When it comes to walking the walk as a Christian the way we see ourselves is vital. Some define themselves as “Sinners saved by grace.” This is wonderful if the emphasis is on the saved part rather than the sinner part. What I mean is if we have been born again is it proper to call ourselves “sinners”? What does God’s Word tell us about our identity?
First I want to look at Paul’s letter to the Ephesians chapter 4:22-24. In these verses we are told regarding our former manner of life, to lay aside our old man or self, which is corrupt. He then tells us to be renewed in the spirit of our mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Wow! So our old self is to be put away from our thinking and we are to see ourselves as new, righteous and holy!
In Paul’s letter to the Colossians he tells us essentially the same thing only with a little more detailed description of our old man’s behavior that should be no longer a part of the believer’s life. He says in Colossians 3 we no longer live like the old man “since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.”
For those who think, even after being born again, we still have a sinful nature let me ask you this. Why would God tell us to put off the old man if he is still a part of who we are? Wouldn’t it be slightly irrational for God to ask us to put off our very nature? The truth is for those of us that are in Christ we are brand new creatures and in our inner man we are holy, blameless, righteous, justified, and sanctified and all that God says we are even if we don’t feel it or fully understand it. We are who and what God says we are regardless of what our feelings, traditions, religions and the world tell us. Our real problem is stated in the passage from Ephesians–we need the spirit of our minds renewed. We have to start seeing ourselves as God sees us or else we are going to continue to live in a state of struggle with an old man that God no longer sees in us.
One of the best illustrations of transformation I’ve discovered in nature is the change a caterpillar undergoes in order to become a butterfly. Recently while thinking about this it struck me. There is a point when the caterpillar no longer exists and a fully formed butterfly is present but still in the cocoon. I think this is where a lot of Christians are. They are holy, blameless and righteous in Christ but haven’t put off thinking they are still the old sinful man. I wonder what would happen if a butterfly never had his mind renewed and just stayed in the cocoon thinking he was a caterpillar. I fear this is what is going on with some Christians. They are whole and complete in Christ because they are saved and yet they still see themselves as just “A sinner saved by grace.”
Oh, Lord I pray that Christians will break out of the cocoon of seeing themselves as the old, sinful caterpillar spread their wings and start to see themselves as you see them–a beautiful free expression of Christ!
Written by Louie