Breaking Free from the Slavery of Your Old Self


Colossians 3:9–10 NRSV

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator.


Have you realized there are at least two versions of you? Today’s text references these two versions as the “old self” and the “new self.” Another way of stating it would be the false self and the true self. The false self is the image of ourselves that we manage to cobble together over time to generate a sense of identity and self-worth (or not). The new, or true, self is the image of God alive or waiting to be awakened in our inmost being.

Real Christianity is the journey from the old or false self to the new or true self. Until we embark on this journey, we are destined to live a lie. Isn’t this what the text is saying?

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. (vv. 9–10 NRSV)

Unfortunately, so many people live so much of their lives unaware of these things. Lying to one another does not mean telling untruths to each other; rather, it means projecting an image of yourself to other people that simply is not true. Most people do not intend to do this. They can’t help it. One’s outward image is a direct projection of his or her inward sense of identity and when this identity is built on things that are not true (i.e., anything other than the image of God), that individual’s outward image lies about who he or she most deeply is.

We have all known people whose outward physical appearance is a marvel to behold. So often, people who focus great energy on their outward appearance believe their value as a person is directly related to their appearance. As a result, some of the most physically attractive people in the world are the most deeply insecure about their appearance. Worse, they often believe they are unattractive. The internal lies drive them to, in effect, create an external image they can’t even believe themselves. Similarly, many financially wealthy people live from the lie of scarcity at the core of their sense of self. No matter how much they accumulate, it will never be enough.

The old or false self creates the conditions known as slavery. We become ensnared by the lies we believe about ourselves, and those lies enslave us to practices whereby we try to convince ourselves and others that the direct opposite is true of us. In other words, the reason we spend so much of our energy trying to prove our value to others is because we have believed the lie of our own worthlessness. The tragic irony is, despite all the good we may do to prove our worth to others, in the end, we only did it to prop up our broken false self.

This old or false self must be taken off, deconstructed, crucified, dead, and buried. This only happens when we dare to believe the gloriously beautiful truth about ourselves. We are created in the image of God. We are deeply known by God, and we are profoundly loved by God, and because God loves us, we are, in fact, lovable and worthy of love. This is true not because of anything we do or don’t do or who we are or aren’t, but because of who God is and what God has done. This is what it means that we “have clothed [our]selves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator” (v. 10 NRSV).

The knowledge we are being renewed in is this:

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Rom. 8:15)

To repent means to renounce the lies of the old or false self and walk into one’s new or true self. It happens as we believe and are renewed in the knowledge of God and the gospel, which is this: I am no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.

Domino #3|9 warrants a slogan of sorts: “If you fake it, you will never make it.”


Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who is the image of the invisible God, the exact representation of your being. Thank you that I am created in his image. Reveal to me the lies I have believed about myself. Give me the courage to renounce them and the grace to run from them into the truth of who you are. I want to be renewed in knowledge in the image of my Creator. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


  1. How do  you relate to this notion of the old, false self and the new, true self?
  2. Are you aware of your false self? Have you discovered how deep it goes and how difficult it is to root out?
  3. What do you think the next steps look like on this journey of being renewed in knowledge in the image of your Creator?

P.S. Summer Daily Text + New Course Offering on Holy Spirit

The FarmTeam is gearing up for a big celebration of the Holy Spirit this summer beginning on the Day of Pentecost. I will begin a Daily Text series focused on the Holy Spirit. Later in the summer Dan Wilt and I are working on our next course in the Awakening Essentials Series—a three week offering called How to Experience the Holy Spirit. I would love to know of your interest. Will help us pray and plan. Would you take one minute and answer these two questions? We will keep you updated as the time nears. 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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Comments and Discussion

6 Responses

  1. I believe that to properly grasp this truth concerning the putting off the old self and putting on the new self, that we must first come to grips to the fact that each and every one of us was born into this world spiritually dead. Until we by the grace of God are brought to newness of life through faith in Christ Jesus, we remain zombies so to speak. This world is full of the walking dead. As Christ followers it is our task to bring these dead bones to the resurrection of new life in Christ. In order to do that we must make sure that we ourselves are walking in newness of life. This where self examination comes into play. It’s only through prayer, meditation on God’s word and the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit that we can be made aware of our true self. This process is made complete when we are in close fellowship with other Spiritual believers who will hold us accountable to our testimony.

  2. The Greek word translated as “self” in the NIV is “anthrōpon” which means person (as in anthropology). When we’re born again a new person is birthed in us. Then there is conflict between the old person born of the flesh and the new person born of the Spirit. The process of putting off the old person (dying to self) and putting on the new person (being changed from glory to glory) begins. The Bible calls this process both repentance and sanctification. Theology calls it spiritual formation. We are not only to “strip off” our old person, but also its practices.

    The term knowledge in NIV isn’t “information.” The Greek word is “epignōsin” and it means recognition and discernment. The new person is being made new in its ability to recognize and discern like God does. It is learning to see from God’s perspective instead of from a human perspective.

  3. Bob and Steve, I read your comments every day and I so appreciate both of your perspectives. I love both of your analogies today! Thank you for your faithful posts.

  4. The concept that made Christianity more “doable” for me is that the problem is I am not the truly human person God created. It was a relief to learn that the starting point is that life had left me a confused and broken mess–something I had been sensing for quite a while and I ultimately had to face head on. I can now focus my energy on God rather than maintaining the facade that everything is OK.

  5. Simply, all are born in/with a sinful nature. There is no righteousness in us. (1 john 1:9). Satan is our spiritual father. (John 8: 42-44; 1 John 3: 8-10 emphasis on 10). Proof? Little children lie before they know what a lie is. They rebel and are self-centered and selfish unaware of those intents. As we mature, we know of our falsity but are powerless to do anything about it because it is a spiritual issue. Our earthly father will always be so, despite our rebellion towards him or his rejection of us. But, we can choose to change our spiritual father by being born again in spirit. We become God’s children (1 John 3:1-2 ). But, the evil one has separation anxiety and tries all temptations to stall your continued maturity in Christ ( Colossians 1:28; 1 Corinthians 14:20). The evil one won’t give up. God, doesn’t give up. We are not to give up!

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