Being True to Yourself


Are you living according to your new nature in Christ?

Are you true to yourself?

I usually laugh inside whenever I hear that expression, but I'm serious. I'm not asking it in the cheesy Disney movie "follow your heart, get comfortable in your own skin, and feel free to be unique" kind of way. Let's give that question a biblical spin.

Your old nature died when you believed. It is no longer you who live, but Christ who lives in you (Gal. 2:20). Are you living "true" to your new Christ-nature, or are you denying who you really are by acting like your old self is still alive and kicking?

I want us to soak for a while right now in the mind-blowing truths of our new identity in Christ—and the corresponding implications for our lifestyle. As I've been poring over Colossians 3, I'm being stunned by the dual realities expressed here. I've typed out a few verses below. As you read—slowly—make careful note of the grammar and the cause and effect relationships. The apostle Paul ping-pongs back and forth between the cause for holy living (gospel truths) and the effect (the commands we can only obey by renewing our minds in the truth).

To make it easier to read, I typed the cause in bold and italicized the effect of internalizing these truths:

(Identity) IF THEN you have been raised with Christ,

(Action) seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (v. 1). Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (v. 2).

(Identity) FOR you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God (v. 3). When Christ appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (v. 4).

(Action) PUT TO DEATH THEREFORE what is earthly in you (v. 5): sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry (v. 6). . . .

(Action) Do not lie to one another,

(Identity) seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices (v. 9) and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator (v. 10). . . .

(Action) Put on then,

(Identity) as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved,

(Action) compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience (v. 12).

Did the fluid perfection of the passage's argument grab you, too? We're commanded to "put to death therefore what is earthly" in us after verses 1–4. Therefore, he says, put to death these things—but why, and how? For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. What a statement! How often do we flit past those mind-boggling, breathtaking words to skip straight to the business of the commands? But there's the catch: We can't successfully get around to obeying verse five's command without first deeply understanding verse three's promise and verse four's assurance of eternal hope.

Paul's structure here is beautifully strategic. We are only told to "put to death" (v. 5) what we know we have already put off (v. 9), and we can only "put on" the virtues of the new self (v. 12) because we have already been clothed in the new self at our conversion (v. 10). I can only kill the sin dwelling in me because the old, God-hating Lindsey has been crushed, defeated, and replaced with a new Lindsey who loves God—and I can only kill sin effectively when I'm remembering that reality. In other words, God is calling us to live in alignment with what is already true about our new nature.

But it gets even clearer—check this out. Verse 8 tells us to put "all" away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk. Then we move to verses 9–10: "Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self." Why is lying separated from the other sins? According to my pastor's studies in Greek (he showed this part to me), the context and the grammatical grouping of this passage indicates that the command not to lie probably isn't talking about the kind of lies we tell with our lips. Paul is more than likely talking about our lifestyle.

How? When we don't put away all the fleshly sins of verse 8, our lives are actually lying about the gospel and the truth of what Christ has done in us. We're living like slaves when the truth is that we're sons; we're living like the old self still reigns, when the truth is that the old self is dead.

The Bible has a host of new descriptive terms for us: children1, friends2, righteous3, slaves to righteousness4, slaves to God5, alive in Christ6, accepted in the beloved7, loved by the Lord8, born of the Spirit9, holy10, royal priests11, blameless and innocent lights in a dark world12, chosen13, cleansed14, saints15. That's just the beginning—I'm sure you can think of dozens of other references yourself.

I don't want my life to lie about these precious gospel realities. I want to trumpet the glory of God and the power of God by living in alignment with the truth of all Christ has done for me. The world is watching; I can't wait for them to see how great He is in us, can you?

  1. John 1:12
  2. John 15:13–15
  3. Philippians 3:9
  4. Romans 6:18
  5. Romans 6:22
  6. Ephesians 2:4–5
  7. Ephesians 1:6
  8. 2 Thessalonians 2:13
  9. John 3:6
  10. Colossians 3:12
  11. 1 Peter 2:9
  12. Philippians 2:15
  13. 1 Peter 1:2
  14. Hebrews 9:14
  15. Colossians 1:12

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