“Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life…Put on your new nature, created to be like God” Eph. 4:22,24
Greetings Friends! What do I mean by “true self” and “false self”? Does the Bible speak about the subject? I hope I can clarify what the terms mean, and show how the Bible speaks about the topic, and help us understand what it teaches.
Statue of Liberty – Depicting Freedom in the New World of the United States (Wiki Commons)
Every person possesses dual personalities. One is true to who he or she is as a person created in God’s image and likeness, I call that personality the “true self.” While the second personality works against and dehumanizes the person based upon self-determination, whom I call the “false self.” One brings joy and true success, while the other brings stress, frustration, and defeat. One empowers a person, while the other incapacitates and weakens. These two personalities can exist side by side, so the person can be in a state of friction and constant tension, depending on the circumstance, hence the person can be compelled to make hard choices to resist the opposing personality. Although every person is gifted differently, yet each of the dual personality expresses itself depending on who decides to show up to confront the issue at hand.
Let me give you the background how these two personalities came to be, and how they affect our relationship with others and the world around us. Hopefully, this explanation will help us deal with the seeming contradictory life choices we face every day. You are left with a choice between two divergent paths, taking a right one will lead to good, while the other leads to ruin. I hope it will help lead us to a more productive life.
When God created humans, he made man in His own Love-image. (Gen.1:26-25) Because Adam and Eve lived in God’s presence in the Garden of Eden, God’s Love was an intrinsic part of their personality, and this reflected their “true self.” The “true self” made it possible for our first parents to live and commune with God in their Love relationship. Adam and Eve had everything they could ever desired which God supplied and provided them. They lived with absolutely nothing they lack, most of all joy was their reflection of life. They lived and remained faithful to God in Eden.
But Adam’s “true self” was not founded upon God’s Love alone. Love must of necessity be vibrant, revitalizing, and motivating, in order for the Love relationship to flourish. Hence, Love has a dynamic element which engenders goodwill, respect, honor, integrity, patience and humility, so the Love relationship can grow. It is called freedom. Freedom is the lifeblood of God’s Love which flows like a river endlessly with its energizing qualities. In order for Love to have meaning and relevance there must of necessity be freedom. You can say the two elements are the dynamic duo of God’s divine nature. Without freedom there is no Love, and without Love there is no freedom. The Bible says, “God is Love,” and the flipside of Love is freedom. (1 John 4:8) Paul said, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Gal.5:1) Love cannot thrive and be allowed to grow without the freedom of choice to Love.
By its very nature freedom brings the dynamic of choice into the picture. Hence, when God made humans He gave him a mind with the ability to discern and make choices. This means Love is the divine life that’s made to flourish by the exercise of one’s freedom through decision-making. Therefore, freedom by its very definition engages the mind to assess the circumstance at hand, discern and distinguish, and through effort and sometimes struggle, make the right choices based upon Love. It is a choice made by one with the welfare of another in mind, in order that the Love relationship may grow and be magnified between them. That is the dynamism in which Love is nurtured and made to flourish, thus reflecting the “true self.”
Much Like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde a Person exists with Dual Personalities in His “True Self” and “False Self” (Wiki Commons)
But freedom is not just an empty word. God Himself gives it the substance it warrants so we can experience freedom for real and authentically. Freedom is something tangible which our God-given minds can understand and make a choice to freely believe and accept or disbelieve and ignore. So, the substance of freedom is the ‘covenant promise’ God offers man. Thus the covenant becomes the lifeblood of God’s Love relationship where man can exercise his freedom about what God is offering him. Man’s part is to freely choose to believe or disbelieve what is offered. God could have made man like the many beasts and creatures He created having preset instincts so humans can automatically choose His covenant. But that would defeat His purpose of creating human children in His likeness. Freedom involves the exercise of the mind and will to voluntarily choose to Love. God wants the believer to freely Love Him – that takes true freedom!
The promise contained in His covenant with man is essentially the heart of what freedom means. We see this covenant spoken and articulated by God through His Prophet in the Old Testament and repeated by His Apostles in the New Testament. (read Jer. 31:33-34; Heb.8:10-12; 10:15-17) The contents of God’s covenant promise is the basis upon which man freely enter the Love relationship with God. So, for Christians the Love relationship with God (“true self”) finds its basis and underpinning upon the New Covenant.
