I recently read a fascinating book titled You Can Read Anyone by David J. Lieberman. It divulges some of the tactics used by government profilers to determine the behaviors and mindsets of people they interrogate. As we might presume, a person’s self-esteem plays a critical role in how he or she thinks, behaves and makes decisions.
Although the book appears secular in nature, it underscores several critical spiritual truths:
It is easy to do the right thing and maintain good values and moral beliefs when there’s no self-interest. The only force holding self-interest in check (when it conflicts with what is right) is self-esteem; and self-esteem is what holds healthy values and beliefs in check.
The premise being, high self-esteem helps a person hold to his values and moral beliefs while low self-esteem encourages him to question and possibly abandon them. In the absence of the Holy Spirit, I’m inclined to agree. However, for a Christian, this should not be the reality.
If a Christian accepts his value from God and is not swayed by cultural pressure about who he is, how he should act, how he should dress, how much he should weigh, what he should do, etc. — if he remains confident in God’s valuation — his self-esteem remains high. However, if Satan can influence him to question his value, accept cultural overtones and feel poorly about himself, his values and beliefs become vulnerable. As his self-esteem drops, his spiritual convictions become optional preferences.
For example, if a man is single and frustrated with his perceived lack of potential dating companions, his confidence and self-esteem begin to falter. As desperation and impatience set in, he questions whether his standards are too high or whether his morality hinders his relational opportunities. Thus begins the slippery slope to betraying his beliefs and settling for less than God’s best.
For this very reason, we must take shelter in God’s Word! Satan whispering his deceit should drive us deeper into Scripture. Instead of buying into the devil’s counterfeit reality, we should stand firm on the solid rock of our faith. Our spiritual success depends on whether or not we will listen to “Thus says the Lord” instead of our adversary’s lies. This is precisely what Jesus did in His wilderness temptation: He responded with, “It is written.”
The following four steps help us resist Satan’s attacks, maintain high self-esteem and remain true to spiritual convictions:
- Read, study and know God’s Word. As with any other learning experience, we find it difficult to recall something unknown or unfamiliar. We hide God’s Word in our hearts as a safeguard against sin and its influence (Psalm 119:11).
- Identify, accept and bask in who God says we are. No one can influence me to question my relationship with my earthly father. When he calls me his son, I accept that relationship based on what he says. The same applies to our heavenly Father. Deriving our identity, worth and affirmation from God alone shelters us from self-doubt and Satan’s lies. We can rest assured that He who began a good work in us will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).
- Differentiate between the voice we should hear and those we should ignore. The enemy’s ultimate goal is your failure, and he will stop at nothing to achieve it. Expect his attacks and prepare for them by distinguishing the sound of his raspy whispers from the Shepherd’s soothing call. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:7-8).
- Remain open to the Spirit’s leading. Listening to the right voice motivates the appropriate growth and development in your grace and knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18) and in your transformation to Christlikeness (Galatians 4:19). Avoid lagging behind and running ahead — where He leads, follow.
If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31) Walk confidently in His steadfast love, base your value and identity in Him alone, find comfort and shelter in His Word and follow Him closely.