286. THE STRONGHOLD OF SELF
(The Faith Forum Series – Batch 4)
Today, in considering some of my own issues, I heard a Preacher come over the airwaves on a Christian radio station available online called ‘Caribbean Lighthouse Radio’. He was discussing how to defeat strongholds from the enemy in families and in thinking about this further, I realized, that in a particular family that I knew, there was at least one (1) stronghold in operation, which needed to be broken in Jesus’ name.
In that family, I saw that stronghold manifesting itself in at least three (3) of the members and it was something that I detested whenever I saw it. In fact, it was so ugly, that I needed patience to continue to treat those persons with love whenever I saw it. However, it dawned on me, that this ugly stronghold has also been operating in my life, although in a different form. This stronghold is SELF.
In contemplating on all this, I have come to realize, that the stronghold of self in the life of an individual, can manifest itself in different ways. To explain what I mean, I will mention the four (4) types of selfishness I have discerned in the three (3) members of the family to which I alluded and even of myself. For each person (including myself), one of the forms of selfishness was so strong in operation, that it could be described as a stronghold. It needed to be broken.
I have addressed these four (4) self-strongholds below.
TYPES OF SELF-STRONGHOLDS
The Suffering Me
The suffering me is a stronghold where a person is focused on his or her sufferings and how all and sundry have wronged him or her. It is otherwise known as SELF-PITY.
Such a person has a victim mentality and complaint is the order of the day. ‘Woe is me’ and ‘poor me’ are popular phrases which, even if not said vocally, such a person thinks constantly in his or her mind. The suffering me is consumed with life’s problems and what life has done to him or her, so much so, that such a person hardly ever leaves this bubble long enough to see the pain, problems or issues of other persons, outside of his or herself.
The Benefitting Me
The benefitting me is a stronghold where all the person thinks of is his or herself and how he or she can benefit from others and in life. It is otherwise known as SELF-CENTREDENESS.
Such a person automatically considers (in most situations, if not all), what is in it for me, before lifting a finger to do anything worthwhile. The benefitting me lives in a bubble of continuous self-catering, ensuring that self is well provided for and taken care of and that self gets the very best with a ‘to hell with everyone else’ sort of mentality, that is loudly heard by those around him or her, even if not audibly uttered.
The benefitting me does not esteem others as better than him or herself as the Bible exhorts but esteems himself or herself first and foremost before anyone else. The benefitting me is therefore highly inconsiderate and pays no mind to how his or her actions may affect others. In his or her world, it is all about him or her and making sure that him or her is comfortable, irrespective of the sacrifice of others and the discomfort that his or her selfish actions may be putting them through.
The Self-Conscious Me
The self-conscious me is a stronghold where the person is preoccupied with how he or she appears to people. He or she may not be a people-pleaser and is not trying to put forward a good image, as he or she is real in terms of who he or she is. Yet, at times, he or she can overthink how he or she is being presented to others, to the point where he or she becomes fearful, fidgety, restless and anxious, for fear that people may give him or her a fail grade or criticize or ridicule him or her or disapprove of him or her or not like him or her.
It is known as SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS.
The self-conscious me cannot hold a conversation with someone without internally thinking and being fixated on it, how he or she is looking to the person who is staring at him or her. The self-conscious me hates to make eye contact, believing that somehow, if he or she does, the person looking at him or her will see right into the depth of his or her soul and the endless pain, insecurities and regret that is there, from past abuses, past mistakes, past hurts, weaknesses and past humiliations.
The self-conscious me feels vulnerable at times, as if he or she is naked to the world and walks around on egg shells, alert to the slightest movement by others and preoccupied with how the actions of others in his or her orbit, will affect him or her. The self-conscious me therefore finds it hard to relax and to stop thinking about how he or she is appearing physically or sounding when speaking to others.
Such self-consciousness may have been borne from traumatic events in one’s childhood, like constant bullying and the like.
