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. Today - now, Dave, I say this cautiously - today we are completing our series on what the Bible has to say about self vs. what the world teaches about self. Now, the reason I say that with a sense of caution is I don’t know where we are going to go with this, and I don’t know how far we are going to go, but that is the goal; that is the objective.
Dave: Okay, I’ll try to live up to it.
Tom: Okay. What I thought we would do as a wrap-up to this is present what the Bible teaches prophetically about self. But before we go there, there is one last selfism that we didn’t deal with last week, and that, I think, is the hardest for most Christians to comprehend, and I’m talking about self-worth, Dave. It doesn’t compute with most people that God could love the worthless. In fact, many preachers tell us that our worth is reflected in the infinite price God paid to redeem us.
Dave: Well, then, I guess God got a bargain, you know. He had to pay a certain amount of money - not money, but He had to pay with the blood of Christ to get us, and He thought we were worth it. Now there are a lot of reasons why that isn’t biblical. First of all, He didn’t die for us because we are worth it; I think we have a good quote in there or two from Tozer or Spurgeon.
Tom: Well, I like Donald Grey Barnhouse.
Dave: All right.
Tom: He says, “If you exalt me in any way, God is thereby debased. But if you exalt God as He should be exalted, man thereby takes his true position of utter nothingness, and only then can he find his real exultation, for it will come to him through the grace of God in Christ. Man can thus reach the heights by taking the proper place of death. It is once more the divine principle that everyone that exalts himself shall be abased, and He that humbleth Himself shall be exalted.”
Dave: Well, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. He didn’t come into the world to save people who are worth being saved. Now, of course, that depends upon what you mean by “worth.” You mean God did all this and we weren’t worth it? Well, we weren’t worth it, but He is worthy, and Christ paid the penalty for our sins in obedience to His Father. He satisfied His Father’s justice, the penalty had to be paid. But Christ Jesus didn’t die for us because we were worth it; I can’t find that in the Bible. That’s a humanistic idea.
Tom: Well, it’s a business idea, too, isn’t it, Dave? I mean, if you’re only going to pay for what you think the value of a certain thing is…
Dave: So then I become worth everything that God did; all that Christ did for me, He did it because I was worth it. Another way of saying it is, "Because I was worthy of it." No, He picks us up, poor pitiful creatures, and He lifts us out of what the Bible calls “the miry clay,” and He lifts us up and He forgives us. He Himself pays the penalty for our sins and He brings us into His likeness, the likeness of Christ, and into His presence forever. And we are not going to walk the golden streets and say, “Well, your grace and mercy is wonderful, Lord, but after all, you did it because I was worth it! You got a bargain in me! I mean, you paid full value, but I was worth everything you paid!” I don’t think so! You see, now we are trying to exalt ourselves. We don’t want to be humbled; we don’t want to admit we are really not worth it.
Was Hitler worth it? Didn’t Jesus die for Hitler’s sins? It says He died for the sins of the world: “Behold, the Lamb of God who bears away the sins of the world.” So would you say Hitler was worth it? On what basis would Hitler be worth it?
And an author (that I appreciate a great deal) a couple hundred years ago said, “Who would like to have every thought they have ever thought, every deed they have ever done, paraded in front of the world for all the world to see?” When Jesus says it, it’s one thing; for me to say it - and that doesn’t bring too much conviction probably - but when they brought this woman taken in adultery, and they said, “Moses said, Stone her! What do you say?"
Jesus stooped down writing on the ground - I don’t know, maybe He was saying, “Where’s the man? It takes two to commit adultery. How come you left the man out of this?” But anyway, whatever He wrote, they persisted, “Now, what are you going to say? Moses said we stone her; what do you say?”
Jesus looked up for a moment: “Let him that is without sin among you cast the first stone!”
It says, “Beginning from the eldest unto the youngest, one by one they walked out of His presence.” Now, this author of a couple hundred years ago said, “I do not know the evil in other people’s hearts, but I know a little bit.” My heart is deceitful, but I know a little bit about the times that the Lord has prodded me to do something and I didn’t do it. The times that He has prodded me not to do something my conscience told me and I did it. So as far as each individual is concerned, each of us must say, “I am the worst sinner on earth,” because I don’t know...sin is not just doing the deed, but it is flying in the face of what you know should be done or should not be done.
So I would just have to ask, "Did Christ die for Hitler’s sins?" Yes, He did. Did He die for the sins of those who crucified Him, who mocked Him? “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Were they worth it? It’s easy for me to try to build up my self-esteem and say, "Yes, I was worth it," but it’s not biblical, and when you think about it, it isn’t rational.
Tom: Dave, nevertheless, this is so hard for us to get by. For example, you just mention Hitler and people say, “Not him!” You know my background as a screenwriter. Sometimes I think about the Disney animated movie Cinderella. Now, what if we tweaked that around, and the charming prince actually fell in love with one of the ugly sisters. You know, if I tried to present that to an audience, they would rip the stuffing out of the seats - I mean, they would go crazy! They’d start throwing things at the screen. Why? Because it’s only the lovable, it’s only the beautiful…that’s who we think deserves the prince’s love.
