WiW: My greatest idol

The Week in Words

It hit me between the eyes as I drove down Highway 30 on my way home from Grand Island.

I was listening to ChristianAudio’s recording of Jerry Bridges’ The Pursuit of Holiness (Available for free this month!).

“Our first problem [with walking in holiness] is that our attitude toward sin is more self-centered than God-centered. We are more concerned about our own ‘victory’ over sin than we are about the fact that our sins grieve the heart of God. We cannot tolerate failure in our struggle with sin chiefly because we are success-oriented, not because we know it is offensive to God.”

~Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness


The moment I heard it, I knew its truth.

Up until that moment, I had been fighting a self-centered battle with sin and hadn’t even realized it!

My fight for holiness wasn’t about glorifying God or abhorring the things that break His heart. It was about making myself look good, proving that I could do it, gaining victory over sin.

But Bridges’ reminds us:

God wants us to walk in obedience — not victory. Obedience is oriented toward God, victory is oriented toward self. This may seem to be merely splitting hairs over semantics, but there is a subtle, self-centered attitude at the root of many of our difficulties with sin. Until we face this attitude and deal with it we will not consistently walk in holiness.”

Say I had managed to gain victory over all those external sins I so want to conquer.

What then?

I could boast in my flesh–like the rich young ruler who tells Jesus that he has kept the commandments from his youth–but my boasting would quickly be brought to naught as Jesus reveals my secret idol.

Not possessions.


I am my own greatest idol.

Every morning I wake up and bow at the altar of self. Every evening I return to offer self homage.

I offer a sacrifice on the altar. I bring the grain offerings. I keep the feasts.

My ablutions are not effective, my oblations not accepted.

I have offered my sacrifice to the wrong god.

Self instead of Christ.

Lord, have mercy upon my idolatrous soul–and teach me to treasure You above me.

Barbara H’s meme “The Week in Words” is where bloggers collect quotes they’ve read throughout the week. Crying foul over my audiobook quoting? After a couple days of contemplating what I’d heard, I remembered that I’d picked up The Pursuit of Holiness at a used store a couple of months back. I started reading at the beginning–and was hit anew with the realization of my idolatrous fight with sin.

Condemnation or Christ Jesus

I sit in condemnation.

Undisciplined, lazy, foolish. I heap insults upon myself.

I remind myself that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, but my reminders fail at their attempted meaning.

My mind keeps offering buts.

But I’m not walking as I ought.

But I’m behind in my Bible reading, behind in my Scripture memory.

But I’m late for Sunday school.

But I stayed up too late working crossword puzzles.

But, but, but…. I stand condemned in my own eyes.

Then I sit in worship and the words wash over me. “You’re altogether lovely, altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me.”

And I get it.

The problem with this condemnation is pride. It’s me turning my eyes onto myself, onto what I’ve done or not done.

What I’ve done or not done is not the point. The point is what Christ has done, who He is.

So turn, Rebekah, turn your eyes from self to Christ. Turn your thoughts from self-condemnation to Christ-glorification.

Turn your heart. Turn your heart to Him.

WiW: A Poor Counterfeit

The Week in Words

“Thus doth the soul commit fornication, when she turns from Thee, seeking without Thee, what she findeth not pure and untainted until she returns to Thee. Thus all pervertedly imitate Thee who remove far from Thee, and lift themselves up against Thee. But even by thus imitating Thee, they imply Thee to be the Creator of all nature…”

~St. Augustine from his Confessions

What is sin, Augustine asks, but the fading shadow, the poor imitation of that which can be found in Christ alone? Is it not the attempt to wrest from God the attributes that are His alone?

Our pride but a poor imitation of His exaltedness; our ambition but a poor striving for the honour and glory that belongs to Him alone. Our immorality a poor counterfeit of His genuine love.

Augustine goes on–Our curiosity a pretense of His omniscience. Our sloth an attempt at rest apart from Him. Our gluttony mimicking the satisfaction that can only be found in Him.

Sin is me trying to live life on my own, not acknowledging that Christ is the only source of true life. Sin is me trying to exalt myself, not acknowledging that Christ is the only one truly worthy of exaltation. Sin is me trying to become wise, not acknowledging that Christ is the only source of wisdom.

