Want to know what Satan loves you to do–over and over and over?
Sometimes we do the things we hate. And sometimes we get confused and begin to hate ourselves for the things we’ve done.
There is a world of difference between ‘walking in the light’ while confessing our sins (1 John 1:7-10), and letting our sins define our identity. While it is appropriate to mourn our sin (Matt 5:4), it is not appropriate to hate ourselves.
In the heat of the moment of regret and shame, we can almost think that self-loathing is good and right and biblical (after all, we have offended a Holy God and become unclean!). But in truth, God never calls us to hate ourselves.
Why Satan loves you to be filled with self-loathing…
1. Because when I loathe myself I loathe someone created in the image of God
Proverbs 17:5 says, ‘Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker.’ James writes that the tongue ‘is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so’ (James 3:8-10).
What I say about people, I say about God. This is true whether I am demeaning other humans or myself. Even inward self-loathing insults my Maker, in whose image I was created.
2. Because self-loathing diminishes my joy
Even in the middle of theological controversy, you can almost hear the joy in Paul’s voice when he reminds himself of the gospel: ‘I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20).
If I forget that the heart of the gospel is ‘the Son of God loved me and gave himself for me’ only to remember that I am worthy of being hated rather than loved, I will lose the joy of the gospel itself.
3. Because self-loathing diminishes the work of grace that God has done in my life
Making myself an object of contempt makes more of the sin that once defined me than the grace of God which has re-created me.
Paul writes of sinners who are defined by their sin outside of grace, and then adds: ‘And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God’ (1 Corinthians 6:11).
What I was once, I am not now. My sins do not define me; my reconciliation with God does. Hating myself makes little of that and gives Satan joy.