I’m honored to welcome Radiant to share with us today. She has been married for almost 23 years and has several children. The Lord has radically healed her from pretty severe spiritual oppression and even physical illness. This sweet sister in Christ has had a very different road from my own. She had the opposite personality and issues from mine. We had to work on becoming godly women from opposite ends of the spectrum. But the end goal is the same. To be filled up with Jesus, healed by His power, yielded fully to His Lordship, overflowing with His love, truth, and grace, and ready to be the women the Lord calls us to be. I pray this may be a blessing for those who struggle in understanding your identity in Christ, your worth in Christ, and how to think of and treat yourself in God-honoring ways:
To the many, many others who struggle with this; grace and peace to you to be strengthened in your spirit to receive the truth from God in this crucial area today. If we can’t get this – we can’t grow, and we are going to stay imprisoned in darkness.
April and I come to issues like this from opposite extremes. When April used certain words – “love yourself” or “respect yourself,”for instance, – I automatically repelled from those ideas like the wrong end of a magnet. I could no longer hear what she was saying because my biggest fear was being a selfish, nagging, demanding pig. And my biggest pride though I couldn’t realize it – was not having needs, not asking for anything, and never being demanding like those other people.
I tried very hard to be completely self-sufficient. I thought that was a good thing.
But there is a way that seems wise to man that in the end leads to death. That is what my thinking was.
Self is a confusing idea for us in our Christian culture.
- We have an Old Self that we are to die to. It is also called “the flesh” or “our sin nature.” (Colossians 3 and Galatians 5 show the traits of our Old Self – it’s not pretty for any of us). The only thing it is good for is dying. We are to put it off completely – it is nasty. Like a totally filthy garment of rags. It is completely tainted with sin. It needs to die on the Cross with Jesus and be buried with Him in baptism. I think that is the self we think people are pointing to when they say “love or respect yourself.” We know our Old Self is disgusting, with nothing good in it – and we have tons of evidence listed in alphabetical categories since we were four years old to prove it. Any self-effort to improve or love God or be good on our own is tainted by this Old Self. But that is not all there is to us as new creations in Christ.
- We are all image bearers of God. There is dignity to all of our lives from conception to death, no matter the state of our physical/mental/spiritual well being (Ps. 139). We are broken image bearers – but still image bearers. And there is a sacredness and a dignity to human life, including YOU because of that. You have worth because God created you just like a painting that was painted by Picasso has worth because He painted it. You count as one of the ones in the world that God so loved – for whom He sent His only Son to die (John 3:16).
- If you are a believer in Christ – you have a New Self. If we could see spiritually what that New Self looks like – as C.S. Lewis says, we would be tempted to worship it. The demons can see the Holy Spirit in us. They see the Light of Jesus’ goodness flowing through us in beautiful glory, (IF we are walking in faith and our true identity in Christ and in His authority and dying to Self). And they are terrified.
Most of us in our Christian culture have received a gospel that is Non-Good News. We believe Jesus died for us (He probably hated it and felt like He had to), and that He saved us just enough to get us into heaven and dump us at the very outer rim, near the huge walled perimeter, while He moved on to “important people and things.” Now everything is up to us to make the Kingdom happen and to grow by ourselves (we have been trained to think – or we misinterpreted what was taught).
So we have the Seed of the Spirit in our hearts which wants to burst open with Life and Light. The Seed of Life. But we are refusing to breathe.
The Word is God-breathed – and we need to breathe in His Word for us personally every day and actually absorb it. Sometimes, we are not watering that Seed with Living water, but with the poison of evil lies we tell ourselves. We have hard, rocky, unbelieving hearts in a Church full of unbelief and worldliness. We have choked the seed with the cares of this world and with pseudo-science, culture, entertainment, and busyness. We have stayed in the rotting darkness rather than come out into the Light, thinking we have faith and are doing pretty well as Christians since most Christians we know are in about the same place or have an everything-is-fine facade.
Of course we are not growing. We are starving and rotting.
For the rest of this post, including steps to take to begin to really grow by leaps and bounds in Christ, please click on this link. 🙂