The Root of Self-Exaltation

God prides Himself on being the only, true God in the entire universe. The only God that could ever save a Hell-bound soul. The only Savior who could conquer death for all. The only One who could give the Spirit of Life. The ultimate reality of today is that the Trinitarian God is the God. As the prophet Isaiah recorded,

“Thus says the Lord… ‘I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.’” (Isaiah 44:6)

“I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God.” (Isaiah 45:5)

“I am the Lord, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:18)

“And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:21-22)

“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.” (Isaiah 46:9)

For those who treasure this God, these verses bring explosive joy to their hearts. And more than just their hearts; when Christians continually set God before themselves, then their “whole being rejoices” (Psalm 16:8-9). They, indeed, have no other Gods before Him (Exodus 20:3).

Yet for those who do not find ultimate satisfaction and delight in this God of the Bible, they will absolutely place other gods before the God. And there is one god in particular that humans must be wary of, namely, themselves.

“You felt secure in your wickedness; you said, ‘No one sees me’; your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray, and you said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me.’” (Isaiah 47:10, emphasis added)

Here, as well as Isaiah 47:8, Isaiah records the epitome of what self-exaltation is, namely, the enthroning of ourselves in our hearts. The worship of ourselves. The love of ourselves. What a tragedy for the Babylonians to say in their hearts, “I am, and there is no one besides me.” Likewise, what a tragedy it is for those individuals who, today, claim this title in their own hearts – the title of “god.” Of course, the Bible warns us that exalting yourself is foolish (Proverbs 30:32) and that evil, disaster, and ruin are promised for those whose hearts are so wicked (Isaiah 47:11). Yet, people are continually trading in the “I AM” (Exodus 3:14) for an infinitely weaker “I am.”

Such an act is blasphemous, conceited and evil. Self-exaltation is a sinful problem in our world. But we must look beneath the surface of the love of self and see what roots breed self-exalting lust.

Let’s look back to Isaiah 47:10 where the prophet tells us, “…your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray, and you said in your heart…” (Isaiah 47:10, emphasis added). In other words, we will worship ourselves if we let our own wisdom and knowledge lead us through life. If we dethrone the God who holds “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3) and replace Him with our own knowledge, which leads us away from God (Isaiah 47:10), then we will rob God of the glory He alone deserves. If we boast in our own wisdom and not in the knowledge of who God is, God will not delight in us (Jeremiah 9:23-24). But be absolutely certain of this: God does not leave us empty-handed in the fight for extinguishing our own egocentricity.

The Bible, or the Word of the God, gives us an abundance of joy-filled power to slice through the root of self-exaltation. For example, texts like Psalm 119:73, 169; Proverbs 3:5-7; 16:16; Isaiah 11:2; 55:9; Isaiah 58:13-14; Jeremiah 10:23; John 17:3; 2 Peter 1:3; as well as several others are available in the fight to humble ourselves before God. These verses can and should be used in prayer and meditation to help protect against Satan’s efforts to enthrone ourselves with our own understanding.

But the most valuable asset we have in our arsenal to help us worship, know, and treasure God alone is Christ. John wrote that “The Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true” (1 John 5:20-21). Peter tells his readers to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Paul wrote, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). The reason these men cherished Jesus Christ supremely was because that meant they could know the Father (John 14:7), who alone could satisfy and save their souls.

If we progress in the knowledge and grace of Christ, we will worship and glorify God alone in all we do because He alone satisfies. And if we whole-heartedly worship God alone, then we will not desire to worship ourselves. Thus, we will not strive for our own knowledge and wisdom, but His.

The root of self-exaltation is loving and desiring your way above all. That root leads to a conceited fruit that declares “I am, and there is no one besides me” (Isaiah 47:10). Kill that root with an overwhelming affection for Jesus, who is “the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through [Him]” (John 14:6).

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