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Self-help formulas vs. Christian conversion

What if God offered you something far superior to the myriad of self-help formulas on the market today? Would you accept the Lord’s offer?

The first thing you need to understand in this regard is that you need to be removed to be improved.

Imagine being delivered from shame, perfectionism, despair, self-hatred, lingering fear, and constant regrets. I am talking about life on a higher level that God can supernaturally create within your heart and mind.

Man naturally assumes that greater self-esteem can alleviate his doubts. But at the end of the day, all the self-esteem in the world still leaves you feeling insecure due to your imperfections. It also provides no protection whatsoever for your heart when you come under criticism. On the contrary, an obsession with self makes a person thin-skinned and relatively quick to become angry and defensive.

You see, a self-centered mentality is essentially a self-centered sinkhole. The biggest reason self-esteem will ultimately fail you is because the Person at the center of that equation is flawed. No matter how hard we try, there are always areas in our life where we come up short. And these pesky shortcomings chip away at our peace of mind. So what is the solution?

If you want to be improved, you need to be removed.

Jesus Christ was, of course, the most significant Person to ever walk on our planet. But to understand the trustworthy source of power in the lives of his followers, you need to wrap your mind around the miracle of Christian conversion.

Jesus said, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spirit…you must be born again” (John 3: 6-7). The Holy Spirit performs surgery on your soul and gives birth to your spirit. Self goes under the knife and is put to death as Christ enters your soul to live within you. (2 Corinthians 13:5) It is circumcision not of your body but your sinful nature. (Colossians 2:11-12)

Man is the author of self-help formulas, while God is the author of Christian conversion. With this supernatural dynamic in mind, the following passage of Scripture could revolutionize your life.

In Galatians 2:21, the Apostle Paul wrote:

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the Law, Christ died for nothing.”

Self-righteousness prevents man from believing in Christ. And self-esteem arouses arrogance and insecurities, leading you to either become proud or to berate yourself constantly. Meanwhile, self-help formulas seek to improve the self but cannot remove the self. A me-centered approach never produces lasting peace.

If ultimate success depends upon us, we are doomed. Each Of us is a flawed human being who eventually gets trampled by our shortcomings, doubts, fears, and failures. That is, unless we get out in front of ourselves…by having ourselves removed from the equation…and replaced with the One who can ideally meet our soul’s deepest needs.

French theologian John Calvin said, “Whoever is not satisfied with Christ alone strives after something beyond absolute perfection.”

Perhaps you have invested years of your life striving to be perfect. You have sought to better yourself in every way imaginable…except one—Christian conversion.

But the true meaning of Scripture and Christianity has made a dent for the first time in your life. It has struck a chord. It has raised a couple of questions in your mind. First, “What would happen within my soul if I died to self and rose again through faith in Christ?” Second, “How much contentment would Christian conversion produce in my heart and mind?”

You will never know until you take the step of faith necessary for conversion. “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6)

When people are converted, they are instantly saved, redeemed, born again, justified, and forgiven. And Jesus Christ immediately begins to live in you and through you. Yet, at the same time, the old nature (self) fights to remain on the throne of your heart, even though there is a perfect King who now sits there.

When the self tries to continue controlling your thought life, remember: “The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say’ No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age.” (Titus 2:11-12)

Maintaining self-control is a crucial aspect of Christian discipleship. While Jesus reigns in the heart of believers, we still need to cooperate with the Holy Spirit by saying “No” to sinful thoughts and selfish desires.

This, my friend, is a great exchange. Self is not improved. Instead, the self is removed. Christ sits on the throne of your heart once you are converted through repentance and faith in Jesus. (Acts 11:18; Romans 6:13) Receiving Christ as Savior involves relying upon his sacrifice on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins. (John 1:12; Galatians 2:16-17)

Self-esteem, self-righteousness, and self-help formulas produce a death grip on man’s heart, soul, and mind. You can be accessible through Christian conversion by turning to Christ in repentance and faith.

Perhaps the words of this prayer reflect the desire of your heart:

“Dear Lord, I surrender myself to you. I believe you died on the cross to pay for my sins. Wash me, Jesus, with your precious blood. Remove self from the throne of my heart and replace it with your majestic and powerful presence. Live in me and through me Lord Jesus from this moment forward, and fill me with the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska.

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