Self is the root, the tree, and the branches of all the evils of the fallen state of man. A person is without God because he is in the life of self. “And He said to them all, ‘If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it'” (Luke 9:23-24).Self-love, self-esteem, and self-seeking are the very essence of pride. The devil is the father of pride and is never absent from these properties, nor is he without power in them. He has, therefore, no place or power within an individual who is dead to self – “…for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). But, when self is alive, no matter what an individual is doing, Satan is present with power and the works of the flesh will be manifested – “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God’(Galatians 5:19-21).
The great struggle for eternal life is between pride and humility. All other things can be likened to mere workers with pride and humility as the two master powers. Every son of Adam is enslaved to pride, or self, because the spirit of this world is not separate from, or simply an outward influence, but is one with his being – “And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Ephesians 2:1-3). This state of sin, condemnation, and death continues in every man until the humility that comes solely from heaven has dethroned pride in his heart. Until then, all that he does is in the service of self. No amount of education, wit, human reason, religious duty, or resolve can loose him from pride nor can they impart heavenly humility to him as his new master power. There never has been, nor ever will be, but one true humility in the whole world; and that is the humility of Jesus Himself. Therefore, Jesus must become the new master power seated upon the throne of a man’s heart in order for him to be saved. It is impossible to separate self from pride, and it is likewise impossible to separate Jesus from humility. Self and pride are one; Jesus and humility are one. For example, water (H2O) is comprised of hydrogen and oxygen. Should you separate the hydrogen from the oxygen, it is no longer water. The point being, that pride is present, and the master power, when self is ruling the heart, but humility is present, and the master power, when Jesus is ruling the heart. The gospel is “the power of God unto salvation”(Romans 1:16) because it is the only means by which man may be freed from serving self and regenerated to serve Jesus. Through it, the pride nature that man has from Adam may be brought to death, and the supernatural humility of Jesus brought to life in him – “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4).
In Mark 3:27, Jesus says, “No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house”. The “house” is a man’s being and the strong man, who holds him captive is the spirit of this world, or pride. Speaking of these same things again in Luke 11:21-22, He says, “When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils”. Jesus is the stronger One who can come into a man and overcome the spirit of pride that is his master power. He has defeated and bound the devil through His cross, but we must give Him place to do so in us by total surrender to Him, and faith in God. Because of His resurrection, Jesus can literally reside in a man through the Holy Spirit. It is then that He, and He alone, binds the strong man, spoils his goods, and becomes the new master power in a man. Self and pride have then been displaced by Jesus and His humility. It would be good to remember this quote from William Law – “Pride and self have all of man until man has his all from Jesus”.
Multitudes of religious people are attempting to overcome self and experience victory in their lives by using the scriptures to develop prescribed methods, and then resolving to follow them. Take note: these futile methods, however many they may be, and however clever they may seem, will never overcome self or produce any victory in a person’s life. Neither will they accomplish anything for God, His kingdom, or fellow man. I am often asked to teach on subjects like; marriage relationships, raising children, Christian finances, divine healing, and so on. Why teach on such things? These and all other matters of life are walked out and fulfilled according to the will of God when a person denies self, takes up his cross daily, and follows Jesus. Selfless love fulfills the Law and it can not be taught; it must be imparted. People need to understand that the strong man of pride, the diabolical self, is set up within the heart and has every power of the soul offering sacrifices to him. This is “that man of sin”, “the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
Please bear with me now to follow a short rabbit trail. The “temple” is not a structure of brick, wood, or stone, and nor are the countless church buildings constructed by men the houses of God –“Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, ‘Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will you build Me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of My rest? Hath not My hand made all these things?”(Acts 7:48-50). The earthly temple, or dwelling of God, is in the heart of man. Jesus says, “…the kingdom of God is within you”(Luke 17:21). Also, in Ephesians 2:19-22, we read, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone; in Whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy in the Lord: in Whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit”. Buildings bring honor and glory to men, but Jesus Christ in the heart brings honor and glory to God. Praise His holy Name!
Now, off the rabbit trail and back to the principle subject. Within the sons of Adam, all the faculties of the soul are dedicated to the exaltation and worship of self. The memory, the will, the intellect, the understanding, the desire, the imagination, the reason, and so on, are always working for self and for no one else. His memory recalls all the “fine” things self has done. His will goes after nothing but as self sends it. His intellect and understanding are fixed upon whatever will enlarge the dominion of self, and his imagination is always rising up to make him something he is not. This is that natural self that must be totally denied and overcome in the heart or there can be no disciple of Jesus. All that a man does will either be the glory of God manifested in it or hell in the full possession of it. Following Jesus will never occur by merely gaining an intellectual knowledge of the written word on a subject and then resolving to follow some prescribed method. Yet, this is what many contemporary preachers, Bible teachers, and professing Christians are doing, and this is why theft, merchandising, manipulation, adultery, fornication, bitterness, strife, envy, boasting, arrogance, and every other evil is so widely practiced in the church – “…the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). As foretold in Matthew 23:13-15, false preachers and Bible teachers are shutting up the kingdom of heaven from men; they are not going in themselves, neither allowing those who would enter to go in. They cross land and sea to make converts and, in doing so, make the converts twice more the children of hell than they are themselves.
Following Jesus is a matter of the soul being led by and submitted to the Holy Spirit as its master power. When this occurs, within the heart, through self-denial and faith, the will of God is then walked out and fulfilled in perfect agreement with the written Word concerning marriage relationships, raising children, stewardship, and every other facet of day-to-day living. Correspondingly, there will be no strife, bitterness, envy, arrogance, boasting, or any other vile thing flowing out of the heart and into the life. I hope you’ll prayerfully consider these matters while understanding that our eternal destiny will be determined by the one we have chosen to be our master power.