Why A Good Self Image Isn’t Necessarily A Good Thing

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One of two parts: An excerpt from my book, Deeper Water for Thirsty Souls – http://amzn.com/1493781286

Self-acceptance is good, self-image building is not. One of the worst errors we all make is attempting to build a good SELF-image. This is our idea of trying to make us feel good about ourselves. Picture this. Your whole life you’re told to make sure you feel good about yourself, so you paint your own picture of how wonderful you are. You filter that image through people’s opinions of you and then project that self-made image to others, an image than NO ONE can live up to!

On the other hand, those with a poor self-image are always attempting to crawl out of that hole, but may find it difficult because, without the right kind of positive input and unconditional love, their belief that they’ll never amount to anything will likely become self-fulfilling. But the truth is most people find themselves in the first category doing all that is possible to restack the self-opinion poll by overcoming all the negativity that surrounds them as they are growing up.

The goofy teeter-totter of teaching evolution

People wear themselves out trying to be this bigger-than-life person, much of which is based on nothing more than their old nature trying to look nice. On the other hand, people with a rotten self-image try to redo it through self-talk (“I’m not so bad”; “I’m a winner”; “I can defeat these thoughts!”). Throw all this into the humanistic pot of evolution, which makes us freaks of nature’s whims, and then try this scenario on for size:

Teacher: “Billy Bob, you are a wonderful child, but always remember God didn’t make you – you came from some slime that crawled up out of the sea. Therefore, you’re no different from other creatures, no better, no worse. You are really just a cosmic accident, a freak of nature, but always remember how special you are.”

I realize that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but actually, is it that far from the way things are presented to kids? To establish basic trust in them, kids need to know they are created by God, and loved unconditionally by Him, and so often they aren’t taught this. And even if they are, as much as it’s possible for us to tell them, they need to know the whole truth about themselves, their faults and failings and to be disciplined when they are disobedient.

A new study finds that more kids are either thinking about or attempting suicide.

“When we looked at hospitalizations for suicidal ideation and suicidal encounters over the last decade, essentially 2008 to 2015, we found that the rates doubled among children that were hospitalized for suicidal thoughts or activity,” Dr. Gregory Plemmons of Vanderbilt University told NBC News.

The article goes on to say they don’t understand this except to blame social media for kids’ comparing themselves, and of course, bullying.

Don’t understand? Are they serious? Kids are living in a chaotic world with no Godly foundation, and schools are often nothing more than humanistic dumping grounds. Put all this together, and you wind up with hopelessness!

Parents have often missed the boat on raising kids, either by overly protecting them or giving them everything they want. Church attendance and very Godly instruction are down in most places.

Our Father in heaven loves us unconditionally, and every son or daughter he calls His own, He disciplines. “…because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” (Heb. 12:6 NIV)

Love and discipline are the Father’s way of raising good kids. So, you think you have a better idea? You can search God’s wisdom in the Book of Proverbs from one end to the other, and you won’t find “Time Out” as a prescription for raising children.

Move over Nebuchadnezzar – You’ve Got Company!

There was an Old Testament pagan king named Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled the world from his throne in Babylon in the days of Daniel, God’s prophet. Anyway, King Neb thought so much of himself that he built a 90-foot high gold image of himself and commanded all to worship it (Daniel 3:5-7).

In effect, we do the same with the self-image we have built for ourselves. We desire that people pay homage to our image (much like Hollywood). The problem with this self-image business is that this image is diametrically opposed to what Jesus wants to build in us! Consider that one of the most difficult things to endure is self-rejection. What we reject is a humanistically fashioned picture of ourselves, and not the one God desires to be built into our being. 

God wants Christ’s image, not a “good self-image,” to be built into us. How so?  By two things: 1) We have to know that the death of the old self-image happened when Christ died on the cross. The Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010) puts it this way:

“For we know that our old person was crucified with him, that the body of sin would be destroyed, that we shall not again serve sin.” (Romans 6:6)

2) By understanding, also, that it is Christ’s image that must be built in us:

“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” (2 Cor. 3:18 The New Living Translation)

So you see we have the complete loss or death of the old self-image by first receiving Christ–if you haven’t already—reckoning the old man dead (Rom. 6:11), dying daily (1 Cor. 15:31) and then allowing the Lord to rebuild His image in us.

In this metamorphosis, we have the “death side” and the “life side” or resurrection to new life. This, my friend, is what it takes to experience consistent, overcoming victory in the Christian life!

Christ in you – can you grasp it?

It’s amazing to think that God, the one who made the universe and commands all to be, lives in us. Other religions fail to grasp this idea, teaching that this God, who made all and upholds the universe by the Word of His power (Heb. 1:3), wouldn’t live in a human being. But they also fail to understand – unless we give them this incredible gospel – that the God-Man Jesus Christ – died, rose again and sent His Spirit to be received by everyone who would believe in Him (John 1:12).

