For most of my life, I’ve heard people say we should be authentic and be our true selves. This sounds like good advice, but it’s the worst advice a follower of Jesus could ever follow. To be true to yourself stands in stark contrast to how we are called to live. It is prideful, putting our feelings and preferences ahead of God’s. The advice isn’t far removed from the way the serpent tempted Eve.
He convinced her there was a better way than the one prescribed by God. The devil deceived Eve into believing she could be more than she was. It was the desire to be something more, something she believed to be truer to who she was that she shared with Adam. The rest is the unfortunate history of the fall of man and the source of all our problems today.
To be true to yourself is to put yourself on the throne of your heart. It places you in the position of being the lord of your life. Being true to yourself typically revolves around your preferences. We don’t like the way something is, so we reject it under the auspices of personal integrity. Most of the time, it is only an excuse to live the way we want to rather than doing the will of someone else. The problem with an attitude like this is we are never supposed to live for ourselves. A disciple of Jesus is only concerned with being true to God and His Word.
If you want to follow Jesus, He commands you to die to yourself (Mark 8:34). When you are in the habit of picking up your cross daily, there is no place for thinking of yourself. Your entire life should be about Christ and nothing else. If you want to be true to someone, be true to Jesus.
Our desire to be true to ourselves is a sign we haven’t yet learned what it means to surrender our lives to Christ. When you devote your life to Jesus, there is no such thing as “self” any longer. Self is dead, crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:19-20). All that remains is a heart interested only in the things of God. We desire His Kingdom, not our own. And we pursue His work rather than our pleasure.
We are born sinners, so being true to ourselves is the same as loving sin. There is no hope in a life lived true to ourselves because our desires are of the flesh, and the flesh will assuredly pass away. Only what we do for Jesus will last. Our only hope for life is found in dying to ourselves. A life committed to Jesus is a life unconcerned with earthly desires. Such a life has its eyes set on the eternal things above, not the temporary pleasures and accomplishments of this life (Colossians 3:2-3; Matthew 6:19-21). Forget being true to yourself. Be true to the God who loves and delivers you from all your sins.