Like so much of the Bible, Ephesians 4:22-24 is highly imaginative language. And it’s primarily giving you an image to imagine regarding your very identity. It’s trying to help you understand some mysterious unseen reality by giving you understandable imagery to imagine as true for you. “Your old self” is some shadowy thing that is corrupt with deceitful desires that we are to actively and mindfully “put off.” It’s no longer the real you. It’s something else that’s always following you.
Colossians 3:5 NIV
Colossians 3:8-10 (NIV)
This “earthly nature” — in the context of the rest of the Bible’s larger story — is referring to the thorns and thistles and dust and death of the earth without Eden — without Heaven’s presence on Earth. It’s the same thing as our “old self” that we are called to put off or put to death. It’s always fixated on something “earthly” without God’s presence and love. Something that we think we need in the moment, but we actually don’t need. But when we do not get it, we become angry, anxious, insecure, stressed.
This false self that always shadows us gets triggered when threatened, and it blocks our awareness of the security of God’s presence and love in that moment. This is one reason why so many people live in a kind of constant, low-grade anxiety — because they never recognize their “old self” when it triggers in them. Instead of recognizing it and putting it off as a false, shadowy self, they identify with it has the real them and put it on more and get more and more hijacked by its insecurity and fear and self protection and anxiety.
Anxiety is a sign that the false self is demanding we cater to its “needs” instead of putting it off and dying to it like the Bible says. Most of our anxiety and tension and self protective relational dysfunctions are generated by this false self. The false self overshadows us from perceiving God’s presence and receiving God’s love in this moment. It keeps us stuck in repeated cycles of worry and insecurity and fear and feeling threatened. Our false self will never bring about true freedom and life.So use this meditation to imagine this reality into your body…Ephesians 4:22–24 ESV
The way we put off the old self and put on the new self is by the renewal of our mind — letting a better, truer imagination empower you with the life-giving desires of your new creation in the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.Our false self hates those words, “righteousness and holiness.” Our shadowy self redefines and reimagines them as rigid and confining and boring. But in reality they are the exact opposite. TRUE righteousness and holiness are God’s splendor and power and beauty and glory and goodness and love and trustworthiness. As Colossians 3:1 said, there’s a sense in which we’ve already died and been raised to this new glory and beauty and righteousness and holiness. We are newly created in Christ — with Christ — to be like God himself! This was always God‘s intention — imagination — for us.So right now, using your imagination, focus on breathing in your new self, and breathing out the old self.Feel this in your body right now. Letting the Holy Spirit breathe his new creation and new life into you. Breathing in the likeness of God. Breathing in true righteousness. Breathing in true holiness. Breathing out decay and corruption. The corrupted thorns and thistles and dust and death of your old self. Breathing out false, shadowy desires that lead to more thorns and thistles and dust and death.
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