Who are we, really?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by rlvaughn, Feb 3, 2006.

  1. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
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    Who are we, really? I have reflected on this question from time to time, without really answering it. Let me explain what I mean. I'd love to hear your opinions.

    Have you ever known someone get old and somewhat senile and their personality changes? Let's say a man who has been an upstanding family man, and a community and church leader. But in this senility he becomes a "dirty old man". Who is he, really? Is the real person that person he was by the exercise of his will? Or is the real person who he became when he could no longer exercise control?

    What about someone who becomes intoxicated on alcohol or drugs? Perhaps he is a mild mannered man by day, polite and kind to folks. But at night when the alcohol takes over, he becomes abusive and even violent, maybe getting in fights in clubs or taking it out on his wife at home. Who is he, really? Is the real person that person he is by day when he is exercising his will? Or is the real person that person he becomes when the inhibitions are removed?

    Are we that person we choose to be by the exercise of our will, or are we that person that comes out when the guard comes off and the "hair is let down"? Or are we possibly only who we are at any given second in time? Etc.?

    Some may immediately think of how we Christians are "two people" -- the old man and the new man. Let me assure you I don't discount that. But don't the above situations apply to mankind in general? That is, they are not traits only displayed by Christians (or necessarily just religious), but part of the human condition?

    I'd love to hear your thoughts on these questions, your thoughts on other questions I didn't raise, or your thoughts on whether the questions are even valid?
     
  2. bapmom

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    I think we are who we choose to be........whoa, that sounds really existential....(I don't think I spelled that right)

    But really, I think who we are is an act of our will. Perhaps we could say thats why its so important for us to submit our will to Jesus Christ daily.
     
  3. saturneptune

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    rlvaughn,
    Interesting question. I think the more like Christ we become, the closer we are to our true selves and and what God would have us to be.
    For the Christian, losing inhibitions for the moment, or "letting your hair down" to me is not the person you really are.
    Even for the person not in Christ, I have to think the real person is the person that exhibits civil and polite qualities. When they have moments like mentioned above, they are closer to what an animal instinct is, and that is not what humans really are.
    We were all made in the image of God.
     
  4. Ron Arndt

    Ron Arndt
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    The unsaved person is one person, a sinner guided solely by the inclinations of his sinful nature. While the Christian is one person influenced by BOTH the sinful nature that still tugs within him and the conviction and leading of the Holy Spirit. For the Christian both the flesh and the spirit are at war with one another, trying to claim supremacy.I Pet 2:11.

    Victory is only obtained by prayer and saying no to the temptation to sin. Christians are no different than unsaved sinners. Both ARE sinners. But the Christian has within them the indwelling Holy Spirit and the power to OVERCOME sin only if they CHOOSE to. The Christian now is free to choose not to be a slave to sin, but the unsaved person cannot help but be in bondage to sin.
     
  5. mioque

    mioque
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    Bapmom
    Yes you did. [​IMG]
    Spell existential correctly that is.
     
  6. J. Jump

    J. Jump
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    The old sin nature for Christians is much like putting dry ice in a closed container. The longer it is held captive the bigger the pop is going to be when it finally explodes.

    When we die to ourselves we are putting our old sin nature under wraps with no release available to it. And the longer it is under wraps then the bigger the mess can be when it finally gets free.

    That's why you can have Godly individuals that are some of the meanest individuals when they lose the ability late in life to die to self. The old sin nature finally gets free and all that stored up "stuff" gets released rather quickly.
     
  7. exscentric

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    We are what our spouse knows us to be. :rolleyes:
     
  8. Joseph M. Smith

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    Without directly responding to the question, I can simply say that the fact that this kind of thing happens is witness to the wonder of Christ's saving grace. As a pastor I was able to remind people that we were not saved by how good we were or how correct our theology was, but by sheer trust and faith in His grace. So the Alzheimer's patient who once was a godly churchman but is now spewing curse words is still a soul saved by grace and being shaped within by the Spirit. The inner man being renewed ..
     
  9. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Hi, rlvaughn.

    I wondered about this very thing when my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's some years ago. Knowing the reputation of the disease, I wondered what my dad would be like as the disease stripped away his memory.