The New Covenant can be encapsulated in the phrase from the Genesis account of man’s creation, “Then God said, “Let Us make mankind in Our image and let them have dominion over the earth and all living things.” (Gen.1:26-27, paraphrased). Therefore, the covenant is the pathway to and reflects the “true self” who exists in God’s likeness. All God’s activity on earth since Adam’s fall has been to fulfill His original mandate for human creation proclaimed in Genesis, period. God’s image is immortality, so the New Covenant promises man to be part of God’s family living eternally with Him. God’s image is Love, so He made man to become Love as He is Love. God’s image is He is Creator and possesses all dominion and power, so He promises man creativity and reign over the earth. Most of all, God promises a life where death does not exist, with unbound joy and fulfillment without lack or suffering. It is a life we were created to experience in His presence.
In addition, there is a vital proviso to the covenant which underpins its miraculous function and value – it is the provision of a Savior and Mediator. The New Covenant requires the role of a Savior who mediates between God and man in order for the terms of the covenant to be faithfully dispensed. In other words, the covenant is ineffectual without a Mediator, or High Priest. He is the go-between who constantly mediates God’s Love relationship with fallen man. However, at present man is under the rule of the devil who holds him incarcerated so he cannot enter into this covenant relationship with God…enter the Savior.
The Savior and Mediator of the New Covenant is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who existed with the Father and the Spirit in the One Triune Godhead from eternity. He was the prophesied Messiah, the Emmanuel, (God with us), who was promised after Adam’s fall in Eden. (Gen.3:14-15; Matt.1;23; read all of Isaiah 53) The New Covenant was ratified by Jesus’ blood through His death on the cross. (Matt.26:28) I would like to encourage you to go to a previous post on this subject of the New Covenant at this link: http://bulamanriver.net/?p=2993. It explains the Covenant in detail.
“National Covenant.” Believed to be the original from which copies were made for distribution of the fifty-two words long Preamble to the Constitution of the United States (1787) echoes phrases in the National Covenant – “We the People…” Photographed in subdued light. (Wiki Commons)
Recall, God had planted and gave Adam and Eve a garden called Eden where both Love and freedom was the essential part to their existence. We see the dynamic of freedom being introduced to make Love grow and flourish in Eden. God made a covenant with our first parents saying in effect they will live joyfully forever in His presence and have life to the fullest when they exercised their freedom in Love. He told them He planted numerous fruit-bearing trees for food to sustain them. He told them there was a special tree which produced marvelous and exquisite tasteful fruit, called the “tree of life.” He told them they should eat its fruits daily so they can replenish His Love in them. But they are to exercise their freedom and choose to eat from the “tree of life” and they did. The “tree of life” is the metaphor for His Spirit of Love. Also, there was another tree in Eden called the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” God told them they must never go near it, nor touch it, and never eat of its fruit.
So, here we see an environment of Love in Eden where the relationship is made to grow and flourish through the freedom of choice where man makes the deliberate decision to honor each other’s best interest through Love and freedom. One cannot be forced to Love someone. Love can be given only out of one’s freewill and own conscious choice based upon their covenant relationship. Love has to be a genuine free choice. One cannot give Love if he is incarcerated, he must be free. The story of Israel’s slavery and exodus from Egypt was a monumental account about freedom supported by God’s Love in His covenant promise to bring Israel to their own “land flowing with milk and honey” – the Promise Land. It was based upon the covenant God made with Abraham, from whom the Israelites descended. God wanted Israel free so He may Love Israel totally, and vice versa (covenant). Love is contingent upon the free choice of one person for another so Love may grow. Adam and Eve’s relationship with God in Eden comes with the dynamic of freedom which is the lifeblood of Love itself. So, Adam and Eve had life in Eden based upon their “true self” founded upon Love and freedom.
It is vital to understand that God was not testing Adam through temptations to see if he will be obedient as many believe. God tempts no one. Rather, they were living in the dynamic of God’s Love and how Love is made to grow and flourish through freedom and one’s free will to choose, based upon the covenant God offers man. This is the nature of Love, and how it works. We are to take responsibility for Love with our freedoms because of the impossibility of Love to remain static and passive. “God is Love” and Love must be nurtured to flourish and is eternal which can never fade and die. (1 John 4:8, 16) Yes, Love must grow and increase, and the only element which establishes Love to thrive is freedom through the dynamic of a covenant relationship between two parties.
