The Delusion of Spiritual Self-Sufficiency

I recently ran across an article in Forbes entitled “Dear Homesteaders, Self-Reliance Is A Delusion.” The author confesses to being a big fan of shows about “doomsday preppers, homesteaders, survivalists, generally people who live off the grid” (like Homestead Rescue and Live Free Or Die). The thought of being self-sufficient, able to make it on our own, impervious to the economic or political upheaval in the world, is alluring.


It’s also illusory. The author cites all the ready-made products required to go “off the grid” in the first place, and services these people are able to access, and depend upon. Another observer notes that the Amish are among the most self-sufficient people anywhere, yet they still go to Walmart, the optometrist, and the hospital. The truth is, we’re all dependent on a myriad of other people every day.


The allure and myth of self-sufficiency in the physical realm has its twin in the spiritual realm. It shows itself in our tendency to fit God into our lives, practicing a ‘safe’ kind of faith that doesn’t infringe on our daily routine. We can handle most situations, and when we can’t, then we’ll reach out to God for some temporary help. Its most insidious and dangerous form is theological, the prevalent idea today that our behavior – not committing any ‘bad sins’ or piously parading our good deeds – is what signifies that we are ‘among the elect’ who will get into heaven.


If self-sufficiency in the physical realm is a delusion, it’s even worse – a prideful self-delusion – in the spiritual realm. For the Christian, self-sufficiency isn’t a sign of strength. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring! Two expressions from Scripture accurately sum up our dependence: In John 15.5, Jesus says that “apart from Me you can do nothing,” and in Philippians 4.13 Paul writes, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Our sufficiency is in Christ alone.


Scripture speaks of a ‘great delusion’ which God will send on wicked men in the end times, and we can see it coming today. ‘Progressive’ social engineers tell us we can “fix” all our problems – create a utopia, control the climate, end poverty, choose our gender, cure all diseases – if we just hand over control of our lives to them. It’s a self-sufficiency without God. Proverbs 14.12 says it best: “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.”


James 4.13-16 asserts the delusion of self-sufficiency; confidence in God is the way of wisdom:


Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.


As we face an uncertain future in a society that has embraced the satanic trifecta of ‘lust, sin, and death’ instead of God’s abundant life, hold on with both hands to our all-sufficient Lord. If you do, as Ephesians 3.17 says: “Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.” Trust in Him, cast your cares on Him, and depend on Him.