A Strategy That Works
In this life “we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror,” admitted Paul the apostle. Mirrors at the time Paul wrote were mere polished pieces of metal, and so their imperfect reflection, especially in the worst of them, well represented how the truths about life are often murky or incomplete to us. At death or when Christ returns, whichever comes first, we will “see everything with perfect clarity” (1 Corinthians 13:12). But how about until then?
On one of his missionary journeys, Paul and his companion Silas preached to a community of Jews living in a town called Berea in Greece. These people listened eagerly to the preaching, then “searched the Scriptures day after day to check up on Paul and Silas, to see if they were really teaching the truth” (Acts 17:11). They saw that the two men were in fact teaching the truth, and these Bereans believed in Christ.
This gives us our procedure. We can search the Word, not only to test what others are saying, but also to check up on what we ourselves think and feel about things. After all, we pick up ideas from many sources, and these may or may not be accurate. Some older translations of the Bible describe the Bereans as “noble.”¹ It is a noble thing to test all our convictions by biblical revelation.
The Bible lets us see into the areas where we have blind spots. The Bible “is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right” (2 Timothy 3:16). In fact, we will not know that we are mistaken in our convictions until the Scriptures reveal our error. The Bible is a great gift that God has given us for our betterment.
The word canon—often used for the body of biblical writings—means “measuring stick.” Of course, each one of us has his or her own measuring stick for what is right, but our own measuring stick is never as reliable as that of Scripture. Let’s measure our beliefs by the Bible, identifying our false convictions and correcting them according to biblical truth. As our thinking and feeling become more godly, so will our acting. By correcting our convictions about ourselves, others, and life in general, we will be well on our way to beating the sin habit.
What Do You Believe about Yourself?
There are many false ways of seeing ourselves. These perspectives are fueled by guilt, insecurity, selfishness, pride, hate, and numerous other negative emotions. The input of others can serve to establish and reinforce these beliefs. Events in our lives may also seem to validate what we believe and have been told about who we are. The list of possible convictions about ourselves is almost endless. But are these convictions biblical?
We need to develop a scripturally based view of who human beings are. On the one hand, God loves us and has fashioned us in His own image. So we have great worth. On the other hand, we are finite, created beings who have been twisted by sin. Thus we have every reason for humility.
In the case of believers in Jesus, we have been made over anew. “Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The following verse reveals what is new about us. “All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to Himself through what Christ did.” Due to our salvation, we have access to a whole new source of life. We are not depending on our willpower, our education, or any other personal resource to live a good life; we are depending on God. And that dependence is rewarded.
There are many reasons why we do not always live like the new creations we are. These reasons include tendencies in our personality, spiritual warfare, and the conviction that these two verses in 2 Corinthians are not really true. Nevertheless, we are new creations—we know this because God said it. And we can live as such, by God’s grace.
God said to the Hebrews, “You must be holy because I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44). Jesus echoed this sentiment when He said, “You are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). God makes it possible for us to be holy through the power of His Spirit.
This image of what it means to be human, as revealed by Scripture, is more realistic than any of our false and distorted opinions of ourselves. Furthermore, it gives us a real basis for triumphing over the sin in our lives.
Other opinions about who we are may have their allure, but the truth about ourselves is what we must seek. “Be honest in your estimate of yourselves” (Romans 12:3).