The world has managed to convince us that the only way to get in touch with our ‘authentic’ self is to accept ourselves, and embrace who we are; warts and all. The Word however does not say Jesus is coming to receive a church that embraces it warts, but one that gets rid of its wrinkles. (Eph 5:27)
Now it is important to not misunderstand this statement to imply that we should not accept, and embrace our race, or such other physical attributes over which we have no control. That is certainly not what this is about.
What it is about is the not so subtle ways in which the world pushes the agenda that we don’t have to stifle our natural instincts. Well, that flies straight in the face of Scripture. The bible in fact says we should kill off those instincts.
So kill (deaden, deprive of power) the evil desire lurking in your members [those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin]: sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry (the deifying of self and other created things instead of God).
Col 3:5 Amp
Somehow, the world has managed to convince us that it is okay to strive for the faux honesty of accepting that we are flawed without having to do anything to remedy the flaw. The world has entrenched the hollow theology that grace exempts us from the high standards of the law when in fact it does the opposite.
The bible says grace is not a license for ‘letting go’. It says instead that…
For the grace of God (His unmerited favor and blessing) has come forward (appeared) for the deliverance from sin and the eternal salvation for all mankind. It has trained us to reject and renounce all ungodliness (irreligion) and worldly (passionate) desires, to live discreet (temperate, self-controlled), upright, devout (spiritually whole) lives in this present world, Tit.2:11-12 Amp
So grace is some sort of trainer that put us through the tough daily regimen of a controlled life, not some do gooder who smiles, and pats us on the back as we let out our unrestrained ‘authentic’ self.
This deception thrives because many people do not understand, or are simply unwilling to accept what the bible says about human nature. The reference to nature or being natural should not be misconstrued to mean that the bible expects us to pretend to be who we are not. That is hypocrisy and God takes a very dim view of that.
The nature of man is however inherently and fundamentally antagonistic to the nature that God wants us to have. In the words of the bible…
What I say is this: let the Spirit direct your lives, and you will not satisfy the desires of the human nature. For what our human nature wants is opposed to what the Spirit wants, and what the Spirit wants is opposed to what our human nature wants. These two are enemies, and this means that you cannot do what you want to do. Gal 5:16-17 GNT
This ongoing contest between our human, natural instincts, and the God’s Spirit in us can be a real struggle. Unfortunately many resolve this conflict in favour of their human nature and decide to ‘accept’ themselves. Apostle Paul however leaves us a useful example on dealing with this internal struggle.
For I endorse and delight in the Law of God in my inmost self [with my new nature]. [Ps. 1:2.] But I discern in my bodily members [in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh] a different law (rule of action) at war against the law of my mind (my reason) and making me a prisoner to the law of sin that dwells in my bodily organs [in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh]. O unhappy and pitiable and wretched man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from [the shackles of] this body of death? O thank God! [He will!] through Jesus Christ (the Anointed One) our Lord! So then indeed I, of myself with the mind and heart, serve the Law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. Rom.7:22-25 Amp
First, he recognizes the conflict, he does not deny it. Next he acknowledges that the conflict makes him miserable, because on one hand he wants to please God while on the other, his natural instincts won’t just dissappear. What then is the resolution? He cries for deliverance from the only person who can. Jesus.
The thing is, scripture actually guarantees us that as we yield ourselves to God, we will experience increasing victory over self. As it is written, (Rom 8:10-11 Amp) But if Christ lives in you, [then although] your [natural] body is dead by reason of sin and guilt, the spirit is alive because of [the] righteousness [that He imputes to you]. And if the Spirit of Him Who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, [then] He Who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also restore to life your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies through His Spirit Who dwells in you.
Knowing this, we are then told that contrary to the lie that is peddled in the world that we will never find happiness until we embrace our ‘authentic’ self, the truth is that… (Rom 8:12. Amp) So then, brethren, we are debtors, but not to the flesh [we are not obligated to our carnal nature], to live [a life ruled by the standards set up by the dictates] of the flesh.
This idea that the way to find happiness is to embrace ‘who we are’ is nothing other than a doctrine of the devil, and a great fraud on account of which many are in danger of the loss of their souls. Jesus does not teach that we embrace ourselves in such a way. In fact what he taught was that we deny ourselves.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also]. For whoever is bent on saving his [temporal] life [his comfort and security here] shall lose it [eternal life]; and whoever loses his life [his comfort and security here] for My sake shall find it [life everlasting]. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life [his blessed life in the kingdom of God]? Or what would a man give as an exchange for his [blessed] life [in the kingdom of God]. Mat.16:24-26 Amp
For the believer, embracing ‘who you are’ will never bring you the happiness that you seek. As Apostle Paul found, the Spirit of God tugging at your conscience will only make you realize how wretched and miserable you are. Except of course you choose to deaden your conscience.
For the believer, there is only one way: it is not to embrace self, but to grow into perfection.
You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Mat 5:48 Amp