I received a pamphlet from Radio Bible Class Ministries entitled "Self-Esteem: What Does The Bible Say?" In it, Mart De Haan presented the vast difference between the way God views man's self image, and the way modern psychologists see it. Psychologists want man to "love himself," "promote himself," and "live for himself." God wants man to "love others," to "humble himself," and to "die to self."
De Haan also contrasted how man sees his nature, and what God says about it. Man views the individual as being born "a blank slate" with a broad spectrum of possible ways to be useful to mankind, where as God sees each of us as His creation, designed for His specific purpose. One says man is born innocent, and the Other declares him born in sin. One says man is basically good, and the Other says man is inherently evil. One says man evolved, and the Other says he was created in His image.
The author also describes the significance of man from the two perspectives. Psychologists say man can eventually know all the answers through scientific inquiry into the mysteries of nature, but only through special or supernatural revelation, God's Word, can man discover what is really true. Man can do what he sets his mind to do, but he ought to be doing the will of God. Man has limited strength, but God recognizes man's weakness, and He offers us His strength as our "back-up."
I looked up "self" in the dictionary, and the many definitions were too long to include here. To sum them up, the "self" is who we are as individuals. The definitions failed to describe the "self" in contrast with other created beings such as animals and angels, nor did they acknowledge man in relation to his Creator. The Bible indicates that the "self" is trinitarian in nature, and is comprised of a body, a soul, and a spirit (1 Thes. 5:23). It says that man is spiritually dead due to sin; "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22). In Ephesians 2:1, we read, "And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins." That is why Jesus told a man who was a living soul that he had to be born again spiritually (Jn. 3:3-8).
Not a single one of the self-help sections of all the libraries and book stores in the world contains a book that can produce spiritual life. Only the Bible has that ability. 1 Peter 1:23 says, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." The dictionary has over a hundred hyphenated words such as "self-esteem," "self-promotion," and "self-righteous," but the term that best describes an unregenerate man is "self-centered." Until a man becomes "God-centered," he is a "dead man walking."