June 29, 2015

The Cult of Self

There is sufficient information in the scriptures to remind us of our personal responsibility.  As individual believers we are to diligently attend to the physical, mental, and spiritual condition of the being God has given us.  This reaches into every area of life including social, service, family, and our macro and micro context of life.  Specific instruction is given in each of these areas, and we are meant to pay rapt attention to our personal role in each one.  Our minds, hearts, and bodies do not belong to us; Christ has purchased them with his “precious blood”.  (I Peter 1:18, 19)  God’s will is primary in our daily living.  We are stewards as to our minds, obedient as to heart issues, and our bodies are limited to those things that bring glory to God. We have a responsibility for our own selves, and we need to pay constant attention to this task.

Individualism is a great concept, but in the end the use of our own abilities should focus on God and others.  Our world, nation, and culture have corrupted this concept.  Self-centeredness has become the rule of the day.  Paul identified this for us: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy.  Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good. Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; from such turn away.” (II Timothy 3:1-5)

No one could describe our present society better than this.  The heart of the matter is today's undue emphasis on self or the “Cult of Self”.  So many people who call themselves "Christian" are not talking about the sacrificial Christianity Paul spoke about in Romans 12:1.  The spiritual atmosphere in their lives is not about God and others, and their speech betrays them. “Me, mine, my, I think, I believe, I want” is all about self, as in the secular song entitled “I Did It My Way”.  What we should say is “God’s Word clearly states” or “God’s will is” or even “What do others want or need?”


Instead of the mind being used to glorify God, human reason and intellectualism have become a source of pride.  Young minds follow evangelical scholars because it makes them feel important.  As a result, they accept theological error because "the intellectual must be right, you know".  Philosophers hide behind science and tend to "complicate to confuse".  The truth is that no thinking person could really hold to a “big bang” theory or to the theory of evolution.  Even a child can look into the heavens and see that vastness of space and the unnumbered stars and know it couldn’t just happen.  Where and when did all that matter come into existence?  An elementary student who has been taught the function of the human brain knows that it couldn’t just happen.  On the other hand, young minds are pressured to believe in evolutionary myths by teachers who appear to know it all.  This generation of intellectual pagans has accepted man as God and has joined the Cult of Self.

Some time ago I began using the word "humianity" to describe the religion of man.  It is a play on the word Christianity.  The authority of Christianity is the Word of God and its teaching that our God is the sovereign creator.  On the other hand, the authority of humianity is human reason, and their god is man; hence the Cult of Self.  They worship the creature rather than the creator (Romans 1) and have chosen death rather than truth.  The Cult of Self uses the mind to worship self.


A holy God is their creator.  He created the human body, and as creator He is owner; as owner He can make the rules.  Since man is made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), man's primary purpose is to glorify God.  This must be done not only with the mind, but with the body.  God has the authority to make the rules.  He has given us information about what we can put on the body and in the body.  He tells us how to use the body to glorify Him.  Those who are caught in the Cult of Self pay little attention to God's instructions; perhaps some lip service, but mainly they “do that which is right in their own eyes”.  Why do people take drugs, participate in illicit sex, and pay little attention to what they eat and how much they eat?  Why do they put their bodies at risk, and why are they careless about their health?  It is because they have joined the Cult of Self.


By plan, we visited an emerging church one Sunday.  The music was so loud you could hardly think.  They sang a secular song I had never heard before, and the so-called worship leader asked, “Do you know why we sang that number?"  His answer was “because we like it!”  That is the Cult of Self, plain and simple.  In our worship of God as Christians, we sing what honors Him.  The reasoning of self is that “God doesn’t care what we do; He just wants us to be happy."  Wrong again; God wants us to be holy.  

Now, here is the sad thing.  In our conservative, fundamental churches we are increasingly having the same “self” problem.  Some folks have to be heard on every subject and very seldom listen to others.  No matter what transpires, they are the center of it; they think it is all about them.  That is the Cult of Self.  I read a story about a family who lost a loved one.  One of the fringe members was carrying on about the death and bringing a lot attention to himself.  A grandchild rich in wisdom beyond her years said, “This is not really about you; we need to try and be of help to the others”.

We all know someone like that in our churches.  They worship self.  They have to be the center.  They have to be right.  Their opinion is always the right one, and they have the answer to everything.  They have to be recognized and honored.  There you have it - right in our churches, the Cult of Self.  A good illustration of this topic is found in II John 9-11; and by the way, how you interpret those verses will tell you something about yourself!

Shepherd's Staff is prepared by Clay Nuttall, D. Min


A communication service of Shepherd's Basic Care, for those committed to the authority and sufficiency of the Bible.  Shepherd's Basic Care is a ministry of information and encouragement to pastors, missionaries, and churches.  Write for information using the e-mail address, shepherdstaff2@juno.com

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