The True Self
Let’s assume that you have a behavior or attitude pattern that you want to change (a fairly good assumption
since we all do). In last month’s newsletter we talked about developing strategies to stop the behavior AND
about exploring the source of the behavior. Both of these can prove helpful in overcoming a destructive
As we set out to deal with this problem, it is important to firmly establish the goal. The goal may seem fairly
obvious: get rid of the unwanted behavior! The truth is that this is one of the very reasons you have not
been successful up to this point. Christianity is not a behavior modification program, it is a radical
transformation from the inside out. God does not want to just change our behavior, He wants to change
our identity; from sinner to saint, from alcoholic to sober, from pervert to pure, from failure to victor. Jesus did not come to change our behavior, He came to re-connect us to the Father who is the source of life and to empower us to live out of that connection. Therefore the goal is to embrace my new identity and choose to live out of it.
When God created Adam and Eve, they were a reflection of God Himself, they were connected to Him in relationship (He came down and walked with them in the cool of the day), they had a good heart, a positive identity which includes a good sense of value, community, power and gender (for a more detailed discussion of positive identity go to the ARTICLE on the LifeNow website). They were free to live and enjoy life to the fullest. The Bible teaches that we were “in Adam” and thus God’s plan for Adam and Eve is the same as God’s plan for us. This is our true self. But Adam and Eve sinned and that sin separated them from God as their source of life. They were no longer defined by their connection to God but by their choices. They were sinners. Unfortunately, we are all born “in Adam” and “in Adam” we die (separated from God as the source of life) and are defined by our choices (sinners). This explains all of our brokenness and our struggle with destructive behavior patterns. We are simply living out of who we are “in Adam”.
The good news (gospel) is that Christ came as the perfect sacrifice for the sin that separates us from the Father. His death removes our sin and reconnects us with the Father (John 14:6). He doesn’t change our behavior, He changes our identity. We are no longer defined by our choices (sinner) we are now defined by our relationship with God (sons and daughters John 1:12). When we believe in the sacrifice of Christ and receive Him again as our source of life, we are no longer considered “in Adam” we are now “in Christ” and “in Christ” we live (I Corinthians 15:22).
When we begin to see ourselves as the true self that is “in Christ” it will change the way we behave. This new self is a gift from God at the moment of salvation and is not something we have to earn, deserve or strive to maintain. This is called grace and grace “teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12). The grace that God extended in giving us a new identity actually drives us to live differently! Now the abundant Christian life becomes a series of choices made moment by moment to access what Christ gave us. Our mantra becomes “choose life”. Our goal is no longer to modify our behavior, our goal is to experience life in each moment. This is all an any moment possibility because of what Christ has done for us.
For a look at some of the moment-by-moment choices that lead to a full experience of life, order Ten Life Choices by Bob Perdue.