We as believers have been raised from the state of death to our sins and made alive with Lord Jesus. After having been raised up together thus, we are “made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-6). LORD God has blessed us thus but our enemy, the devil, keeps on whispering words contrary to this to keep us away from this blessed state. We are required to ignore such distractions and falsehood and remain focused on the finished work of the Messiah. Instead of paying heed to the words of the enemy we must keep reminding ourselves of the promises of God in the Scripture.
Meaning of ‘Preaching to Self’ – King Solomon was named ‘preacher or teacher’ for his words were proclaimed in the open before all for edification of all (1 Kings 8:1; 12). The books of Ecclesiastes and Proverbs are also meant for educating all who read them irrespective of religion or region and the title of ‘qoheleth’ or teacher was the result. Hebrew word ‘qohelet’ means preach and is derived from ‘qahal’ meaning assemble or summon. Thus preaching is to summon or assemble all words for an argument/doctrine and declare that before all in the open.
Apostle Paul defines our fight in this world to be with ‘rulers of darkness and forces of evil’ or Satan and his troops and then he lists out the weapons of this warfare that all believers have been provided. The first five are defensive weapons while the sixth one is for offensive action or attacking the enemy and it is “the sword of the Spirit – the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:12-18). In battle it is an established principle that ‘offense is the best form of defense’ for in this we stand in strength and we must use our ‘sword’ for offensive action. Before the devil “roars at us like a lion” (1 Peter 5: ) we must resist Him to make him flee from us (James 4:7). We must resist him the way the Savior did in the wilderness by using the sword of the Word of God to force Satan to withdraw and then ‘angels ministered to Him’ (Matthew 4:1-11).
Apostle John was dictated by the Lamb of God in heaven letters to the seven churches and each message ended with “He who overcomes” followed by the blessing that will be given (Revelation 2 & 3). Lord Jesus desires all followers to ‘overcome the temptations’ and for that the sword must be not only always ready but be wielded with confidence. We can gain confidence by reading, dwelling on/meditating on and applying the truth of the Scripture to our lives. It is a spiritual exercise to fight the spiritual battle and has a proactive and a reactive form – for both before and within a crisis. Except God no one else is more influential in our lives than our own selves. God has given us free will to choose and wrong choices lead to spiritual, physical, social and financial ruin.
The Israelites were provided ‘manna’ daily and it could not be stored for future use. In like manner spiritual food for the soul is also a regular and daily necessity and we must get strengthened before the day starts and the battle commences. Thus proactive reaction is to learn the Scripture daily to sharpen the ‘sword’ and keep it ready for battle. Reactive action is to then speak out with authority the truth and promises of God after the battle is on – which will be always. Preaching to self amounts to summoning all resources from His Word to counter the negative thoughts and lies in difficult situations or under trials to assure self as also to resist and repulse the attack from the devil.
Reasons for preaching to self – As followers of Lord Jesus we are ‘children of God’ (John 1:12) and thus do not belong to this world bujt are citizens of heaven (Hebrews 13:14). This world is broken, fallen, sinful and corrupt and the ruler of this world, the devil, is scheming our fall and our nature is sinful. Apostle Paul urged the Ephesians to pray continually so that the Word of God be in them empowering them to face the temptations of evil around them (Ephesians 6:18). Prayer is preaching to self in God’s hearing to encourage ourselves allowing Him to intervene and empower us. David declares to himself in like manner “Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him” (Psalm 28:7)
It is generally believed that we learn something only once but in actual fact, the more important the truth in our lives, the more is the danger of drifting away from it. Preaching to self is repeatedly telling ourselves what we already know. Asaph, the worship leader in the Temple, knew well that YHWH was the God of Israel, yet he was about to slip due to envy for the wicked and their affluence (Psalm 73:1-3). How and why does one slip? In a crisis we tend to shift our focus from God to our circumstances and bringing the situation to bring it to the forefront while pushing God to the background. Asaph saw the wicked prospering and we also get confused and start listening to our fears, problems, medical reports and our lack rather than to the promises of God.
