“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Any self that we create, contrive, or manufacture can only be a false one, because our truest self—the one made in the image of God—cannot be achieved, but only bestowed. The problem is with all of the false selves that have so covered over the true self that we no longer have any idea what is real and what is make-believe. We have lived with the mask for so long that it has become who we are. Thus, what feels most true about us is likely only a survival strategy that has served us well to gain the applause, security, recognition, or safety we so desperately desire.
There is a Self, however, that was dreamt into being before the foundations of the world. One that is who we truly are but has been so scattered and shattered and smothered and covered by sin and fear and doubt and insecurity that it is no longer recognizable, or even accessible. A Self that is dead because of sin, until it is raised to new life again by the One who breathed it into being. And then painstakingly restored to its creation intent through the long, slow work of the Holy Spirit within us, who peels away all of the false layers and cherished illusions that have accumulated through the years. This is the work of sanctification—becoming who and what we were intended to be. This is the work of spiritual formation—God restoring us to the good and beautiful works of art (masterpieces) he created long ago.
For it is only in Christ that we become all he intended us to be. It is only when we are willing to die to all that is false, that room is made for the new and the true to be born. All of the i’s of my own doing must be confronted and released, so that God can reveal to me the I that I really am. My I becomes Christ; “It is no longer i who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
“As far as the Law is concerned I may consider that I died on the cross with Christ. And my present life is not that of the old ‘I’, but the living Christ within me.” (JBP)
“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” (NLT)
“I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me.” (MSG)