French philosopher Rene Descartes (1596–1650), Genevan Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778), German philosopher Karl Marx (1818–1883), and others from this period, are responsible for the ideology behind the notion of the self that has become popular in culture. Descartes coined the phrase, “I think, therefore I am,” meaning whatever a man thinks, that in and of itself is a certainty. In fact, in some schools today, “furries” (as they call them) have become normalized. These are children who identify as animals. They think they are a cat, therefore they are a cat. Descartes would be proud.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau believed that identity was located in the physiological life of the individual. Rousseau did not believe in original sin. He believed that we are born inherently good and that culture is the corrupting influence on man. To the degree that we allow outside forces to impel us to do something different from that which we feel we should do is to be untrue to our identity. In other words, sin is not within me, it is from outside of me. I am God, and that force which is outside of me, encouraging me to go against what I feel– hurts me. Jesus said the exact opposite was true saying, “Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person.”
The last ideological contributor when it comes to the notion of the self is Karl Marx, the author of The Communist Manifesto, whom we discussed in Part 1. All three of these men contributed to our nation’s current plight and the collapse of identity. Much of the previous and following information comes from Carl Trueman’s book, A Strange New World. I encourage you to pick it up.
So, what is the self, that is according to culture? Today’s culture believes the true self, in short, is the real me. And this self, as Trueman notes, has three main aspects: expressive individualism, the sexual revolution, and the social imaginary. Trueman says the question when it comes to defining the real me is:
Am I, for example, to be understood primarily in terms of my obligations toward, and dependence upon, others? Does education consist in training me in the demands and expectations of the wider culture and forming me, shaping me into that which will serve the community at large? Is “growing up” a process by which I learn to control my feelings, to act with restraint, and sacrifice my desires to those of the community around me? Or am I to understand myself as born free and able to create my own identity? Does education consist in enabling me to express outwardly that which I feel inwardly? Is growing up a process not of learning restraint but rather of capitalizing on opportunities to perform? My conviction is that the normative self of today—the typical way in which we each think of our identity—is one who answers those last three questions in the affirmative. The modern self assumes the authority of inner feelings and sees authenticity as defined by the ability to give social expression to the same. The modern self also assumes that society at large will recognize and affirm this behavior. Such a self is defined by what is called expressive individualism.
In short, in today’s culture, the real me is being allowed to give social expression to my feelings. To live out what I feel inside. On top of this idea of the real me, or expressive individualism, there is what Trueman calls the sexual revolution, which is exacerbating the problem. The sexual revolution is not an introduction of new ideas different from the sexual revolution of the 1960s, but rather the normalization of those ideas. What used to be fantasized about is now acted out in public. What used to happen only in metaphorical back alleyways is now happening in plain daylight and is being celebrated. Everything in today’s culture has been sexualized.
The last element that makes up this self, according to Trueman, is called the social imaginary. This is simply the way we think about the world as a consequence of social conditioning. An example of the social imaginary would be the normalization of gender dysphoria, non-monogamous living, gender affirmation care, and pornography. The social imaginary is the tool of normalization, re-tooling (so to speak) the imaginary of the masses, ultimately leading to the most degraded parts of society having a greater effect on us, than the good of society. It is relating to, rather than qualitatively affecting something. It is being moved by the times, rather than being an active force of good in these times. It’s the slow eroding of America’s moral foundations, like water running through a narrow channel, only to eventually carve out a grand canyon.
So, what are we to do for our children? What are we to do with culture? Do you remember the statistic we started with in part one of this blog series? Only 9 percent of a child’s life is spent in the school system. That means the quality of the child’s life is decided in the home. That means the fight is at home, and it’s not a fight to say the right things to your kids, pray at every meal, read the Bible together every night, or spend time investing in their interests. While those things are important and should be done out of purity, humility, conviction, and most importantly, love, the most important thing is that our kids have a living example of the risen and exalted Christ. Live life with your kids: date your teens, go for walks/bike rides with your preteen and ask good questions, invite them into your fun and laugh with them- this opens doors and creates trust for when the heavy conversations need to happen. The fight is that they see Who matters most in the home and for eternity. And that they see that HE is not afraid of what is happening in the world, because His Father and our Father has, “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him [Jesus].” Our children must see and experience the Christ raised in power so that they can be liberated from this cultural oppression seeking to rob them of their identity. And as parents, it’s our job to lead our children to Him. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’ And he laid his hands on them and went away.”
