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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

Developing a Biblical Self Image

Mirror from Microsoft Publisher Clipart

A Dirty Window

Sin clouds our thinking so we can’t see clearly.  It’s like seeing everything through a dirty window.

But when God saves us, the Holy Spirit cleans the window so for the first time we see God clearly and our sin clearly and turn to Christ and are saved.

Window Cleaning

But even though we’ve been saved, parts of our thinking are still clouded by sin.  We need more window cleaning, which is one reason God calls us to meditate on God’s Word.

As we do, the Holy Spirit sprays on Windex and cleans sin’s dirt from the window of our minds.  The more this happens, the more clearly we see.

Our Self-Image

One area in which we need our windows cleaned is our self-image — how we see ourselves.

Years ago I experienced major window-cleaning when I read John Piper on this topic.  He explained that my self-image has three parts –

  • the morally good parts — faith in Christ and all that flows from it, like working hard, loving others, and being patient.
  • the morally neutral parts — things I can’t change like my height, eye color, and innate abilities.
  • the morally sinful parts — my unbelief and all that flows from it, like envy, bitterness, and greed.

So how does sin cloud our thinking about each of these areas, and what does God’s Word show us?

The Morally Good Parts

The morally good parts include your faith in Christ, love for your wife and children, battle against sin, devotion to prayer, and compassion for the lost.

Sin makes us see these as our own achievements, which can make us feel proud and even boastful.

But God’s Word cleans our window so we see the truth — by nature we are sinners.  That before we were saved everything we did was sin, because even the seemingly good things were done with our backs turned against God (Eph 2:3; Gen 6:5; Rom 3:10-12).

So how did we come to trust Christ, be born-again, and become new creations who love God and care for others?  It’s not by anything we did.  It’s only by Gods’ great mercy.  Because of Jesus’ death, God took out our hearts of stone and gave us hearts of flesh that repented of sin and trusted Christ and love others (Ezek 36:26).

When God’s Word cleans our window, we see that any good is not ultimately from us — it is a blood-bought gift from God.  So instead of boasting as if it was our own achievement, we should fall on our faces in humble worship before God (1Cor 4:7; 1Cor 15:10).

The Morally Neutral Parts

The morally neutral parts include things like height, eye color, and innate abilities.  They are morally neutral because they are not good or bad.

So how does sin make us see these?  It depends. If it’s something people applaud, like athletic ability, then I can feel superior to others.  But if it’s something people don’t applaud, like losing my hair, then I feel inferior to others.

But what does God say?  He says I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psa 139:14).  He gave the exact genes, temperament, and abilities I need in order to accomplish His will and be satisfied in Him.

So when it comes to how God has made you, don’t feel superior, and don’t feel inferior.  Instead, humbly thank and trust God.

The Morally Sinful Parts

The morally sinful parts are ways I sin against God — like unforgiveness, gossip, racism, and bitterness.

How does sin make us see these?  Sometimes sin makes us whitewash them — because we think we have some excuse or because we don’t sin as much as others.

But other times sin makes us despair of them — because we think we can never overcome them and that God will never forgive us for them.

But God’s Word helps us see our sins for what they are.  Instead of whitewashing them, we see that they have dishonored God and deserve His punishment.  So we sorrowfully confess them (Luke 18:13).

And instead of despairing of our sins, we see that Christ has paid for them and will free us from them.  So we confidently resist them (Mark 2:5; Luke 18:27).

Seeing More Of God

When we rightly understand ourselves, we see more of God.

  • When I rightly understand my morally good parts — I see more of God’s gracious work of saving me.
  • When I rightly understand my morally neutral parts — I see more of God’s grace and wisdom in creating me.
  • When I rightly understand my morally sinful parts — I see more of God’s holiness, forgiveness, and sin-breaking power.

When we see ourselves biblically, we end up looking not at ourselves, but at God.  Which is beautiful, because our greatest joy is seeing Him.

So keep cleaning the window.

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(Picture from Microsoft Publisher Clipart.)

Category: Being Forgiven by God, Hopeless or Discouraged?, How to Be Content, Jealousy and Envy, Strengthening Your Faith

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8 Responses

  1. Shawn Cox says:

    I remember when I was in sin. My vision or my mind set was polluted because I was not born again nor did I know the word of God. I did not feel compelled to change until I got into the word of God and I had to learn how God saw me and what his word said about sin. After I heard the word of God, my mind was renewed and God helped me to change. Thank you for the post.

  2. Kit says:

    Steve, loved this post. How often God shows us that both sides of an issue are the extreme and not the center place of balance where He wants us! I noticed that the last two had both sides clearly defined but the first point kind showed just the one side. It mostly emphasized that God should get the glory for any morally good thing that comes from our lives. Right on. There is an opposite side to that as well which I would say might be how the enemy condemns us when we feel we haven’t measured up in those same areas. Once again… God wants to keep in the balanced central place of abiding in Him. What a great reminder of the extremes on all three positions and how sin clouds us from seeing the truth. Thanks!

  3. jill says:

    Good stuff, thanks !

  4. Sharon says:

    This is my first time at your blog. This is a great resource.. I plan to visit again. Thank you.

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