Saturday, April 8, 2006


· I need to love myself (more).
· I need to forgive myself.
· I need to ____________.

· I'm only a sinner saved by grace.
· I'm only human (Gen. 1:26, 27).
· I'm an alcoholic (recovering?).
· I'm a homosexual.
· I'm a _____________.

· I carry a lot of guilt.

I've deliberately left out the "I can'ts," because they are truths (but not the whole truth) about ourselves.

I've also omitted lies we believe about God and others.

Many of our ideas are part of either the pop culture around us, and its pop psychology, or the pop Christianity around us.

I'm not saying that the people who told these things to us are necessarily liars. Most were "gossips" who believe the lies the same as we do. The ULTIMATE liar is SATAN.

We're never told in the Bible to "love ourselves," but to "love our neighbor as ourselves" (Leviticus 19:18b) which seems to assume self-love. It is the standard for measuring our love for our neighbor. I can't recall ever meeting anyone who didn't love themselves. Even those who seem to hate themselves are really involved in a perverted self-love. Even suicide is a selfish act.

We're not told to "forgive ourselves" – we're told that "He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Forgiveness has to do with releasing someone from a debt owed. We need to seek forgiveness from God and from other people, but not from ourselves, because we don't owe ourselves anything. I think our big problem is that we don't have enough faith to believe and accept God's forgiveness: “in Him (Christ) we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:14; 2:13; Ephesians 4:32).

This is related to the idea some of us have, of "carrying a lot of guilt." Freudian and pop psychology has redefined guilt and made it into just a bad feeling. Biblical guilt, however, is legal guilt. We are all guilty – by nature and by practice. But Christ has taken all the guilt of those who put their faith in Him. He is our "guilt offering" (Isaiah 53:10) and our "sin offering" (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 10:12). So we can't carry any of our guilt, except to carry it to Him.

I think what we do often carry is our shame. Shame has to do with ourselves and our inadequacies. Guilt has to do with our relationship with God. Look at Adam and Eve. Before the fall they "were both naked and were not ashamed" (Genesis 2:25). After their sin and fall they recognized their nakedness and tried to cover it up. “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ He said , “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself’” (Genesis 3:7-10). They were guilty as could be. They disobeyed God and they brought down the whole human race, but they didn't have "guilt feelings." They were ashamed of themselves not of their sin. I can't find where they ever really understood their guilt. But the neat thing is that God covered up both their guilt and their shame.

As for the lies about who "I am" – "only a sinner," "only human," etc., Romans 8:16 says, “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul tells us what we were, “unrighteous ..., fornicators ..., idolaters ..., adulterers ..., effeminate ..., homosexuals ..., thieves ..., covetous ..., drunkards ..., revilers ..., swindlers, ”but then tells us that we are not any of these anymore. We've been "washed, sanctified and justified." We are saints, children of God, new creatures, even though we don't always behave as such.

Wrong beliefs about ourselves are bad theology and bad psychology. As long as we believe we are less than we really are we will live like less than we really are.

Bill Ball

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