By Pastor Ay Nee Ng
Last week, I dealt with self-worth using the example of a $50 note that, whatever shape or dirty looking it is, it is worth $50. We were challenged to ask ourselves: “Do we know what we are worth?” Then we look into building a healthy self-concept based on God that our goal is to be God pleasers as we go for self-esteem and worth in God.
Today I am dealing with low self-esteem and how to get out of this to having self-worth in Christ Jesus. A major problem of our time is an epidemic of low self-esteem expressed in the form of self-doubt and self-hate. According to James Dobson’s study, 51% of the Christian women surveyed rated low self-esteem. A sense of being without worth lies at the root of almost all our personal, moral and spiritual problems. Our actions, feelings and even abilities are consistent with this self-image. We act like the person we perceive ourselves to be for fear of rejection.
When you are at an all-time low in your life, your self-esteem is an all-time low as well. You tend to believe the lies around you. Now what are the two biggest lies we believe that contribute to low self-esteem?
The first lie is that we can have sense of personal worth apart from establishing a personal relationship with God. The unregenerate person is one who don’t know God and is deceived into thinking that one need not be saved or that salvation is by works and that salvation can be put off to some later day. Then you have all the world religions except Christianity believing in a works-based faith, and they are all deceived. God’s Word teaches that salvation is by grace alone; it is a gift from God and not we have done or contributed (Eph. 2:8-9).
The second lie involves regenerate people (those who know God and believe in God or some trust God but believe that there are many ways to God) failing to understand, accept and affirm who we are in Christ. The regenerate people are supposedly us who have put some trust in the Lord but are most frequently deceived by thinking of ourselves in terms of our old nature (Rom. 8:5-14) rather than our new nature (2 Cor. 5:17). This can happen to any so called Christians as we are journeying in some faith. We fail to realize who we are in Christ, i.e., that our identity, acceptance and security is in Christ.
How can anyone feel good about being a slave of sin as a result of having a sinful nature? Example: When an individual has a poor self-esteem due to an ugly appearance and then has plastic surgery and looks great, that surgery doesn’t necessarily or automatically improve that person’s self-esteem. In a similar way, when an unbeliever becomes a new creature in Christ, that conversion experience doesn’t help his/her self-concept if he/she still thinks that the real person is his/her sinful nature instead of the new one (2 Cor. 5:17).
Basic Psychological Problems from Low Self-esteem
Basic problems do arise when we have no self-worth. Low self-esteem brings about problems that are psychological and Satan’s most powerful weapons.
- Insecurity: A sense of worthlessness fosters insecurity and hopelessness.
- Jealousy: Doubting our own worth, we are jealous of those who appear better off than us.
- Anger: Comparing ourselves with others, we can become angry and resentful.
- Fear: We have hidden fears that others may discover about how we really feel about our true selves.
- Selfishness: A lack of self-esteem produces total absorption in meeting our own needs.
- Guilt: By focusing on failure rather than forgiveness, we are defeated and feel guilty. Long standing guilt is hard to shake for some. An uneasy sense of self-condemnation seems to hang like a fog over too many Christians.
Our low self-esteem as an arsenal attack of Satan has such a pervasive effect on every aspect of our lives. We are talking about a gut level feeling of inferiority, a sense of personal inadequacy, and a lack of self-worth.
Four Ways Satan Uses the Devastating Psychological Weapon of Low Self-esteem
1. To Cripple Potential
Low self-esteem results in a tragic loss of human potential, watered down living, wasted gifts, and broken dreams. According to Dr. James Dobson, low self-esteem is a key contributor to depression, especially among women. According to Dobson’s study, 51% of the Christian women surveyed rated low self-esteem as the chief contributor.
Example: According to Jesus in the parable of the talents, the man with one talent was immobilized by fear and feelings of inadequacy, and he tried to play it safe by burying his talent in the ground. His life was a frozen asset. He did exactly what a lot of people with low self-esteem do—nothing. That’s exactly what Satan wants us to do.
2. To Wreck Dreams
We can’t live in our dreams or on our dreams, but we can live by them. Proverbs 29:18 says: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Low self-esteem will destroy any hope of realizing God’s great plan for our life. We all need the hope of a better tomorrow. Hope deferred makes the heart sick. We may be able to exist without hope but we can’t live as God intends without it. If you don’t think you can, you can’t.
Example: When the Israelites came out of Egypt, the Promised Land that God had promised was ready but the people weren’t because of their low self-esteem that had translated into a lack of faith. They forgot who they were because they forgot whose they were. Expecting great things from God and attempting great things for Him can be destroyed by low self-esteem.
3. To Ruin Relationships
Low self-esteem freezes our thinking pattern to think negatively and keeps us from believing that God really loves and cares about us. Such thinking leads to inner questions and resentments which can seriously undermine our relationship with God. If we don’t really believe that God wants the best for us, how can we really trust Him? We become critical of God’s design and begin to resent the Designer. Our perception of God becomes contaminated by our misperception of ourselves.
One of the most common ways of dealing with feelings of low self-esteem is withdrawing from our relationships with others. If we don’t love ourselves, actually, we can hate ourselves, how can we love our neighbour? Low self-esteem wrecks interpersonal relationships more than anything else that I know. Here again, Satan has us just where he wants us—isolated from God and others.
4. To Sabotage Your Ministry
If low self-esteem results in isolation from others, how can the Body of Christ function in a healthy manner? If the members of Christ’s body aren’t functioning as members of the body then Christ’s ministry is hindered. Pastors hear more excuses for members not doing God’s work than you can imagine, and many of the excuses centre around feelings of low self-esteem. “I’m not good enough for this… I’m not good enough for that.”
