If there’s one thing the Bible is crystal clear about, it’s that we humans are profoundly valuable in the eyes of God! From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is the story of God’s immense love for His wayward creation. And its pages reveal His sacrificial plan of redemption to restore humanity to eternal fellowship with Himself through Christ. What is also very clear, is that we in ourselves are inadequate and therefore incapable of doing anything to please God or meet His holy standard (Romans 8).
2 Corinthians 3:5-6 says,
“Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
This may sound rather depressing to us. I’m sure we would all like to think that as we grow in our faith and relationship with God that we become better people. That we morph into someone more like Christ. That we are more in right standing with God, so to speak. We would like to think that, but it’s just not true. Wait a minute, you might say.. doesn’t the Bible teach that we will be transformed to be like Christ? Let’s look at what the Bible says,
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
In other words, we reflect His glory and His image as we surrender more and more to the Holy Spirit within us and allow Him to live His life in and through us. Remember Romans 7:18-25, there is nothing good in us. And if by chance there is some good, it is the Lord not us. It should create an enormous sense of relief and freedom in us to know that we are in ourselves entirely inadequate. We don’t have to pretend to have it all together. God does not hold us to a standard that is unobtainable, because Jesus is our righteousness and our adequacy to live before Him in acceptance.
Psalm 103:9-14, says it beautifully:
“He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve, or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.”
We must understand that our flesh or old nature, is not worthy of our confidence in any way, because it has been thoroughly corrupted through sin (Isaiah 64:6, Genesis 8:21, Jeremiah 17:9). This is why we are told in Ephesians 4:22-24, to put off our old self and put on the new. But in truth, we are not able to do even this in ourselves. So, what can we do? What is our part in this as believers?
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealously, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:22-24
This is our plumb line. Only when we allow the Spirit of Christ to live in and through us will these things will be true of us, because they are true of Christ. They will be true of us because it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us (Galatians 2:20-21). Conversely, if we are walking in our flesh that will also become apparent, because the works of the flesh will be manifest in us.
The characteristics of the old nature are independence and self-focus, which lead to bondage. The characteristics of the new self are dependence upon God and Christ-focus, which lead to freedom. We can put on the new self when we realize the truth that in our old selves we are dead and in bondage, but in Christ we are made alive and set free. And through Christ alone, we are able to set our minds on things above and to put to death those things that belong to our old/sinful nature (Colossians 3:1-7).
1 Corinthians 11:31 says, “But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged”. It is our responsibility before God to examine ourselves regularly to see whether we are walking in our old nature or our new nature, and to respond appropriately. But a word of warning: Because our adequacy comes from God the Bible never instructs us to evaluate ourselves for the purpose of self-acceptance, but rather for the purpose of God’s acceptance in relation to our walk with Him. Any other form of evaluation can lead only to self-pride or self-pity.
Go with God. Put on your New Self. And remember:
[We] have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer [we] who live, but Christ who lives in [us]. And the life [we] now live in the flesh [we] live by faith in the Son of God, who loved [us] and gave himself for [us]. Galatians 2:20