Man has taken his God-given freedom for granted not knowing why this gift was bestowed, nor realizing it’s purpose and place in life. He has misunderstood and abused the gift of freedom for self-interest (“false self”). He forgets the basis of freedom is so man may freely receive God’s grace and relate with Him in Love and fulfill man’s reason for being (“true self”). Yes, man is free to assess what God offers him, and determine if there is anything better than what He offers. I repeat, freedom is the lifeblood of Love, and the covenant is the lifeblood of freedom – this is the essence of the “true self.”
The Bible says, “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting (testing) me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed” (Jam.1:13-14). It is much like taking care of the baby’s dirty diaper, which many a person considers a huge test. Yet, you can’t blame the bundle of joy before you. But you can understand why the whole dynamics of babies and diapers has a natural and inherent part in the manifestation of your joy (promise/covenant) which brings freedom – the baby! It is foolish to “throw the baby out with the bath water” simply by reason of dirty diapers. Likewise, when given unavoidable choices (“tests”) to enable Love to grow through freedom, we can inadvertently get into the blame game like Adam and Eve. But I hope the light of His Love, His covenant promise, and the continuing unfolding of our “true self” through freedom, will guide us to see the big picture in a given situation.
In fact, James tells us to “consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds” (Jam.1:2). Why, because you are not in God’s test tube, you are in the middle of the dynamics of His Love and your Love relationship with God your Father that’s made to flourish with joyous outcome in the discovery of your “true self” which brings freedom. So, it is not so much about God testing you, as much as it is about God’s way of Loving you deeper, which leads to a more profound discovery of the joys of your “true self.” (Heb.12:4-8)
Tomb at St. Chad, England with the Inscription “WHAT WILL SURVIVE ALL OF US IS LOVE” (Wiki Commons)
But here was the turning point for Adam and Eve where their choice became a hard struggle, as they most times do, when the devil enters the scene and tempts them to go in the opposite direction God had taught them. Satan told them to disregard God’s word saying He was lying to them. Unfortunately, they believed the devil and succumbed to his deception and ate the fruit they were forbidden to even touch. In effect, they covenanted with the devil and forsook God’s covenant with them. We know the story. God had no choice but expel them from Eden for their misguided decision. Adam and Eve exercised their freedom and made a choice which banished them from the magical land of Eden. They did not choose the way of God’s Love which reflected their “true self.” Instead, they chose the way of fear and self-determination, and from then on the “false self” was born.
Here is what happened. In a moment in time, the “true self” disappeared from the life of man, and the “false self” began its reign over Adam and his children. The “true self” needed to be nourished with the fruit of the “tree of life” (Holy Spirit) which was in the Garden of Eden from which they were now banished. Now they have taken ownership of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Whereas in Eden they were guided by the Spirit (tree of life) in Love, now they were left to the whims of their own self-determination to decide for themselves what is good and evil, under the influence of the devil. And that is the choice man continues to have today, will man sit under the “tree of life” with the Spirit; or, under the “tree of good and evil” with the devil.
But God is the embodiment of Love in His Being, and could not forsake His disobedient human children to the enemy. He promised to send a second Adam, His Son Jesus Christ, to correct the colossal blunder of the first Adam, and bring man back to Eden and the “tree of life” and restore man to his first estate in his “true self.” In a period of four thousand years of human history, man lived under the shadow of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” and exercised his freedom through his “false self.” The “false self,” motivated by Satan, has brought untold suffering, misery, and death upon humanity. True to God’s indictment upon Adam, “In the day you shall eat it (forbidden fruit) you will certainly die.” (Gen.2:17) The foundation of the “true self” is God’s outgoing Love, whereas the basis of the “false self” is fear and self-centered living.
So much foul and deathly waters have passed under the bridge of time and history – 4000 years! When Jesus Christ appeared on the scene to ratify a New Covenant with mankind based upon God’s original mandate at creation, He began His ministry by taking care of the first things by correcting the consequence of Adam’s fall. (Heb.8:10-12; Gen.1:26-27) His mission was to bring back the “true self” which was lost in Eden and return man to his lawful birthright. This was good news (Gospel) for man, at long last Someone worthy has come to take man by the hand and guide him back to the promise land – Eden! (John 3:16) After His baptism at John’s hand in the Jordan, the first order of things was to set the record straight and defeat the arch-enemy, Satan. (Matt.4:1-12) Having defeated Satan in His titanic battle in the Judean wilderness, He spent three and half years raising a ministry to carry on His work and the work of the Father of restoring man back to his “true self.” Jesus’ final act of completing His mission was to die on the cross as a worthy sacrifice for the forgiveness and absolution of all human sin. The work of rehabilitating man is, as Jesus said on the cross before breathing His last, “It is finished!”
