The Sin of Self-Sufficiency

“My mighty rock, my refuge is God.” (Ps 62:7)

I believe one of the chief characteristics of our sinful nature is an attitude of independence toward God. Even when we know and agree that we’re dependent on him, we tend out of habit to act independently. Undoubtedly, one of the reasons God allows us to fall before temptation so often is to teach us experientially that we really are dependent on him to enable us to grow in holiness.

One of the best ways, apart from those painful experiences of failure, to learn dependence is to develop the discipline of prayer. This forces us in a tangible way to acknowledge our dependence on the Holy Spirit. Whatever else we may say about prayer, it is a recognition of our own helplessness and absolute dependence on God.

It’s this admission of helplessness and dependence that is so repugnant to our sinful spirit of self-sufficiency. If we’re prone by temperament to be disciplined, it’s more difficult to acknowledge that we’re dependent on Christ and his Spirit instead of on our self-discipline.

To become holy is to become like the Lord Jesus, and he himself said, "By myself I can do nothing" (John 5:30). He was completely dependent on the Father, and He freely and willingly acknowledged it. His dependence was not reluctant, but wholehearted because he knew that we’re created to be dependent on God.

Dependence is not simply one of a list of several disciplines. Rather, it gives life and vitality to all of them. Just as the principle of life that makes the seed grow gives fruition to all of the farmers’ efforts, so the enabling of the Holy Spirit within us gives fruition to our disciplines. Dependence on the Holy Spirit should permeate them all.


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