The modern church teaches that you can’t love your neighbour until you love yourself. The Bible teaches the opposite. The Bible teaches that if you want to be a genuine disciple you have to hate yourself (Luke 14:26,27,33).
The twelve disciples served Jesus in love with themselves. They proved this when they told the children to go away; they proved it when they asked for thrones next to Jesus, they proved it when they wanted to call fire down from heaven; and they proved it when they deserted Jesus at the inquisition.
All Christians do the same until they die to themselves, and until you die you are not a disciple (Luke 14). A seed will never grow until it first dies. After the resurrection the disciples gave up their selfish self-love and served the Lord from their heart, not for their needs and wants and not under their terms and conditions. They became genuine disciples, because they gave up themselves for His kingdom.
Why did Jesus say love the Lord with all your heart and love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40)?
He didn’t say love yourself and love your neighbour. He said love your neighbour to the same degree that your sinful self loves itself. In other words, love your neighbour instead of yourself; in place of yourself. Your ‘self’ can’t possibly do this unless it’s dead, and unless Christ lives through you. You can do as much good as you like, but as the Word of God says in 1 Corinthians 13, it’s a total waste of time unless you’re dead to yourself.
Everybody is born in love with themselves
Everybody is born in love with themselves. This is what sin is. You only find Christ when you die to this love. Everybody camouflages this self-love with good works to prove to themselves and others that they love their neighbour; but good works can only flow from loving God, not from yourself. That’s what Jesus meant when he spoke to the rich young ruler in Luke 18.
How can you say you love your neighbour as yourself when you envy your neighbour? How can you say you love your neighbour as yourself when you blame your neighbour? How can you say you love your neighbour as yourself when you tell your neighbour how to get their act together so you don’t have any hassles? That’s not love, that’s sin, and no amount of good works can prove otherwise.
“Self” works out solutions to fix my own hassles, and even uses and tells God what He has to do to solve my problems. “Self” judges others for their failings and weaknesses. “Self” is intolerant of others’ short-comings. “Self” seeks self-comfort. “Self” uses good works to defend and promote itself. Clearly self is sin. It’s thinking of itself before its neighbour, and even using its neighbour to make itself feel and look good. If this information isn’t a revelation that convicts you, then you can’t get saved from your sin because you’re too in love with yourself and too elevated to own your sin.
Sin = transgressing the law
The Word of God says that all the law and the prophets hang on these two greatest commandments. Thus when you love yourself more than God or your neighbour you transgress the law, and the Word of God defines that as sin (1 John 3:4).
Why did Jesus say love God and your neighbour, not yourself? Because sin = pride = worrying about yourself, and when you worry about yourself you open the door to envy and bitterness against your neighbour and you die spiritually and lose your relationship with God. You see, if you don’t willingly choose to die to yourself and let God reign, you die anyway. Pride is elevating my self above my neighbour. That’s the opposite to love and that’s what sin is! You can argue that you are good, but that’s not the issue. The issue is pride over your neighbour.
Any time you love yourself more than your neighbour, you’re in sin.
The enemy pushes this ‘worry about me’ button day and night. Circumstances happen that make you feel guilty or put-down or let-down, and circumstances are set up to make you feel fearful, and the combination of these feelings are designed by Satan to make you worry about you. If you fall to this tactic you sin, and once you sin demonic influences have power over you until you repent of your pride. The enemy takes our focus away from his destructive strategy by putting our attention on the person that has hurt or offended us so that we blame them for our pain and circumstances, or by defending ourselves by explaining away our sin with good works. These cons just reinforce our sin because we clearly aren’t loving our neighbour, we’re loving ourselves more. Selfishness doesn’t see our sin and pride it sees the offender’s rudeness, and thus we’re trapped.
Good does not define ‘no sin’
People argue that they are good because they help their neighbour, but they are using ‘good’ to define sin, whereas, the Word of God defines sin as loving yourself above your neighbour. If any good you do is contaminated by you, it’s not good, it’s sin. Any time you are worried about yourself, you’re focussing on yourself; you’re not trusting God, and whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23). The church doesn’t teach sin, it teaches loving your neighbour with good works as evidence that you are good, but that’s exactly what the world teaches. The true church only does good works after it first has died to itself. Therefore, the works have no self- motive; they are God’s works and therefore they are validly ‘good’.
Did Jesus do ‘good’ when he avoided going to Lazarus’ funeral? Did he do ‘good’ when He cursed the Pharisees? Did he do ‘good’ when He refused to save His cousin from being be-headed? Did he do ‘good’ when He implied the syro-phenician woman was a dog? Did he do ‘good’ when he killed the pigs by casting the demons into them? Did he do ‘good’ when he took the colt without asking? Did he do ‘good’ when he offended his disciples by telling them to eat his flesh and drink his blood (John 6)? The answer is unequivocally ‘yes’. Why? Because He was only interested in doing what the Father wanted. That’s what genuine agape love is, and that’s the only thing that is ‘good’!
Jesus was unconditionally surrendered to the Father’s will, and thus He wasn’t interested or worried about whether what He did was good or not, because from the platform of surrender it didn’t matter what he said or did, it was always good, and that’s the pattern set for every genuine believer. A false Christian will argue their defence from a position of ‘good’ because they’re doing good so you think good of them, but a genuine Christian will only be concerned about the Father’s will. They won’t be concerned about good or bad. They won’t live in the fear of what people think of them; they’re dead to themselves.
The chain reaction of sin
Once you are offended by someone’s attitude to you, your selfishness will store it and make you a channel of demonic influence. You will be the pathway for pushing someone else into guilt and fear and the worry of what you think of them and thus you will perpetuate the sin of the person who has hurt you in the first place. This is just more sin, exactly what God says in Hebrews 12:15. In other words, their sin has initiated your sin and your sin will initiate others to sin. The only way of stopping this chain reaction and of destroying the web of sin that’s been created is for someone to stand up and die to themselves so they let God smother the sin.
How do you die to yourself?
Give up what the person thinks of you, and trust the Lord’s higher plan. Unless you’re truly saved you can’t genuinely do that, for it is only God that can do it through you; you can’t do it in yourself. Most Christians assume they are saved when they give their heart to Christ, but they’re not until they come to the cross with unconditional surrender. Like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, you can come to Christ, but you are not saved until He saves you, until you let go the burden of all the things you want for you.
The fight is not with your neighbour or with God (Ephesians 6:12). The fight is against principalities and powers, and the rulers of the darkness, and against spiritual wickedness in high places. The fight is against your own selfishness which is the doorway for unseen evil principalities. The real fight is to die to yourself daily so that Christ can live through you, otherwise these unseen evil principalities and spirits will operate unknowingly through you. They operated through Peter and Judas and King Saul so don’t think that’s not the case. God actually confirms it in Matthew 18:34,35.
Only God can achieve a righteous spiritual objective through you, you can’t do it yourself otherwise you could save yourself, but if you want Him to, you have to give up your pre-conceived terms and conditions and totally unconditionally surrender to Him, and that’s what most people refuse to do. They would rather preserve some degree of independence for fear of losing what they want. Thus they confirm and prove that God is not really first, but rather they love themselves more.
The only solution
The only solution if you truly want to be a genuine disciple and not a clone of the false church, is to repent of your self-love and die to Christ’s will via the door of unconditional surrender. This is what genuine humility is, and this is genuine salvation. Anything else is a counterfeit.
Pastor John Jamieson