A Depiction of the “Tree of Life” – Source of the “True Self” (Wiki Commons)
Now the consciousness of man can enter a door which heretofore was closed to him since Adam. It is the door to finding his “true self” that’s the embodiment of true Love and freedom that was lost from Eden. Remember, since Adam’s fall man was bound to his “false self” as it were a prison, and the prison warden is Satan. Love cannot thrive when man is incarcerated in the devil’s prison. How does man enter this door of discovery of his “true self” and leave behind everything about himself that’s a mask of deception of himself in the “false self”? Man must be unmasked to see himself for who he truly is before His Maker, and freely choose the path to his “true self.”
Jesus answers this human dilemma, “You must be born again,” He said. (John 3:7). This new birth is essentially the heart of the provision of the New Covenant. Man needs to experience an incarnation from the “old self” to the “new self.” Man has to be completely transformed from his “false self” to his “true self.” Jesus explains the process of change further, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but Spirit gives birth to spirit…everyone must be born of the Spirit” (John 3:6, 8b). Jesus later affirmed this, saying, “It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh counts for nothing” (John 6:63). Recall, the Spirit was pictured in Eden as the “tree of life” from which Adam and Eve ate of its fruits and was sustained in God’s Love giving life and energy in their “true self.” On the day of Pentecost, which commemorates the day the Spirit (tree of life) was made available again to humanity, Peter stood before the crowd in the town square and announced to the people, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Act.2:38). There we have the mechanics if you like, of how to step out of the “false self” and step into the “true self.” It takes repentance and baptism, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
It is vital to understand this incarnation is not something we can do on our own, as if by human volition alone. Some have advocated a so-called ‘surrendered life’ as the way to discover the “true self,” even though the surrendered life is necessary within the proper context. Let’s get our orientation right. A perceptive reading of the New Covenant will make us realize one vital aspect; not a single one of the provisions of the covenant can be executed successfully to its desired end without the direct infusion of God’s miraculous act to make the covenant reality. That’s to say, in man’s covenant relationship with God, the believer is constantly living the miraculous life in order to make covenant promise become reality.
Recall, Jesus went into the Jordan and was baptized by John the Baptist. John’s mission was to “preach the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4). His mission was specifically to baptize Jesus. But the question remains, why was it necessary for John to baptize Jesus “for the forgiveness of sins,” when He had not sin to repent of? The answer to that is the answer to our own “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Jesus took upon Him all the sins of mankind and was baptized for our repentance and forgiveness. Remember Jesus words to John after he hesitated baptizing Jesus, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Yes, He was baptized for our righteousness. Paul affirms this, “It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (1 Cor.1:30).
Ultimately, He was crucified as the perfect sacrifice for human sins. But the reason we can repent and be baptized and forgiven is because Christ has already done it for us. Not because we can do it on our own – although we have the freedom to make that choice. But let’s not confuse personal freedom with an act that requires a miraculous intervention from God. Just as we invoke Jesus’ cross for our forgiveness, likewise, we invoke His baptism for our repentance. It takes a miracle from God to bring man to repentance and forgiveness and so experience the incarnation to the “true self” through Jesus in the Spirit’s power.
Origin of the “False Self” the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” (Wiki Commons)
Recall, when Jesus came out of the waters of Jordan, the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, and the voice of the Father proclaimed the encouraging words, “You are My Son whom I Love; with You I am well pleased” (Mark :1:11). Here we see Jesus inaugurating the coming of the Spirit into human life. It was later poured out upon man on the day of Pentecost (Joel 2:28; Act.2:1-4). Again, the giving of the Spirit has nothing to do with man’s doing, rather, it is because Jesus ushered the Spirit’s coming that we become privileged recipients. Jesus went on to defeat Satan in the wilderness of Judea and reversed Adam’s mistake and place mankind back on tract in God’s human enterprise. In place of Adam’s fall, we live the victorious life of Christ in the Spirit. These are three monumental things which Jesus did for man in the Jordan setting the stage for man to retake his rightful place upon this earth and in God’s scheme of things: the gift of repentance, the gift of forgiveness, and the gift of the Holy Spirit which brings the victorious life of Jesus – the true self!
