I appreciate these words from Paul David Tripp’s devotional book entitled New Morning Mercies (December 13):
It is a seductive lie. It’s told again and again. There is nothing new in its message. It was told first in the garden of Eden and hasn’t ceased to be told since. It is told in many forms:
- “No one knows you better than you know yourself.”
- “You really don’t need the ministry of others in your life.”
- “You used to struggle with sin, but not anymore.”
- “Since you know the Bible so well, you’re probably okay.”
- “Look at your track record; you’ve come a long way.”
- “Your little sins aren’t really that sinful.”
- “You’re way beyond the level where you need to be taught by others.”
- “You’re on your own; you just have to get up and do what you’ve been called to do.”
The voices of self-reliance are many and deceptive. In some way, they greet you every day. Their deceptive whispers started in the garden and continue with the sole devious purpose of convincing you to rely on yourself and not on God. The lie of self-sufficiency is attractive to us all because we don’t like to think of ourselves as weak and needy. We don’t like to think of ourselves as fools who need to be rescued from ourselves. We like the story of the self-made man; you know, the person who pulled himself out of the mire and made it on his own with no one to thank but himself.
But the message of the Gospel is devastatingly humbling. It tells me that I am in a hopeless, impossible, and irreversible state apart from divine intervention. Even Adam and Eve could not make it on their own. Even though they were perfect people living in a perfect world and in a perfect relationship with God, they did not have the ability to go it on their own. So immediately after creating them, God began to give them his revelation, because he knew they would not figure life out on their own. They were dependent on the words of God in order to make proper sense out of life. They could not be what they were supposed to be and do what they were supposed to do without God’s counsel and help. Now, that was the state of people before sin entered the world and did its internal and external damage. How much more is it true of us!
Self-reliance is a lie that leads you nowhere good. You do not have what you need inside yourself to live as you were created to live. So a God of tender grace comes to you in the person of his Son and offers you everything you need for life and godliness. In grace, he is ever with you because he knows you’ll never make it on your own.
“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)