Easter is all about self. Actually the entire Biblical story is about self: the battle of self against God.
Oh, you may think it’s about the battle between Satan and God, but Satan is a minor league player compared to self. Well, actually, Satan long ago realized his best strategy was to appeal to our self within us. If he gets a foothold there, he’s on cruise control after that.
Is it accurate to say all sins emanate from self?
This is why Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
Notice he didn’t say “must deny themselves things,” which is the common misperception of this passage. We can deny ourselves things all day long with no heart transformation. Things are not the problem. Self is the problem.
Jesus goes on to observe, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:25) Allow me to substitute self in this passage: “For whoever wants to save their self will lose it, but whoever loses their self for me will find Life.”
To advance this thought, try substituting self when you see sin
sin in scripture:
But if you do not do what is right, self
sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:7) God speaking to Cain
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of self
sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to self sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from self sin. (Romans 6:6-7)
I think it works, don’t you?
Picture a social setting: people standing around chatting, meandering through the crowd, stopping to speak, enjoying the festivities. But if we could see the egos, the selfs, as they really are, we would see these 800 pound gorillas in the room, clumsily pushing and knocking people aside, calling attention to themselves and one-upping others, because that’s what selfs do.
In the first Garden Satan didn’t have a lot with which to tempt Adam and Eve. He didn’t have the vast array of temptations he can and does employ against us. In the first Garden he only had self to use. But, and don’t miss this: that is all he needed. Oh come on, the fruit? Do any of us really think a piece of fruit was the tempting issue? Satan appealed to Adam and Eve’s self, and he won.
Even today, with Satan’s entire arsenal at his fingertips, at its core the temptation is still and always to self. Nothing has changed, and rarely do the basic issues really change. The battle is always against self.
Jesus went into the Garden of Gethsemane to do battle with his self. Three years prior Satan had tried to tempt Jesus in the wilderness with three appeals to his self. Here’s just one: “Turn these rocks to bread. You’re hungry. Look after your self.” And God tell us, “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:1-13)
The Garden Battle in Gethsemane was that “opportune time.”
Jesus had to do battle with his self in that garden, and he won: “Not my (self) will, but yours.”(Luke 22:42) He defeated self once and for all, so you and I could be freed from self.
Don’t miss that. You can be free from your self, your old self, your dominating, “What about me? What about my feelings? What’s in it for me,” self. But not by yourself. You need more than self-help. You need more than a helping hand. Self is too big for any of us.
Jesus’ Garden battle caused him to sweat blood. Do you think you can do it on your own?
You need a Savior. And you need his power.
From the Garden through the Cross, Jesus destroyed the work of Satan. Satan thought he was engineering the crucifixion of Jesus. He was fooled. He accidently engineered the crucifixion of self.
Now it’s up to you. Will you fight the Battle of Self in your own Garden of Gethsemane? You’ll need help. You’ll need the power of the Holy Spirit. The Cross opened this Holy Spirit power to you. Jesus made it available to you. He died for you to have this power. Use it!
If You Want a Little More:
“Those who live according to the Self
sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of self sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the self sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the self sinful nature cannot please God.” (Romans 8:5-8)