The False Gospel of Self-Esteem


“Christian counseling” has become a very prominent feature of the Church of Jesus Christ. The fact that the general area of “counseling” is rife with the philosophies of man results in great danger that the “wisdom” of this world will infiltrate the message of the Church at the expense of the wisdom of God. A growing deception found in Christian counseling (and throughout society) is the false gospel of “self-esteem” which is incompatible with the Biblical Gospel of the Cross of Jesus Christ.

Increasingly, the counseling mentality is that “low self-esteem” is the root cause of a teenager deciding to engage in pre-marital sex or of a house-wife who is always depressed. In fact, prominent Christian personalities can be heard to claim that society’s greatest problem is that of “low self-esteem”, and that everything from abortion, school drop-outs, teen pregnancy to rape, robbery, and poverty can be solved if only we help people to esteem themselves more highly; to love themselves more and more; and to realize their great self-worth!

Those of us who call ourselves Bible-believing Christians must ask some crucial questions. Is mankind’s problem a lack of self-esteem or is it pride, self-centeredness and rebellion? Is the answer to our problem “building self-esteem” or is it brokenness and repentance at the foot of the Cross? And how about my “self-worth”? Doesn’t God’s Word say that in-and-of my “self” I am worthy of eternal hell?


The origin of the theology of “selfism” can be found in Isaiah 14:12-14 where Satan’s long list of self-exalting “I will’s” are recorded. Satan then took his message of “Self” to the Garden of Eden in Genesis three where, in the form of the serpent, he told Eve that she could be her own god and decide for herself what is right and wrong. Revelation 12:9 says, “that serpent, Satan, who deceives the whole world.”


Far from exalting or esteeming “self”, Jesus says in Matthew 16 that we should deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow him. Jesus says in Matthew 22:34-40 that the two (not three, but two!) greatest commandments are to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus wasn’t, also, giving us a third commandment to love ourselves. He was acknowledging that even in our sin nature we love ourselves already: we feed ourselves, we clothe ourselves. He is saying, “Now, go and serve other people like you are already serving yourself.”

The whole Christian life is built upon dying to self and serving God and serving people. We are to get our eyes off of self and fix our “eyes on Jesus the author and perfector of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). People-in-need must realize that they are helpless and hopeless, but, “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Through repentance we find forgiveness and then a life of surrender; of trusting and obeying. What we must respond to is, not any sense of our own worth, but the fact that Jesus loves us and has a purpose for our lives, and he wants to use us!


The Bible says that there is coming a one-world religion whose inspiration is the author of “Selfism”. May we never take part in synthesizing the Evangelical Church into that one-world religion. First Timothy 4:1 tells us that, “In latter times some will abandon the faith and follow after seducing spirits and the doctrines of devils.” And 2 Timothy 3 warns, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves” and chapter three goes on to list the inevitable results of a self-absorbed society.

As we counsel people in the midst of crisis or tragedy or trouble of any kind, I pray that we will give them Jesus, and him crucified; having confidence that in his word, God, “has given us everything we need for life and godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3)

Joh 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

1Pe 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

The false gospel of self esteem has replaced the truth of our total unworthiness and has infected other “mega” church leaders with psychological heresy. A false teacher will “preach” self esteem. There are many, be aware and don’t follow the “guru’s” of self.

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