Step 3. Accept Who You Are
God created man in His own image bestowing upon him certain divine attributes. These attributes enabled man to reflect the character of God in true knowledge, righteousness and holiness. These character traits include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Man has dignity because of the image of God within him. Man is unique because God gave him a mandate – – to create a civilization that glorifies God. Man has the ability to choose, because God gave him freedom. Freedom, but not autonomy. Man was not to be a law unto himself. Had man remained perfectly obedient he would, sooner or later, have eaten from the tree of life in the garden which would have ended his testing. But man disobeyed God, ate fruit from the forbidden tree and was therefore justly punished. Man instantly died spiritually at that moment he disobeyed God. His disobedience still causes pain, suffering, and death and will continue to do so until the renewal of all things which Jesus spoke about in Matthew 19:28.
Man was created with intellectual, emotional, and volitional capacity. All these aspects of human personhood reside in what the Bible calls the heart — the center of man’s being where the mind, the will and the emotions come together in harmony. The mind thinks, knows, discerns, and understands. The emotions feel. The will decides. The heart thinks, feels and freely carries out its desires.
Sin has so darkened the mind of man he can no longer think as clearly as before. His thinking process has been sabotaged by his natural tendency to turn his ears away from what God has to say when attempting to interpret and make sense of the world around him. Only through the renewal of his mind can he be transformed so that he is no longer constrained to the mind set of this fallen world (Romans 12:2). Additional grace from God is necessary for the mind of man to be opened up and able to recognize and respond to truth (Acts 16:14).
Sin has also affected man’s emotions severely. Fallen man suffers from oppressive effects of shame, guilt and alienation from God, which lead to fear, worry and anxiety (Genesis 3:7-8).
While the will of fallen man remains free, his heart has taken on a rebellious nature. It has become so deceitful it is beyond cure. Not even man himself understands the extent of his own sinfulness (Jeremiah 17:9). Without the continuing dispensation of God’s mercy and grace, fallen man’s wickedness will become so great that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart will only be evil all the time (Genesis 6:5). He does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14). The fallen man has no comprehension of his true purpose in life or God’s original mandate. He has some form of religion but has no desire to worship God or serve Him. Instead he serves only his own interests. The problem of fallen man is not his will for it remains free to pursue the desires of his heart. His problem is his heart, for its ruling desire is to satisfy its sinful cravings.
Because of our fallen nature we have no hope in and of ourselves. “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). We were slaves to sin but now are free, “For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14). We were slaves to the desires of our fallen heart but, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (1 John 5:1). And everyone born of God has been given a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26). With a new heart comes new desires, desires that seek after God.
However, we who have been redeemed by God are not to remain as merely redeemed. We are called to maturity. We are commanded to put off our old self, our former way of life, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires and to be made new in the attitude of our minds. Putting on this new self, which is created to follow God, means taking in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24).
Ephesians 2:10 tells us that “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” These good works prepared by God beforehand for us to carry out, embody God’s plan for our lives, our summum bonum, our highest good. Philippians 2:12-13 refers to this highest good when it says that we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in us to will and to act according to His good purpose. We are to first realize that having been redeemed from prior captivity under sin, we are to put off our old self and put on the new self – – with a renewed way of thinking and of viewing the world around us. We are to view this world as fallen, but also part of God’s kingdom which awaits the complete renewal of all things (Matthew 19:28). We are to be the transformed people of God, and therefore, able to answer the call to provide leadership. We are to be alert to the implications of God’s original mandate to man, “to create a civilization that glorifies God,” and how we might respond through His power and in the name of His Son, Jesus.