The chief end–purpose, reason of existence — of man is to glorify self and enjoy self forever”…That of course is wrong, an adulteration by myself of the original “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever”. The adulteration however, is on purpose to sum up our self-obsessed generation. We live in an age preoccupied with self. It is a selfie generation. Everything is about self. Self-esteem, Self-confidence, Self-actualisation. Self is on the ascendancy. The whole fabric of society is woven with selfishness. Many are gods to themselves though they will not say it. They live, eat and breath self. In an online article, Kevin DeYoung aptly captured the self centeredness we carry around in what he calls “The Beatitudes Of The World”
Blessed are the rich, for theirs is the kingdom of pleasure.Blessed are those who feel good about themselves, for they shall be confident.
Blessed are the aggressive, for they shall control the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for recognition, for they shall be noticed.
Blessed are the demanding, for they shall receive what’s coming to them.
Blessed are the sexually liberated, for they shall be their own gods.
Blessed are the scheming, for they shall be called children of the powerful.
Blessed are those who are praised by the world, for theirs is the kingdom of now.
These words vividly portrays what the human race is: selfish and self centered. It was selfishness; belief in a lie, a promise of independence from God and “self-exaltation” to deity that plummeted our first parents. They believed they could be like God; “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”(Genesis 3:1-5).
You will notice that, the first assault from the Serpent was against God’s word;”Did God actually say”? Where ever self is dominant, people indulge in sin, attack the word and its authority. The word is twisted, rendered false by misinterpretation, sin is justified and the relevance of God’s word called to disrepute. Why? So we will be able to please self and disregard what God’s word says. In Matthew 4, during the encounter between Jesus and Satan, we see the devil consistently attacking the word of God to lure Jesus to disregard God’s word and sin. Where ever there is a disregard for God’s word, selfishness and sin is the result.
Today, that same voice, which suggested independence from God and the prospect of deity In the garden of Eden is still loud in our generation. Many will have nothing to do with God. He is, to the unbelieving world, non-existent. If He is given attention at all; He exists to cater for our needs, grant our everyday desire; including approving of our every sin, because He is a God of love. …J. I. Packer, in his book knowing God, pulls a punch against this distorted love of a Holy God. He wrote; “the God who is love is first and foremost light, and sentimental ideas of his love as an indulgent, benevolent softness, divorced from moral standards and concerns, must therefore be ruled out from the start. God’s love is holy love…God’s love is stern, for it expresses holiness in the lover and seeks holiness for the beloved. Scripture does not allow us to suppose that because God is love we may look to him to confer happiness on people who will not seek holiness, or to shield his loved ones from trouble when he knows that they need trouble to further their sanctification”
Paul, writing to Timothy, saw the assault self will unleash on godliness. In 2Timothy 3:1-5, with prophetic precision, he hinted us on what to see in the last days: “…lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to …parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.
“…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God”…That caps it all, doesn’t it? Fallen humanity will choose their evil ways above God’s holy ways. We love ourselves. Our world today is ruled by subjective morality. The language is, “it is true, because it is what I want”. The Prophet Isaiah rightly prophesied when he wrote “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way…”(Isaiah 53:6).
Now, contrary to the world’s self pleasing lifestyle, Scripture calls believers to a God glorifying, Christ exalting life. We are the light of the world(Matthew 5:16). Christians are people who have been delivered from the world of sin into a world of righteousness and holiness to show forth the praise of God(Colossians 1:13, 1Peter 2:9). Romans 12:2 admonishes us “not [to] be conformed to this world”. To be conformed to the world is to imitate, act and think like the world. It is, as James puts it, “friendship with the world”. The Christian life is a radical call to separate ourselves from the world– the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life. Jesus said if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off (Matthew 5:30, Mark 9:43). Jesus is in no way teaching self-mutilation for rigtheousness. He is painting a picture of how radical the call to separate ourselves from sin and self is. The standard for the believer is high. We are called to be perfect as our Father in heaven is. We are called to separate ourselves from the world. We are called to be holy as our Father is Holy.
These however cannot be attained by mere goodwill. We are bound to fail if we attempt to please God in our strength. We first of all must come to a place of total surrender where we look to God for the strength to please Him. While Paul charges us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, he emphatically told us where the strength to please God and do his will comes from. It is from God Himself; He is the one who works in us both to will and to work for his good pleasure…we are here to please God, and all of our lives must be lived in honour and glory to God who is a rewarder of those who through faith seek him.
To this end God has called us–His Glory! “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Revelations 4:11).
*Image Courtesy: Kickoff.net.au