I have been guilty of SELF-consciousness and have been asking the Lord to help me change in this regard. In my case, I believe that it originated in part, from the almost daily ridicule and abuse I faced from other children and even adults, due to my very dark complexion.
Almost everywhere I went, I was the laughing stock and ostracized and people (in my own race) felt the need to comment with an insult or an exclamation because they thought that I was too dark and therefore equated this with ugliness. The hurtful words and bad treatment and constantly feeling like I needed to be on the alert for the next attack or insult that was coming, left a scar of self-consciousness, where I was terrified of the very thought of people looking at me.
By the grace of God, I have since learned to love myself and my dark hue. However, there is still this stronghold of a preoccupation with how self appears to be people, to the point where I find it most difficult to relax and just be. It therefore needs to be broken and I trust that it shall be broken by the grace of almighty God.
The Glorifying Me
The glorifying me is a stronghold where the person is either convinced of his or her greatness or dealing with low self-esteem that is often disguised as self-importance. It is otherwise known as SELF-ADMIRATION or SELF-ADORATION.
Such a person expects others to be focused on him or her, as if their lives revolved around him or her. Such a person thrives on constant attention and compliments and gets seriously offended if not given the high level of attention constantly, that he or she seeks.
Such a person does not mete out that level of attention to anyone because he or she is too busy getting people to focus on him or her and glorifying him or her, whether for talent, gift, beauty, achievement or just for being in existence.
Whenever such a person believes that someone has failed to give him or her the honour, recognition and applause he or she believes he or she deserves, the glorifying me becomes accusatory and regards himself or herself as a victim that has been treated really badly by the other person.
The glorifying me hardly gives praise to God, if ever because the glorifying me is busy taking the credit for himself or herself. If he or she is not hitting his or her chest with pride for his or her accomplishments, he or she expects people to pat him or her on the back.
The glorifying me does not see compliments and receiving honour, credit and praise as a privilege if people opt to do so but as an intrinsic right or entitlement. He or she feels entitled to praise and considers it people’s duty to do so and on a frequent basis.
The above list of the manifestations of the stronghold of self is not exhaustive. There are others not mentioned above, like:
- SELF-SUFFICIENCY – Where the person is obsessed with his or her own intelligence, ability and talents and thinks that self is all he or she needs to get by;
- SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS – Where the person lives in a fictitious world created by self, where he or she sees only good or mostly good in self, ignores, glosses over, minimizes or excuses his or her own wrongdoing, while being extremely critical of others, even without proper facts and thinks of himself or herself as more spiritual, holy, special, better than and deserving of God’s favour than others, having convinced himself or herself that God is well pleased with him or her; and
- SELF-WILL – Where the person takes advice from no one, other than self, not even the Lord Jesus and does whatever self feels is right, whenever self feels to do so.
As you can see these different aspects of the stronghold of self are all ugly and the persons with these strongholds in their lives (including myself) need to be delivered from these. For, they are self-destructive and have the potential to steal whatever God may want for and out of our lives.
He did not create us to focus on ourselves but on him and this responsibility is higher where we have been redeemed by the blood of the lamb, Christ Jesus. Our focus is to now be selflessly on Christ and on doing the Father’s will on earth, even as Jesus did. Hence the reason that he said in Luke 9:23, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himSELF, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
Jesus said this, as he knew that self was and will always be opposed to the will of God. Self has one person’s interest in mind and that is not the Father’s or anybody else’s but of self.
In expounding on the scripture where Jesus made the above statement, another Preacher on Caribbean Radio Lighthouse from Kerwin Baptist Church, said something that struck such a chord with me, that I had to repeat it here. He said: “It is SELF that demands a kingdom and a crown… It wants to lead…Our self-will is so strong, it wants to guide everything we do in our life.”
This is so true. Self is not content to remain in the shadows. It wants to be at the very forefront. It wants to usurp the authority of Jesus Christ and the will of God the Father, so as to dominate our lives. As long as self reigns upon the throne of our hearts or fights to overthrow the Lord’s place there, we would not be walking in the freedom that Christ has given to his children.
