love ourselves, to have a good self-image, and so forth.
Well, he’s telling you nobody got that idea out of the Bible. It came from, he says, “Humanistic psychologists.” So this is a humanistic—as you said—this is a humanistic idea. Now, you could trace it back farther. You could go back to 1945, Erich Fromm, a very godless anti-Christian atheist psychologist. He titled one of his books, You Shall Be As Gods. So he takes the very lie of the serpent and makes it the title of one of his books. And in that book, Erich Fromm—well, he’s quoting Nietzsche, who said we don’t love ourselves enough, that’s our problem. We need to learn to love ourselves more.
Robert Schuller picked that up and wrote a book, Self-Love, the Dynamic Force of Success. You will hear this in many pulpits! These are “fine pastors” that are teaching this now, because the psychologists, they have PhDs. They must know what they’re talking about, and that’s how it has heavily influenced the church.
But wait a minute! This is absolutely the opposite of what the Bible said.
Tom: Well, Dave, you have a really good example of that. You mentioned earlier Abraham Maslow, his “hierarchy of needs.” Now, there’s an example of turning what the Bible says upside down.
Tom: Just kind of spell that out.
Dave: Go ahead. You do give it to us.
Tom: Well, Maslow believed that we needed to have in this Hierarchy of Needs, you begin with man’s physical needs, and then you work your way up . . .
Dave: Survival, feeding and clothing and shelter, and all of this . . .
Tom: . . . and finally when you get to the top of his pyramid, you end up with man’s spiritual needs. That’s so contrary to Matthew:6:33, where Jesus saysd, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things [food, clothing, shelter, the very bottom line of Maslow] shall be added unto you.”
Dave: And yet, Tom, we encounter in Christian books by wonderful Christian leaders—and I’m not faulting them; they’re sincere; they love the Lord—and yet you can find them quoting Maslow, and saying, “Yeah, Maslow gave us the hierarchy of needs. Now, we really need to go by that.”
Well, as you said, they turned the Bible on its head. It’s absolutely contrary to what the Bible says. Now why would I accept it from Abraham Maslow? Well, because I’m looking up to him now as an authority figure. “Oh, he must know what he’s talking about because he has a PhD and he’s a psychologist.” And this is how it has entered into the church, and it’s staggering to me that pastors who know the Bible would not think, Oh, wait a minute, wait a minute! That’s the opposite of what Jesus said. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God.” Well, in fact, before He says that, He says,
“Don’t be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek.’”
That’s exactly what Abraham Maslow puts first. Jesus says, “No, seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness,” but Maslow puts that last. Jesus said, “Seek it first,” and all these other things, God will take of that for you.
So, we have turned from the truth of God’s Word to the wisdom of man, which is foolishness with God. That really is a great tragedy.
Tom: Right. And, Dave, what we have here—and you point this out very well in this chapter—there’s a growing interest in supplementing God’s Word with other ideas. “All truth is God’s truth”—that’s the slogan that we hear from pulpits these days, and what do we get? Abraham Maslow? Who is he? I mean, he’s the father of the New Age, particularly related to psychotherapy, isn’t that right?
Dave: Yeah, it’s true.
Tom: So . . .
Dave: Abraham Maslow was involved at Esalen, and he felt that faith led him there—he and his wife were led there. One dark night they saw this light, and Esalen was the center of the Human Potential Movement, and so forth.
Tom, it’s really incomprehensible, because you said now they want to supplement the Word of God. Well, isn’t the Bible sufficient? See, there are people who believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, but they don’t believe in the sufficiency of Scripture.
Tom: Right. And the authority? They would say, “Oh, yes, we believe . . .” But when it comes to sufficiency, “Well, you know, all truth is God’s truth.”
Dave: Well, now, Tom, you keep raising that, so we’re going . . .
Tom: Well, I keep hearing it, Dave!
Dave: (Chuckling) Right. We will have to deal with that. Isn’t all truth God’s truth? Yeah, all truth is God’s truth. But it depends: what do you mean by truth? “Ten times ten is one hundred” is not God’s truth. E=mc2 is not God’s truth. So, they’re confusing facts—even scientific facts. That is not God’s truth! It may be true, just as you stand in court and solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, that is not God’s truth.
