Emerging from the Cocoon of the False Self, Part I

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When we begin to faithe in our true identity in Christ, that we are kings, priests, holy, beloved, having no more neediness but having everything we need for life and godliness in Christ who dwells in us, we step into “a great fight of afflictions.” Our false self, that collection of fears and ungodly ways of coping with life, begins to fall off like old grave clothes.

Quite often the people around us – family, friends, co-workers – will subconsciously try to keep us in the old, false self. We might think that they would be thrilled to see us change and not be emotionally dependent on them. But bear in mind that these people have learned to cope with us, as we have learned to cope with them, by the machinery and devices of the false self – passive-aggressiveness, aggressiveness, manipulation, control, fear, etc. They will fight to keep the old order; if we have been enslaved to needing their approval, or of lording it over them, we can be sure it will not be easy to extricate ourselves from the tangle. Most people dislike change.

But change we must, if we are to be everything Jesus Christ means us to be. This change of course does not come about by trying to change, but by abiding – resting, trusting, relying on Christ within us as the source and ground of our being. If we are “complete in Christ” and have “everything we need for life and godliness” in Him, what do we need from other people? What can they offer to those who have everything necessary and complete?

When they sense we are no longer operating on the ground of neediness the heat often gets turned up; they’re looking for their own coping mechanisms to work.

This is the cocoon from which we must emerge. Just as we received Christ by faith, so this struggle is by faith; it is the faith-labor by which we enter His rest. It is meant to be exactly what it is; people are meant by God to wrap us in this cocoon of their own thinking, their own ways, their own desires, their own coping mechanisms; it is God-ordained that we struggle to emerge from this cocoon. This makes us strong in faith and enables us to fly.

So if you have begun to step out in faith by relying on your real identity in Christ, do not be confused or angry or disheartened; be encouraged. Things often have to get worse before they get better; the way to renovate a house or room is often to first put it in seeming chaos, to pull things off the wall, to knock walls down, to take doors off, to strip the carpet. The house may not like this stripping, but it’s the only way to remodel and restructure the house.

We will feel this stripping in our life as God shows us who we really are in Him – that the new creation “I” does not need to puff or raise itself up on human approval or love.

That new creation you, in Christ, can fly. Don’t hold Him to the ground by caving in to the subtle manipulations, control, and fears of others; trust Him in you, continuing in patient faith. And by faith don’t retaliate; if they are not walking in the power of the Holy Spirit themselves, they are doing as they must. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” That Spirit of forgiveness and love is Who lives in us.

Christ in a man is a majority.

Profile photo of Ron Block

Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he's not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin' on audiences around the world, he's taking care of his donkey named "Trash" and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.


10 Comments

  1. Aaron Roughton

    Was it in the Voyage of the Dawn Treader that Aslan “strips” away the flesh from the boy (Digory?) who turned into the dragon? The scene immediately came to mind as I read this Ron.

  2. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Yes, Voyage. It was Eustace, turned into a dragon by sleeping on a dragon’s hoard and thinking “greedy, dragonish thoughts.” You’ll remember that Eustace sees Aslan, who leads him to a well of water, like a round bath with marble steps. Eustace had on the armband of the Lord Octesian (I think), and when he turned into a dragon it was cutting into his leg. Eustace wants to bathe in the pool to relieve his pain, and Aslan tells him he must undress first. Eustace claws at his skin and removes it like a snakeskin, only to see that he is still a dragon. He does it two more times, finally realizing it was hopeless (most of us try to remove our false self endlessly until God puts a stop to it), and finally Aslan says, “You must let me undress you” (Christ is the only power who can undo all the garbage of the false self). Eustace submits, and Aslan tears into him with a claw. It hurt Eustace to the heart, and Aslan peeled the whole thing off. “There it was, lying on the grass, only ever so much thinker and darker and more knobbly looking than the others had been. And there was I, as smooth and soft as a peeled switch.”

    That’s a perfect description of the removal of the false self. We try, and try, and try. Only when we submit to God’s peeling does the job ever really get done.

  3. LauraP

    Ron, thank you for your insights. This was a timely and comforting reminder not to fret in the chaos while the renovations are in progress – what emerges will be stronger and able to fly. It took me too many years to stop “caving in to the subtle manipulations, control, and fears of others”. I’m finally learning what it means to BELIEVE in my heart, and not just in my head, that I am “complete in Christ”. It’s still fragile – like the butterfly when it first emerges and its wings are still damp, but I know I won’t be heading back into the cocoon. That skin has been shed, and I’m glad of it.

    I also loved the last part about forgiveness. Though we don’t go back to the old order, we do go foward without bitterness, letting go of what was and trusting what lies ahead to be worth the struggle.

    I just re-read Phillipians 3:8-16 in light of your post:
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Phillipians%203:8-16;&version=65;

  4. Peter B

    Thanks again, Ron. Is it wrong that your second paragraph immediately made me think of an Amy Grant song?

  5. Peter B

    “When the world begins to see you change, don’t expect them to applaud”

    What’s funny is that I haven’t heard Age to Age in at least twenty years.

  6. Mike

    “Holiness hardly ever becomes a reality until we care more about Jesus than we do holiness.” Steve Brown

    I read last week in Hebrews that Jesus is the Veil that we must enter. Ripped and torn his Godself was exposed.

    You always make me think Ron.

    God Bless You

  7. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Mike, that’s a great quote by Steve Brown, and yes, Jesus Himself is behind the veil in the Holy of Holies in our hearts. By His death He ripped the veil from top to bottom for us.

    The problem is the Devil is always telling us the veil is still there. It isn’t. He is God-with-us, and more than even with us. He is in us, and is delighted when we submit our wills to Him in total submission and reliance. No more veil; Christ is now our life, and may God reveal that more and more completely to every one of us as we abide in Him.

  8. Mike

    Where Moses is read a veil remains over their heart to this day.

    Yes Satan is a master of getting us to think we must do things that have already been done.

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