”When a comparison is made between the attitudes of those possessing high or low self-esteem and Lucifer’s attitude, which he displayed in Heaven that led to rebellion, it can be seen indeed that the principle of self-esteem originated with him and that it is anti-God in its nature. Lucifer imparted this devilish attribute to Adam’s fallen race. People possessing high or low self-esteem compare to Lucifer’s attitude.
Humans with High or Low Self-esteem …
- Live in a social world in which they believe that people value and respect them.
- Dismiss negative feedback as unreliable or biased. The motivation to protect feelings of self-worth leads to a rigid, closed mind-set that cannot tolerate alternative viewpoints known as ‘‘need for cognitive closure.’’
- Trivialize failures or attribute them to external causes.
- Take less personal responsibility for harmful actions and develop an inaccurate self concept, hindering growth and change.
- Become angry and aggressive toward those who threaten their ego.
- Want people to feel sorry for them, to pay attention to them, to comfort them.
- Engage in downward social comparisons, a process that underlies prejudice and discrimination.
- Sometimes engage in dysfunctional behaviors.
- See the world through a more negative viewpoint.
Lucifer’s Attitude that Caused Rebellion in Heaven:
- “He was beloved and reverenced by the heavenly host.” The Great Controversy (1888), 495.
- “Angels that were loyal and true sought to reconcile this mighty, rebellious angel to the will of his Creator.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 19.
“Satan refused to listen. And then he turned from the loyal and true angels, denouncing them as slaves.” Ibid., 20.
- “As one aggrieved, he related the preference God had given Jesus to the neglect of himself.” Ibid., 19.
- “But the warning, given in infinite love and mercy, only aroused a spirit of resistance.” The Great Controversy (1888), 494. “He persistently defended his own course, maintained that he had no need of repentance, and fully committed himself, in the great controversy, against his Maker.” Ibid., 496.
- “Lucifer allowed jealousy of Christ to prevail, and he became the more determined.” Ibid., 495. “… his heart was filled with envy and hatred. …
“He left the immediate presence of the Father, dissatisfied, and filled with envy against Jesus Christ.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 18.
- “He sought to create sympathy for himself, by representing that God had dealt unjustly with him in bestowing supreme honor upon Christ.” The Great Controversy (1888), 495.
- “He told them that henceforth all the sweet liberty the angels had enjoyed was at an end. For had not a ruler been appointed over them, to whom they from henceforth must yield servile honor?” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 19.
- “For all had heretofore been peace and harmony, and what could occasion this dissenting, rebellious voice?” Ibid., 20.
- “He claimed that in aspiring to greater power and honor he was not aiming at self-exaltation, but was seeking to secure liberty for all the inhabitants of Heaven, that by this means they might attain to a higher state of existence.” The Great Controversy (1888), 495. “He promised them a new and better government than they then had, in which all would be freedom.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 20.
The cardinal principle which governs Satan’s kingdom is self-esteem that says to all its subjects, “Look away from Christ and look to self!” It is self-centered. “For thou hast said in thine heart … I will be like the most High.” Isaiah 14:13, 14.
The cardinal principle that governs Jesus’ kingdom is self-denial rooted in divine love which says, “Look away from self and look to Jesus!” It is Christ-centered. Luke 9:23 tells us, “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
Lucifer Educates the Angels
- “He left the immediate presence of the Father, dissatisfied, and filled with envy against Jesus Christ. Concealing his real purposes, he assembled the angelic host. He introduced his subject, which was himself. As one aggrieved, he related the preference God had given Jesus to the neglect of himself. He told them that henceforth all the sweet liberty the angels had enjoyed was at an end. For had not a ruler been appointed over them, to whom they from henceforth must yield servile honor? He stated to them that he had called them together to assure them that he no longer would submit to this invasion of his rights and theirs; that never would he again bow down to Christ;
- that he would take the honor upon himself which should have been conferred upon him, and would be the commander of all who would submit to follow him and obey his voice. There was contention among the angels. Satan and his sympathizers were striving to reform the government of God. They were discontented and unhappy because they could not look into His unsearchable wisdom and ascertain His purposes in exalting His Son Jesus, and endowing Him with such unlimited power and command. They rebelled against the authority of the Son.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 18, 19.
Lucifer’s aim in the re-education of the angels of heaven was to change their “world view” of the kingdom of God! To create a paradigm shift in their minds. This is the same principle he follows through the educational institutions of earth.
“World-view” has to do with the overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world, a comprehensive conception or image of the universe and of humanity’s relation to it.
American educational institutions were founded upon the word of God. Therefore their “world-view” was defined by the Holy Scriptures.
Harvard University was founded in the year 1636 in Massachusetts by Congregationalists to train ministers of the gospel. Its educational philosophy was defined in two mottoes:
- “For Christ and the Church.”
- “For the glory of Christ.”
Harvard’s Directive to Students: “Let every student be plainly instructed and … consider well that the main end of this life and study is to know God and Jesus, which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning.
“Everyone shall so exercise himself in reading the Scriptures twice a day that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein.” (Source: The American Heritage Collection by David Barton, Four Centuries of American Education.)
