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Deceptions Regarding Self-Identity

By Dr. Don Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
How do we find peace regarding who we are and how we are perceived? - Do you consider yourself a victim of poor self-esteem? Have you ever wasted time and energy worrying that other people will not accept you? Tragically, many Christian counselors assign the diagnosis of “low self-image” to countless numbers of clients. In this series on self-identity, Dr. Dunlap exposes several popular but unbiblical opinions on the topic of self-esteem.

An alarming number of people today consider themselves hapless victims of low self-esteem. They waste their time and energy worrying that they are not good enough and that other people will not accept them. They live with the paralyzing fear that they are doomed to a life of rejection. Many of them believe that their problem is rooted in the fact that they suffer from a “poor self-image.”

Christians hold many popular but unbiblical opinions on the topic of self-esteem.

Because our natural inclinations often lead us to wrong conclusions, we need to examine the biblical view of self-identity. It is, regretfully, a well-kept secret in today’s Christian community.

The first natural assumption that leads some Christians to an identity conflict is the belief that although we are sinners, we are still basically good because we are created in God’s image.

The truth is that God’s restores His image in sinful people only through their genuine conversion to Jesus Christ. A similar deception is the claim that although people make mistakes they need to affirm their dignity and assert their rights. We read in God’s Word that every person alive has a sinful nature and he or she needs God’s grace and forgiveness.


God, our Creator, designed us before time began and He foreknew every detail of our lives.

Many people wrongly assume that their birth and the families that they were born into were the results of chance. Christians, on the other hand, acknowledge the fact that God designed their existence from the very beginning of time. They are also aware of the truth that God predetermined the specific families that they would belong to, in accordance with His perfect will for their lives.

We would be amazed to know how many people struggle with feelings of inferiority.

Many Christians believe that their physical appearance and abilities are solely the result of the factors of heredity. This is a particularly harmful deception.

God fashioned every person in His mind before He laid the earth’s foundation. He prescribed their unchangeable features in order to best achieve His purposes in each of their lives.


People often spend years wishing that they could look like someone else. They believe that if they could only “look better” their new appearance would deliver them from their feelings of inferiority.

The truth is that every individual has his or her own struggle with self-identity. Often the people who we think are least likely to be dealing with such a struggle are the ones who have the greatest problems. They have simply learned to mask their feelings of inferiority.

It is a common occurrence for people who have physical and mental defects to view them as cruel handicaps that they must cope with. Someone who has learned to view his or her handicap from God’s perspective understands that the Lord will faithfully use it to develop strength of character in his or her life.

God is not finished with us yet.

People who do not understand biblical self-identity may attempt to hide their feelings of inferiority by asserting their personalities.

Other people may try to gain acceptance by accentuating those physical and intellectual attributes that society seems to value most.

The wiser approach is to view our weaknesses as a daily reminder that we belong to God. We should be aware that we are still very much a work in process. We must be determined to gain God’s approval by concentrating on the inward qualities that He values.


Our “defects” can be transformed into a powerful message for Jesus Christ.

Some of the greatest Christians who have ever lived believed initially that they were powerless to correct what they thought were certain unchangeable physical or mental “defects.” Their testimonies, however, bear witness to the fact that when they yielded their “defects” to God and asked Him to develop their inward character their outward features took on new meaning. The result was that their lives honored and glorified God.


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