It seems that those who live by faith have, like Joseph Smith, learned how to walk out on a limb, and expect God to help them. I remember the stories of Joseph needing something, and being able to pull it off against all odds in the allotted time frame. There are many such stories. A faith filled person can do things which normal people, even normal excellent people, simply cannot do. Naturally the excellent person has used the light of Christ to progress whether he knows it is of Christ or not, but to those who call upon God in the name of Christ and take upon them the name of Christ, and know how to have real living faith, there is something living, something far beyond what one could otherwise do.
Here are some brilliant thoughts from some friends shared with permission on the subject of how to live as one’s “best self.” I was surprised to learn that we shouldn’t strive to live our best self – we should get rid of ourselves, and live through Christ! Let Christ live through us! Naturally, God is interested in our self improvement. But the secret in how to best do this lies in actually having Christ live through us, being defined by Christ rather than other random identities, etc.
Here we go:
First, here are some general thoughts on God’s expectations of us, and how we can do so much more as we live through Christ:
As we seek perfection (Celestial living) we must remember that Heavenly Father does many things at once: As I ask for help in prayer to have more patience….and those irritating things arise more frequently, those irritating things are answers to my prayers and Heavenly Father is giving me opportunity to have patience with them.
At the same time, Heavenly Father is testing those who are the irritation (giving them the chance to see the results of unkindness).
As I firmly believed Heavenly Father would not direct me to do more then I could handle. Then, when I was, he showed me that through time-management and receiving the nutrition I was lacking…With His help, it really was not more then I could handle.
Life is short, juggling an additional ball is an additional blessing, If we are not adding the additional ball(s) we become complacent and stop progressing.
We all drop the ball(s) sometimes when we are juggling one.
Now we will go a bit deeper, defining who we really are scripturally:
I would say that I am not sold on the aspect of being “our best self”. The scripture state:
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. (Gal 2:20).
Jesus stated:. “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
Also, we know from The book of Mormon that ” what we are supposed to do” while we are here is to become more Christ like:
For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God.”
Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you” (Moroni 10:32).
And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he cendureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world. (3Nephi 27:16)
By just these few passages alone and not bombarding us all with the boat load more that we can pull, I would contend that we are to deny ourselves and not try to become the best self. Rather we are to try and become more like Christ, in whose image we are created. In this process, I think there is much grace. I don’t think that God is looking how many balls we are juggling. For some, their best effort may be one. For others their best effort maybe 20. What matters is that we endure, not how many balls we endure with.
In order to be “one’s best self”, onemust first know what the self is. Afterall, how can one be one’s ‘best self’ if one does not even know what the ‘self’ even is? Herein lies the problem:
Take the time to ask people around you this question; “Who are you?” Most individuals think they can answer this, but in reality, they can’t. Their answers will almost always fall in one of five categories:
Let me break this down for you to better understand it.
WHO ARE YOU?
- You are NOT your name. You can change it at any time, and yet you (the real you) still exist. You can change it monthly, and yet you, the real you, still exist.
In fact, The Bible tells us that believers in Christ will be given new names in heaven that is, a new and different character, patterned after that of God. (Isaiah 62:2, 65:15)
In biblical antiquity, a new name was given to remember major event of significance (Genesis 17:5; 32:28; Ruth 1:20; Hosea 1:6, 9; 2:1).
Also, The Newt Testament states: “He that has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says unto the churches: To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows save he that receives it. (Rev. 2:17, JST/IV)
“And I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God — this is New Jerusalem, which comes down out of Heaven from my God — and my new name. He that has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says unto the churches.” (Rev. 3:12 JST/IV)
- You are NOT your body. If I were to show you a photo of yourself at the age of 4 and 14, and ask you “who is that?”, you would state “That is me!” Yet, it is clear that the body you had at 4 and 14 is very clearly not the same body you have at this current time. Yet, you (your true self) still exist even though the body at 4 and 14 are no longer here (your body regenerates itself about every 7 years).
The New Testament tells us: “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God? And you are not your own, for you are bought with a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 JST/IV)
[Also see 1 Corinthians 12:14-17] These verses give us an understanding of the purpose of our body.
- You are NOT what you have. You can lose everything you own in a fire, through theft, etc. yet you still exist. This includes friends, family, houses, cars, collectables, etc. If you are left with nothing but nakedness, your true self still exists.
The New Testament states: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust do corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust do corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Mathew 6:19-21 JST/IV)
” Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and thieves break through and steal; 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” (3 Nephi 13:19-21 BOM)
- You are NOT what you do. You can change hobbies, change jobs, kick addictions, create and lose habits, etc. and yet you (the true you) still exist.
