The religion of self. There is a new religion in our world and that is the religion of self. To be honest, this is not a new religion, it has been around since the dawn of time. But the reason I refer to it as the new religion is that it is very rarely if ever, looked at as a religion.
The religion of self directly goes against the fundamental truth of Christian living. The very starting point of Christianity is death. It starts with the death of self for you to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. You must die to self.
Jesus Christ stated, “if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” This phrase spoken by Jesus is a powerful call to disciplinship found in the gospels, notably in Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, and Luke 9:23, the statement encapsulates the essence of Christian commitment and the journey of faith.
It is a call. It is a call to total commitment to Jesus Christ, carrying one’s cross signifies complete and unwavering commitment to follow Jesus, regardless of the cost. It means prioritizing Christ’s teachings, and His example above all else; including one’s personal desires, ambitions, and even life plans.
It means that even if the world hates you, you will still follow Christ; it means that if you have to stand alone, you will follow Christ. It means that even if your back is against the wall, you will still follow Christ.
It is a call to self denial. The phrase “carry my cross” and follow me also implies the concept of denying oneself, letting go of self centeredness and ego. It\’s about putting the needs of others, and the work of God’s Kingdom above one’s own personal interests and desires.
It is a call not to live in the flesh, but to live in the spirit and in obedience to the Word of God. Jesus emphasized to His disciples the significance of taking up their cross, a symbol of death and following Him. He clearly stated that anyone who wishes to follow Him must deny themselves. This denial involves a spiritual, symbolic and even physical surrender of their lives.
This self denial is not just a part of being a follower of Jesus Christ. It is essential. Jesus taught that those who try to perserve their earthly lives might lose their eternal lives while those who sacrifice their lives for His sake will find eternal life.
In the scriptures, dying to self is consistently presented as a non-negotiable aspect of the Christian life. However, in today’s world, many profess Christianity, yet live contrary to its tenets. Some claim to be Christians, but continue to engage in fornication, theft, or unprovoked lying.
This contradicts the essence of the new birth in Christ. Coming to Christ means seeing one’s old life crucified with him, and starting anew in obedience to his teachings. There must be a noticeable transformation in one’s life upon accepting Christ.
If one remains unchanged after professing faith in Christ, they are merely embracing a religion of self-deception. Being born again is about transformation, aligning one’s likes and dislikes with God’s, embracing what He loves, and rejecting what He hates. Being born again does not imply perfection at all times, but it does necessitate a fundamental change in one‘s life.
True discipleship calls for a complete and unwavering commitment to Christ, manifesting in a transformed life an abandonment of former ways. 2 Timothy 4.3-4, KJV says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heed to themselves teachers having itching ears, and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
This religion destroys many people’s lives. A lot of people preach this religion, and I can tell you that pastors are preaching it too. Many motivational speakers today call themselves pastors and are planting this religion in the hearts of millions of people each week. Many motivational speakers completely disregard God and teach people to glorify themselves.
We live in an age of self-glorification, an age of self-adoration. Everything is about me, me, me and I. It is about what I want. It is about what I need. It is about my desires. It is about my needs. I am the center of my life. “I need to take care of myself”.
It is no coincidence that, as the religion of self has taken more and more prominence in our generation, the word selfie was introduced. Do you know what a selfie is, right? A selfie is a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically taken with a smartphone or webcam, and shared via social media.
We live in an age of boasting. This is one of the reasons why we know we are in the last days. “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,” (2 Timothy 3:1–2 ESV)
Society as a whole will be a society of boasters, and the perfect vehicle for this is social media. When you scroll through people’s social media, all you see is people boasting, people exalting themselves, and people showing off their lives.
We are living in an age of vanity. It\’s almost as if the 2 Timothy 3: 1-2 were telling us that we would live in a world where people would be centered around themselves. This is the new religion, the religion of self.
I could go as far as saying that the religion of self is satanic. The first sin, the first ever sin to be committed, is the religion of self. This sin is so heinous and insidious that it is a sin that was committed and caused war in Heaven.
The religion of self sidelines God completely. It is a religion that doesn’t give glory to God. The religion of self is a religion that tells you that what you need in this life is not God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit, but yourself.
The Christian faith is one of total commitment, total submission, and total obedience to God. You cannot have one foot in and one foot out. Choose today that, for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
No matter the cost, we will serve the Lord.