In a generation steeped in narcissistic self emphasis, absorption and even exaltation, Christians must counter the darkness with the Bible's message of devotion to the glory and honor of the Lord Jesus Christ.
"He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence" (Colossians 1:18).
"Christ only, Christ always" - this is the focus and devotion of the born again believer who seeks to direct attention to the Lord Jesus by both example of life, and word of testimony. Interestingly, however, the New Testament calls us to fulfill this determination not by a complete elimination or forgetting of ourselves, but rather by the correct understanding of who and what we are, as spiritually constituted in Christ. "Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:11).
Throughout the New Testament epistles, the writers call us to a proper perspective of both the spiritual and fleshly aspects of our God-created and redeemed humanity. We must know who we are both inwardly and outwardly if we are to successfully navigate the path of righteousness upon which our Heavenly Father calls us to walk in faith, obedience, and devotion to Him and others. The more we rightly know the Lord Jesus, the more we will rightly know ourselves. And the more we rightly know ourselves, the more we will be prepared for greater knowledge of our Savior.
The challenge is that our spiritual enemies are not beyond using even God's truth to distract us from seeking the preeminence of Christ. Our fleshly weakness regarding self-emphasis can easily set us up for deception even though we are rightly seeking the understanding of ourselves frequently addressed by the New Testament. Of this we must be constantly wary, remembering that our Heavenly Father is determined to exalt and emphasize the only One worthy of glory: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17).
The Apostle Paul taught that the "new man" of our innermost spiritual selves is "created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:24). He is not created "as" these qualities of the Lord Jesus, but rather "in" them. Thus, the new person we most deeply are in Christ recognizes our righteousness to be solely the product of being united to our Savior, who "is made unto us righteousness" (I Corinthians 1:30). In our inward man, united to the Spirit of Christ, we also dwell in the "true holiness" of complete devotion to the exaltation of the Lord Jesus. Recognizing this determination to be the Holy Spirit-wrought yearning of our redeemed selfhood in Christ enables us to think about ourselves without exalting or overemphasizing ourselves.
Much of a godly life is lived with a mind toward God and others. In times of temptation and challenge, however, we ,must often consider both who the Lord Jesus is, and who we are in Him. Most importantly, we affirm that grace has made His delight for obedience to the Father our delight as well. We may not feel it, our thoughts may seem to counter, and our past experience has surely not always indicated the God-formed inner grace of "I delight in the law of God after the inward man" (Romans 7:22). We must believe nevertheless because too much was sacrificed in order to provide so much sacred within the mysterious spiritual depths of our Christ-inhabited hearts. As we do, we shall discover more and more that His delight is now our delight, and we shall more and more think, speak, act and relate accordingly.
"Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord."