Jesus responded to the temptation to prove who He was by saying, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test?” (Matthew 4:7). His identity was shaped by His relationship with the Lord His God. And because of His relationship with God, Jesus was secure in who He was.
Where you find your identity will shape your security. At the core for the search for identity through self-esteem is insecurity. So many spend their lives proving who they are, and yet under the bravado is an insecure person.
Insecurity is the common malady of humanity. Look around you, and you’ll see it shaping society. Look within you, and you’ll see it shaping you, unless you know who you are through Christ. Once Adam broke his upward connection with God, insecurity began reshaping his view of himself.
Prior to sinning, Adam didn’t even focus upon himself. Once he disobeyed, his eyes were opened to the world around him in such in a way that he interpreted it in relationship to himself. Adam now perceived that Eve looked at him differently. He was naked.
Prior to sinning, Adam was not self-conscious. I don’t mean he didn’t have self-awareness. I mean he didn’t interpret the world around him based on his inward view of himself but based on his upward view of God.
Once you break the upward connection, you interpret the world around you according to you inward perspective. And without God, that view is skewed. After sinning, Adam hid from God and blamed Eve. Ultimately he blamed God by describing Eve to God as “the woman you gave me.”
Insecure people don’t have problems. They are just not supported by others and by God himself. At least that’s what they think. This is the appeal, at least that’s what Satan thought, when he tempted Christ to cast himself down from the pinnacle of the temple because God had commanded angels to protect Jesus. Satan is in effect saying, “Show who you are by proving that God is on your side.”
This is the temptation to self-vindication. Christians, who would never fall for the temptation to self-gratification, fall for the temptation to self-vindication. This is behind our desire to be proven right.
Being right is not all it’s cracked up to be. It’s better than being wrong, but it shouldn’t define us. “I’m right and you’re wrong” is a phrase that describes how many Christians define themselves. This is wrong because it’s ultimately about self-vindication.
We cannot begin to see ourselves as Christ sees until we first deny ourselves. This is why Jesus said…
To be continued
Dr. Michael Peters is the lead pastor of Christ the King: TheCellChurch.com. He is married to Linda, and they have two children and seven grandchildren. Dr. Peters graduated from Covenant Seminary with an MA and obtained a PhD in historical theology from Saint Louis University. He has written several books. His most recent is titled Cell Vision. It’s about organic discipleship and how to develop supporters into disciple makers. He taught critical thinking and Biblical worldview at Missouri Baptist University. His favorite course textbook was Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom. His favorite philosopher is Nietzsche because postmodern people are just catching up with premodern Nietzsche. And his favorite Christian writer is G.K. Chesterton because he understood the difference between a poet and theologian. “The poet,” he wrote, “only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the theologian who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”