A Christian Meditation on Embracing Your “New Self” in Ephesians 4:22–24

Dave Cover

This kind of Christian meditation brings the transcendent experience of God into your mind and into your body so that you can replace anxiety, insecurity, stress and tension with the better and truer imagination of God’s infinite and intimate presence and love for YOU.(If your podcast is set to skip silent sections, disable that now.) 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.Thomas Merton called this thing the “false self.” He wrote, “Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self. We are not very good at recognizing illusions, least of all the ones we cherish about ourselves — the ones we are born with and which feed the roots of sin. For most of the people in the world, there is no greater subjective reality than this false self of theirs. A life devoted to the cult of this shadow is what is called a life of sin.” Body MeditationIn a minute we’re going to meditate on Ephesians 4 (see timestamp below). But before that, let’s get your body in a good physical and spiritual disposition to meditate so that you can recalibrate your body and mind with God’s infinite wonder and intimate presence and love for you right now in this moment.If you’re able, lie flat on your back, or sit comfortably in a chair. Uncross your legs. And close your eyes, if you can.And when you’re ready, begin by taking in deep breaths into your belly — intentionally making your belly rise with each breath intake. And then with each exhale, focus on letting all your muscles soften and let go of tension.Say quietly to yourself, “Relax.”Try to bring your mind’s awareness to feeling your entire body (all at once) feeling heavier — feeling your whole body just releasing and letting go of holding yourself up. This feeling is a sensation that you actually can FEEL. Like when your body feels cold — you feel that sensation inside your body. This is like that, although it’s a quieter sensation. You don’t have to do anything. Just try to focus your mind’s awareness on feeling this sensation of feeling your body relaxing. Like a microphone on stage picking up the sound of the microphone coming through the speakers and creating an increasing feedback loop. It doesn’t require any effort on your part. Just focus your mind‘s awareness on feeling the sensation of your body relaxing — your entire body all at once now. Feeling your body feeling relaxed more and more.Let’s take some time to focus your mind on specific parts of your body…We take time to do this kind of body meditation to re-integrate our body with our mind and then we will meditate on God‘s word and imagine and feel God’s word into our body to re-integrate our body with spiritual reality. Over the years I have found this to be a very effective way of experiencing God’s transcendent presence and intimate love. Continuing your slow, deep breaths, now bring your mind’s awareness back to feeling your entire body all at once. Use your imagination to feel your body from within — as if your mind is inside your entire body.Bible MeditationNow let’s breathe spiritual life into our body meditation by adding in biblical meditation and imagination. While keeping part of your attention always on feeling your body, let me read…Ephesians 4:22–24 ESV…Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and… be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and…put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.Remember…Colossians 3:5 NIVPut to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.And this list continues in v.8…Colossians 3:8-10 (NIV)…Anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language….(9) Since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.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. That’s what the Bible is referring to as your earthly nature and your old self.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…Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and… be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and … put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.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. Feel this reality in your body using your biblically guided imagination.Timestamps:Body Meditation - 01:05 - 14:54Bible Meditation: Ephesians 4:22-24 - 15:26 - 25:23End of meditation prayer - 28:41 - 30:11Who can you share this podcast with? If you found this episode helpful, consider sharing it on social media or texting it to a friend you think might benefit from it.Follow Dave Cover on Twitter @davecoverFollow A Bigger Life on Twitter @ABiggerLifePodOur audio engineer is Diego Huaman.This podcast is a ministry of The Crossing, a church in Columbia, Missouri, a college town where the flagship campus of the University of Missouri is located.