On a recent visit to Jerusalem, I had a beautiful view of the mountains of Moriah and the Temple Mount. How amazing to think of the sacrifices made on that mountain—where Abraham offered up Isaac, and Jesus offered up Himself.
Abraham was well over the age of 100 when God told him, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there” (Genesis 22:2). Some Bible scholars think Isaac may have been as old as 35. He did not have to submit—yet he did.
Now consider Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane as He prayed, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).
What compels someone to say, “Yes, I will be that sacrifice?”
When Jesus foretold how Peter would die, Peter responded by asking about John. And Jesus replied, “What is that to you? You follow Me” (John 21:22).
Many years later—after the other disciples had been martyred—John made this profound statement: For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world (1 John 2:16).
In our culture today, lust is almost glorified. Yet just as Solomon knew in Ecclesiastes, things never satisfy.
The other temptation John included is the pride of life, which can be broken into three parts:
- Self-will: “Things would be better if I were in control!”
- Self-confidence: “I’ve got this! I know what I’m doing!”
- Self-glorification: “Didn’t I do well? And why aren’t you recognizing it?”
The key to each one is “self.” The more we value ourselves, the more we are prone to be tripped by these things—so let’s examine them one by one.
Self-will: What caused Satan to fall? He admired how glorious he was and said, “I will ascend.” A warped sense of self gets us out of God’s will.
We find the remedy in the words of John the Baptist: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
Similarly, Paul said, I die daily (1 Corinthians 15:31). He explained in Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
We must choose between self-will and obedience. Are we saying, “It’s my way or the highway,” or “This is a more excellent way”? If we do whatever God commands—and do it in love—we are His friends. And we have His promise in 2 Corinthians 5:17: If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
Self-confidence: At the Last Supper, as Jesus prepared the disciples for His death, He said Peter would deny Him. Yet Peter was full of self-confidence and said: “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble” (Matthew 26:33).
Jesus replied, “Assuredly”—meaning, you can count on it!—“you will deny Me three times” (Matthew 26:34).
Peter then tells the Son of God He is wrong: “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples (Matthew 26:35). Yet nobody was willing to die with Jesus. That is where self-confidence will get us.
Self-glorification: We should also guard against glorifying ourselves or accepting praise for what God has done. We are just His stewards, His agents, and His vessels. He enabled us. He rescued us out of a pit so we can serve Him. He took us from the ash heap and set us with princes. We don’t deserve any of it.
Keys to Overcoming: When John warned against the temptations of lust and pride, he said, The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2:17). Instead of loving things that are only temporary, we need to do God’s will and lead people to Jesus so that many others can enter His eternal kingdom.
When John wrote those words, it was a time of terrible persecution—not too different from what some Christians face today when they are forced to choose between their faith and their lives.
Paul said in Romans 8:36-37: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
We can never overcome evil with evil, but with good and with love.
Revelation 12:11 declares, And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
We are not fighting against flesh and blood, but principalities and powers that want us to fall into the pride of life.
A spiritual enemy has no idea what to do with someone who is willing to say like Isaac, “Yes, Father,” and to say like Jesus, “Not my will, but Yours.”
When we get to that point of complete abandonment, the enemy has no ground in us and has nothing to accuse us of anymore. We have lost everything in the world, and all that is in us now is of the Father. We realize this world is not our home. Our destination is the New Jerusalem, that city whose builder and maker is God.
So let’s ask ourselves: Have we been crucified with Christ? Then the life we now live is by faith in the Son of God, who loved us so much that He willingly gave up His life for us. God bless you.
Scripture is quoted from the NKJV. This teaching was given during a CBN staff chapel meeting.