In a month and a time of year so often focused on self-improvement, I must state right from the get go that this post is not about self-improvement. It’s really about the GREAT self exchange that begins with self disposal and ends with THE new self … the mutually abiding presence of Christ IN you and you IN Christ. After all …
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides IN me and I IN him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 (ESV)
So understand the passages we are about to explore are for the born-again believer for only as a born-again believer can one truly find newness of life … the new self identified below.
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized INto Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:3-4 (ESV)
… the truth is IN Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on THE new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:21-24 (ESV)
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” John 14:16 (ESV)
The life is ONLY found IN Christ Jesus.
The truth is ONLY found IN Christ Jesus.
The way is ONLY found IN Christ Jesus.
I don’t know about you but oftentimes I am not really looking to exchange my old self for THE new self. It’s a painful confession, but regrettably true, that oftentimes I see Christ Jesus as a way to augment or increase my old self … I’m looking for a little self remodeling and extension not a total renovation.
But in seven brief words, John the Baptist reveals that’s really not God’s plan …
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30 (ESV)
For some, the GREAT self exchange will be an immediate and complete experience. After all, if Almighty God spoke the world into existence then I think totally transforming a human being in a moment would be child’s play for Him … no pun intended.
Yet at the same time, for many it is indeed a gradual process that works much like John describes. Jesus increases … putting THE new self on … but we must decrease … putting off our old self. For many of us this is where the rub comes in … we don’t want to decrease. Much like the Israelites, we prefer to remain in Egypt.
And so we fight and rebel against the work of Jesus’ increase IN us never fully realizing THE new self … the new covenant Promised Land … and we find ourselves in a battle between masters …
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” Matthew 6:24 (ESV)
Which kind of brings us full circle and back to the question Jesus posed in Luke 6:46 …
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”
Transform me … transform us … Lord, from the heart … from the inside out!