Relinquishing the False Self

Study Notes

Getting started

  • What do you remember from the sermon on Sunday?
  • What did you find surprising? What did you find challenging?
  • Have you changed anything in your life as a result of the spiritual disciplines series?

Take a moment with God…

Sit quietly as a group, come into God’s presence and offer yourselves to him. Ask God to show you how he sees you. One person slowly read through the following statements and verses, which reveal how God sees us. After each statement spend a short time in prayer – either silently or out loud as you feel led - thanking or talking to God about he views you.

You are chosen
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit. (John 15:16)

You are a beloved child of God
See what great love the father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1)

You are friends of Jesus
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his m aster’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15)

You are the temple of God
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? (1 Corinthians 3:16)

You are God’s work of art
For we are God’s handiwork (Ephesians 2:10)

You are fearfully and wonderfully made
For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:13-14)

 For discussion

  • How close is the way God sees you to the way you see yourself?
  • Were any of the ways described particularly impactful to you?
  • What are some ways in which we might construct a false self?
  • How do you think the spiritual disciplines of confession, self-examination and detachment can help with the ‘putting off’ of the false self and ‘putting on’ our true identity in Christ?

Note: you may like to choose one or the other of the following disciplines to discuss. Please don’t feel that you have to answer all the questions supplied. Chose the ones that suit your group and answer them deeply.

The discipline of confession and self-examination

Read Psalm 139:23-24
Read Psalm 31:1-2

  • How in touch do you feel with your own sin? Is it something you find overwhelming burdensome, something you never think of, or somewhere in between?
  • Does your confession tend to be along the lines of ‘Please forgive my sins Father’, rather than specifically naming your sins one by one before the Lord? What does the lack of specific confession do to self-awareness?

Putting it into practice

You will need a sheet of paper and a pen each for this exercise

  • Imagine the kind of person you would like to be in your old age. On one half of the paper write words that describe this person. Then look at you life and assess whether or not the way you live now is preparing you to become this person. On the other half of the paper write down the things that need to change. Confess these things to God and ask for his help to change.

The discipline of detachment

Detachment means replacing the attachments to idolatrous relationships and self-serving goals for success, money, power, ego, productivity and image with wholehearted attachment to trust in God alone.

Read Luke 12:13-21

  • How do you handle failure and weakness, suffering and loss? What does this tell you about how you attach and adapt to the world’s view of success, power and self-worth?
  • What are some specific ways in which mistakes and failures have worked for your good?
  • When has loss made God more real to you?
  • What about yourself are you most attached to?

Putting it into practice

  • Think about your life – your relationships, your values, your possessions, your work etc. On a sheet of paper, write down the areas where you recognise you need Christ’s spirit of detachment? Where do you need grace to pray “Not my will by yours be done?” Talk to God about this.

You may like to finish with the following prayer:

Lord I am willing to receive what you give,
Release what you take,
Lack what you withhold,
Do what you require and
Be who you desire. Amen