Believe in yourself?

By Brian Onstead
Posted 9/21/23

The other day I noticed a young man wearing a shirt with Bigfoot on it. The caption on this shirt said, “Believe in Yourself.”

 It was a clever design that played on the fact …

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Believe in yourself?


The other day I noticed a young man wearing a shirt with Bigfoot on it. The caption on this shirt said, “Believe in Yourself.”

 It was a clever design that played on the fact that people do not believe Bigfoot exists. The shirt’s message was just as people doubt Bigfoot’s existence, you can doubt yourself; however, don’t doubt yourself but rather believe in yourself. This is a very common and popular cliché in our day. It is applied to youth who are striving for excellence in academics, sports and developing useful skills for future gainful employment. If appropriately used, it can be helpful to instill self-confidence in one’s true natural abilities that God has given us and to pursue developing those skills further. 

The question I want to answer is, does this same principle apply to the Christian life? Well, the Apostle Paul has something to say about this in Philippians 3:3, “For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.” Here, Paul is speaking to the Christian life. He says that when it comes to worshiping God, we worship by the spirit of God. What he means is that our ability and desire to worship God comes not from ourselves but from God the Holy Spirit. This is why we put no confidence in the flesh. The flesh refers to who we are apart from Christ. Apart from Christ we can do nothing of true spiritual good (John 15:5). We realize that apart from Christ all our righteous deeds are filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). We agree with God’s word in Romans 8:7 and 1 Corinthians 2:14-15 that in our natural and fleshly state we are unable to please God. 

This is why we must believe in Christ. What does it mean to believe in Christ? It means more than merely believing that he exists. It means putting our confidence in him and not in ourselves. It means to trust him for a perfect righteousness to stand before God on Judgment Day. It is to put our confidence in his obedience to God’s law in our place and not our own. It is to rest in his good works for our standing before God. It is to be assured that his death on the cross truly paid for all our sins so that God will never hold any of them against us. It is to trust his promises that he is with us and will never forsake us, that he who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it. It is to believe that we have died with Christ, been buried with him and raised with him so that his resurrected life is in us. It is to place confidence in that resurrection power to live the Christian life.

This is why Paul says that it is only “through Christ” that we can do all things (Philippians 4:13). This is why it is only “through him who loved us” that we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). This is why when it comes to the Christian faith we do not believe in ourselves; rather, we put no confidence in ourselves but believe fully in Christ. Belief in yourself is diametrically opposed to what it means to be a Christian.     

(Brian Onstead is the pastor at Trinity Bible Church.)