Dave: Right. I often use the illustration - well, not so often, but I have: here’s a young woman who is not so young anymore - maybe she is in her late 30s or early 40s; maybe older than that, I don’t know - and she is (as one of my cowboy friends when I was in the military used to say - he was from Texas), she is just “as ugly as a mud fence.” You know, and there is nothing about her that you could possibly…would attract a man, you would think. And yet Prince Charming, you know - the multi-millionaire, greatest athlete - he’s got everything, and he is in love with her. It would be very difficult for her to believe this guy was sincere. What are his hidden motives? I mean, why does he want me? I mean, this man could have anybody, and he says he loves me, and he looks me in the eye and says, “I love you. I want to marry you.” Well, that’s what you are trying to say, Tom.
Tom: We can’t accept that.
Dave: No. Christ did not die for us - He didn’t love us because we were so lovable. And the Bible does say, “For God so loved the world that whosoever..." You know, “He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever….” That would have to include Hitler. So it’s one thing for me to build up my self-esteem and say, “Well, of course that’s why Christ did it: because I’m worth it, I’m worthy.” But it’s something else to try to say that of Hitler.
Tom: Dave, you make a stunning point here. You write, “God loves, not because of who we are, but because of who He is. God is love. Therein lies security for eternity. If He loved us because we were worthy of it, then we could lose that love if our value depreciated sufficiently. But if He loves because He is love, then that love can never be lost, since God never changes.”
Dave: Well, Tom, that is our security. And you know, the problem is we live in a world of - well, the whole idea is “self,” as we have been talking about it: self-centered, selfish. And I need to turn from self to God. When we get in heaven, just imagine - we’re in heaven now; there are hundreds of millions, maybe billions, I don’t know...and we are going to spend eternity, Tom. And we are each going to go around, we are going to go one from the other, we are going to give our testimony. We’re going to tell why Jesus died for me, why I was worth it, why I was so worthy that He wanted me, and I was worth every bit, you know, every drop of blood that He shed and so forth. No, our song, the Scripture tells us, will be unto Him who loved us and loosed us from our sins in His own blood. I love the old hymn (we’re the Bride, the Bride of Christ), “The bride eyes not her garment, but her dear Bridegroom’s face. I will not gaze at glory, but on my King of grace. Not on the crown He giveth, but on His pierced hand. The Lamb is all the glory, in Immanuel’s land.” We’re nothing; He’s wonderful, He’s everything, and we are going to praise Him forever!
Tom: Dave, let’s turn from heaven to hell, because this is really applicable here. You write, “The final hell in which all unrepentant rebels will one day find themselves is the state of independence from divine standards that they demanded and the freedom that they insisted upon to 'do their own thing.'” In other words, hell is going to be all about self, and for someone to even desire heaven when they want self, that’s contradictory to the max.
Dave: You can’t get into heaven if you want to be praised. If you want to flaunt your worth and your worthiness before the throne of God, you are not going to be there. The Lamb is all the glory; all the praise goes to Him. Now, that goes absolutely contrary to everything we believe in our sinful hearts and contrary to everything the world teaches. You want to get ahead in this world? You’ve got to visualize success, you’ve got to be self-assertive, and you’ve got to put yourself forward. The Scripture says, “Let another man praise thee and not thine own lips,” not your own mouth, and that goes for my heart. My heart should not be thinking what a great person I am. But we quoted it last week or the week before, Philippians:2:3: “In lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.”
Tom: I want to finish off with one other Scripture verse, Dave. If we haven’t really caught the heart and mind of some of our listeners about this...and that is the words of John the Baptist spoken to the Jews who had a high self-esteem, who looked to their genealogy, to their lineage for all that they were. John says, “Think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our father. For I say unto you that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham,” and that’s Matthew:3:9.
Dave: Right. Well, I don’t think anyone standing in the presence of God is going to have a sense of their great worth- that they are there because they were worth it, high sense of self-esteem, and so forth. Tom, it goes out the window. For example, if I really love my wife with the love of God, am I thinking about myself? No, it’s a problem in a lot of marriages. When I was in high school, I think I mentioned that I only knew, I think, two people in a high school of about 1,500 whose parents have been divorced. That was the world in those days. Today it’s about as many divorces among Christians…
Tom: More, actually.
Dave: More actually (yeah, isn’t that incredible?) than in the world.
Tom: I think thanks in part to the “self” teaching that has entered the church.
Dave: Right. I was going to say, "What is the problem?" We’re self-centered. "I’m not getting my share out of this marriage, or it should be a fifty-fifty deal," and, I’m - you know, you can’t agree on what is fifty-fifty; it’s a problem. I’m thinking of self instead of my wife; it isn’t going to work. She’s thinking of herself instead of her husband; it isn’t going to work. And it began, as we mentioned, with Eve in the Garden.
