Self Love (Part 2)

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:9-18 ESV). The Apostle Paul makes it very clear that we are all sinners. In fact, in our text today he goes to great length in describing what that means in describing our real self. There is nothing lovely about an unredeemed sinner. That’s the first problem with striving for self love without an understanding of the gospel. When sinners look inward with clear eyes, we shouldn’t like what we see. We can see sin in all aspects of our lives. We see that we are deeply flawed. Self-love philosophy promises that if you look inward and can find a way to love what you see, you will find peace. But due to our massive shortcomings, we cannot find satisfaction in ourselves. The current philosophy of self-love is based on the idea that humans are fundamentally good and lovable. When self-love doesn’t work and we are dissatisfied, we might attribute this to our own blindness. “We just can’t see how beautiful we really are!” But Scripture and personal experience both show that without looking beyond ourselves to Christ, there is very little to love. We do not live the life of the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast.” We really are true beasts without the redemptive work of Christ. Therefore, active striving for the love of self leaves us dissatisfied and usually fails. In my experience, there is even a correlation between depression and reliance on self-love. Self-love is one of our highest forms of self-deception: we gorge ourselves on the biblical truth of our human worth of being created in God’s image (cf. Genesis 1:26), but refuse to accept the balancing truth that our own sin has robbed us of loveliness. Self-love is fundamentally unsatisfactory and lacking, because we are somehow expected to ignore half of who we are as sinful humans. That is not necessary, however. We can have both an understanding of who we are fundamentally and who we are destined to be in the grace of God. Our eternal destiny is not the ugly end of death; our eternal destiny is the glorious final perfection of life in Christ. The promise we have is that of complete transformation. That’s who we are becoming. And, miraculously we can see glimpses of that in our earthly lives! That brings true...

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