Looking at sin through Augustine’s eyes, I see the sins I so regularly excuse.

Self-improvement. The sin of trying to be sanctified without God’s Spirit.

Goal-orientedness. The sin of fixing my eyes on outcomes rather than Christ.

All of it Pride. Pretending I can live, can survive, can thrive with me at the center rather than Christ.

But I am a poor counterfeit, a tainted instrument. What I find in myself is only a warped copy of what can be found only in Christ.

Oh, Lord, forgive me for my sin of spiritual fornication, for seeking in myself what can only be found in You. Turn my eyes, my heart from these fleshly things that I might better see and savor You.

“Oh! that Thou wouldst enter into my heart, and inebriate it, that I may forget my ills, and embrace Thee, my sole good?”

~St. Augustine from his Confessions

Collect more quotes from throughout the week with Barbara H’s meme “The Week in Words”.

Pride: My heart’s dark core

It’s a comfortable sin, one I barely recognize until I’m called on it, until something bumps it and causes it to bristle.


The root that says I deserve, I have a right, you ought to treat me well.

I tell my Bible study how I don’t want a Mephibosheth. I had one once–a student who was completely dependent on me. I had great motives when I started discipling her–I saw her need and I wanted to share the love of Christ with her. But she and her family abused my care. They were careless with my time, with my money, with what I was giving. I don’t want another Mephibosheth. I don’t want to be used like that again.

My Bible study leaders ask me what I learned through that experience. I struggle to come up with an answer. All I can think of is the injustice done to me–and when I was trying to be altruistic.

“It’s Pride.” Kathy says.

I realize she’s right. It’s pride that insists on its own rights, insists on being treated well.

Cathy shares her story of discovering her own pride in thinking that a woman she’s sharing with couldn’t teach her anything.

I discover my pride when I read an article from Practical Shepherding on how a newly married man can disciple his wife.

I bristled at the thought of a husband trying to disciple me. Who would he be to teach me anything? Encourage me, sure. Rebuke me, yes. But teach me? I don’t need to be taught.

“That’s pride,” the voice of the Lord said.

And once again, I was forced to grapple with my heart’s dark core.


Pride that makes me think I can teach others but need not be taught myself. Pride that makes me think that I have something to offer others but that no one else has anything to offer me.

Pride that makes me think I deserve to be made much of. I deserve to be appreciated. I deserve to be treated fairly, nicely, with mercy.

I find myself arrogantly agreeing with Mr. Darcy that “pride, where there is a real superiority of mind–Pride is always in good measure.”

But it isn’t.

First, because compared to Christ, I have no superiority of which to boast. Second, because even Christ, who was superior in every way, humbled Himself and became obedient.

My heart needs a makeover–but not of the outside. My heart needs a coring, a removal of its center. My pride must be excised before its cancer corrupts my whole being. My pride must be rid, or I will have made myself an enemy I can’t afford to have.

‘God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.’

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

~James 4:6-10

I’m so vain…

I think that this blog’s all about me.

Am I the only person who occasionally wastes hours of her day reading her own blog?

I find myself nodding, mm-hmm-ing, and occasionally bursting into an amen.

I want to write myself comments to say “Bravo”.

I become impressed with how I express myself, with the topics I write about, with the way I think about issues.

I’m pretty much my biggest fan.

Which is pretty much not cool at all.

My pride would say that I am wise, that I know the answers, that bekahcubed is a fount of wisdom and discernment.

The word of God says otherwise.

In fact, God’s word places wisdom and pride on opposite ends of a spectrum.

“When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.”
~Proverbs 11:2

“By pride comes nothing but strife, But with the well-advised is wisdom.”
~Proverbs 13:10

“In the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride, But the lips of the wise will preserve them.”
~ Proverbs 14:3

In fact, pride is the one thing that Scripture tells us God actively opposes: in both James 4:6 and I Peter 5:5, we read:

“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”

In taking pride in my wisdom, I reveal how little wisdom I truly have–
and I set myself in opposition to God and He to me.

How much better that I heed the word of God through James:

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.”