Now, we can prove very simply what God’s truth is. Jesus said, and we quoted it earlier, I think on our last program, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The truth sets free!
Well, “10x10=100” won’t set you free; e=mc2 won’t set you free. “I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me, God,” that could put people in prison. That’s obviously not what He’s talking about. Where does He explain what He’s talking about? Well, Pilate asked the question, “What is truth?” Jesus said, “Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” Now that must be something very special. It doesn’t mean everybody who knows mathematics, everybody who knows science, “hears My voice.” So, I’m going to have to throw that out. That is not God’s truth, and it doesn’t set people free.
If we went to John:14:17, Jesus said, “I’m going to send another Comforter, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him.” In John:16:13, Jesus said, “When he, the Spirit of truth is come, He will lead you into all truth.” Well, we have the Spirit of truth who leads into all truth, and the world cannot receive Him, then don’t tell me that Freud or Jung or Maslow or any of these people—or Einstein, or anyone else—knew God’s truth. Because God’s truth comes from the Spirit of truth, and it is through the Word of truth; it is through Jesus Christ who is the truth, and this is known only to those who belong to Him. Now we’re talking about God’s truth! So don’t look to Rogers or Maslow or Confucius or Buddha, or anyone else, to supplement and say, “ ‘All truth is God’s truth . . .’ They’ve got part of it!”
No, they do not! And the Bible is very clear, and 1 Corinthians 2 says, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. Neither can he know them. They are foolishness to Him.” So no natural man knows God’s truth.
So, Tom, this is a fallacy. It’s a dangerous idea that has entered the church: “All truth is God’s truth.” Yes, that’s true. But what is God’s truth? And they say, “Anything that is true, then that must be part of God’s truth.”
No. Jesus—well, I’ll go back over it again: “The truth sets you free!” And this is not the facts of science. So even if psychology were scientific (which it is not), you cannot make a science out of human behavior. If you could make a science out of human behavior, you would have to be able to predict my behavior, and you cannot do that! You would turn a man into a robot. And this is the problem. They wanted, somehow, without God, without the Spirit of God, without the regeneration of the new birth through believing the gospel, they wanted to solve human problems. And that’s humanistic psychology—this is what it is . . .
Tom: Anti-biblical, anti-Christian to the core.
Dave: Absolutely! And yet, we have embraced that and brought it in. Now, Tom, you remember—we had lunch . . . we had the privilege of having lunch with J. Vernon McGee just a few months before the Lord took him home. And do you remember what he said? Remember that he had just been displaced on a certain national radio program—they moved him from his noon hour to a less desirable hour, to put two Christian psychiatrists in his place.
And I will never forget J. Vernon McGee’s words. He said, “This is symptomatic of the decreasing biblical and increasing humanistic content that we are getting from Christian radio, from Christian pulpits, and Christian books, and so forth,” and he said, “If this trend continues, Christian psychology will be the destruction of the evangelical church.”
Now, those are not our words. These are the words of J. Vernon McGee, and I think most people—Christians—really respect him highly. He’s still on the air teaching the Word of God, even after the Lord has taken him to heaven.
So I think it’s something to consider very carefully. We’re not out to bash Christian psychologists, but what we would like to say is, Peter tells us, “God has given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him [that means through knowing Him] who has called us to glory and virtue, whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
Now, the secret of the Christian life—we’ve been talking about it for weeks and months—I can’t live the Christian life. I can’t be loving and kind. I can’t control my anger, or impulses, or whatever. Christ must do it through me! That’s the wonder, the joy, of the Christian life. This is not Buddhism. Buddha does not come to live his life in people. Buddha laid out, you know, his eight noble truths, the four-fold path—I mean there was some pretty good stuff in there. Confucius had some good ideas in his philosophy. But Confucius doesn’t come to live his life in the hearts of those who believe in him! Confucius is dead and in the grave. Christ is alive, and He comes to empower us and to live His life through us. Now, if that’s true of the Christian life, I don’t believe that Jesus Christ living in me, or living in you, or living in any Christian, needs any help whatsoever from Freud, from Jung, from Rogers, Maslow—these men who couldn’t help themselves; they had messed up lives; they had all kinds of problems. But what we need, instead of to go to some Christian psychologist—we quoted Isaiah:9:6: one of His names is Counselor. That’s one of the names of Jesus. Why not go to Him for counsel? Go to His Word for counsel. Allow Him to live His life through me.
