Open Your Hymnals to "Dirty Me"
One of the running jokes in the Andy Griffith Show episodes featuring the backwoods Darling family occurs when Andy and the family are choosing a song to play. Someone names a song which is followed by something like "oh no, that one make me cry." One of the songs offered by Andy was titled, "Dirty Me, Dirty Me, I'm Disgusted With Myself." Well, joke or not, it sounds like a song the modern church sorely needs.
One of the most insidious doctrines which has poisoned Christianity is this strange idea that we don't love ourselves enough. I would argue that the chief obstacle to people coming to Christ is self. Even the few people who think they're just too far gone for Christ to save have a "self" problem. I can't find anywhere in scripture where lack of self-love is listed as a problem and numerous places where pride (which God hates) is at the root of our difficulties.
The Psalms recounts how David's pride led him to sin and how an understanding of the depth of his sinfulness and dependence on God led him to peace and joy.
"Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me... Restore to me the joy of your salvation... My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise." -Psalm 51
Society faces a lot of problems and we can trace every single problem back to selfishness or an obsession with self. Often depression is the result of an obsession with self. Depression due to life's circumstances or possibly as a result of medical factors can be addressed by faith or medical intervention respectively. However, depression resulting from an obsession with self can only be solved by an acknowledgement that we're all deficient. We all sin. We're all worthy of condemnation.
There is none that does good, no, not one.
I do not wallow in the thought of my own sin, but rejoice in what God accomplished on my behalf on the cross, in the grave and in rising again! While I hate that I still struggle with sin, I rest in knowing that this struggle will one day be over forever!
A Lost Doctrine
We are deficient in thought, in word and in deed. A doctrine of Christianity that is often neglected or denied is the doctrine of the Two Natures of the Christian. We must understand that "in my flesh dwells nothing good." Nothing. Every act borne out of the flesh, no matter how it appears on the outside is corrupted by self at some level.
The nature we receive in our regeneration from above is said to "groan" to be out of this earthly tent. It groans for a new body in resurrection.
2 Cor 5:1-2,4 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven... For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.
Rom 8:23 [All of creation groans] Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
There is a war in the breast of every Christian. It is certain that it is not the new nature which longs for self-love, but the old nature.
In teaching us how to love others the Lord teaches us to love others as we [already] love ourselves. In teaching husbands how to love their wives, Paul teaches us to cherish them as we [already] cherish our own flesh. "For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it..."
Just a Few Examples
Here is how a few men of God responded to the revelation of the holiness of God:
Isaiah: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.”
Paul: To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given
Peter: When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”
And when we understand this about ourselves, it allows us to be merciful and long-suffering with others... for we all need the grace and mercy of God in light of his holiness. The longer I walk with the Lord, the longer I meditate upon his Word and his Person and his Work, the smaller I become and the more I think, "Dirty Me, Dirty Me, I'm Disgusted With Myself" and these words become more precious:
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
Romans 5:6, "Christ died for the ungodly," is the foundation of the good news of eternal life. It is a thought that we should come back to every time someone tells us we don't love ourselves enough. I love myself too much, but that love only condemns me. It is God's love for this conceited man that I need to ponder... and then rejoice in that it can never be fully comprehended.
We live in the Age of Grace. The grace of God is a wonder to ponder. Our apostle, Paul, cannot define it, it is son vast and deep.
To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ... (Eph 3:8)
Scripture is the story of The Lie versus the The Truth. At the heart of The Lie is what Satan told Eve, she would be as God (Gen 3:4). He appealed to her self-love which, until then, she had not known. Adam, loving his relationship with Eve above his relationship with God, also fell.
Scripture speaks of three dangers which haunt believer, all rooted in self-love: lust of the eye, lust of the flesh and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). Our three enemies (the world, the flesh and the Devil) all use our inherent self-love to lead us towards destruction. Beware.
“God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
If you don't know the joy of sins forgiven and the hope of freedom from sin, the first step is to acknowledge your sinfulness. Then seek the one who loves you despite your failings and the one who paid for your sins by dying on a cross (while you were yet his enemy), lying in a grave for three days without seeing decay (undoing the curse of sin), and rising again in an eternal body. That is the hope of the Christian: because of what He alone has accomplished, we will some day rise again in an eternal, sinless body!
Follow this link to read more about the gift of eternal life in Christ: The Good News
Don't be like this creature:
‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High. ’