So I think it’s very clear, Tom, when you think about it rationally. I mean, the Bible makes sense; the Bible doesn’t make mistakes. Let’s go back to Isaiah:6:5: “Woe is me, I am undone.” That was when he saw the Lord. “I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” If I could just get God’s perspective...you know, I may think that I’m doing pretty well. You know, a small fish in a small pond can feel pretty big. And when all the rest of the fish are a little bit smaller than he is, he can really have a high self-esteem, but get him out in the ocean and have a whale coming at him, this little minnow is no longer thinking he is so great.
Tom: He’s lunch.
Dave: Yeah, hardly a gulp. And, Tom, when we measure ourselves with one another, “I’m not so bad; I don’t think I’m any worse than that person; I think I’m better than that one.” Now you might have some self-esteem, but stand in the presence of God; get His perspective.
So that’s what happened to Isaiah. And this is what Paul said: “I am the chief of sinners." Well, he said he is “less than the least of all saints, and Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief,” said Paul. So I would say the closer a person gets to the Lord, and the more insight they gain from God, the lower the estimation they have of themselves.
Now, anyone out there who is listening to us now, and you want to turn this radio off and you’re really upset - well, I think you are far from God, and you are far from His Word, and you are proud. That is the worst sin, really, is pride.
Tom: Dave, in a prophetic context, very simply, self-love, self-esteem, all these selfisms that we have been talking about, they all lead to self-idolatry, to self-deification. You mentioned earlier Eve in the Garden of Eden - that was the offer: “Ye shall be as gods.”
But then I would like to take it to the Antichrist, take it down the line starting with Daniel:11:36: “And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.” Now, that’s Daniel speaking about the Antichrist to come.
Second Thessalonians 2:4, talking about the man of lawlessness, the Antichrist, says: “Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God…”
And of course, Revelation 13, we have the same thing: that Satan is not only worshipped, but the beast, the Antichrist, is worshipped as well. Isn’t this where it’s all going, Dave, the lie that we are gods?
Dave: Well, Tom, every person who rebels against God is, in that sense, setting himself up as God. “I want to be independent.” This is what people say: “I want to be in control of my life.” This is the whole hippie thing. “Oh, do your thing. You don’t want authority.” The ultimate authority is God. So they are rebelling against His Word, rebelling against the Ten Commandments and saying, in effect, what man is saying: "I want to run the show." Well, then he’s setting himself up as God. This is what Satan was doing, this is what Antichrist will do, and this is what appeals to mankind. And so many divorces, Tom...I know a few from the inside. “Well, my husband is not letting me express myself. I can’t be who I really am. I want to be who I really am.” Well, okay, so…
Tom: Dave, I just have to interject this - this is hell! This is the prerequisite for hell, to be separated from God forever, because that’s what people want: they want autonomy; they don’t want to submit.
Dave: Right. Well, Tom, I think it’s pretty clear in the Scriptures - and you want to get to the prophetic part, and I know you are aiming at 2 Timothy 3: “In the last days, dangerous times will come. Men will be lovers of self, proud, covetous, boasters, and so forth, covenant breakers, false accusers....” When you think about that - well, of course, men have always, right from the Garden of Eden - that’s what we are saying - they have always been narcissistic, self-centered, loving themselves.
But today we have a different situation. We are being taught that we must love ourselves! We are being told that the key to success in the business world is self-love, self-acceptance, self-confidence, good self-image, high self-esteem. So I think this prophecy is being fulfilled. We have a selfism today, even taught within the church, like we have never had before. You could be ashamed of being selfish, ashamed of being self-centered and wanting to build yourself up and to lord it over others, and so forth, which is what, basically, that accomplishes. But now, that’s not an occasion for shame - this is something to exult in, because this is how I am going to get ahead; this is how I am going to become successful wherever it may be.
So, Tom, I could tell you of a few dear people that I have known - Wow! what problems! This woman was, I think, close to 400 pounds and about 5 feet two, and divorcing her husband because he didn’t love her enough. Her Christian psychologist had her sit in front of the mirror and say to herself in the mirror, “You are beautiful! I love you. You are worth it. You are wonderful.” That’s the day we live in, Tom, and I think it’s a fulfillment of the Scripture. We don’t want to be corrected; we don’t God to tell us - we don’t want the Bible to correct us, but we want a Bible that will tell us what great people we are, we’ll build up our self-esteem.
Tom: Dave, the Antichrist - we believe we are out of here when he is revealed. Don’t you think that in his self-exultation that he’s going to be offering that to everyone else: “Just as I am exalted, you too.”
Dave: Of course! The very fact that he made godhood is his promise to all the rest of us we could do it too, and that’s what the world will love. And Jesus put it so succinctly and insightfully…well, of course, He is God! In John 4, He said: I have come in my Father’s name, you receive me not; another is going to come in his own name - him you will receive.” He’s going to come as the ultimate man, who could be realizing that he is "God," and he is going to offer that to everyone, and that’s what you’re going to really want.