I love the following story in the life of Leonard Ravenhill. Leonard Ravenhill was a Revivalist born in Leeds, England, in the early part of the last century. He was a man of prayer and conviction. He had zero pretenses and zero agenda, besides that agenda He shared with His heavenly Father. Biographer Mack Tomlinson shares Ravenhill’s Christian conversion:
Leonard Ravenhill received his convictions from His Father. He was not convicted by his own wreck of a life, but rather the life of His Father. He says in his own words, “I came to faith in Christ for myself. But I wasn’t saved because I heard hell-fire preaching; instead I began to question things when I was fourteen: “Why is my father so zealous to go to evangelistic street meetings? I don’t go to such meetings. Why does he read the Bible and pray so much? I don’t.” It was this realization that made me realize the emptiness I had. It was during this period of my life, around the age of fourteen, that I came to know Christ for myself. I did not come to Jesus because I had a wrecked life of sin; I came to see my need of him because I saw that my father had something that I realized I did not have.”
I love the last line, “I came to see my need of Him because I saw that my father had something that I realized I did not have.” Leonard saw His father being true to his Father. And Leonard thought to himself, “I am nothing like my father, but I feel I both need to be and want to be.” Leonard wanted to be true to God and he knew the only way to be true to God was to be born again. We live in a time when everyone wants to be true to themselves but are called to be true to God. While culture would love to father our children into captivity, we must make sure they stay true to their heavenly Father, experiencing the liberation of His all-consuming love and power.
Jesus, roughly 2,000 years ago, was approached at night by a divided and conflicted man named Nicodemus. Jesus looked at this conflicted man and told him that the only way forward was to be born again. The same is true today. The only way out of this sexualized revolution of expressive individualism, as Carl Trueman calls it, is for those striving to be true to self to start surrendering self in order to be true to God. The self breeds death. But if you can bear to look to Jesus as the young Charles Spurgeon did in England, you will be snatched out of your dark night in an instant. The things of this world grow strangely dim in the light of our King’s glory and grace.
Paul asked, “How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” We need broken-hearted parents and evangelists willing to wage war on the chief thief of identity—Satan, whose foremost desire is to steal, kill and destroy. We need broken-hearted parents and evangelists who will take their children and friends who are in a dark night of the soul—to Jesus, breaking off the powers of darkness, torment, and pain, “setting at liberty the oppressed.” As the prophet Isaiah says, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” The mountains of Israel are a desert, therefore Isaiah is saying, “There, in the desert, in the wastelands, in the place where there is no water, no hope, no victory, where the only resource that brings rain and times of refreshing is faith—there! That is where the feet of those who bring good news are. They are looking upward to Zion, shouting, “Your God, Heaven’s God REIGNS!” Imagine the angel armies assembling at such an event.
May it come to pass in our day. May throngs of angles assist us, as we set living examples of Christ in the home, while simultaneously taking off to the mountainous deserts in our communities where the collapse of identity is happening. May we set our eyes on Heaven with the prophet, shouting, “Hey, you up there, Your God and my God reigns!” Erwin W. Lutzer, pastor Emeritus of Moody Church in Illinois, said, “Courage doesn’t need a crowd, just a conviction. The song, ‘I have decided to follow Jesus’ says, ‘Though none go with me, I still will follow.'” May we also follow, though none go with us, and may there be no turning back, friends. No turning back. Our nation is collapsing under the weight of this satanic oppression, but we have the cure and our God reigns. As Ernest W. Shurtleff penned, so we must believe and say “lead on O’ King Eternal, we follow not with fears, for gladness breaks like morning where’re your face appears. Your cross is lifted o’er us, we journey in its light; the crown awaits the conquest; lead on, O God of might.”
The Psalmist said, “Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands. His children will be mighty in the land.” We need fathers and mothers who fear the Lord. Then their children, children across America, will be mighty in the land, perhaps playing a part in a mighty harvest for Christ. As the enemy wages a war on the family unit, we in turn must wage war on the principalities and powers behind it with the liberating, oppression-lifting gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Are you setting a living example of the life and ministry of Jesus in your home as a mother or father of littles? Why or why not? What is getting in the way? Decide today to ask for forgiveness. Then ask for grace and the power of the Holy Spirit to model the way forward for your family.
Are you currently looking for ways that you can witness to those in your community that are oppressed by this obsession with the self? Why or why not? Is there a desire to witness to them? Do you only have a disgust and hatred for them? Why? Talk to God today about this.
Do you know what it means to fear the Lord? The fear of the Lord is all over scripture. Study the theme of the fear of the Lord next time you sit down. Ask the Father to give you more of it in your life so that you can courageously lead your family and help them discover who they are in Christ, standing against the enemy’s schemes.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mt 15:17–20.
 Carl R. Trueman, Strange New World, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2022), 18-19.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Col 2:15.
 Ibid., Matt. 19:14–15.
 Mack Tomlinson, In Light of Eternity, The Life of Leonard Ravenhill, (Conway, AR: Lionshare Books, 2010), 507.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway bibles, 2016), Romans 10:14.