I was counselling two Christian men who were struggling with each other’s attitudes. I asked them if they thought they had an ‘image’ problem. They each declared that they didn’t think they had. I was flabbergasted at their blindness.
The truth is, everyone is born with an image problem. Satan has an image problem. He is full of his own importance. He hates Jesus Christ being the Son instead of him. When Satan manipulated man to sin, he implanted the lust for ‘image’ into our spiritual DNA.
When Adam and Eve hid from God, they were protecting their ‘image’. They didn’t have the problem before Satan sucked them into it. When they lied, they were simply protecting their ‘image’. When they blamed each other, they were protecting their ‘image’. When Cain killed Abel, he was simply envious that God liked Abel’s sacrifice and not his. Cain’s image was hurt.
- Do you get offended if your opinion is challenged, mocked, or misunderstood? If so, you have an image problem.
- Does your inner self react with self-defense when you are intimidated, or made to feel stupid? If so, you have an image problem.
- Do you have a mood if you don’t get what you want or it doesn’t work out the way you want? If so, you have an image problem.
- Do you think you are stupid, or someone else is stupid, and do you crave to be someone special? If so, you have an image problem.
- Are you envious if someone is more intelligent, comes up with an idea you wish you had’ve thought of, is more popular than you, or more suave, or has more money than you? If so, you have an image problem.
- Do you think you are more intelligent, more creative, more capable, or more skilled than someone else? If so, you have an image problem.
- Do you believe you should figure it out yourself and asking for help is a show of weakness? If so, you have an image problem.
- Do you get offended if you’re corrected or told you didn’t do it right? Do you say … how come I’m getting corrected? They’re just as bad as me! If so, you have an image problem.
- Are you willing to share your knowledge and expertise and money, or would that threaten your ego? If not, you have an image problem.
Image is really just ego. If you believe, like these two men, that you don’t have an image problem, then, the truth is, you have a serious image problem. To deny that you have an image problem, is the height of arrogance. This means your spirit is blind to God even though you think you serve Him to the best of your ability.
No one believes that God would reject them if they’ve tried their best. But, the truth is, that’s an image problem. That’s telling God how He has to do it. The Word of God says the opposite … by grace you are saved through faith. Not of yourself; it is the gift of God. Not of works lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8,9).
What’s this got to do with salvation?
The answer is … everything. The Word of God declares that you cannot be His disciple until you give up your image. Salvation lies on the other side of killing your image. That’s what God means when He says ‘hate your own life’ in Luke 14:26, and ‘die to yourself, daily’ in Luke 9:23.
You have to make a choice but you can’t do it with just a choice. First, you need God to open your eyes to your lust of yourself, and see that you DO have an image problem. Then you have to repent of your selfish lust. Then you have to commit your will and life to His plan. The only way you can beat the image problem, is death. It’s only through death that your image is annulled.
Sadly, most people say sorry for hurting someone’s feelings or for getting caught for doing something wrong, but they never repent of promoting or protecting their image. Consequently, they have never truly repented. They’re just practicing image defence, like Adam and Eve.
King Saul vs. David
Image is always the fruit of making yourself great in your own eyes (1 Samuel 15:17). Image is always more concerned with what people think of me (v.30), than what God thinks. King Saul was only interested in preserving his image in the eyes of others, whereas, David, by God’s grace, saw the evil of his image and repented. It wasn’t good deeds that saved David, because what he did was completely evil. It was the sacrifice of his image … the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit and a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17).
Image is really the love of yourself. The modern church thinking teaches that you must love yourself first, before you can love your neighbour. That’s a lie. The Word of God teaches you must hate yourself first (not the hate of spite, but the hate of your evil image), before you can love God and your fellow-man. You can’t love God and love yourself at the same time; that’s a contradiction. Jesus came to save you from the love of yourself.
Most people defend their image … I don’t lie, I don’t steal, I don’t kill, I don’t commit adultery, so I must be a good person. The problem is, image can’t see that it worships itself. It can only see that you are hurting my feelings or you are being unjustly nasty to me.
But, worshiping your image, blindly or not, is a fracture of the 2nd commandment. It may not be graven in stone or wood, but nevertheless, it is image worship. From that foundation, it’s impossible to worship God 1st, and whether you accept it or not, you are lying to yourself, you are killing your neighbour with hate and envy, and you are committing adultery in your heart. You are literally living in the deception of your image. It’s all a lie.
Consequence of your choice
If you choose to die to your image, Satan will hate you and throw everything at you … family, friends, employers, work colleagues, the church, the world … and you’ll have to rely on God to sustain you. It’s persecution that strengthens your will to His will (Mark 13:13; 2 Timothy 3:12). Stand up silently against homosexuality, divorce and re-marriage, abortion, and fornication and you’ll soon find out how unpopular is that position. If you’re not being persecuted, in some form or other, for your love of Christ, then know that as much as you say you love Him, the real truth is you love yourself more.
No persecution, no salvation.
If we be dead with Him, we shall live with Him. If we suffer (for Him) we shall reign with Him. If we deny Him, He will deny us. 2 Timothy 2:11,12
The modern church is doing its best to escape persecution by tolerating sin and calling it grace and love. Thus, it will never find my God, only the refection of its own image, and it will walk in the imagination of that image.
I suggest you get on your knees and cry out to God for Him to expose you to you.
Pastor Jonathan Samuels