What Is Your Spiritual Self-Image? 6/11/00

II Corinthians 5:17

Jesus Christ has a perfect will for your life. Regardless of how distorted His original plan for your life He is able to do reconstructive work on you. He is that kind of a loving God. He has an image in mind for your life because He loves you.

If He had a refrigerator you picture would be on its door.

If He had a wallet your photo would be in it.

He sends you sunshine every day and flowers each spring.

Whenever you want to talk He is willing to listen.

He can live anywhere He wants and has chosen to live in your heart.

Don’t forget that wonderful Christmas gift or that surprise gift on the Sunday after His hardest Friday.

He is crazy about you. What do you think about Him?

Presently what is your self-image? We all have one. Much is written about our self-image. Public education today is framed around the issue. Some have an inflated self-image. They are about to burn out their tires on their ego trip. Others go to the other extreme and devalue themselves to the point they have a poor self-image. Most of us fall in between those extremes.

Starting in infancy many things work together to shape our self-image. We grow up playing mental games that impact our self-image.

Do you remember when you use to play: YOU ARE?

It usually starts with parents saying such things as, “You are a good little boy (or girl). Or, the opposite, “You are a bad girl (or boy)! We are programmed with “You are” comments. You are: smart, dumb, pretty, ugly, rude, polite or other tags. Hearing the same thing over and over we grow to accept and believe it. Next, we start playing: I WISH.

I played this a lot as an adolescent. “I wish I were as fast as Reggie, as smart as Sam, as rich as Carl, as popular as Pete. I wish…”

That is a cruel game to play with yourself. You never have a sense of worth.

Some people play these two games all their lives. It is a liberating day when you start to play:


This is when we begin to accept reality and resolve to become all we have the capacity to be. We unconsciously inventory our capacity and assets and conclude: I AM.

Enough about your self-image from a psychological or physical stand point. What is your spiritual self-image?

A poor self-image may prevent a person from achieving all they have the potential for in life. The same thing is true in the spiritual realm. If you are a Christian God has dramatically changed who you are in Christ. He has given you an incredible untapped spiritual potential. However, unless our spiritual self-perception changes we will not experience our full potential.

Many Christians have the spiritual perception based on a popular bumper sticker that shapes their self-image. Your have seen it: “CHRISTIANS AREN’T PERFECT, JUST FORGIVEN.”

Thank God for the last part of that. It is a demand that non-Christians understand our imperfections and accept that we are forgiven. With this in mind some Christian drivers go out to prove they aren’t perfect and respond as though it is OK to show off their imperfections. It is as though some blow-off their imperfections and appear casual about their forgiveness. If that is your spiritual self-image you have a very poor self-image.

Because of a failure to realize who we are and what spiritual assets we have at our disposal we often live spiritually defeated lives. This has led a Boston College professor to state there is “a state of spiritual impoverishment: in our country leading to a “shrunken aspiration.”

That is, many people think are spiritually bankrupt without an awareness they have at their disposal richest untold.

At the moment of salvation a radical change occurs. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”

Some get so enamored with the things that pass away they fail to comprehend the superior worth of all that is new. Fluffy and Legs illustrate this for us. They are two caterpillars crawling along in conversation. Legs says, “You know Fluffy, I feel a compulsion to build a cocoon and crawl in it.” “Yeah,” says Fluffy, “me too, but I don’t want to do
it.” They reason for a while as to why not and reach this conclusion: “You know, when we come out things will be different. We won’t be able to crawl around in the dirt like this. We’ll have wings like those butterflies over there.”

“Right,” says Fluffy, “and we won’t be able to eat weeds and leaves. We’ll have to flit around flowers and eat that sweet nectar. Gee, I’m gonna miss the weeds and dirt.”

Which is the higher form of life, the caterpillar or the butterfly. The freedom and beauty of the butterfly is to be preserved.

When a person repentantly comes to Christ they spiritually give up the weeds and dirt for the freedom and flowers. The new creature in Christ is to be preferred. Don’t give going back to weeds and dirt a second thought. You have a new nature.

This new nature results in a renewed mind-set and outlook on life. We develop a Biblical world view as we see life through the mind of Christ.

“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you might prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God for you” (Romans 12:2).

The Scripture appeals to us to “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Colossians 2:5). When you look at an issue and consider it look at it in the way you believe Christ would look at it were He in your position. The more and better you know Scripture the fuller comprehension you have of how Christ looked at life. Recall, repentance means to change our mind.

With this new mind set you develop a Biblical self-image. Some aspects of it are:

“To as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God” (John 1:12).