And it was in Genesis when Eve believed the lie of the serpent, that’s when self had its awful birth. What was she thinking of? How beautiful the fruit looks to me, how delicious it will taste to me, how wise it will make me. “I, my, me.” She forgot about her husband, she forgot about the God who created her. She didn’t need to learn self-assertion; she didn’t to know training in that. She asserted herself for self. That was where self had its awful birth, and that’s why Jesus said, “Except you deny self, take up the cross, and follow me, you can’t be my disciple.”
So this is what it’s all about. It’s not about loving self, but it’s loving Him!
Tom: Dave, there are some very simple things about this (not to go over what you just laid out), but as I was sitting here listening, first of all, these individuals that we’re turning to—you don’t have to read very much of their writings to see that they’re . . . I want to say “anti-biblical.” They’re against the very things that Christ taught.
Dave: I would just interject (I have talked too much, and then you carry on), but let’s take Thomas Szasz. He’s Jewish—a Jewish psychiatrist—I think he has the right to talk about Freud the Jew! It’s exactly what you’re saying. Thomas Szasz said “Freud had one motive in life—destruction, revenge, against Christianity.”
Tom: So, to turn to something like that looking for truth, looking for nuggets of truth—what’s this program all about? It’s about encouraging people to search the Scriptures daily, to get into God’s Word, to see what God has to say about things, to do things His way! Yet we’re exploring, basically, the junkyard for some purity or some nugget. That’s crazy, to begin with.
Secondly, these teachings: self-love . . . search the Scriptures. Try and find something that would encourage that. You won’t! You began this chapter with 2 Timothy:3:1-2: “Mark my words, in the last days there will be perilous times. Men will be lovers of themselves.”
If you want to talk about self-love, there is a strong verse for it. Yet it seems that those who teach this, particularly through Christian psychology, talking about self-love, would say, “Oh, look, all the problems in the world are because we don’t love ourselves enough.”
Dave: Jesus said the opposite.
Tom: Well, look at after: “Mark my words, in the last days will be perilous times. Men will be lovers of themselves . . . .” Look what follows that! Yet we’re being told by those in the church who have positions of leadership, that the problem is that we don’t love ourselves enough! This is incredible!
Dave: And we’re going to dredge through the muck and mire, the slime pit . . . and they are anti-Christians to a man, every one of them. Study Freud. Learn a little bit about this man. He was so obsessed with sex—the guy was so messed up in his life, his extramarital affairs. Carl Jung the same. Carl Jung had a demon as a spirit guide. Right? Okay. Now, “oh, but we’re going to dredge through this, and we’re going to come up with some golden nugget of truth, and if it agrees with the Bible, well. . . .”
Wait a minute! Why don’t we go to the Bible and just . . . Tom, it reminds me of a poem. I don't know if we’ve quoted it before, but I won’t quote the whole thing, but let me pick it up on the last few lines, because that’s what this program is about—going to the Scriptures instead of elsewhere.
It says, “Who would leave the noonday bright to grope ’mid shadows dim? And who would leave the fountainhead to drink the muddy stream where men have mixed what God has said with every dreamer’s dream.”
I don’t have to dig around in that! Let’s go to the Word of God, search the Scriptures daily. This is God’s Word. This is the Manufacturer’s Handbook. What more would I want? Doesn’t He know what makes me tick? Didn’t He create me? And didn’t He give us all the instructions that we need?
Tom: Dave, I like the last few verses of what you just quoted, because a dream—the dreamer’s dream is really a nightmare. It’s a delusion.
Tom: And our heart’s cry in this program is, as you said, “Get back to God’s Word.”
Tom: It’s His truth! That which will set us free, no matter what our situation or what our circumstance.
Dave: People say, “But it doesn’t work. I’ve tried it.” Well, then, God isn’t God. The Bible isn’t true. Maybe you didn’t try it the right way. Maybe you didn’t try it in obedience to Him. Maybe you didn’t try it in faith. So you’re going to go somewhere else? Let’s trust God and believe Him for our needs.