Paul speaks eloquently of how this process takes place in a believer, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live (false self), but Christ lives in me (true self). The life I now live, I live by the faith of Jesus who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal.2:20). Further he said, “Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception (“false self”). Put on your new nature, created to be like God–truly righteous and holy (“true self”)” (Eph.4:22-23). This is a fundamental statement which defines the “true self.” Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:16). Jesus is the way who leads man to the truth which leads life, and life brings the “true self.” Then Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, the one who believes in Me has eternal life” (John 6:47). So, the identity of the “true self” is hardwired to Jesus, who is the immortal Son of God.
Paul said, “Christ Jesus has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality through the gospel” (2 Tim.1:10). The “false self” on the other hand carries this indictment from the Creator, “You were made from the dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen.3:19). Note, God said this after Adam had discarded his “true self” and taken on the mantle of the “false self” by obeying the devil. But Jesus, the second Adam, came as was promised by the Father, and rescued man by restoring him to his first estate in his “true self” in Christ.
Jesus, the Second Adam, Defeating Satan where the first Adam failed, Making the Victorious Life in the “True Self” Possible (Wiki Commons)
The basic identity of a person existing in his “true self” is manifested by living the “Triune Life.” The “Triune Life” means a person who lives the 3-dimensional life of the Triune God in the Father, Son, and Spirit. It means all three Persons in the Trinity are involved with the salvation of the believer. Then, there is the “solitary life” where man lives the 1-dimensional life in himself under the influence of the devil. Jesus became human fulfilling His prophesied identity as the Emmanuel, a name which means ‘God with us.’ (Matt.1:23) When He was resurrected from His ignominious death on the cross and ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven, He was raised bodily taking our humanity and glorifying it by inducting man into the very Being of the Triune God, as Christ Himself is One in substance and reality in the Triune Godhead. Therein is the identity of the “true self” living the “Triune Life” in Christ by the power of the Spirit who lives in man as His temple. (1 Cor.6:19) (You may read the “Mission Statement” explaining the “Triune Life” by clicking on the appropriate directory banner above. Or, go to: http://bulamanriver.net/?page_id=3381)
As the Triune God exists in their Love for each other eternally, likewise, Love is the underlying motivation of the “Triune Life” we are privileged to live through Christ. God makes this possible by depositing His Spirit in each of us, as Paul said, “God’s Love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Rom.5:5; also Rom.8:9). When the Spirit enters the life of the believer and lives in him as a temple, He manifests the various shades and color of Love that Paul spoke so eloquently to the Corinthians (read 1 Cor.13).
To be patient, kind, generous, not envious and boastful, to be humble and not proud, to not be greedy or easily angered, to live in faith with hope, etc, are virtues we live by through freedom of choice from the opposite of these attributes. For every divine work of the Spirit (“true self”), there’s a competing work of the flesh that’s from the devil (“false self”). (Ga.5:13-26) The fruits of Love of the Spirit are not legalistic “tools” to make us better people, it comes naturally as a the result of living in the dynamics of God’s Love. It is how God, in His Triune Being, has lived in relational Love from eternity. What a privilege and blessing to be living in our “true self” through the “Triune Life.”
I hope this post has encouraged you, as much as it has done for me, penning it. I pray that your Love relationship with God your Father may flourish with joyous outcome in the discovery of your “true self” which brings freedom. Yes, true freedom enters the human heart in the discovery of the “true self.” If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to write to me in the space provided below, or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until we meet again in my next post, may the blessings of the God who ceaselessly expresses Himself in His dependable Triune Love, be with you always. May the Spirit enliven your spirit and make all things concerning you possible as you live the “Triune Life” as a Bulamanriver.* Be strong in the Lord’s joy.
* Bulamanriver” is the metaphor describing the union of man with the Love of the Triune God flowing in humans, making possible the “Triune Life” – the source of the miraculous life in man. To read the many facets of life of the Bulamanriver, go to my website www.bulamanriver.com where you can order a copy of my Book.
All scriptures are taken from the NIV Version 2011, unless stated otherwise.
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