Here is cause for dignity. The same God who created the universe has adopted you as His child. If your dad were the most virtuous, important, powerful and rich man in the world would that change you in any way? Sure it would. Well, as a child of God He is your Heavenly Father and has all those qualities. Do you ever think of yourself as a child of God? Do!

“God made you alive in Christ. He forgave us all our sins…” (Colossians 2:13).

God no longer sees you as a sinner. The righteousness of Christ is applied to the believer at the moment of salvation.

The modern image of a saint is a person whose oil portrait has a halo above the head. Not so. A young child visited a large cathedral with stained glass windows with human images in each made brilliant by the sun shining outside. When she asked who those people were she was told they were saints.

On another occasion in Sunday School the teacher asked who knew what a saint was. That little girl held up her hand and when asked said, “A saint is a person the light shines through.”

In reality saints are people who make it easier to believe in Christ. They are persons who are committed to Christ’s: PERSON, PRIORITIES, PURPOSE, AND PRINCIPLES.

There was a godly servant of our Lord who came to be known as Saint Nicholas of Flue. We would do well to pray the prayer he offered often. “My God and my Lord, take me away from my own self, and let me belong completely to thee. My God and my Lord, take away from me everything that keeps me apart from you. My God and my Lord, grant me everything that draws me closer to you.”

If you were convinced that every wrong you ever did were forgiven and that you have been given a new nature that abhors evil, how would that change how you see yourself?

From antiquity comes the story of Damon and Pythias. Dyonisius of Syracuse was a cruel despot of a ruler. He condemned Pythias to death. When Pythias begged leave to visit his aged parents before being crucified, his friend Damon offered to be held as a hostage to be executed if Pythias did not return. For some reason, the hard heart of Dyonisius was touched, and he consented to the arrangement. After delays resulting along his long and arduous overseas journey Pythias returned at the last moment to spare his friend Damon, his substitute. The hard heart of Dyonisius was so moved by this devotion he said, “Let me become a party to this friendship, and I will free both of you.”

Our Lord Jesus came to earth to take our place as a hostage to sin and face the cross for us. When we come to Him our Heavenly Father becomes a partner to this friendship.

“Our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20).

What does this do for your self-image? You have been given all the rights and privileges that belong to citizens of Christ’s eternal kingdom. The kingdom of darkness no longer has any rights over you. Furthermore, Jesus has named you as His ambassador of His invincible kingdom to planet earth.

God wants you to live a supernatural life that reflects your new identity in Christ. That only happens if you develop a correct spiritual self-image and begin seeing yourself as Christ sees you.

As a child of the King I am under divine appointment to serve Him as an ambassador.

“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ…” (II Cor. 5:20).

The initial recipients of this letter knew more about ambassadors than we generally do.
There were two types of Roman provinces. Senatorial provinces were those where there was peace. Imperial provinces were those where there was still hostility and soldiers were on duty. When the Roman senate decided a country should become a province they sent ten of their members to the region to establish the terms of the peace, mark the boundaries, and establish the oversight.

Ambassadors lived in alien lands where a different language was spoken, the people had a different life-style and world-view. While there the honor of his own country were his responsibility. Others could look at an ambassador and thing; “So this is how people from your country think, look, dress, speak, and act!” People look at us in that same manner.

Living in an alien society we are to help people understand how citizens of the kingdom are taught by our King to think:


Ambassadors were those who brought people into the family of the Roman Empire. As Christ’s ambassadors that is our role. We are to bring people into the family of God.


As an ambassador you can help people come into the family of the King of Kings. The book of Acts gives insight into the process.

In the Book of Acts when persons heard the gospel and the urge to make a change more dynamic than that which occurs in a cocoon came over them they asked, “What shall we do?”

In other words how do we become a child of God, a citizen of the kingdom, a saint?

Peter gave them the same instruction persons need to respond to today. He said:

“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Let’s take this verse in a series of slow progressive steps. First, repent.

“Repent” comes from the Greek word (METANOEO) which means to change ones mind after comprehending a mind-changing truth is understood. If you have never received Christ as Savior it means to change your mind regarding Him and yield your will to His.

Following in the text is a big rock in the road to truth over which many stumble. The text says, “and be baptized in the name of Christ for the remissions of sins…”

A superficial reading has led some to believe baptism is essential to salvation. Not so! The Greek word EIS translated “for” can and should be translated “because of.” In other words, repent and because of the remission of your sins be baptized.

It is Christ who saves us the moment our faith results in repentance. When we change our mind regarding Him He changes our lives and gives us a new self-image. Then we are baptized not in order to be saved, but because we have been saved.

Our new nature prompts us to want to please Christ by obeying Him. He instructed us to be baptized (Matthew 28: 19, 20) after having repented.