The Dangers of Self-Reliance
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The Dangers of Self-Reliance

Reliance on self is one of the greatest dangers facing Christians today. In our modern society, the message of self-empowerment and independence is louder than ever. However, as believers, we are called to rely fully on God and not on our own strength. In this post, we will explore the dangers of self-reliance and why we must cling to God alone.


We live in an age that values independence and self-sufficiency. From a young age, we are taught to “believe in yourself” and that we can accomplish anything if we put our minds to it. This attitude permeates every aspect of society. We are told we can work hard to earn salvation, gain prosperity, and make our lives successful without any help from God.

While self-confidence and hard work are admirable traits, they can lead us down a dangerous path if God is removed from the equation. The truth is, we were created by God and for God (Colossians 1:16). Our lives only have meaning and purpose when centered around Him. Self-reliance is relying on our own abilities rather than relying on God. It stems from the sin of pride and results in spiritual decay.

As Christians, we must resist the temptation to rely on ourselves. Instead, we must fully rely on and trust in God. This posture of humility and dependence is what God desires for us. As we rely on Him, He will sustain us and lead us down the path of life.

Key Takeaways:

  • Self-reliance is relying on our own abilities rather than relying on God.
  • Pride and a desire for control lead us into dangerous self-reliance.
  • Self-reliance leads to spiritual decay and separation from God.
  • God wants us to rely fully on Him through humility and faith.
  • Relying on God results in life, peace, and joy. Self-reliance only leads to destruction.

The Allure of Self-Reliance

Why are we so prone to rely on ourselves instead of God? Self-reliance is deeply alluring for several reasons:

1. It caters to our pride. Our sinful nature enjoys being self-sufficient. We want to be in control rather than humbly submitting to God. Self-glorification feels good. However, God warns us that pride leads to destruction (Proverbs 16:18).

2. It gives us a false sense of security. When we rely on ourselves, we feel safe in our own abilities. We fool ourselves into thinking we have everything under control. But this is not real security. True security is found in God alone.

3. It appeals to our natural instincts. As humans, we have an innate desire to be independent and provide for ourselves. But just because self-reliance feels natural does not mean it is good. We must reject what comes naturally and embrace dependence on God.

4. It is encouraged by society. As mentioned, our culture elevates the self above all else. Relying on God alone goes against everything society tells us. However, we must not conform to the patterns of this world (Romans 12:2).

As you can see, self-reliance subtly seduces us by appealing to our sinful pride and deceives us into feeling safe and secure outside of God. We must be aware of its allure and intentionally reject it.

The Fruit of Self-Reliance

At first, self-reliance may seem wise and prudent. But the fruit it produces reveals its truly deadly nature:

1. Weariness and burnout. Relying on yourself is exhausting! God tells us to come to Him when we are weary, and He will give us rest (Matthew 11:28-30). But self-reliance leaves us tired and burned out.

2. Constant frustration and anxiety. When we rely on ourselves, we have no peace. We become frustrated when things don’t go our way. Anxiety haunts us because deep down we know we aren’t truly in control.

3. Eventual emptiness and lack of purpose. Even when we achieve worldly success through self-effort, we will still feel empty in the end. Only God can give lasting purpose and satisfaction. Self-reliance leaves us destitute.

4. Separation from God. Most tragically, self-reliance leads to isolation and separation from God. He will not share our affections with an idol. We must fully rely on Him to experience closeness with Him.

Clearly, nothing beneficial comes from relying on self. It only leads to pain, emptiness, and separation from God. We must repent and return to total dependence on God.

Biblical Examples

Scripture gives us vivid examples of the destruction caused by forsaking reliance on God:

King Saul started off humbly dependent on God. But pride crept in, and he began making decisions without consulting God. He relied on his own judgment rather than God’s, which led to his downfall (1 Samuel 13:8-14).

Judas Iscariot thought he knew better than Jesus. Rather than relying on God’s plan, Judas took matters into his own hands. This resulted in Jesus’ crucifixion and Judas’ suicide (Matthew 27:5).

The prodigal son demanded his inheritance from his father so he could be self-sufficient. But once he squandered it all through reckless living, he ended up empty and starving (Luke 15:11-16). It was only when he returned to his father in humility that he was restored.

Adam and Eve were dependent on God in the Garden of Eden. But Satan convinced them to rely on their own wisdom rather than God’s. This led to The Fall and introduction of sin and death into the world (Genesis 3:1-7).

We can avoid these same mistakes by rejecting the allure of self-reliance and clinging to God alone. He is our rock, fortress, deliverer, portion, and hope (Psalm 18:2).

Avoiding the Pitfalls

How can we practically avoid falling into the trap of self-reliance? Here are some tips:

  • Pray daily for humility and reliance on God. Pride is the root cause of self-reliance. Ask God to break pride in your life and develop childlike dependence.
  • Study God’s word. Scripture reminds us of our need for God’s strength. Meditate on verses about relying on the Lord rather than self.
  • Reject the world’s philosophy. The world’s thinking will always contradict God’s truth. Renew your mind by thinking biblically (Romans 12:2).
  • Give up control. Allow the Lord to direct your steps rather than trying to control outcomes yourself. Surrender every area of your life to His will.
  • Confess and repent of self-rule. If you catch yourself operating independently from God, confess and repent. Return to reliance on Him.
  • Stay constantly connected to God. Prayer, worship, fellowship, and the Word are vital to maintaining reliance on Him. Guard these disciplines.

As we implement these practical strategies, God will deliver us from the deadly snare of self-reliance. We will learn to trust in Him alone.

The Blessings of Reliance on God

What awaits us when we forsake self-rule and wholly rely on God? Scripture gives us a beautiful picture:

Divine strength and power. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). His power works through our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Supernatural peace and rest. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you…Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

Eternal security. “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28)

Provision of needs. “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

Purpose and hope. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

When we relinquish self-reliance and entrust ourselves fully to God, these spiritual blessings become ours. What a joy to experience them!

Conclusion & Call to Action

Self-reliance is a threat that lurks in all our hearts, even the hearts of sincere Christians. Its allure often sneaks up on us unnoticed. But it produces only exhaustion, anxiety, emptiness, and separation from God.

As believers, we must reject this dangerous temptation and rely wholly on God each day. He is our rock, fortress, deliverer, shepherd, and strength when we trust in Him.

Will you join me in renouncing self-rule? Will you pray daily for increased reliance on the Lord? Will you confess moments of independence from God as they happen? As we do, He promises to sustain us and become our true security. What freedom, rest, and peace await those who rely on God alone!

Pastor Duke Taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.