Lesson 6: Kiss Self Goodbye
Focus Text: Luke 18:10-14
In America, we are taught to do things ourselves. Children are taught to be independent. They are taught to take care of themselves, support themselves, buy themselves clothes, pay for their education, and are to be self-supporting. In our culture, someone that can do these things is respected because they can do all of this on their own. In America, we are taught to be a lot more individualistic in our thinking. We are taught self-esteem, self-love, and self-sufficiency. And some things are not inherently bad, but for some ridiculous reason we have, at times, infused these concepts into our spiritual lives. That is where it really begins to hurt us.
In the parable that Jesus told, the Pharisee believed that he was worthy of God’s mercy and grace because he fasted and gave tithe. Not only that but he also judges others based upon his own self-praised deeds and standards.
On the other hand, the tax collector realizes his sin and unworthiness. He calls himself a sinner and asks God to have mercy on him. He does not praise himself for anything because he knows he is in need of a God that can forgive him.
Too often we fall into the category of the Pharisee. We think we are so good and that we do not need the mercy of God because we do the right things by “keeping the commandments”. Some of us come to church with exalted hearts. We think so highly of ourselves that when a known “sinner” walks into church, we think the same thoughts as the Pharisee. We do not even think we are in need of the words of the pastor because we are such godly people already.
Then there are those of us that have neither exalted hearts nor humbled hearts. We just don’t care much about God or anything that has to do with Him. We come to church just to come to church. In our hearts we do not believe that we really need Him. We believe that we do not need his forgiveness or grace and we continue living lives that are against His will. Although we live unholy lives, we are not convicted of our sins. We just wallow and sink further into it. We cannot and should not be like either of these types of people.
When we feel no conviction of sin, the Holy Spirit cannot work within us. Christ tells us that we must be like the publican. We have to realize our true, helpless condition. Our standard mustn’t be ourselves. Our standard must be Christ. When we see his purity and holiness, we will not be able to help but feel weak and in need of strength. When we see and behold Christ, then we can see our defects.
We must give up self-sufficiency for our sufficiency can only be found in Christ. We must give up self-glorification for we should only give glory to the Lord. We must give up self-righteousness for our righteousness is only visible through Christ. We must give up self! That is Christianity.
There is no person on this earth that is not in need of forgiveness. It does not matter how far from God you are or how close you are. All of us are in need of his mercy and grace everyday! When we become complacent and believe that we are good to go, that is when Satan begins to gain a foothold on us. We cannot keep the law without God. That is how the law leads us to Christ! Ellen White tells us in Christ’s Object Lessons that “…there needs to be a continual reaching out of the heart after God, a continual, earnest, heartbreaking confession of sin and humbling of the soul before Him,HiHHHd d” (160).
Friend, you and I, are in dire need of a Saviour because we cannot save ourselves. We must realize our sins, be convicted of them, repent to the Lord, and seek His forgiveness! If you think you are sin-free, you must not be thinking. And if you do not care that you are sin-sick, you must be really ill. Friend, we are all on the same boat and are infected with the same sickness. But glory be to God, for He came to heal the sick! He came for us! No matter how strong you are, no matter what degree you may have, no matter your wealth, you and I are weak, helpless, and sick.
God is there to strengthen us in our weakness. As Christians we are to live for Him in everything. We are not great by ourselves. It is He that makes us great. All glory, honor, and praise belong to Him. When we are in communion with Christ, our self-esteem comes from Him, our self-worth comes from Him, our self-love comes from Him, and everything comes from Him for He alone can make us whole!
I know that it is cliché but it is true. We are nothing without God. Nothing. No matter how great and cool we think we are. We are nothing without Him. When that will really dawn on us, I do not know. But the day that we truly understand it will be the day that we will learn to depend totally on Him. That day when we kiss self goodbye will be the day we learn what true Christianity is all about!