As a matter of fact, if we ever get a grip on this one fact, it would radically change us all. But let’s face it: We don’t get the revelation too well, and we may well treat this mystery as commonplace. Charles Spurgeon (Christ in You) had this to say about it:

“Blessed and happy are they to whom the Lord has laid open the Divine secret which Prophets and kings could not discover—which even angels desired to look into! Brethren, we live in a time when the Gospel is clearly revealed in the Word of God and when that Word has its faithful preachers lovingly to press home its teachings. Let us take care that we do not despise the mystery, which has now become a household word. Let not the commonness of the blessing cause us to undervalue it. You remember how, in the wilderness, the Israelites fed upon angels’ food until they had enjoyed it so long, so constantly and so abundantly that in their wicked discontent they called it, “light bread”? I fear that many in these times are gorged with the Gospel like those who eat too much honey. They even venture to call the heavenly Word of God, “common-place,” and talk us if it were not only, “the old, old story,” but a stale story, too.”

The battle with the flesh has been won!

Since Jesus put the “old man” to death through His death on the cross, our battle has been won. Our job now is to know it (Rom. 6:1-4):

“What shall we say [to all this]? Are we to remain in sin in order that God’s grace (favor and mercy) may multiply and overflow? 2 Certainly not! How can we who died to sin live in it any longer? 3 Are you ignorant of the fact that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 We were buried therefore with Him by the baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious [power] of the Father, so we too might [habitually] live and behave in newness of life.” (Amplified)

There are a few points in this section of Scripture that really stick out. First, Paul’s audience, the Church at Rome, didn’t know their sin nature had died with Christ. Two, he was saying that even though where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more, they were not to keep living in sin. Some were misquoting Paul, teaching that since grace had covered it all, they could sin all they wanted to with no consequence. Three, since the flesh was dead, the alternative was to live in the new man or “newness of life.”

To reiterate, the problem with the flesh, or old nature, is that it tends to spring back to life, as long as we’re in this mortal body! Our answer is to die daily when our flesh jumps up and starts to assert itself. This requires vigilance and a desire to see Jesus exalted and not ourselves.

The IMAX View of the Christian Life

Have you ever watched an IMAX show depicting the astronauts’ view of earth from outer space? Earth looks so beautiful but incredibly small! It’s almost as if you could hold it in your hands! The Bible says we’re born again, saved and given eternal life when we repent and believe Jesus is our Lord and Savior. As part of this amazing deal, He “seats us heavenly places.” (Eph. 2:1-6)  

In other words, we are to have an IMAX view of the Christian life! The passage says we were dead in trespasses and sins then when we believed, He raised us from the dead, gave us new life and placed us in heavenly places.

Jesus did all of this when He Himself died, was buried, rose again and went to heaven. Since we were IN HIM when this happened, we experienced all these things, too! He did it all – all we had to do was repent and believe. I’d call this a heavenly paradox! My feet and yours, if you belong to Jesus, are planted on planet earth, but spiritually speaking, you’re seated with Christ in heavenly places!

Sit, Walk, Stand

Yeah, I know this is hard to chew, but that’s exactly what the Bible says. In the spiritual sense, though your feet are touching this planet, you are also SEATED in heavenly places far above all principality and power! This means, quite simply, that you are placed in authority over all angelic beings, be they righteous or unrighteous, good angels or demons. That’s right, the devil is literally already under your feet!

Like most biblical truth, we don’t necessarily grasp that idea since we may not be enjoying that victory all the time because our heads, our emotions and our experiences don’t line up with this truth. But that doesn’t make it any less real.

Watchman Nee, author of Sit, Walk, Stand, explained it this way:

“God … made him to sit … and made us to sit with him.”

Let us first consider the implications of this word “sit.” As we have said, it reveals the secret of a heavenly life. Christianity does not begin with walking; it begins with sitting.

The Christian era began with Christ, of whom we are told that, when he had made purification of sins, he “sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3). With equal truth we can say that the individual Christian life begins with a man “in Christ”—that is to say, when by faith we see ourselves seated together with him in the heavens.

Most Christians make the mistake of trying to walk in order to be able to sit, but that is a reversal of the true order. Our natural reason says, If we do not walk, how can we ever reach the goal? What can we attain without effort? How can we ever get anywhere if we do not move?

But Christianity is a queer business! If at the outset we try to do anything, we get nothing; if we seek to attain something, we miss everything. For Christianity begins not with a big DO, but with a big DONE.

Thus Ephesians opens with the statement that God has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (1:3), and we are invited at the very outset to sit down and enjoy what God has done for us; not to set out to try and attain it for ourselves.

If you ask most Christians what a newborn sister or brother should do, they’ll say read the Bible, pray a lot, read Christian books, witness and go to church. As Nee wrote, these are a bunch of DO’s.

Although these are all good, what if we told them to first “take a seat”? Think of the trouble we could save a lot of struggling up and down “yo-yo” Christians if we explained to them what Jesus had already done for them including putting them in a victorious catbird seat in heavenly places!

