The believer's self perception provides one of the more interesting and important subjects in Scripture. In simple terms, should we view ourselves positively or negatively?
The answer is both. The Apostle Paul pointedly addresses this dichotomy of spiritual perspective in his epistles, particularly in Romans.
"I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin" (Romans 7:22-25).
Note the "delight" Paul affirms regarding the law of God in his "inward man." Moreover, he confesses the same service "with the mind I myself." Clearly, a part of Paul, the very heart of the man in Christ, seeks the glory and will of God. Paul, however, does not fail to acknowledge the abiding presence of "the law of sin which is in my members," or the fact that with his flesh he serves the law of sin. Thus, the Apostle viewed his inward man, or "I myself" in positive terms (based upon his union therein with the Spirit of Christ). In contrast, Paul perceived his flesh and earthly members in the negative terms of an ongoing potential for sin.
A careful reading of the preceding sixth chapter of Romans reveals that all believers must view themselves according to this dichotomy. United with the Spirit of Christ in our innermost being, we must "reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:11). However, Paul also warns us to "let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body" (Romans 6:12). Note again the same conflicting components, as referenced in Romans 7: "yourselves" and "the mortal body." The former passed through death and into resurrection in Christ; the latter continues to possess the potential for sin to reign. Thus, we must strongly affirm the positive reality in Christ that our deepest and innermost delight flows with the current of the glory and will of God. We must also acknowledge that a law of sin remains in our earthly members and faculties, which allowed to control us will always lead us to distrust and disobey our Lord.
In our current consideration, we might suggest that born again believers are swans in the spirit, who possess the potential to continue as ugly ducklings if we walk after the flesh. How vital it is that we recognize both aspects of our present constitution and existence. The New Testament epistles certainly address this truth, and the more we align our thought and belief with their holy light, the more we will walk in a manner that reflects our holy being in Christ. As Paul definitively affirms in his epistle to the Ephesians, we are the children of light. However, we may not walk accordingly (Ephesians 5:8). Both sensibilities must reside in the understanding of believers, and thus, both a positive and negative view of ourselves equips us to a more consistent life of faithfulness to God.
"The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary, the one to the other."
Weekly Memory Verse
Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints; that the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus."