Within each Christian who professes faith in Jesus Christ is a false self and a true self. The false self came about in the garden of Eden. God had told Adam, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).
But, when Adam and Eve ate from that tree, the true self that God had intended for them died. Instead, a false self arose which sought after knowledge, self-satisfying knowledge. It is this knowledge that tells us that there are things better than God; that we do not need God.
This false self has caused a misalignment of our person so that our mind, heart and soul go separate ways. So, it gives us a different perspective when Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). In order to love God, our heart and soul and mind have to come as one so that we can love the totality of God with the totality of our person. God is love. To love him back we must also be love. Our whole personality must be love, but this is only possible with the true self.
What is the true self? It is Christ in us. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” -Galatians 2:20
But the false self will not relinquish his throne that easily. Yet, the only power he has is deception. And the only weapon he has is our thoughts.
“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” -2 Cor. 10:4-5
Our thoughts are so deceptive that, when we come to God, we think we’re going in faith; but we are actually approaching God with the false self. Thomas Merton wrote, “What is the use of praying if at the very moment of prayer, we have so little confidence in God that we are busy planning our own kind of answer to our prayer?”
We come to God with the attitude of my, mine, I; when we should come to God with the attitude of You. It should be God who creates the environment to approach him. It’s His presence that we come into, and not our presence that He comes into.
“We don’t think big enough about God! We judge Him by our own limitations and negative feelings, and project those feelings unto Him.” -Thomas Keating
So, what is the environment of God? It’s love.
We cannot approach him with our ways and our thoughts — “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). We approach Him in faith.
“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” -Eph. 3:12
We have to be free from our false self and have confidence that the true self — Christ in us — is ushering us into the spirit realm where the fullness of God’s presence allows us to partake of the fruit of the Spirit.
At the top of the fruit of the Spirit is love.