We must let nothing in our earthly lives, whether good or bad, define us. We must allow ourselves be defined by God and by our relationship with Him. The world, the flesh, and the Devil will all do their worst to prevent us from seeing our heart of hearts through this lens, but it is vital we do so anyway.
It is all too easy to think of our deepest being at any given moment truly being what we at that moment may feel ourselves to be: unbelieving, unloved, unknown, rejected. It is a discouragingly effortless thing to self-define at such times, to decide that our subjective self-perceptions are the only reality about who we are. In those low spots, it seems so much easier to believe what may be a lie of the soul than to choose to believe otherwise. Yet, as Christians, this is exactly what we are called upon to do, both for our own good and for that infinitely greater good: the glorification of our God.
Thankfully it is the very essence of deity to have absolute sovereignty over determining what is true and what isn't. In fact God, Himself, is truth. He is the only One who knows exactly what is in a man, far beyond what the man himself does, and far more accurately. We not only do ourselves a disservice when we try to exhaustively know who we are by our own wits, we also usurp our Lord's rightful place as the One who really does know. Comprehensive self-judgment is a sin for both these reasons. It is a sin against our new selves in Christ and, far more importantly, a sin against Christ Himself who has given us those new selves through His all-surpassing self-sacrifice on our behalf.
Therefore the better way to Christian "self-knowledge" is paradoxically found in knowing Someone else, knowing His loving character and experiencing the love that flows from that character into our hearts. Our deeply-desired perfecting is an outcome of our ongoing saving and sanctifying relationship with Jesus Christ. In that relationship we are "re-defined" as beings being transformed into His likeness, gaining His character. Beyond that, in a mysterious sense, we gain this identity at the very moment of conversion. Ours is an enduring identity held for us in Heaven even as we are progressively entering into it during our time on earth.
The great 20th century Christian teacher and author, A. W. Tozer, had this to say, in the form of a prayer, about our identity as believers: "Help us to believe the intensity, the eternity of the love that has found us. Then love will cast out fear; and our troubled hearts will be at peace, trusting not in what we are but in what Thou hast declared Thyself to be."
Tozer here highlights that the truly received redeeming love of God, through Christ, enables us to know that we are saved by God's perfect attributes, one of which happens to be infinite, eternal love. It is His very identity that, in a sense, ultimately saves us-in giving our lives to His Son we are now found "in Him"; no longer in ourselves. We come to trust in who He is and what He is doing in our lives rather than in what all the other voices, internal and external, try to tell us about who we are. In the end it is a deepening knowledge of our Lord's character, being poured into us and transforming us that we must look to for deliverance from every fear, including those that stem from wrong personal ideas about who we really are.
© Shea Oakley. All Rights Reserved.
Converted from atheism in 1990, Shea Oakley has written over 350 articles for electronic and print publications since 2002, including Disciple Magazine (and Pulpit Helps Magazine), The Christian Herald, The Christian Post, Christian Network and Crosshome.com. In 2003 he graduated from Alliance Theological Seminary with a Certificate of Theological Studies. Shea and his wife Kathleen make their home in West Milford, New Jersey.
Comments Click to Comment