It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ.
One of the greatest dangers in our churches today is the narcissism that runs rampant among the vast majority of the seeker-friendly, emergent, and Word of Faith circles. This “the Bible is all about me” theology is prevalent among false teachers like Steven Furtick, Paula White, Joyce Meyer, and Joel Osteen, just to name a few. But the influence has crept in even in many sound churches. The temptation to take a passage of Scripture that is descriptive of a historical biblical event that points to Jesus and apply it to ourselves has become commonplace. For example, we see descriptive texts in Scripture that give a historical account of the sign gifts, which were given to the Apostles and the early church for the purpose of establishing the authority to speak new revelations from God, being twisted and improperly applied to the church today to create a chaotic charismatic anarchy that distracts from the kerygma, the proclamation of Jesus Christ.
When the focus of Scripture is taken off of who it is really about, Jesus, and put on man, a dangerous prideful attitude arises in which we see ourselves as the object, purpose and even Glory of God, as opposed to Christ alone. Nothing could be more evident of the pride of man than declaring a self-value so high that God really had no choice but to redeem us. Todd White puts it succinctly when he states,
The value that was placed on my life was determined by the cost that was paid for me. You see, the cost isn’t just the revelation of my sin, it’s the revealing of my value. Something underneath that sin must have been of great value for Heaven to go bankrupt to get me back. So Jesus paid such a high price for me on that tree, and when I see that, I see my value…Jesus was put on that cross, God determined my value, because all of that was my value.
There is a lot of bad theology here–a lot. But Todd displays a total lack of understanding of the sacrifice on the cross. Jesus died to save us, not because of any inherent value in us, but for His glory alone. Romans 3:24-26 states,
…and [we] are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
While it is true that we as God’s creation have value, our value is in His image. Todd White is walking a very dangerous rope here by placing a condition on God’s love for us. God is love, and His love is unconditional (1 John 4:8), but Todd wants you to think that God loves us because we are valuable to him. In a secular, self-loving man-centered society, this is a much more palatable version of God. “God loves me for me.” This makes people less inclined to seek conformity to Christ since they believe they are already “valuable” to God. But it is Christ alone who is valuable to God. Romans 8:6-7 says,
For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.
What can be more fleshly than ascribing to yourself an infinite value–the value of the cross. So is it God’s value, or man’s value, that God has chosen to save us?
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9
Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created. – Revelation 4:11
It is God alone who receives the glory–something we fall far short of (Romans 3:23). God’s attributes are inherent in Him and He is glorified by the display of his attributes. Some of God’s inherent attributes include His aseity, His eternity, His immutability and impassibility, His righteousness, His sovereignty, His graciousness, and His wrath. He is glorified by all of his attributes. It is because of God’s graciousness that He alone chooses to save some of us, and it is by His wrath that He alone chooses not to save others. If we condition our salvation upon an assumed value that God places on us then we are preempting the glory of God with our own egos. It is exactly our lack of intrinsic value to Him that makes the gospel so glorious and gracious.
“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36)” God does not need us because of our “value.” God chooses to save us because He is who He is (Exodus 3:14), and He has created us for the purpose of His glory, only. Acts 17:25 states, “nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.”
Man’s basic problem is preoccupation with self. He is innately beset with narcissism, a condition named after the Greek mythological character Narcissus, who spent his life admiring his reflection in a pool of water. In the final analysis, every sin results from preoccupation with self. We sin because we are totally selfish, totally devoted to ourselves, rather than to God and to others.
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[Contributed by Pulpit & Pen]