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Commentary on "Self-Esteem"



Day 2: Sunday, February 20, 2011 - Origins



“In contrast to the atheist belief in no transcendent purpose for our human biology and psychology, the Bible teaches us that God chose to share ‘His image’ with the human family. Obviously, much of that image has been marred and lost by generations of sin, yet the imprint continues in each person, and that lost image can be restored progressively by the transforming power of the Spirit working in those who are surrendered to Christ.” [Teacher’s Quarterly, Page 102]



Sunday’s lesson is an example of powerful statements of truth diluted by Adventist beliefs.

The human cost of evolutionary theory is incalculable. At best, humans are machines to be tuned and modified to suit various modes of operation; at worst, as the lesson so cogently states, “…Life is inherently without purpose.” [Teacher’s Quarterly, Page 102]

The error arises in the concept of progressive sanctification. Yes, Page 102 points out that it is the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. But Page 107 (not available in the general quarterly) paints a different picture: “Every child may gain knowledge as Jesus did. As we try to become acquainted with our heavenly Father through His word, angels will draw near, our minds will be strengthened, our characters will be elevated and refined. We shall become more like our Saviour. And as we behold the beautiful and grand in nature, our affections go out after God. While the spirit is awed, the soul is invigorated by coming in contact with the Infinite through His works. Communion with God through prayer develops the mental and moral faculties, and the spiritual powers strengthen as we cultivate thoughts upon spiritual things.”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 70, 71.

Is it the Holy Spirit who renews our minds and elevates our characters, or the angels? What if we don’t “try” hard enough to become acquainted with our heavenly Father? The statement by Ellen White clearly teaches that human effort (expressed in Bible study, the contemplation of nature and prayer) is the key to spiritual growth. And, as we’ve seen in many previous lessons, spiritual growth is measured by one thingadherence to the Law.

The answer to evolutionary illogic is not religious human effort. The atheists merely have come to the inevitable conclusion that purposelessness is better than constant failure. A sure sign of insanity is the attempt to change an outcome by using the same failed mechanisms time after time after time. The cognitive dissonance caused by behaviorism is a primary source of the poor self-image rampant among the religionists of this world. Atheists are just being honest.

On the other hand, the gospel (the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, see 1 Corinthians 15:1-4) offers real hope and transformation. I don’t need to “try” to become acquainted with the Father. Jesus reveals Himself to me. My spirit is awed and my soul invigorated by the indwelling Holy Spirit. God initiates all of this to me. He is not waiting for me to ask correctly, behave correctly or anything else correctly.

The Law came through Moses; grace and truth through Jesus (see John 1:17). Grace and truth are the sources of a proper self-image; the Law is not.



  1. The lesson powerfully identifies the life-sapping results of the prevalent ideologies of our day.
  2. The lesson hints at the solution – the transforming power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
  3. However, SDA reliance on Ellen White’s writings ruins a powerful start, because she clearly taught that change occurs from the outside in. Our effort is the source of proper thinking. The inevitable result of this approach is psychological trauma.
  4. The truth is that we are transformed from the inside out. The indwelling Holy Spirit has made us spiritually alive. This results in renewing our souls – our minds, wills and emotions. This, in turn, results in changed behavior. The inevitable result of this approach is psychological health.




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