Low self-esteem robs God of the marvellous opportunity for Him to show His strength through ordinary people like you and me. Nothing sabotages Christian service more than thinking so little of yourself; God isn’t even given a chance.
Do you remember what our goal is as a child of God? To get out of this low self-esteem and build a healthy self-concept based on God in our lives.
Developing a Healthy Self-concept
Our personal worth is a gift of God, not earned or achieved, can’t be added to or taken from, need not be approved by anyone except God and must not be denied. We do nothing to qualify for it. It is ours at birth of salvation. As with any gift, it must be accepted, consciously with thanksgiving.
Biblical Principles of Our Self-worth
- God created me—in His image as a unique person. His creation gives me worth. (Gen. 1:27)
- God loves me—God is a loving heavenly Father. His love gives me a sense of belonging. (Jer. 31:3)
- God planned for me—God wants my heart to be His throne. His plan gives me significance. (Psa. 139:16)
- God gifted me—God gave me natural abilities and spiritual gifts. His gifts give me competence. (Eph. 4:7)
- God’s Son died for me—Jesus died on the cross for my sins. His death makes me acceptable. (2 Cor. 5:16-18)
The above facts establish my permanent worth. What God accomplished can’t be changed. To deny these facts is tantamount to calling God a liar and is a refined form of blasphemy. Because God has accepted me, I can act with confidence because of who I am, not to prove who I am.
Redefining Our New Position in Christ
If you don’t fully understand your identity and position in Christ, you will see very little difference between yourself and non-Christians. Some Christians think that they are just a sinner whose sins are forgiven trying to hang on until Christ returns. They think that having their sins forgiven is the only thing that happened at salvation and that they are still the same person they were before. Peter says that we have become “a partaker of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4). A born again believer is no longer “in the flesh” but “in Christ.”
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” (Eph. 5:8).
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17).
“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” (Rom. 6:6).
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20).
We must believe and live in harmony with the truth that we are eternally different in Christ. It’s not what we do that determines who we are. It’s who we are that determines what we do.
Applying These Scriptural Truths to Our Life
Confess the old nature and renounce whatever spirit attached to it as well as sinful habits; then apply scripture by reading scripture out loud for faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). Then as a regenerate person, take in Scripture each day.
- Face facts. The Bible is telling you that you are a new being though you don’t feel the new being (2 Cor. 5:17).
- Know the basic fact (Rom. 6:3-10).
- Consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:11), no longer slaves to sin (Jn. 8:31-36).
- Present yourself as an instrument of righteousness to God (Rom. 6:12-13) and as a servant who obeys God from the heart (vv. 15-18).
Low self-esteem causes psychological problems; it is an arsenal attack from Satan that cripples our potential, wrecks our dreams, ruins relationships, and sabotages ministries. But we as Christians have even a great weapon that is not of this world to overcome obstacles and low self-esteem. It comes from placing our trust in God and finding our worth in Christ Jesus. In the end, our goal is to honour Christ by representing Him in every thought, action, relationship and conversation, devoting the rest of our lives to understanding and experiencing God’s truth in our lives.
Church, let us realize that we are deeply loved, completely forgiven, fully pleasing, totally accepted, and complete in Christ because of what He has done on our behalf. We are free! Let us stay free, free to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).
Let us now stand and declare who we are in Christ Jesus
Who I Am in Christ
Taken from The Steps to Freedom In Christ by Neil T Anderson
I am accepted. In Christ Jesus I renounce the lie that I am rejected, unloved, dirty or shameful because in Christ I am completely accepted. God says that:
I am God’s child. (Jn. 1:12)
As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ. (Jn. 15:15)
I have been justified. (Rom. 5:1)
I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit. (1 Cor. 6:17)
I have been bought with a price and I belong to God. (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
I am a member of Christ’s body. (1 Cor. 12:27)
I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child. (Eph. 1:3-8)
I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ. (Heb. 4:14-16)
I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins. (Col. 1:13-14)
I am complete in Christ. (Col. 2:9-10)
I am secure. In Christ Jesus I renounce the lie that I am guilty, unprotected, and alone or abandon because in Christ I am totally secure. God says that:
I am free forever from condemnation. (Rom. 8:1-2)
I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances. (Rom. 8:28)
I am free from any condemnation brought against me and I cannot be separated from the love of God. (Rom. 8:31-39)
I have been established, anointed and sealed by God. (2 Cor. 1:21-22)
I am hidden with Christ in God. (Col. 3:1-4)
I am confident that God will complete the good work He started in me. (Phil. 1:6)
I am a citizen of heaven. (Phil. 3:20)
I am hidden with Christ in God. (Col. 3:3)
I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7)
I can find grace and mercy to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
I am born of God, and the evil one cannot harm me [beyond what God may allow]. (1 Jn. 5:18)
I am significant. In Christ Jesus I renounce the lie that I am worthless, inadequate, helpless or hopeless because in Christ I am deeply significant. God says that:
I am the salt of the earth and light of the world. (Mt. 5:13-14)
I am a branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life. (Jn. 15:5)
I have been chosen and appointed by God to bear fruit. (Jn. 15:16)
I am a personal, Spirit-empowered witness of Jesus Christ. (Acts 1:8)
I am God’s temple. (1 Cor. 3:16)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God. (2 Cor. 5:17-21)
I am God’s co-worker. (2 Cor. 6:1)
I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm. (Eph. 2:6)
I am God’s workmanship, created for good works. (Eph. 2:10)
I may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Eph. 3:12)
I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:13)
I am not the great “I AM,” but by the grace of God I am what I am. (Ex. 3:14; Jn. 8:24, 28, 58; 1 Cor. 15:10)