A Biblical View of Self-Image
I’ve been working through Sinclair Ferguson’s fine piece in Christian Spirituality: Five Views on Sanctification. In the span of a few short pages Ferguson draws together the best of the Reformed theological traditions views on holiness and the Christian life. Quotable material abounds in these few pages, and I plan on posting some of the best of what he has to say in days to come. In the meantime reflect on the following words:
How we view ourselves has an immense impact on the style of our sanctification. Here, the Reformed perspective prevents us from falling into a common trap in discussions of self – image: reductionism and oversimplification, which invariably result either in what is often disparagingly referred to as worm theology (” would he devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?”), Or alternatively in a little more to send in ego – trip (” God loves me the way I am, period.”).
The truth of the matter is that now as a Christian I must see myself from two perspectives and say two contrasting things about my life: in myself there dwells no good thing on my own creation or nature (Rom. 7:18); and in Christ I have been cleansed, justified and sanctified so that in me glorification has begun (1 Cor. 6:11). Even in final glory, presumably, part of the cause of our praise of Christ will be that we are capable of distinguishing between what we have become because of Christ and what we would have become of ourselves. ( The Lamb is forever worthy of praise not only because of his eternal divine person, but because he shed his blood to redeemed humanity [Rev.5:9].)
The New Testament will not allow us to reduce these two polarities to a common denominator. We must say both: God has given me a new identity with a glorious destiny; in myself I am utterly defiled and deserve only death. I belong to a time when the present evil age in the future glory overlap. I must therefore see myself from two perspectives. Miss this and we miss the biblical doctrine of sanctification…