by Neil Anderson

August 29

SELF-CENTERED VS. GOD-CENTERED

Matthew 16:23 
You are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's

The apostle Peter is a glaring example of the struggle between self- and Christ-centered living. Only moments after Peter confessed the fundamental truth that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:13-16), he found himself in league with the powers of darkness. Having just blessed Peter for his noble confession, Jesus announced to him and the other disciples the suffering and death which awaited Him at Jerusalem. "And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, 'God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You'" (verse 22).

Jesus responded: "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's" (verse 23).

Jesus' memorable rebuke seems mercilessly severe. But the fact that He identified Satan as the source of Peter's words describes precisely and appropriately the character of the advice Peter tried to give: "Save yourself at all costs. Sacrifice duty to self-interest, the cause of Christ to personal convenience." Peter's advice was satanic in principle, for Satan's primary aim is to promote self-interest as the chief end of man. Satan is called the "prince of this world" because self-interest rules the secular world. He is called the "accuser of the brethren" because he does not believe that even a child of God has a higher motive than self-service. You can almost hear him hissing, "All men are selfish at heart and have their price. Some may hold out longer than others, but in the end every man will prefer his own things to the things of God."

That's Satan's creed, and unfortunately the lives of all too many Christians validate his claims. Satan has deceived them into thinking they are serving themselves when in fact they are serving the world, the flesh, and the devil. But the Christian worldview has a different center. Jesus confronts our humanistic, self-serving grids and offers the view from the cross. Only from this center can you escape the bondage of the one whose sole intent is "to steal, and kill, and destroy" (John 10:10).

Prayer: Loving Father, help me forsake self-centered attitudes and actions in order to take up my cross daily and serve You.

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