The problem for mankind since Adam and Eve’s fall is “self” replacing the centrality of God in their minds and therefore actions. When we consider the self-centeredness common to all of us, it is hard to imagine what it was like to always have God rather than self enthroned in the heart. We are all plagued from birth with selfishness, self-absorption, and self-indulgence. Hence, the concept of “dying to self” is predominant throughout the New Testament and expresses the true essence of Christian life.
He [Jesus] summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, if anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. (Mark 8:34-35)
It seems odd, but reportedly most people have more fear of public speaking than death. Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking from the Greek “glossa” meaning tongue and “phobos” meaning fear or dread. Why is glossophobia an issue for so many? Our self-consciousness is so powerful we dare not make a fool of ourselves. “Suppose I say the wrong thing or look the wrong way? I just can’t bear what people will think of me.” Just a little self-centered don’t you think?
Remember the last encounter when someone spoke disparagingly of you or you suppose they did? The mind starts racing – “How could they think that way about me.” “Who do they think they are talking about me that way?” “There’s nothing wrong with me; they are the one with the problem. How dare they!” Our feelings get hurt, and we blame the other person for making us feel this way. However, if God rather than self were central, what someone else thought or said would not have such an impact.
A.W. Tozer in his book The Pursuit of God made an accurate connection between Numbers 21:6-9 and John 3:14 and 15. In Numbers, Israel became discouraged and spoke against God, so He sent fiery serpents among them that bit the people and many of them died. In time, they repented, and God instructed Moses to build a serpent of brass and put it upon a pole in sight of all the people. “And it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived” (Numbers 21:9). Jesus pulled upon this incident to teach his hearers what was necessary to be saved.
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. (John 3:14-15)
Tozer wrote – “Look” and “believe” are synonymous terms. “Looking” on the Old Testament serpent is identical with “believing” on the New Testament Christ. That is “looking” and the “believing” are the same thing…. While Israel looked with their external eyes, believing is done with the heart. I think he would conclude that faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God.” Our great struggle is to get our eyes off self and onto God. When the eyes of our heart focus upon Him, glossophobia, hurt feelings, insecurities, and the plethora of other self-centered obsessions lose their tyranny over our lives, and we enjoy our relationship with our Father.
Christianity is much more than simply attending church on Sunday or fellowships during the week. God- and Christ-centeredness by controlling our looking is to be all the time with everything we do.
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:17)
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,
knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.
For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality. (Colossians 3:23-25)
Tozer also wrote: “Faith is the least self-regarding of the virtues. It is by its very nature scarcely conscious of its own existence. Like the eye which sees everything in front of it and never sees itself, faith is occupied with the object upon which it rests and pays no attention to itself at all. While we are looking at God, we do not see ourselves-blessed riddance.
Faith is a redirecting of our sight, a getting out of the focus of our own vision and getting God into focus. Sin has twisted our vision inward and made it self-regarding. Unbelief has put self where God should be and is perilously close to the sin of Satan who said, ‘I will set my throne above the throne of God.’ Faith looks out instead of in and the whole life falls into line.
Now, if faith is the gaze of the heart at God, and if this gaze is but the raising of the inward eyes to meet the all-seeing eyes of God, then it follows that it is one of the easiest things possible to do. It would be like God to make the most vital thing easy and place it within the range of possibility for the weakest and poorest of us.”
Who is on your throne?