The Essence of Sin: The Self-Directed Life

All good things come from our heavenly Father. It is his good pleasure to share his life and blessings with us. He created us to be enriched through his loving generosity and to be dependent on him who is our source, sustenance, and completion.

All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or the slightest hint of change. James 1:17 (NET1)

Sin, at its core, is a mistrust of God and his intentions and a rejection of him and his created order. It is a rebellious self-aggrandizing attempt to be independent from God – to make our own decisions, run our own lives, and impose our own rules. Satan deceived Adam and Eve into thinking that they could throw off the God-given limitations on their lives and “be like God” – needing nothing.

Because of the generational aspect of sin, the allure of living a self-directed life pulls at the heart of every person and is the essence of sin.

Jesus came to take upon himself the guilt of our rebellion against and rejection of God.

All of us had wandered off like sheep; each of us had strayed off on his own path, but the LORD caused the sin of all of us to attack him. Isaiah 53:6 (NET1)

Repentance and the God-Directed Life

Because of our pride, it is deeply humbling for us to depend on God and obey him; nevertheless, it is the most rewarding way to live.

Jesus, the perfect God-man, who was and is the best example of humanity, lived that way. In his own words:

So Jesus answered them, “I tell you the solemn truth, the Son can do nothing on his own initiative, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. John 5:19 (NET1)

When Jesus calls people to repent and enter God’s kingdom, he challenges us to stop directing our own lives and embrace His rule.

Repentance at its core is removing ourselves from the throne and acknowledging the rightful ruler, Jesus the Lord.

The Gospel and Christ’s Lordship

Paul understood that Jesus is both Lord and Savior. He calls us to confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that he is the risen Savior – the Lamb of God. He challenges and invites his hearers and readers to repent (make Jesus Lord) and believe (receive salvation) – to surrender our “rights” and receive God’s blessings.

because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 (NET1)

Confessing that Jesus is Lord is our most fundamental act of repentance because by doing so we surrender to Jesus every aspect of our lives. Doing so opens the door to receive all the benefits he died and rose to win for us.

The Restful Life

Attempting to direct our own lives creates stress we were not designed to carry. We do not have the wisdom, knowledge, or power to live self-directed lives. Repentance opens the door to life as God intended it to be.

Jesus invited us to:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.Matthew 11:28-30 (NET1)

Confessing that Jesus is Lord is the foundational act of repentance and the gateway into the blessings he won for us on the cross, which include a life of rest by faith. The Lordship of Christ is an absolutely crucial part of the Gospel because, without it, people may imagine that God will bless the self-directed life.

Surrender to Jesus the Lord is the narrow door through which Gospel blessings are accessed.


If you have never made a conscious decision to surrender every aspect of your being to Jesus, now is the time. This will include the following: relationships, time, money, health, your future, security, provision, self-image and fulfillment – everything, even life itself. Do this and you will begin to experience true freedom and a new level of rest.

In the same way therefore not one of you can be my disciple if he does not renounce all his own possessions. Luke 14:33 (NET1)

The Greek word translated “renounce” means to “say good-bye.” Say good-bye to everything that stands between you and a full surrender to Jesus. Say hello to the Spirit-led life.


Jesus, I am tired of trying to direct my own life. Please forgive me for living independently from you. I surrender myself and all I have to you. I look forward to seeing what you can and will do with me. Have your way in my life from this day forward. Amen.


To read more of Pete’s articles, go to