Trust Self or Trust Christ?
“We will beat the virus”, “we will get through this”, “better days will come”. These are common idioms that have been heard during lockdown, and though well-intentioned they betray a deeper truth than the simple syllables they appear to be. That is; mankind has an absolute and unshakeable belief in self. We have been drip fed this message from our earliest days. The much-loved axiom of humanity is that we can believe in ourselves and achieve anything we want through will power and self-reliance. As William Ernest Henley put it in 1875:
It matters not how strait the gate
How charged with punishments the scroll
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul
Trusting in self has its place from time to time, it can be virtuous even, however when it comes to the matter of salvation from sin trusting in self is eternally fatal. Many people think that they will get into heaven by trusting in their own works. Millions believe the deadly lie that their efforts and endeavours, their charitable deeds, their religious adherence or good citizenship will outweigh their sins, and get them into heaven. All of the above are different expressions of the same basic truth of trusting in self. People today are still saying ‘I am the captain of my soul’.
The word of God however shatters such illusionary thinking by saying “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). Man’s wisdom says that we can get to heaven by works; God says that this ends in hell. We also read that “by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in (God’s) sight” (Romans 3:20). We cannot merit a place in heaven. To compound the issue further, we read that “all our righteousness’ are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). This shatters our pride and self-reliance – we are hopeless.
We cannot save ourselves because we have sinned and are guilty before a holy God. Our sins are crimes against infinite authority that demand infinite judgement. Just like the lawbreaker in court cannot bribe the judge with good works to cancel out the bad, we cannot rely on our good works to cancel our debt of sin. Justice has to be satisfied and no amount of willpower or effort on our part can meet God’s infinite demands. This is why belief in self is folly. Finite, guilty, sinners like you and I cannot meet an infinitely, holy standard.
There is however, good news. God in his love has provided a Saviour. The sweet message of the gospel says to helpless sinners, that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save” (1 Timothy 1:15). Saved, sinners love to say; “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us” (Titus 3:5).
The sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus on the cross, satisfied the demands of justice. He, the sinless one, offered one sacrifice, for sins, forever. He paid the price that we could never pay. The work is done, justice has been met, there is a way for us to be saved.
Because provision has been made for the guilty, we now face a choice. Will we continue to rely on self? Or will we abandon all hope of self-salvation, and rely completely on Christ? Will you, today, relinquish ‘believing in yourself’ and believe in the Lord Jesus? Will you jettison the mantra ‘I am the captain of my soul’ and adopt the new song ‘I was a guilty sinner but Jesus died for me’? God’s word says “by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not
of works lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Dear friend, let go of self, cling to Christ and he will save you.