“Truly I say unto you, it is not everyone that says unto me, Lord, Lord, that shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven, but he that does the will of my Father who is in Heaven. For the day soon comes that men shall come before me to judgment, to be judged according to their works. And many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, and in your name have cast out devils, and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I say unto them, you never knew me. Depart from me, you that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23 JST/IV)
“Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in Heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you. Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (3 Nephi 14:21-23 BOM)
- You are NOT what other say you are. One may call a person beautiful, and another may call that same person ugly, one may say that you are bitter, and yet another may say you are sweet and yet you still exist. Descriptors are not facts of identity. Such things are opinions. Opinions are like rectums, everyone has one, they are nearly always full of hot air, make a lot of noise, and often stink!
“And blessed are you when men shall revile you, and persecute, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake, for you shall have great joy and be exceedingly glad, for great shall be your reward in Heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12 JST/IV)
So if you are:
NOT your name,
NOT your body,
NOT what you have,
NOT what you do, and
NOT what others say you are,
then WHO ARE YOU????????
How can you be your BEST SELF when we don’t even know who are self is????
To answer this question, we need to go back to Genesis:
“…And I, God, said unto my Only Begotten, who was with me from the beginning, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And it was so…
And I, God, created man in my own image, in the image of my Only Begotten created I him. Male and female created I them. And I, God, blessed them.” (Gen. 1:24-28, Moses 2:24-28 JST/IV)
Our true self is found as the IMAGE OF GOD. Thus, to understand who we are we must them seek God.
The reason so many are lost today is because they do not know God. Since they do not know God, and they are created in the Image of God, then they do not know themselves. Thus, they identify the self with the illusion of the 5 things.
I am convinced the 5 false identifiers (5 I AMs) are a reflection of Satan’s 5 “I wills” found in Isaiah 14:13-14 –
I will ascend into Heaven;
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north;
|I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will be like the Most High.
Humanity has taken this path with the “5 I AMs” I speak of pertaining to self.
Thus, the vital importance of repenting, and being baptized for the remission of sins is of vital importance to walking in one’s true identity. For baptism identifies one with one’s true Identity- CHRIST!!!!!
Lastly, I want to leave you with this final thought:
Theologically speaking, the word which has been translated as ‘sin’ is the Greek word “hamartía” meaning: “to miss the mark”.
Hamartia is made up of two parts: ha -which is a negation (like un-or dis-or without), and -martia, from the Greek root meros, meaning “form, origin, or being.” The fundamental meaning is “negation of origin or being” or “formlessness.” Hamartia (sin) is thus the negation of our original form, and therefore the identification with a distorted form.
With these two definitions in mind, what we find is that to miss the mark is to negate the very origin of who God designed you to be by identifying with a distorted form that is other than God intended. What origin is that? “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him…” (Genesis 1:27 NASB emphasis my own) Humanity’s origin is in the image of God. Now lets take a moment to unpack this further.
- If “God is Love” (1 John 4:8,16)
- And we are “made in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27)
- That is to then say that we are made in the image of Love.
- Therefore, our identity is beloved.
- Thus, the Father is not looking at humanity as some disgusting entity, but rather views us as His beloved! It is as if He is looking into a mirror and the image He sees reflecting back to Himself is Love. He cannot see the image as anything else! Your failure of the list of do’s and don’ts can never change that. Please take the time to read that again and absorb it! Sin is the neglect of one’s identifying oneself as God’s beloved!
Now that we have learned that God created us to identify as His beloved, and that we misidentify with a distorted identity that is other than the image of God (sin). That we can change the way we think about this distorted identity and turn back to our original identity as God’s beloved (repentance).
The modern church has taught us that repentance means “making a U-turn away from sin (not achieving the do’s and don’ts)”. On the surface this is correct, but it worthless without understanding the root. Religion would have us stop at turning away from sin, so that it can keep us in its behavioral modification program. The problem is that without understanding the root, all we can do is run through cycles until we are dizzy, yet without any results.
The root of repentance is found in the Greek word it is translated from, “metánoia” meaning: “a change of mind”. If we do not understand what is the cause of the action in the first place, how can we ever break the cycle?
Side note: Want to know the secret to knowing if you have truly repented? If you change the way you are thinking about the issue and that change of thought leads you in a change of direction (pointing you back towards Christ), you can be sure you have truly repented!
“And be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2 JST/IV)
The Greek word for “conformed” is “syschēmatizō” meaning: “to conform one’s mind and character to another’s pattern. Paul was speaking regarding the religious of his day.
The Greek word for “transformed” is “metamorphoō” meaning: “to change into another form”.
Paul is telling us not to conform to the religious patterns (syschēmatizō-keeping our mind and character in bondage) of the world, but rather be freed from its shackles by changing the way we think (metánoia). He implores us to break free from this bondage by “renewing” (to bring back to its original, new state) our mind (see ourselves how God sees us) which will reflect in our character (metamorphoō -change into another form) as the beloved image of God -our original identity! This identity is truly “our best self!”