The Bible calls born again believers to both a high and a low view of ourselves.
First, let us consider the high view. Throughout the New Testament, we find affirmations of Christians that are true at all times, regardless of whether we think, feel, speak, act and relate accordingly. Unto the Corinthians he declared to be “carnal,” for example, the Apostle Paul nevertheless wrote, “Such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (I Corinthians 6:11). Paul also told this company of the wayward, “In everything ye are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 1:5-8).
When we consider that Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians largely involves an indictment of fleshly and devilish attitudes and behaviors, the Apostle’s affirmation might seem strange upon first consideration. We must remember, however, that God views “being” as separate and distinct from “doing.”
“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).
Every born again believer does, in fact, live in the Spirit. “Ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Romans 8:9). Every believer, however (as exemplified by the Corinthians), does not consistently walk in the Spirit. “Ye are yet carnal, for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (I Corinthians 3:3). Clearly, therefore, God differentiates between being and doing, or between the person we are in Christ, and the thoughts, attitudes, words and deeds that may or may not reflect our spiritual union with Him.
The “high view” of ourselves involves our being. When we believed, God constituted our innermost selves as a “new man, created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). Solely as a gift of grace, our Lord changed who and what we most deeply are by uniting our spirits with the Spirit of the Lord Jesus. “He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit” (I Corinthians 6:17). Multitudes of New Testament declarations reference this gift of a “new creature” (II Corinthians 5:17). Most importantly, nothing ever changes the fact of who and what we are in Christ because our grace-birthed being as “the habitations of God through the Spirit is inviolable – “Ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 2:22; 1:13).
In order to think Biblically, and thus, more and more consistently walk in accordance with being, we must more and more think in these plainly and often-stated Biblical terms. Our tendency is to gauge being by walking, however, a process that does not accord with Scripture, and which can never lead to a consistent walk in the Spirit. We are not what we do, although what we do should certainly exhibit what we are. We are who we are, and in the most amazing miracle of grace, “Ye are the temple of the living God” (II Corinthians 6:16).
Note that this high view of ourselves actually involves a high view of the God who spiritually reconstituted us as a free gift of grace when we believed. We did nothing to make ourselves who we are, nor do we maintain our being in Christ. We will consider this necessary truth in tomorrow’s message, emphasizing that failure to hold the Biblical high view of ourselves actually reveals a deficit in our understanding and perception of God Himself.
“He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”
(II Corinthians 5:21)