In my musings on this problem of self, I realized that it is a stronghold that is much more pervasive in society and even among professing Christians, than I thought. It is almost as if most of us walk around with some form of SELF problem. It is manifested in different ways but it is still based on the same rotten SELFishness and SELF-focus.
Sadly because of SELF-deception, we can have a stronghold of self operating in our lives without even realizing it. It takes the Lord Jesus Christ with his eyes as a flame of fire, to see this ugly way in us and reveal it to us so that we can repent and ask for his help to be delivered.
This is one of the reasons why the Word of God (the Bible) can be difficult to read at times. It makes us uncomfortable for, it highlights our SELF-problem (whatever kind it may be) which is sin and tells us that we cannot remain the same but MUST change.
(Written on 15th May, 2019, added to thereafter)
A few months ago, in re-reading the ‘About’ section of this Website, something dawned on me, about the term ‘self-esteem’ that we so often use in this generation. I therefore added the following words to that section and it is relevant to this Article on the Stronghold of Self, so I have decided to add it here as well. I wrote:
The content on this Website is not geared at improving your self-esteem per say (which is really about you esteeming your self based on your self and your own sense of importance and is therefore internal-focused) but at getting you to understand and be convinced of your great worth and immense value as a human being, as a woman (and moreso, as a daughter of God if you are a Christian) because of who God is and the fact that he created you.
Whereas self-esteem requires you to look WITHIN AT SELF and is about you believing that you are important and are somebody because of yourself and how you feel about yourself, your true worth and value is derived EXTERNALLY FROM GOD, not from a man or your background or how much money you have or how good looking you are or how you have been treated by others or how you feel about yourself. Even if your self-esteem is low therefore, your worth remains high.
God is the one who created you and placed you on this earth and he values you greatly. It is because of HIM, who he is, his great power, excellence and magnificence (Psalm 8:1), the fact that he created you in his image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27), made you a little lower than the angels (Psalm 8:5-6), loves you dearly, considers your soul to be precious, so much so that he sent his only begotten Son (Jesus) to die for your sins so that you could access heaven (John 3:16), that YOU HAVE AWESOME, UNSHAKABLE, UNBREAKABLE WORTH as a human being, as a woman and as a Christian (if you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour).
Today, I found some statements online by a Preacher, which he made about the issue SELF and it reinforces all that I wrote about in the above Article and on the ‘About’ section. He stated and it is true, that:
- “The self-esteem cult that goes around saying we’ve got to build up people’s self-esteem is taking them the opposite way that the message of the Bible does, because the more you love yourself, the less likely you are to need a Saviour. Self-esteemism is based on an unbiblical perspective. It is diametrically opposed to the truth of human depravity. Moreover, while Scripture commends self-control as a fruit of the Spirit, the Bible has nothing positive to say about self-esteem, self-love or any other variety of self-centredness.”
- “The self-love gospel is unbiblical. If you’re into self-love and self-esteem and making sure all your little needs are met, making sure you’re indulged with all your fantasies, dreams, hopes and ambitions, you’re going to lose your life in eternal hell. If you love yourself so much to hold on like the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18-30), you’re going to go away without eternal life. But if you hate yourself (Luke 14:26-27), then you’re going to receive eternal life. You either save your life now and lose it forever OR lose your life now and save it forever. That simple. The ‘hatred’ called for here is actually a ‘lesser love’. Jesus was calling his disciples to cultivate such a devotion to him, that their attachment to everything else, including their own lives, would seem like hatred by comparison.“
(Addendum written on 26th November, 2021)
Dear Reader, if you found the above Article to be interesting, informative, edifying or beneficial, you may also be interested in reading the following under the ‘BIBLE-BELIEVING Daughters’ Page:
- Note 180 – ‘To Comfort Self Or To Pursue The Will Of God’