Apart from Him we can do nothing

The Sin of Self-Reliance

The sin of self-reliance is that we put ourselves before Jesus.

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We commit the sin of self-reliance when we waver and choose the world’s way over God’s way. We must admit our brokenness before Christ.

At the usual time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. O Lord, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.”

Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench! And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, “The Lord—he is God! Yes, the Lord is God!” (1 Kings 18:36-39).

Today’s passage comes at the end of the biblical account of Isaiah challenging the priests of Baal to determine who was truly God.

I have always been amazed at this scripture because of the straightforwardness of Elijah. He challenges the people of Israel on their double-mindedness, asking how long they will be between 2 opinions.

Elijah was seemingly standing alone. However, scripture reminds us that if God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31). Because He chose God, Elijah didn’t need to use human effort; God took center stage on this showdown.

How do we who claim to be followers of Christ answer Elijah’s question today?

How long will we go wavering between 2 opinions? If we are choosing the world today, we are committing the sin of self-reliance. We are choosing our way over God’s way.

Self-Justification as Self-reliance

Link to Pinterest pin image of a successful looking businessman with arms crossed with text that reads "There is no such thing as a self-made Christian". God is not interested in any of our self-justification or how we are integrating seamlessly into the world.

If we are trying to justify ourselves using our own worldly methods, then we are not following God.

God is not interested in any of our self-justification or anything about how important or well liked we are to our worldly society.

God is not interested in a self-made person. There is no such thing as a self-made Christian.

Our willful ways distort our faith in God.

Do we truly believe God is the one omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God?

If yes, then we will not hesitate to choose His ways over our own.

Wherever our self-justification is getting in the way, we are committing the sin of self-reliance.

Self-Comparison as Self-Reliance

James talks about this same wavering, when he exhorts us to turn to God and purify our hearts (James 4:8). We need to examine ourselves and, where we have wavered, turn fully to God in repentance.

But when I say we need to examine ourselves, let’s be careful not to slide into thoughts of self-comparison. We may think to ourselves, “how glad I am that I am not like that person over there”.

When we compare ourselves to others, it’s another way we commit the sin of self-reliance.

Self-Importance as Self-Reliance

We commit the sin of self-reliance when we think we can have hope in ourselves. This is a lie that this world feeds to us. It is the opposite of how God would have us come to Him.

We must be real with ourselves so we can humble ourselves. We need to truly see our lives in the light of Christ and separate ourselves from the lies of this world.

If we continue to hold onto the notion that we are special then this is likely to never happen, because we won’t realize is that we are broken.

We might be saying, oh, I am nothing special to everyone on the outside. Meanwhile, inside we want everyone to think we are great. We may even hope people think we are great because of our modesty in saying that we are nothing.

Winston Churchill once said, “Of course, we are all worms, but I do believe I am a glow worm.”

This funny quote illustrates a conceit that many of us struggle with; that we are special in ourselves.  Even when we realize our finality and consider ourselves as nothing more than worms, we hang onto the desire to be special. We want to be considered a glow worm.

We all are susceptible to some form of self-reliance, but it is all wrong. When we truly look at ourselves from God’s perspective, we will see that we are all broken.

This is actually great because when we see that we are broken then we will know that we need to turn to God.

The Answer to Self-Reliance

Like the Israelites in today’s passage, if once we see we are broken, we repent of our sinfulness and turn our way and will to God, He will completely forgive us (Psalm 103:4-8). God loved us so much that He came down in human form of Jesus Christ to be a one-time sacrifice to secure our future with Him in His heavenly kingdom (John 3:16).

Once we know that we are forgiven through Christ and that our future is secure through our faith in Him, We can be free from the sin of self-reliance

To be free from juggling the world along with juggling God brings great joy and peace, bringing wellness to your soul. If we put off getting well with our soul, then we are likely going to find it comes due before we are ready to give account for it.

Jesus illustrated this in a parable when He told about the rich man who God called a fool. The rich man thought he was safe in his self-reliance until the night God required his soul (Luke 12:13-21).

Jesus calls us to the opposite of self-reliance when He tells us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. He tells us our souls depend on it.

Please shed the sin of self-reliance today and turn whole-heartedly to Jesus Christ.

More Bible verses about the sin of self-reliance:

Joshua 24:14-15; 1 Samuel 16:7; Jeremiah 17:7-8; Matthew 18:1-4; John 15:5; Romans 12:3; Philippians 4:10-13

All Biblical reference links courtesy of Bible Gateway, a searchable online Bible tool hosting more than 200 versions of the Bible in over 70 languages.

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