I’m honored to welcome Radiant to share with us today. She has been married 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/wives 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 of a wife. 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.
We have not taken every thought captive for Christ. We have allowed the Enemy to infiltrate every area of our thinking and feelings, and therefore every part of our mind, heart and body – but not our spirit – because that is the Lord’s once we are saved. Our spirit and His Spirit in us long for Him! There is a war within us that isn’t content until we have freedom, life, peace, joy and most of all Christ!
He desires Truth in our inmost being. Where are these thoughts coming from?
- “No one could ever love me.”
- “I am the most worthless person ever. I am Nobody.”
- “Jesus could never love me. I am too far beyond His help.”
- “God has abandoned me and left me to rot in a pit/dungeon/shelf.”
- “Jesus would never want to set me free.”
- “Jesus could never heal me/my situation.”
Are these the thoughts of God or of the Enemy?
If this is what God thinks of you – who is this God? Is God good? Is He love? Is He all powerful? Is this the God of the Bible? If these are lies – what are we doing letting them stay in our brains?
Somehow we believe that we can be saved – but still treat ourselves like absolute dirt and not believe anything God says about Himself or about us.
- Like we can legitimately call God a Liar.
- Like it is ok to treat the Bride of Christ that way.
- Like it is ok to treat our Holy, Almighty, Good, Merciful Father that way.
- Like we are more holy than God in our lack of forgiving ourselves or receiving good?
We have been deceived if we believe these things! We have been robbed of so much grace and blessing and truth!
Don’t let the Enemy keep gloating over you!
No, our Jesus is STILL anointed to set the captives free, to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, and to open the prisons of those who are bound. (Isa 61) Where the Lord is there is freedom! If Jesus has set you free, you are free indeed!
But – you have to receive it by faith. True faith requires action. You have to walk out of that prison. You have to come into the light once those shackles are off. You have to breathe His healing Presence in. Breathe in His love and forgiveness and all He has done for you. Receive it.
- Breathe out the lies and hurts and bitterness and unbelief and feeling abandoned and voicelessness and not counting as a real person and all of the vows you have made yourself to protect yourself since you were little.
- You have to exchange the lie for the truth.
- Confess your brokenness, pain, these lies you have been believing, how you have made Jesus small and you and your problems and limitations and weakness big.
- Confess that you have thought of God as cruel – that He made you wrong and isn’t able to or won’t save you or set you free.
- Confess that you felt abandoned by God at a crushing time in your life. That you thought God was mad at you, or that you may have been mad at God though you could never admit it. That when everything crumbled to pieces in your life, and God didn’t fix it, you tried to step in and save yourself and your marriage and your kids. You may need to write out a list of things to confess to God to get it unjumbled in your head. Your list may look different but we all have a list.
- Get every negative thought and hurt and bitterness and unbelieving thought out into the Light. Reject it in the Name of Jesus.
- Then – don’t leave yourself empty – receive the Truth about God and you. And know you are truly forgiven, white as snow. Not because you feel it – but because God promised it. “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness” 1 John 1:9. He is Faithful and True. He does not lie.
So our first step is to receive total forgiveness – that there is nothing else we have to do and we do not need to hang on to our guilt or accusing ourselves anymore. The debt is paid. Where that old self was – we now have our New Self – which is Christ in us. His goodness, His perfection, His mind, His heart, His desires, His power. All Him. So we don’t feel it yet – but we receive it in faith. And we receive everything God says is true about His Bride. about His Church. His people. His love towards them – that is His love towards us.
It is Christ in us that gives us our new identity and all goodness.
Now – we have a reason to treat our “selves” well. Because it is Christ in us. We are absolutely one with Him. Nothing can separate us from His love. Not even our old self! That is the identity April is trying to get us to see. Our New Self that is glorious and one with Christ.
Then the next time the old accusation darts attack us – we have our armor on, ready for battle (Eph. 6:10-17). We have on
- The breastplate of His righteousness protecting our hearts.
- The helmet of salvation (we KNOW we are saved).
- The belt of truth (so we don’t trip up on all those lies).
- The readiness of the gospel of peace on our feet.
- The sword of the Word to fight off the enemy.
- The shield of faith.
And we reject the lies and accusations in the Name of Jesus and replace them with the Truth. We have been drinking milk like baby Christians, but we start to get stronger and ready to move on to solid food because we can discern truth from lies by lots of practice and being washed in the Word (Heb 5).
Loving ourselves appropriately is something God assumes we will do. Check out the second greatest commandment and God’s instructions to husbands in Ephesians 5:
- “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matt. 22:36-40
- In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. Eph. 6:28-30
- Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Cor. 5:17
- For you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Cor. 6:20
- For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 1 John 5:4
OTHER POSTS BY RADIANT:
25 Ways to Respect Myself (Think Rightly about Myself)