Oh, you may think it’s about the battle between Satan and God, but Satan long ago realized his best strategy was to appeal to our self within us. If he gets a foothold there, your self will ultimately dominate you, and from there Satan is on cruise control.
Is it accurate to say all sins emanate from self?
This is why Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves … their selves … 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.” 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 the A+ Life to the Full.”
To advance this thought, try substituting self when you see sin in Scripture:
God speaking to Cain: “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)
In the first Garden Satan didn’t have a vast array of things with which to tempt Adam and Eve. 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; the battle is always against self.
Two thousand years ago tonight 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 tells us, “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left Jesus 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 Jesus won. He defeated self once and for all, so you and I could be (should be) freed from the tyranny of self.
Yes, 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 a fool. He accidentally engineered the crucifixion of self.
Now it’s up to you. Will you fight the Battle of Self in your own Garden of Gethsemane? Will you?
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.