How to preach to self – In this battle with the forces of darkness, it is better to be proactive than being reactive, prepare well, resist and overcome. Lord Jesus, as a child only twelve years old discussed the Scripture was found “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers” (Luke 2:46-47). As a preparation for the greatest battle ever fought on this earth, Lord Jesus prepared well through gaining deep knowledge of the Scripture – sharpening of the sword. To preach to self, first, is to gaze on the beauty of Lord Jesus, the glorious acts that He has done and how. Second, is to remember who we are in faith in the Son of God – children of God and understand our rights and responsibilities of this blessed role. Third, rest in His power and provisioning for us for He has provided everything that we need to overcome. And finally, act in faith in reliance on Him for He is truthful and His promises are true.
Preaching to self is taking control of ourselves with the intention of cleansing the soul of all evil thoughts and desires through self conscious and intentional reminding of Scripture. The aim is to address the Scripture to self like the Psalmist “Why my soul are you downcast? Why the unease within?” (Psalm 42:5,11 & 43:5). And then he declares to self the Scripture promise “Lord will reveal His grace and might” (Psalm 42:8) thus reminding self about God’s blessings of the past and to expect the same in the future. In defiance of what his inmost thoughts, messages of other people and murmurings of the devil, he declares “I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance” (Psalm 43:4).
Components of self preaching – We need to hear the truth to counter the lies of the forces of darkness and this must have three essential parts. First, we look to God and shift our focus from the situation for it always seems impossible till “I went into the sanctuary of God” (Psalm 73:16-17 -All subsequent quotes here from Psalm 73). It is about looking up from the crisis into Scripture and God rather than looking down. Second, we address ourselves, our situation and unbelief not in introspection but pinpointing our unbelief and doubts about God. “My heart was grieved and I was vexed in my mind. I was so foolish and ignorant; I was like a beast before You” (verse 21-22). Third, we set our hope on the Word of God, apply the truth from therein to our specific weakness and struggle. “Nevertheless, I am continually with You, You hold my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel afterward receive me to glory” (Verses 23-24).
What Scriptures do I use to preach the gospel to myself? Here are just a few I choose from each day:
- “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
- “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:25)
- All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)
- Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin. (Romans 4:7-8)
- There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
- There are many others, including Psalm 130:3-4; Isaiah 1:18; Isaiah 38:17; Micah 7:19; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:13-14; Hebrews 8:12; and 10:17-18.
Results of self preaching – Apostle Paul warns the Galatians and the Corinthians to beware of false teachers that ‘even if an angel from heaven comes to preach any other Gospel (other than of Lord Jesus) let that preacher be condemned’ (Galatians 1:8-9 & 2 Corinthians 11:4). The Good News of the Gospel makes and sustains us by reconciling us to God through forgiveness of sins. Through faith in the Son of God we become His people and eternal life in Him is assured to us. Satan is called ‘accuser of the saints/believers’ and his forces of darkness are used in spreading falsehoods aimed at negating the word of Lord Jesus on the cross.
Apostle Peter equates the devil to a roaring lion prowling around seeking the next target to be devoured implying that he cannot destroy everyone but only the select few. To counter his efforts we are exhorted to stand firm in faith and face him in this knowledge that whatever ill is affecting us is being faced by many others (1 Peter 5:8-9). Darkness can never withstand light and the Light of God’s glory as revealed through His Son, the Living word and the Scripture is the best weapon to dispel the darkness of evil from our lives.
Preaching to self is not about learning some new mysteries but declaring and reminding self about what we already know. The battle being waged by Satan against the believers is a spiritual fight and the weapons of warfare are also spiritual from the Word of God. Repeatedly remembering and declaring the promises of God in the Scripture is to tell the adversary that those who are with us are more than those who are with them or against us (2 Kings 6;16). This convincing of the self is a continuous effort for the battle continues throughout our lives.