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Why Is “Be True to Yourself” a Bad Philosophy?

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In this video, Ligon Duncan explains how what we want can be the means of our own destruction, but what we need is the hope found in Jesus Christ.


The following is an unedited transcript; please check video before quoting.

I’m sure that there are good senses in which the phrase, “Be true to yourself,” can be used. Sometimes it can perhaps simply mean, “Don’t stray from your own moral convictions,” or “Don’t try to be somebody that you’re not.” In that sense, it can be a perfectly benign phrase, and maybe even a helpful phrase.

But ultimately, if we ourselves are the problem, then being true to ourselves, far from liberating us from what we consider bondage, could actually kill us.

The Greeks used to say, “Whom the gods would destroy, they answer their prayers.” In other words, sometimes it’s what you want that will kill you.

And so a much better understanding of man is found in the Bible. What is man that you would consider him, oh God (Psalm 8:4–8)? Man is created in the image of God and yet has fallen into sin. We need to be careful about trusting our own hearts and desires and instead trust in the Lord.