General Identity

False Self? True Self?

If, somewhere along the line, you made a faith commitment to Jesus Christ, you have two natures living in you. I was twelve when I realized my sin and trusted Jesus for my salvation. I didn’t know that a supernatural change had happened to me. I got 100% of the Holy Spirit. Christ came to live inside of me. It wasn’t some weird voodoo extraterrestrial soul invasion. Rather. God came to live in me. He gave me a new heart. I now had two natures living in me: my old self (aka false self) and my new self (aka true self).

False Self

The reality is without Christ, my first twelve years were essentially me living out on my own. My false self was in charge and the Enemy was more than willing to lock me into lies that became strongholds in me. I may have looked like some good, quiet kid growing up, but inside I was trembling. The lies included “I am in the way.”  And, its cousin, “I’m an inconvenience.” and the one that hit the root of my soul, “I’m not worth knowing.”  Ouch!  

Trusting in Christ at age twelve didn’t magically remove those lies. I kept living from them, not knowing who I was in Christ. My identity was a mess. Going through adolescence things got even worse. Essentially, I was left to figure out life on my own. There were no older men speaking into my life. No one taking the time to know me, to understand me and help me see who I am in Christ.  The lies took deeper root and it led me to seriously consider suicide when I was 17. I couldn’t stand the pain. 

True Self

Through a very tragic accident of a good friend of mine, Kevin, God began what’s become a slow but steady journey to understanding my true self. That is, who He made me to be. The man I am in Christ. My true self.

Whereas your false self leads to destruction, even death, your true self in Christ, leads to hope and validation, yes, life itself. In his book, The Heart of a Warrior, author Michael Thompson contrasts the outcomes of living by your false self with the outcomes of your true self.  

Our operating self comes out of our hearts. Our thoughts are a key indicator of which self we are living by.  2 Corinthians 10:3-5 ESV speaks to this issue. 

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the mweapons of nour warfare are not of the flesh but have odivine power pto destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and qevery lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to robey Christ,

Taking Every Thought Captive

This idea of taking every thought captive is core to figuring out which self you are living from. Here’s a helpful matrix that helps me discern my true and false selves.


Does it…

Condemn / Bless

Tear Down / Encourage

Accuse / Affirm

Injure / Heal

Belittle / Build up

Destroy / Validate

     Leads to


It should be obvious which is of God and which is not.  Just because you made a faith commitment to Jesus somewhere in the past, does not guarantee you are living out of your true self. We often default to our false self without taking our thoughts captive. Self-deprecating thoughts, like I had growing up did more to destroy my identity and lock me into some destructive behaviors that I struggled with well into my adulthood. It didn’t have to be that way. 

Living from my True Self

It wasn’t until decades later the Lord, in his commitment to see me live from my true self, ripped off the scabs on some deep wounds. He took me to the mat and although it’s been difficult to face those wounds, God has never left my side. He is affirming me in ways I never imagined! I am becoming increasingly more of the man He created me to become.

So, What About You?

Don’t give me that line that you are fine. Regardless of how long or short, you’ve been walking with Jesus, you have a false self in you that the Enemy is vehemently refusing to let go of. The Enemy is scared spitless of the man you can become when you are living out of your true self. All those deprecating thoughts you have towards yourself and others. You are operating out of your false self. Those actions that take good things like your sexuality and turn them into fantasies and forays that use and abuse not only your body but those of others you want to have sex with, are definitely not of God. 

It’s time to get real and honest with yourself. If you claim to follow Jesus, then by the power of the Holy Spirit in your, live from your true self. Dig into the Word, pray, and ask friends and family to help you walk less by your false self and increasingly by your true self.

Try this for a Day

I guarantee your mind will be tired by the end of the day, but for one 24-hour period take every thought you have and run it through the filter of your true self.  Every thought for 24 hours. Take the matrix above and before you speak those thoughts or act on them, decide if you are doing it out of a heart for God and others or out of your own self-focused gain. If you are like me, taking every thought will long-term mature your manhood more than you realize.

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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