Yale University was founded in the year 1701 at New Haven, Connecticut, by the Congregationalists for training ministers of the gospel.
Yale Counseled Students: “Above all, have an eye to the great end of all your studies, which is to obtain the clearest conception of Divine things and to lead you to a saving knowledge of God in His son, Jesus Christ.”
Yale’s requirement of all students: “All the scholars are required to live a religious and blameless life according to the rules of God’s word, diligently reading the Holy Scriptures … and constantly attending all the duties of Religion.” Ibid.
Princeton University was started in the year 1746 at Elizabeth, New Jersey, by the Presbyterians to train ministers of the gospel.
Princeton’s requirement of all students: “Every student shall attend worship in the college hall morning and evening … [and] shall attend public worship on the Sabbath. … There shall be assigned to each class certain exercises for their religious instruction … and no student belonging to any class shall neglect them.” Ibid.
The American educational system was founded upon three main elements namely,
Religion was first. It formed the basis for the other two. It had to do with the fear of the Lord. Morality cannot exist without religion and the knowledge contemplated was the inculcating and incorporating of the principles of the Bible in education.
In the eighteen hundreds, the State of Kansas’ Superintendent of public education said, “If the study of the Bible is to be excluded from all State schools, if the inculcation of the principles of Christianity is to have no place in the daily program, if the worship of God is to form no part of the general exercise of these public elementary schools, then the good of the State would be better served by restoring all schools to church control.” Ibid.
In 1890 a survey revealed that over 90% of all state universities had chapel services. In the year 1860, 262 out of 288 college and university presidents were ministers of the gospel.
Dr. Benjamin Rush (1745-1813) known as the father of American Public School, said, “Without religion I believe that learning does mischief to the morals and principles of mankind. If you take religion out of education, education becomes a negative force.” (The American Heritage Series, David Barton, DVD #8)
As time moved on, Satan did to the educational institutions what he did in heaven, a re-educating. He caused a paradigm shift and a change of “world-view” in the philosophical principles of the educational institutions so that they would become his agents to promulgate the doctrine of “SELF-ESTEEM.”
Satan Used the Supreme Court
- In 1962 the United States Supreme Court ruled that voluntary school prayer was unconstitutional in America’s public Schools.
- In 1963 the United States Supreme Court ruled that Bible reading in America’s schools was unconstitutional.
- In 1985 the United States Supreme Court outlawed silent prayer in our nation’s public schools.
The educational shift focused on an ego-centric philosophy where the end justifies the means. “Students are trained to use their minds but we will not teach any right or wrong, that is up to their choice whatever the students think is right or wrong. There is no absolute right or wrong.
“Nothing matters in this world but me so I am going to take what I learn to get what I want. That means that if you get hurt, if I need to lie to get what I want that’s fine.” Ibid.
The Fruitage of the Paradigm Shift in the Educational Institutions
- An ego-centric education
- An ego-centric individual
- An ego-centric home
- An ego-centric country
- An ego-centric society
- An ego-centric church
- An ego-centric world
An article entitled, “The Problem With Self-Esteem” by Paul C. Vitz, highlights this point. “Today, the largest and most familiar part of American Psychology is the popular psychology of self-esteem, now found throughout American society. Self-esteem and the obsession that so many have with it, is familiar to almost all of us these days. Self-esteem programs affect the lives of countless school children, because this idea, really an ideal, has been taken and applied primarily in education.”
It continued by stating, “Self-esteem seems to be the common denominator pervading the writings of such varied theorists as Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, ego-strength psychologists, and moral educators especially recently. In any case, the concern with self-esteem hovers everywhere in the US today. It is, however, most reliably found in the world of education—from professors of education, to principals, teachers, school boards, and the television programs that are concerned with education, particularly those programs concerned with preschool education like Sesame Street.”
According to this writer “self-esteem is a deeply secular concept, not one with which Christians should be particularly involved. Nor need they be. Christians should have a tremendous sense of self worth. God made us in His image, He loves us, He sent His Son to save each of us, our destiny is to be with God forever. Each of us is of such value that the angels rejoice over every repentant sinner. But on the other hand, we have nothing on our own to be proud of. We were given life along with all of our talents, and we are all poor sinners. There is certainly no theological reason to believe that the rich or the successful or the high in self-esteem are more favored by God and are more likely to reach heaven. Indeed, blessed are the humble, blessed are the meek.”
William James, who coined the phrase “self-esteem” was not a committed Christian. His religious persuasion was western philosophy. In his biography these words are recorded: “His interest is not in religious institutions, ritual, or, even for the most part, religious ideas, but in ‘the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine.’ ” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
William James was a contemporary of Ellen White. Evidently this teaching of self-esteem was impacting the Adventist church as well as Christianity on the whole during that time. Accordingly Ellen White had to address it and expose it.
Ellen White Addresses the Evils of Self-Esteem
- The Spring of Self-Esteem – “The evils of self-esteem and an unsanctified independence, which most impair our usefulness, and which will prove our ruin if not overcome, spring from selfishness.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 92.
