August 10, 2022, 6:20 pm
Rev: Zaker ALi Shuva: In our day of pop psychology and self-analysis, the question of whether the Bible says to believe in yourself is timely and needed. Our culture is very much directed toward self-affirmation, “following your heart,” and having pride in yourself. In some cases, we are told to disassociate from anyone who doesn’t affirm us at every turn. “You do you,” “Believe in yourself,” “Love yourself,” and other such catchphrases are the current rage.
The admonition to believe in yourself can be meant in different ways. Of course, there is nothing wrong with believing you have the ability to do something when you actually have that ability. There’s nothing wrong with having confidence to make decisions or try a new direction. Self-confidence is good, within limits. As long as self-confidence is accompanied by humility, rationale, and the fear of God, it is a valuable trait and can ward off a defeatist attitude. But believing in yourself can be taken to sinful extremes. And no matter how much you believe in yourself, you cannot guarantee desired outcomes.
The Bible deals with the issue of believing in yourself and the folly of placing our trust in the wrong thing. First, the Bible describes the nature and character of God as perfectly trustworthy. Deuteronomy 32:4 states, “He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.” Since we know God is worthy of our trust, we should believe in Him.
Second, the Bible describes the nature and character of man as untrustworthy. Apart from repentance and faith in Christ, man is described as wicked and sinful. In Romans 3:10–12, Paul references Psalms 14 and 53 in describing the nature of man: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” In Luke 18:19, the Lord Jesus states, “No one is good—except God alone.” These verses and many others declare that the heart of man is sinful. Jeremiah 17:9 calls the heart “deceitful.” The Bible does not teach to believe in yourself in the sense of trusting our own goodness or self-worth. What God would have us believe about ourselves is that we are desperately wicked and living in rebellion to God and His Word. And, due to this sin and rebellion, we are worthy of eternal condemnation.
In His grace, God doesn’t leave us in this sinful, wicked predicament. He sent the Savior, His own Son, Jesus Christ. All through the New Testament, we are commanded not “Believe in yourself,” but “Believe in Jesus Christ” (e.g., Acts 16:31). It is only through belief in Jesus that we are saved.
The Bible is in fact full of cautions not to believe in yourself: “Lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5) “Those who trust in themselves are fools” (Proverbs 28:26) “Human help is worthless” (Psalm 108:12) “This is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches’” (Jeremiah 9:23) In contrast, the Bible says, we should believe in God: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Proverbs 3:5) “Those who trust in the Lord will prosper” (Proverbs 28:25) “Whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe” (Proverbs 29:25) “Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm” (2 Chronicles 20:20)
As Jesus said, “Trust in God, and trust also in me” (John 14:1, NLT). Jesus is the truth (John 14:6), and His words are “full of the Spirit and life” (John 6:63).
Because we are filled with sin, we should not believe in ourselves. Our strength will flag, and that is why we need the Lord’s strength (Philippians 4:13; Isaiah 40:28–31). Our wisdom will fail, and that is why we need the wisdom from above (James 1:5). We are to look away from ourselves to the greatness and glory of God, believe in Christ, and live for God’s glory (Colossians 3:17). As we do, we will experience the fullness of joy and the pleasure of God. Psalm 115:1 should be a verse we keep close to our minds and hearts: “Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.”
In summary, the Bible does not say to believe in yourself. Rather, the Bible teaches us to look away from our sinful selves to the glory and goodness of God and His work on our behalf in Christ. We are to believe in Jesus.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5–6).