What does the Bible say about self-image?
Question: "What does the Bible say about self-image?"
Answer: Image is always dependent upon perspective. Poor vision or a cloudy mirror can greatly affect how we perceive ourselves (1 Corinthians 13:12). Without an objective standard by which to measure ourselves, our self-image will be blurred (1 Corinthians 4:3–4). The Bible provides guidance regarding the appropriate view of our self-image.
All people are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27). Because of this, each person is of great worth and value.
All people are greatly loved by God. Romans 5:8 declares, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God’s love also gives us worth and value.
The Bible also tells us that every person is sinful. Romans 3:23 teaches that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We are sinful by nature (Psalm 51:5) and in practice (Ecclesiastes 7:20). Ephesians 2:1 says that, before salvation, we are “dead in . . . transgressions and sins”; verse 3 says that “we were by nature deserving of wrath.”
Because of our sin, we are in need of a Savior to forgive our sins and restore our relationship with God. Fortunately, God loved the world so much that He sent His only Son, so whoever believes in Him will have eternal life (John 3:16). Our salvation is not the result of our goodness but of God’s grace: “Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4–5).
Those who have believed in Jesus become new creations. Second Corinthians 5:17 teaches, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” Verse 21 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Though we were once destined for wrath, in Christ we are made new. Our primary identity is no longer that of a sinner, but that of a forgiven and justified child of God (see John 1:12).
As believers, we still sin, yet we are offered continued forgiveness, and we continue to grow in the Lord, by grace (1 John 1:9; Romans 8:29). We continue to struggle with various temptations and desires but are now free from bondage to sin and death (Romans 6:1–14; Galatians 5:1).
John 1:12 tells us that we become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1:3–14 details some of the spiritual blessings we have in Christ. Our identity is to be found in Him (Colossians 3:3). Our self-image should be founded on who God says we are. Yes, we were sinners, and we still battle against our sinful flesh, but, if we are in Christ, we are beloved children. We are secure—completely known, completely forgiven, and wholly loved by God, the very Creator of our souls. We are no longer condemned (Romans 8:1), and we need not condemn ourselves (1 John 3:19–24). By faith, we can be conquerors (Romans 8:31–37), and nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38–39).
Our self-image should not be inflated by human pride (Philippians 2:3–4) nor devastated by the reality of sin. Right self-image is having humility in the sight of God (1 Peter 5:6–11; James 4:4–10). Right self-image is understanding our great need for God and His great love for us. It is rejoicing in His truth and living aware of our value to Him and our identity in Jesus Christ (Galatians 4:6–7; Romans 8:14–17). “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). One day, we will be with God in heaven, fully restored and with clear vision of who He is and who we are in Him.
Recommended Resource: Messages to Myself: Overcoming a Distorted Self-Image by Helen McIntosh
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