- The Results of Harboring Self-Esteem – “There is in man a disposition to esteem himself more highly than his brother, to work for self, to seek the highest place; and often this results in evil surmisings and bitterness of spirit.” The Desire of Ages, 650.
- Self-Esteem Leads Men Away From God – “It is self-esteem that leads men and women away from God and away from those who need their help and tender sympathy.” The Review and Herald, August 5, 1909.
- Those Who Cherish Self-Esteem are Ignorant of the Scriptures – “Men who turn away from the knowledge of God, have placed their minds under control of their master, Satan, and he trains them to be his servants. … Evil angels are ever on the alert that they may exalt before the minds of the youth that which will do them injury, and as books expressing infidel and pagan sentiments are read, these unseen agents of evil seek to impress those who study them with the spirit of questioning and unbelief. Those who drink from these polluted channels do not thirst for the waters of life; for they are satisfied with the broken cisterns of the world. They think they have the treasures of knowledge, when they are hoarding that which is but wood and hay and stubble, not worth gaining, not worth keeping. Their self-esteem, their idea that a superficial knowledge of things constitutes education, make them boastful and self-satisfied, when they are, as were the Pharisees, ignorant of the Scriptures and the power of God.” Fundamentals of Education, 168, 169.
- Self-Esteem a Poisonous Weed – “But when the garden of the heart is neglected, poisonous weeds of pride, self-esteem, self-sufficiency, obtain a rank growth. We individually must watch unto prayer.” Evangelism, 342.
- Self-Esteem Kills Spiritual Life – “Self-esteem and self-sufficiency are killing spiritual life. Self is lifted up; self is talked about. Oh, that self might die! ‘I die daily,’ said the apostle Paul. When this proud, boasting self-sufficiency and this complacent self-righteousness permeate the soul, there is no room for Jesus. He is given an inferior place, while self swells into importance and fills the whole temple of the soul.” Lift Him Up, 310.
- Harboring Self-Esteem, Christ is not in the Heart – “Let no one deceive his own soul in this matter. If you harbor pride, self-esteem, a love for the supremacy, vainglory, unholy ambition, murmuring, discontent, bitterness, evil-speaking, lying, deception, slandering, you have not Christ abiding in your heart. … You must have a Christian character that will stand.” Maranatha, 50.
- People Christ Does Not Countenance – “The one class that He would never countenance was those who stood apart in their self-esteem and looked down upon others.” The Ministry of Healing, 164.
- That Which Stands Between the Soul and God – “It is self-esteem that stands between the human agent and his God and impedes the vital current that flows from Christ to enrich every human being.” Our High Calling, 114.
- A True Christian Cannot Possess Self-Esteem – “If one is a follower of Christ, he cannot be sharp in deal, he cannot be hardhearted, devoid of sympathy. He cannot be coarse in his speech. He cannot be full of pomposity and self-esteem. He cannot be overbearing, nor can he use harsh words, and censure and condemn.” Ibid., 121.
How Can a Person Overcome Self-Esteem?
“As Christ the Pattern is constantly kept before the mind’s eye, new habits will be formed, powerful hereditary and cultivated tendencies will be subdued and overcome, self-esteem will be laid in the dust, old habits of thought will be constantly resisted, love for the supremacy will be seen in its real, despicable character, and will be overcome.” Ibid., 99.
Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
John 15:5 – “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
Luke 9:23 – “And He said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
Self-Esteem and Self-Denial Contrasted
Isaiah 14:13, 14 – “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”
Galatians 2:20 – “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”
Man’s Perfect Example of Self-Forgetfulness!
“The religion of Christ uplifts the receiver to a higher plane of thought and action, while at the same time it presents the whole human race as alike the objects of the love of God, being purchased by the sacrifice of his Son. At the feet of Jesus, the rich and the poor, the learned and the ignorant, meet together, with no thought of cast or worldly pre-eminence.
“All earthly distinctions are forgotten as we look upon Him whom our sins have pierced. The self-denial, the condescension, the infinite compassion of Him Who was highly exalted in heaven, put to shame human pride, self-esteem, and social caste. Pure and undefiled religion manifests its heaven-born principles in bringing into oneness all who are sanctified through the truth.” Gospel Workers, 313.
Not I But Christ
Not I, but Christ, be honored, loved, exalted;
Not I, but Christ, be seen, be known, be heard;
Not I, but Christ, in every look and action,
Not I, but Christ, in every thought and word.
Not I, but Christ, to gently soothe in sorrow,
Not I, but Christ, to wipe the falling tears;
Not I, but Christ, to lift the weary burden,
Not I, but Christ, to hush away all fear.
Christ, only Christ! No idle words e’er falling,
Christ, only Christ; no needless bustling sound;
Christ, only Christ; no self-important bearing;
Christ, only Christ; no trace of I be found.
Not I, but Christ, my every need supplying,
Not I, but Christ, my strength and health to be;
Christ, only Christ, for body, soul, and spirit,
Christ, only Christ, here and eternity.
Fannie E. Bolton
Pastor Ivan Plummer ministers through the Emmanuel Seventh Day Church Ministries in Bronx, New York. He may be contacted by telephone at: 718-882-3900.