The Sovereignty of Self


“Central to living a good and happy life is being a good, moral person. That means being nice, kind, pleasant, respectful, responsible, at work on self-improvement, taking care of one’s health, and doing one’s best to be successful.”

What individual in their right mind would not seek to achieve this definition of life?  Is this not what we teach our children?  “Have a good day sweety!”  “Be nice to your friends.”  “Be respectful to your teachers.”  “Do the right thing.”  Everyone of us desires that our children grow up to be responsible adults, right?  I would hope so.  But there is a very clear line of separation in this philosophy between those that are Christians, and those that are not.  Remember, you are either a Christian, or not.  There is no middle ground.  God speaks very clearly to this point when he says, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15,16)  Any true, biblically based Christian can attest that the philosophy above can be defined as “moralism”.  It’s simply living a good life.  One who doesn’t break the rules, abides by the law, pays their taxes on time, may even go to church, and occasionally read their bible.  Here’s the line of demarcation.  Christianity, as defined in the bible, demands so much more!  The entirety of your life is for the sake of God’s glory, period.  Living the life explained above is simply living for yourself: making sure you are doing the right things, insuring you have lived a good life…You…You…You.

Currently, there is a term that has been making its way around town called “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.”  Fancy huh?  Simply broken down, it means selfishness.  There was a study done through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on this subject.  The primary researchers on this subject define their findings this way:

“[Moralistic Therapeutic Deism] is about belief in a particular kind of God: one who exists, created the world, and defines our general moral order, but not one who is particularly personally involved in one’s affairs–especially affairs in which one would prefer not to have God involved. Most of the time, the God of this faith keeps a safe distance.” ~ Christian Smith

Dr. Albert J. Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary concludes with his definition of this new found “American religion” as:

“The researchers, who conducted thousands of hours of interviews with a carefully identified spectrum of teenagers, discovered that for many of these teens, the interview itself was the first time they had ever discussed a theological question with an adult. What does this say about our churches? What does this say about this generation of parents?”

“In the end, this study indicates that American teenagers are heavily influenced by the ideology of individualism that has so profoundly shaped the larger culture. This bleeds over into a reflexive non-judgmentalism and a reluctance to suggest that anyone might actually be wrong in matters of faith and belief. Yet, these teenagers are unable to live with a full-blown relativism.”

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” ~ 2 Timothy 4:3-4

Let me make myself extremely clear.  Today’s youth did not get to this mindset on their own.  I won’t even say that they’ve been taught or told about this.  They’ve witnessed it.  They’ve seen it modeled in the lives of their parents, their teachers, and dare I say, their pastors.  We, and I’m including myself, need to STOP talking about what it means to live a true, biblical Christianity, and START showing them.  Author Steve Farrar put it this way, “Every child in America needs a strict moral relative–and that strict moral relative should be Dad.”  And to this I would add Mom as well.  Just this morning, I hugged and kissed my girls as I sent them off to school, and said the words, “Be good today!”  What I need to start saying is “Live for Jesus today!”  Anyone can be good.  Good doesn’t get you to eternity (Matthew 7:15-27).  I want myself, my wife, and my children to be more than good.  I want us all living a life that, in the end when we stand before our Heavenly Father, He can proudly declare, “Well done!”

It is imperative that we start teaching our children why they are to be good.  Why they are to be nice.  It’s not about them.  It’s to be a witness to God’s goodness on earth.  Don’t just tell them to follow the rules.  Tell them to live a life that’s honoring to the Lord.  Start having theological conversations with your children.  They need to be able to communicate why they are being good, nice, respectful, and responsible.  Why is this imperative?  If you don’t, who will?

The term “born again” needs to be born again.  We’ve stopped using this term.  90% of America identifies with the term “Christian”.  I wonder what the percentage would be of those identifying themselves as born again.  Do you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that your child has had their “road to Damascus” moment?  Are they asking the Nicodemus-style questions?  Is there a difference in their life?  If not, it’s probably because you haven’t modeled that for them.

If there is one thing I’ve learned about the younger generation in my 14 years of being in Education, it’s that the majority of the time, they are going to do just enough to do get by.  When it comes to doing homework, writing papers, and completing projects, they want their assignments to be good enough.  However, if they were to complete those same assignments and publish them on the internet, I’m thinking they’d strive a little harder knowing their work is being published for all the world to see.  What they don’t realize is that they are a published work.  Parents, they are your assignment.  Are you satisfied with them being good enough?  Did you do your “homework” when it was convenient for you?  Are you settling that your children are average?  “Well, at least they aren’t failing like those other kids.”  Do yourself a favor, and stack your children against God’s instructions.  Where do they stand?  This is a pass or fail assignment, and it’s your responsibility to make sure they are on the path to success.  Here’s a small “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” test for you.  Read the following article, and ask yourself how you’d respond: The letter I can’t bring myself to send.

Living a born-again life is radical.  It doesn’t “go with the flow” in the attempt at pleasing everyone.  It’s not afraid to offend some for the sake of melding with societies distorted view of acceptance and toleration.  It is about the Sovereignty of God, not the sovereignty of self.  It stands for the gospel truth.  We are obligated to teach and model this to our children.  Strive for the day when you can proudly say, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 1:4)

“Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching.  When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live.  Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.” ~ Proverbs 4:1-5

Challenged extended.  God bless you!!  Rak Chazak!!

* More on Moralistic Therapeutic Deism:

National Study of Youth and Religion

Article on Moralistic Therapeutic Deism by Dr. Albert Mohler


2 thoughts on “The Sovereignty of Self

  1. Cathy says:

    That was the one sin of the rich young ruler. He followed all of God’s commands and treated his neighbor with respect but he would not give everything up for God. It made him sad that Jesus requested so much so he denied the truth….to Christ Himself.


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