To move beyond the contrast between what we need to deny and affirm about ourselves in this self-affirmation Bible study, we need to advance our understanding a bit more. As Christians, we have the ability to add the wonderful perspective that human beings aren't just created and then they're subsequently fallen.
With the great love that God showed us through his son Jesus Christ, we can say that yes we were created, and yes we are fallen, but we have been redeemed!
This now gives us more to affirm and more to deny.4
More to Affirm
Question 1: In light of this and the following verses what are we to affirm and how has your self-image changed?
- Ephesians 4:22-24
- Colossians 3:9-10
- II Corinthians 5:17
More to Deny
Jesus Christ emptied himself of his glory according to Philippians 2:6. We know Jesus was without sin (Hebrews 4:15) yet this Scripture in Philippians is an example of Jesus denying himself.
That is, he didn't cling to his privileged status. And because he and his father were one (John 10:30), he did the will of God the Father and gave his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).
Addressing this concept of Jesus emptying himself, Philippians 2:5 tells us that we Christians should have this same attitude as Jesus Christ.
Question 2: How can we empty ourselves or deny ourselves and do the will of our father?
Or, how can you deny yourself something that's yours by right, like Jesus did, so you can accomplish something according to God's will for your life?
As we close this Self-Affirmation Bible Study, an excerpt from The Cross of Christ allows us to see the application of the concept of self-affirmation:
"There is . . . a great need for discernment in our self-understanding. Who am I? What is my 'self'?
The answer is that I am a Jekyll and Hyde, a mixedup kid, having both dignity because I was created and have been re-created in the image of God, and depravity because I still have a fallen and rebellious nature.
I am both noble and ignoble, beautiful and ugly, good and bad, upright and twisted, image and child of God, and yet sometimes yielding obsequious homage to the devil from whose clutches Christ has rescued me.
My true self is what I am by creation, which Christ came to redeem, and by calling. My false self is what I am by the Fall, which Christ came to destroy.
Only when we have discerned which is which within us will we know what attitude to adopt toward each. We must be true to our true self and false to our false self.
We must be fearless in affirming all that we are by creation, redemption and calling, and ruthless in disowning all that we are by the Fall. Moreover, the cross of Christ teaches us both attitudes.
On the one hand, the cross is the God-given measure of the value of our true self, since Christ loved us and died for us. On the other hand, it is the God-given model for the denial of our false self, since we are to nail it to the cross and so put it to death.
Or, more simply, standing before the cross we see simultaneously our worth and our unworthiness, since we perceive both the greatness of his love in dying, and the greatness of our sin in causing him to die." 5
Question: What's more difficult for you to do? Is it easier to deny yourself and affirm who you are in Christ, or to serve yourself and enjoy the "pleasures" of sin? Are there any Scriptures that help you to have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5) so you can make the proper choices?
Click here to compare your answers.
We pray this Bible study lesson on self-affirmation has blessed you.
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1 Soanes, Catherine & Angus Stevenson (eds.). 2004. Concise Oxford English dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
2 Stott, John R. W. 2006. The Cross of Christ. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books. p. 274.
3 Ibid, p. 275.
4 Ibid, p. 276.
5 Ibid, p. 277-8.