    Dad himself wanted to tell me about the disease while we were on furlough, so we took a walk together at the Chikamauga battlefield, then sat down at a monument to some colonel who got his head taken off by a cannonball. Dad said, "Son, I have a disease I need to tell you about. It's um, well it starts with an 'A'." [​IMG]

    I needn't have worried about Dad. He wanted to have devotions with Mom right up until the end, even when he would totally mess up reading the Bible and praying.

    When Mom checked him into the hospital for his last stay, she was filling out the forms, and asked him, "Chuck, what should I put for religion?" Dad shot back, "I don't have a religion. I have a Savior!"

    Then, in the hospital, he kept trying to have services with the other patients in the lounge. They would go along with him while he sang some hymns, then he when he would grab a magazine of some kind thinking it was a Bible, and start to preach, they would all leave. He'd say, "Mary, don't let them leave! Bring them all back!"

    Not long after that the Lord decided, "I need this one up here," and Dad went to Heaven to sing praise to his Lord with all his senses intact. I flew back and preached the funeral message with my brother and led the grave side service, and I've never been so proud of my dad.

    Who are we? We are exactly who the Lord makes us to be in our heart of hearts. Dad was a lover of Jesus and a preacher of the Gospel until the day his Alzheimer's ravaged brain ceased to work and he ended up in Glory!! [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  10. Helen

    Helen
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    That's a wonderful reassurance to many, John, and thank you for taking the time for it.

    Regarding those who seem to 'change personalities' whether from a disease or drunkenness or drugs or whatever, maybe if you think of it this way, it will help --

    Our brains are like incredible supercomputers which we run. We are not the product of our brains, but rather they are the means by which we can express ourselves to and in the physical world.

    And when something goes wrong, or interferes, with operations in the brain, there can be very evident changes. It can be in the eyesight, in the hearing, in the memory, or in the expression of the personality itself. For example -- for years we did not know that I was reacting to the chemical breakdown of the chemicals used in dental local anasthetics. But from the time I was a child, within hours of a dental appointment when I had to have a shot for a cavity to be filled, I would be sobbing, in tears. My parents had me pegged for a hypochondriac or drama queen. It did not change in my adult years, but got worse. After the last episode, a number of years ago, two days after the appointment which had required a number of shots, my eldest son sat on my bed watching me and scared to leave the room because he was afraid I would try suicide! A day later I was fine, and back to my normally upbeat self. (another dentist finally figured it out and now I go in for deep sedation when such is needed).

    I wasn't 'me.' But the feelings were overwhelming about the hopelessness of life and my tiredness of having to deal with all of it. Yes, I do get tired and there are times -- like this week when the sewer backed up and it turned out we had to have the side yard dug up and the sewer repaired -- that I will say, only half joking "I give up!" But that is not the same as when those feelings 'take control.'

    If you have known someone for who they "really are," they are still there, inside. Over-use of alcohol can send you out of control. Drugs in any amount, legal or otherwise, can send you out of control. And certainly things that affect the brain directly can also do that, especially, as in the case of tumors or AZ, if they hit in those areas where personality is expressed.

    I cannot think of anything more painful in an ongoing way than to live with and try to take care of a person who is not the person you knew for so many years.

    John, I thank God for your father being able to be 'himself' right up to the end, despite AZ. Some people are affected differently, and it can be heartbreaking to those who love them.

    But, as a reassurance to those involved with similar, please know that that person you used to know is really still there, inside. Just overwhelmed.
     
  11. HankD

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    The flesh is with us to the end and its works can be ugly even for the redeemed.

    Take Peter who under duress not only denied His Lord but cursed and swore while denying Him as well.

    My mother-in-law lived with us for several years while Alzheimers consumed her. There was a long period of time where there was bizarre behavior.

    If the flesh gets the upperhand in this life or we become confused and react in an undignified manner or for whatever the reason, the judge of all the earth will do the right thing.

    If we here on earth can understand emotional disorder and the bizarre behavior it can produce then how much more our heavenly Father who knows all things?

    One thing we can be sure of:

    1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

    Revelation 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
     

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