My Brother / My Self
by Brent Lewis
The innate desire to keep self at the center of our beings is called pride Pride is insidious—the deadliest of all sins. It builds a barrier between men and God and is the catalyst for every problem between fellows. It separates the races and encourages a sense of superiority of one nation over the other. It segregates whole nations into social classes.
But here is its worst evil -it moves the God of heaven out of His rightful place at the center of our lives! All of our restlessness, our aimless wandering in life, is caused by this simple fact. Augustine stated a basic truth in his Confessions some fifteen hundred years ago: ”Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our heart is restless till it finds rest in Thee.”
Pride is a refusal to honor God as God and fails to admit that His rightful place is at the center of our existence. We cannot hope to see ourselves as we really are when pride takes up a position of strength within our being. The rejection of God as the spiritual center of our selves is the essential factor behind all evil.
How do we go about dethroning pride and enthroning God in His proper place within our hearts? What practical steps can we take to beat down this horrible sin? The initial act of moving self from the throne of our beings and allowing God to rule at the center of our existence is called conversion. There is no human therapy in the world that can accomplish this. The Christian life begins when we allow Christ to enter our lives. This is an act of will-it is a deliberate choice we make, a decision of surrender on our part.
Thus, one does not become a Christian by being born in a “Christian” nation, or by living a reasonably decent life. He does not become a Christian because he was “baptized” as an infant, or because he attends church. As has been said, “Sitting in a church building does not make one a Christian any more than sitting in a hen house makes one a chicken,”
No, a true relationship with Christ begins with surrender. Jesus Christ must be admitted into our lives as Lord. It must be on His terms, not ours. The decision to accept these terms involves what we call repentance. This is being sorry enough about our sin to turn away from it. Repentance is agreeing with God about our sin and being ready to hand it over to Him for cleansing, forgiveness, pardon and release.
The way in which we repent of sin is very important. God requires complete repentance. Some see their sin as something which has gotten them into trouble and they are actually only sorry for the consequences of sin. Here is where we have to be terribly honest with ourselves. Repentance is not being sorry for the results of sin, but being sorry for the sin itself. A failure to acknowledge this is responsible for some people still feeling guilt in their own hearts and lives, even after they become Christians. This gives rise to deep feelings of insecurity. True repentance also involves making right any wrongs which have been committed, to the best of our ability,
If God is to enter our lives, then He simply must be given His proper place at the core of our whole existence. Someone has said that sin is like anarchy. Crime is breaking the laws of a nation, but anarchy challenges the right of the nation to make such laws. Every individual, to be true to himself, must turn from sin. He must allow Jesus Christ to be Lord of his life—for man was designed by God to that end.
In the New Testament there were two people who asked Christ the exact same question. One was the rich young ruler. He came to Jesus, asking what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus told him. The requirements were more than he expected, and because he was not willing to move his riches out of the center of his life so that Christ could rule — He went away sorrowful. Paul asked the same question, “Lord, what will thou have me to do” (Acts 9:6)? And when Jesus told him, he was willing to make a complete commitment ‘to Christ that led him to say, “lt is no longer l that live, but Christ liveth in me” (Galatians 2:20).
Through the centuries there have been those who have invited Christ to come into their lives but have sought to maintain their own authority in certain portions of their lives. This cannot be. If Christ is to be Lord at all, He must be Lord of all. If He is to keep us free from evil, He must have the entire territory of our lives in His hands. Are we willing to surrender it? One thing is for sure. Every problem we have with self hinges upon the answer to this question.
CHRISTIANITY MAGAZINE FEBRUARY, 1984