Walking and Standing, the Cart in front of the Horse

So you see learning to “walk the walk” and “talk the talk” would be a lot easier once sitting is understood and digested in our spirits. Nothing really happens UNLESS we get a revelation of biblical truth for ourselves. Ephesians 1:18 says we should pray to have our spiritual eyes open wide so we can understand the hope of His calling. The spiritual eyes are the eyes of our human spirit.

When illuminated by the Holy Spirit’s light, we get UNDERSTANDING that can have a major impact on how we live. If our only minds grab hold, it may or may not produce the results God wants us to realize. If we’re remiss in getting this truth, we’ll end up walking with a carnal limp, and when we need to stand (Eph. 6:11), we’ll probably crumble like the proverbial house of cards.

VineLife: Hanging out with Jesus

To help us accomplish the above, God has a great place to meet with us and teach us. It’s called the secret place. This is where we get a lot done by spending time in His presence. In John 15 Jesus spends a lot of time explaining to His disciples how this works. The operable word throughout this instruction is ABIDE.

There are five different words in the original Greek and Hebrew for the one word (abide) that we have in our language. The first of these words, epimeno, is the strengthened form of another verb, meno, which means “intensive.” The word epimeno sometimes indicates perseverance in continuing to do something. The second word, katameno, is a verb that means “constant residence” or “frequent resort.”

Another word, parameno, means “to continue” and is sometimes used to express confidence in abiding with a person. One really neat word is hupomeno, which means “to remain in a place instead of leaving it; to stay behind or persevere.” Finally, the word prosmeno is used in several different situations to indicate a persistent loyalty or a continuance in doing something.

The Greek word for abide used in John 15 is meno or “to be intensive.” Wow! But consider the other meanings from persevere to constant residence or to continue with persistent loyalty. Also consider that in our hopes for answered prayer, Jesus said, “If you ABIDE in me, and my Words ABIDE in you, you may ask what you will, and it will be done unto you.”

The Message says it this way:

“But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon.” (John 15:7)

  I love to have my prayers answered, but the context of John 15 is about VineLife. This hanging out with Jesus is the WAY to find The TRUTH to get The LIFE. VineLife requires a great deal more than reading a few scriptures and praying for “my four and no more.” Whatever we do with the Lord on a regular basis is good, don’t get me wrong, but abiding means, not only spending time to meditate and pray, but learning to abide in the crisis.

The World is Going Mental!

We are here in Crisis Time; make no mistake about it. Whatever your theology leads you to believe about The Tribulation (7-year, 3 ½-year or no year due to rapture) that the Bible refers to, is ok with me. I’m not here to convince you necessarily about what you should believe about that.

However, no one can ignore the horrendous times in which we live. Increasing difficulties, the potential for nuclear war, strange weather patterns, a global economic meltdown, and a deepening distrust of governmental authorities all lead to chaos and rampant fear.

Abiding in Christ, not crisis, is the answer. Abiding in the power of His Holy Spirit, while trusting and resting in the fruit of the spirit within us will guard and keep us in these horrific days (Phil 4:6). I was reading Psa. 94 one day, and came across this very important section – keeping the spirit calm in crisis:

“He Who disciplines and instructs the nations, shall He not punish, He Who teaches man knowledge? The Lord knows the thoughts of man, that they are vain (empty and futile—only a breath). Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law, That You may give him power to keep himself calm in the days of adversity, until the [inevitable] pit of corruption is dug for the wicked. For the Lord will not cast off nor spurn His people, neither will He abandon His heritage.” (Psa. 94:10-14 Amp)

God wants us to remain calm in our spirit during crises, so He disciplines and instructs us out of His Word that we may have POWER to keep ourselves calm “in the days of adversity” – that is now! This means a couple of things. For one thing, we need to ask God to help our spirit remain calm BEFORE a crisis occurs. If we ask Him, He will train us to do this.

Most Americans never thought our own country would get this far away from true righteousness and godliness, and that a majority would agree the courts have become essentially antichrist in their attitude, legislating to remove God from public places and enforcing laws that are diametrically opposed to the Bible. But that’s exactly what has happened, and we find ourselves on the verge of lawlessness and barbarity like we’ve never seen!

Yeah, I know we have a godly heritage, and we have a remnant of Christians interceding for us, but let’s not overlook what God said about any nation that forgets Him:

“The wicked shall be turned back [headlong into premature death] into Sheol (the place of the departed spirits of the wicked), even all the nations that forget or are forgetful of God. 18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the expectation and hope of the meek and the poor shall not perish forever.9 Arise, O Lord! Let not man prevail; let the nations be judged before You. 20 Put them in fear [make them realize their frail nature], O Lord, that the nations may know themselves to be but men Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!” (Psa. 9:17-20 Amp)

Since God knows the beginning to the end, He is never caught off guard and doesn’t want us to be caught of guard, either. He warns us in many ways throughout His Word not to be shaken by events or circumstances.

In the early church, many became upset about what they considered to be the End Times. And so we, too, may become upset when we consider our current circumstances, whatever those may be.

Our image must be rebuilt person by person in the image of Jesus Christ, but with the majority of people intoxicated with humanistic thinking, even in the church, we’re in deep dung.

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