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One of the devil’s top lies is that life is 'all about you.' That's according to Berni Dymet from Christianityworks. He says, 'At last count there were over 7 billion people walking planet earth. So if we all have the attitude “it’s all about me” then it’s not hard to see how (things like) wars break out.'
So where does the idea of ‘self’ come from? Where does it begin? And finally, what's the consequences of living for yourself?
According to The Bible, human beings first became selfish after sin entered into the world. In fact, according to Genesis, the desire for self was the very first sin committed by mankind. God warned Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit of the tree of Knowledge. Then, the devil appears to the woman in the form of a serpent and gets her to question God's command:
'For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.'
For Eve, the prospect of being like a god and having access to higher knowledge was far too great an opportunity to pass up, and her desire for self and disregard for God's warning caused her to give in. Since the fall of man, humanity has been cursed with a relentless drive to satisfy selfish desires and a disregard for God as ruler. Throughout the centuries, the quest for ‘self' has manifested itself in different forms. From power, to unbridled sexual expression, thievery, murder and so on, ‘self’ is at the root of all these things. But what form does this take in the modern age?
THE DESIRE FOR SELF
It's been said that the last attribute in the west is success. People today are highly motivated by the desire to succeed, make money and get ahead of everyone else. Modern culture has become extremely introspective, self-aggrandizing and individualistic. Don't believe us? Just ask yourself this question. What is one of the most popular desires in today's culture? Being 'famous' right?
In fact, according to Orville Gilbert Brim, author of Look at Me! The Fame Motive from Childhood to Death, today’s culture is full of people who just want to be famous so they can feel better accepted. Brim points to several surveys that showed there are at least 4 million people in the United States who make becoming famous their chief goal in life, and these statistics were pulled from findings in 2009! America’s influence spreads to British shores too and the hunger for fame can be observed by our fascination with celebrity culture in the tabloids, reality TV shows and national talent competitions like Britain's Got Talent and X Factor.
Everyone is obsessed with fame because they are obsessed with self. It's no different than Eve in the Garden. The worship of self is the god of the modern age and arguably, its worse now than ever before.
THE BEGINNING OF SELF
The desire for self always begins with just that, a desire. A desire becomes a dream and that dream becomes a reality.
'But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.'
The trouble is, the reality always fails to deliver what we expect. This is because our flesh can never be satisfied because we always want more.
BEING SELF CONSUMED
The Bible gives a clear picture of what a self consumed life looks like. It's a life entirely controlled by the influence of sin.
'Among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath...'
THE END PRODUCT
You may remember the young and outlandish entrepreneur, Stewart Baggs from the acclaimed TV series, the Apprentice. Baggs went on to become a highly driven and successful businessman. His entirely life was driven by his desire to be the best and live for self. But he died suddenly of a asthma attack at age 27. What does he have to show for living for self and his success? What did he take with him? Nothing. He may have fulfilled his goals but when we go to the grave we leave material wealth behind.
'Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.'
I remember hearing a great analogy of a dog fight promoter. Every week he would always make a bet on the dog that would win and he would get it right every time. So what was his secret? Well, the promoter owned the dogs and confessed that he would only feed one dog leading up to the fight, so the other dog would always lose because it was weaker.
There is a constant battle going on between our flesh (the self) and the spirit. The one that will win is the one that you feed the most! If you feed your flesh, you'll live for self, but if you feed your spirit, you'll live for God.
'For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.'
With that said, all of us should be aware of the common pitfalls we can fall into so we can avoid them altogether. Prevention is the best cure as they say.
Here are the top 3 pitfalls to avoid:
1. Running on Ambition
There is nothing wrong with planning and trying to better your situation by achieving your goals. The trouble is when your life becomes about those things. Being consumed by material goals is something you want to avoid altogether. You're life is not about your goals, it's about God.
2. Being defined by your circumstances
Many people live their entire lives in misery and discontentment because of their circumstances. However unfortunate, our circumstances should never dictate our joy because discontentment leads to resentment and that can breed serious sin in our lives. Rather than trusting in God, people start looking to themselves for the answer and try to take things into their own hands. This is a huge pitfall to avoid.
3. Fearing life rather than God
People are afraid of what life has in store and so they become obsessed with trying to destroy that fear. They do everything they can to fortify themselves and the purpose of this is to make themselves feel safe and in control. The desire for power is probably the most selfish desire out there. It's a relentless rabbit trail because you can never have enough (as we've already seen) and you always want more. But ultimately, you don’t know what’s going to happen and you're going to die. You don't have control of your life. Only God has that power. And that's why we should fear him and not life.
Adam Brennan is a Digital Producer at Premier