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The Real You
by Lawrence Walkup 
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Lawrence Walkup

It tells us in the book of Romans 'not to think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment'....(Rom. 12:3). This is telling us how we should view ourself. What our self-image should be. Our self-image and how we view ourself is to be based on a sober judgment. This means based on what is real. Based on what is the truth about ourself. The Apostle Paul places this statement in chapter twelve. In the previous eleven chapters of Romans the Apostle goes into great detail explaining the truth about ourself.

In chapter one Paul states his purpose for writing is 'to bring about the obedience of faith' (vs. 5), not the obedience of the law. In verse seven he says we are beloved of God and have been called as saints; unlike Catholicism in which you have to earn sainthood. The righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel and is based on faith (verse 17). Chapter 3:20 says: 'by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in his sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.' Working to keep the law is the last thing we want to do because it brings out of us the attitude of expecting something back in return. We will take on a sense of entitlement and expect things; and when we don't get those things, we get mad (4:4).

Because we are justified by faith, God does not hold our sin against us (4:8) and therefore we have peace with God and have obtained our introduction into this grace in which we stand (5:1-2). Since we stand in grace, why not fulfill the desires of the flesh? Mainly, fulfilling the desires of the flesh really isn't that fulfilling, if you have noticed. At first it seems to be, but what comes afterward is unfulfillment, if you have noticed. And also,we have died to sin. It no longer has its power over us. We are not a slave to sin anymore like we use to be. Now we are to walk in the newness of life (6:2,4,6). However, if we choose, we can go back again to being a slave to sin; but we are to reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God (verses 11-12). Choose to not sin by fixing your eyes on Jesus.

There will be times when we fail because the flesh, which is contrary to the spirit, is going to fight for its survival and existence (7:19-20). At one time, we too like the lost lived in a condemned state (John 3:18). But now that we are in Christ, there is no longer any kind of condemnation whatsoever; even in our worst failures (Rom. 8:1). In the worst of circumstances that we may find ourself in, God is always working all things for our good (verse 28). There is absolutely nothing that will separate us from his love (verses 35-29). We are vessels of mercy that God has made known the riches of of His glory, which he prepared beforehand for glory (9:23). Israel sought the righteousness of God by works and therefore stumbled over the stumbling stone (9:32). However, there are Christians who are stumbling over the stumbling stone, because they too want to act like Jews and pursue the righteousness of God by works. They like Israel have not come to realize that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (10:4).

Since Christ is the end of the law we now stand solely in the grace of God. There is no mixing of law and grace. To do so is to ruin grace completely (11:6). Standing in the grace of God is to be called to freedom and not to subject ourselves again to a yoke of slavery, the yoke of the law. To insist on being justified by law is to be alienated from Christ; you have fallen from grace (Gal. 5:1,4). To be alienated from Christ is the condition of Israel; but only until the fulness of the Gentiles come into the kingdom of God. Then God will go back to dealing with Israel (Rom. 11:25). We as Gentiles have been given the riches of God's mercy; and because of that we are to present our bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is our reasonable act of worship (12:1).

Rom. 12:2 says that we are 'not to conform any longer to the pattern of this world.' The pattern of this world is that they do think of themselves more highly than they ought. How far back can you remember that you've always been told to have a positive self-image? Of course Satan working through man comes up with stuff like this because it sounds right and it sounds noble. After all, the opposite of that is to have a negative self-image; and no one wants to have that. The issue isn't positive image verses negative image; the issue is to have a proper self-image; an accurate self-image. An image that is based on truth, and based on what is real. Positive self-image thinking is really just another form of pride, because the issue is about the self again. Whereas proper self-image thinking is about losing the self in order to find the self (Matt. 16:25). In order to find the real you. In order to find Christ living in you....the 'new creation.'

The renewing of our minds is the process that we go through in order to find out who we really are. We need to go through this process, becaue we don't really believe who we are. We really don't believe we are a new creation. We believe it to the extent that we have been told that, but we really don't belive it to the extent of living it. We still hold on to the old creation...the 'old man'. It's hard to let go of old habits. However; the more our mind is renewed, the more we are becoming the new creation, the more we are being set free from the old creation....the more we are seeing ourselves and our circumstances as God sees them. A way for us to gauge, a way for us to determine that we are becoming the new creation more and more is to compare our life with Jesus' life. And I don't mean that we do the same things that he did, but to discover what it was that produced the results of the things he did.

What is the example that Jesus wanted to leave us with? As God who relinquished his diety; what as a man, did he want to demonstrate more than any thing else? He wanted to demonstrate how a man puts faith in God. He wanted to demonstrate as a man what it means to be totally dependent upon God so that we in turn would do the same thing with him (John 14:10-12). The Bible says that the definition of sin is: 'whatever is not from faith' (Rom. 14:23). Do you realize that Jesus never sinned once? He never sinned when he turned over the tables in the temple. He never sinned when he greatly offended the religious leaders. If he never sinned, then that means he never stopped exercising faith in God. He never stopped being dependent upon God. In fact when Jesus was asked by the crowd, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent" (John 6:28-29). Believe, trust and depend. Nothing more than that. Nothing more than that because everything in our Christianity springs from that. Everything produced in our life that is going to count can only come from that (John 15:4-5).

If we want to see ourselves becoming more of the new creation, if we want to see ourselves with the proper self-image, if we want to see ourselves becoming like Jesus, then we need to do what he did. We need to exercise faith in him as he exercised faith in the Father. He gave us an example of doing that in order for us to do that. Going to church is not a place where we need to exercise faith. Church is a place we go to celebrate. Our faith is needed in the lost world that we live in. We are surrounded by the lost in our jobs, in all our social activities. Most of our time is spent in the world. All those encounters, all those engagements with unbelievers is where faith is required. We have all been in situations that we really don't want to be in; but by making a conscious effort to trust God in that situation, we are amazed how things end up working out. God desires to reveal himself to us in these situations. It is in these situations that we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that His Spirit is testifying with our spirit. This is our relationship with God; and it is very profound and deeply fulfilling.

We can use the excuse that Jesus was able to perfectly exercise faith in God because he did not have a sinful nature. "I can't do it like he could." We have to understand that our sinful nature does not have its power over us anymore like it use to; even though the same old tapes keep playing back in our mind (Rom. 6:6). And we also have to understand exercising faith in God is put in motion because we choose to do so. We have a new nature that we are to trust now, not the old. Our sinful nature is embedded in our flesh as we still live in time and in the physical (Rom. 7:23). On this side of heaven we are not complete spiritual beings yet. When we die or get raptured, that will change (1 Cor. 15: 50-53). I don't understand completely this principle of the sinful nature; but I don't have to. What I do understand, and what God wants me to understand, is that it is put in its place automatically when I choose to exercise faith in Christ (Rom. 8:12-13); (Gal. 5:16).

Yes, Christ did not have a sinful nature. This was accomplished through the virgin birth. God the Father required a perfect sacrifice in order 'to make propitiation for the sins of the people' (Heb. 2:17). The Bible says that Christ was tempted like we are (Heb. 4:15); but because he did not have a sinful nature, he was not subject to any predispositions like we are, that stem from a sinful nature. I have a predisposition to be an alcoholic because my father was, and maybe his father before him. To whatever degree that may be true, we still can choose not to go there because of the presence of the new creation.

I suppose that God could have eradicated the sinful nature completely at the moment we became born again. Flesh and blood will not inherit the kingdom of God; and until we take on a new spiritual body our flesh is something we have to contend with. However because of the depth of God's wisdom and knowledge! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways; it was probably always his intent for it to remain with us because it is the very thing that causes us to be dependent upon Him.






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