“The picture that we have of ourselves — our self-concept — will always determine how we respond to life.”Myles Munroe
Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, (22) throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. (23) Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. (24) Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.Ephesians 4:21-24 NLT
As of this writing, I am officially 71.5 years old. I am happy to report that I am healthy, happy, and staying very busy. Why is that important? Because my earthly father died when he was 71.4 years old. Though I am in much better health than he was, as I approached 70, the thought kept coming to my mind that, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten.” (Psalm 90:10 KJV) You see, that was the Scripture that Pop repeatedly told me as he got older. He earnestly believed that 70 was his goal.
I got a lot of things from my earthly dad. I am tall, I have brown eyes, I can do arithmetic in my head, and I am a pretty good public speaker. Those things are at least partially genetic. In addition, I got a lot of habits and attitudes from him. Some good, some bad; some true, some false. We all inherited things from our parents. We also all internalized things from our natural environment: our family, our schools, the television, the culture we were raised in, etc. All these things blend in us to define how we see ourselves: our self-image. It’s what pops in our minds when someone asks, “Who are you?” My self-image as a young man included the idea that life ended at 70 for men “like us.”
In our quest to help people receive healing, we have spent time looking at how our Heavenly Father sees us. It’s also important to look at how we see ourselves. For me, that guy who grew up in Oklahoma, went to college there, planned to live there all his life and have that life end at 70, that guy died in 1979. He was raised from the dead, born again, and seated in the heavenly places with Christ. Though he still looks and sounds very similar to the Okie guy, old things have passed away, all things have become new. If you’re a Christian, then the same thing happened to you. Learning who this new man is, and internalizing this new identity is the ongoing challenge of every Christian.
Learning who you are as a result of the work of Jesus Christ, coming to accept this new identity as your own, and recognizing where your old identity still controls your thoughts and reactions are essentials for living out that “good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2) It’s remarkable how hard the old ways of thinking, the old standards of self-worth, and our identification with human origins fight to hang on. It’s worth the struggle to overcome them because an identity based on anything other than the work of Christ leaves room for pride in our successes, shame in our failures, and innate condemnation in our approach to a holy God. All of these undermine us when we seek anything from the Lord, especially healing.
Writing to the church at Ephesus, Paul said to, “Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” (Ephesians 4:24 NLT) In my years of praying for the sick, I have noticed how few believers truly get their identity from what Jesus did for them. Most struggle to let go of their old self-concept and draw from the bottomless treasure of who they are in Him. Many make no effort at all. They simply take what comes and blame God for it. To build a strong identity in Christ, let’s start with a basic understanding of what happened when you gave your life to His Lordship. (Romans 10:9)
New Identity Facts:
- You have been born again of the Spirit. You are a new spirit being. (John 3:6) To grow, you feed on the word of God. No word, no growth. Care and nurture of your spirit is now a priority for you. It’s where your identity resides. 1 Peter 2:1-3 / Matthew 4:4
- You are a new kind of being: a new creation. The Amplified Bible says you are “a new creature altogether.” Whatever you’ve learned about who and what you are must be re-evaluated in light of this change. Don’t act like a dog if you’re actually a lion. 2 Corinthians 5:17 / Galatians 6:15
- You have passed from death to life. It’s already done. Your eternal life has already begun. You can stop longing for eternity and start living it. Don’t live like a dead person when the same life that raised Jesus is coursing through you. John 5:24 / 1 John 5:11-13 / Romans 6:4, 11 / Ephesians 2:4-6 / Ephesians 5:14
- You are part of a new family with a new Father. You have a whole new set of inherited traits and family customs. How does your new family live? What is your new heritage? Take time to learn what is expected behavior. You have new genetics. Ephesians 3:14-15 / Ephesians 5:1-2
- You’re a citizen of a new Kingdom. You need to learn the customs, regulations, rights, and responsibilities of being a citizen of Heaven. You are here on earth only as a representative of the King. This is quite a change in thinking for most of us. Colossians 1:13-14 / Philippians 3:18-21 / John 17-16-18
Here’s the point: Experiencing the benefits of the new birth – all that Christ did and all that is yours because of it – begins by finding out who this new character is. When someone asks. “Who are you?” what comes first to mind? If it’s still the attributes, experiences, and attitudes of your previous life, then your mind is still in the renewal process. Here’s the truth of the matter: You’re not who you used to be, you’re becoming who you were created to be, and you’re looking more and more like your Father every day. Learn to actively engage in the process of putting on the new man. It’s important!
NEXT STEPS: Go back through this article. Stop at each Bible reference and look it up in your Bible. Read it out loud several times until it flows smoothly from your lips. After you’ve done this for each passage, begin saying this out loud before you leave the house in the morning and before you go to bed at night:
Thank You, Father, for what you did for me in the work of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is renewing my thoughts and attitudes to reflect who I am. I am a spirit. I have been born again by the work of the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ, my Lord. I am created after the pattern of God in real righteousness and true holiness. I am growing in His image every day. My nature is brand new, the old is gone, the new man has come. I have passed from death to life and I am alive with the same life as Jesus Christ. My Father has welcomed me into His family and I am imitating Him in love because He is my Dad. Jesus Christ is the King of the Kingdom, and I am a citizen of that heavenly Land. Holy Spirit, show me how to act like a new man today. Point out thoughts and attitudes that are contrary to my real nature as a son of God. Thank God, all things have become new and I am learning to live in newness of life.