What does it mean to “be”. When Jesus said, “I AM”, what did he mean?
"AM" is the state of “being”. For example, if a lion is “being” a lion, then it "is" a lion, both inwardly and outwardly. It doesn't have to ''try" to be a lion. Likewise, if I were to say, I AM, then I am saying that I am in the state of "being", not trying. When we are told to “put on” righteousness and …. what is meant by that? It merely means that we are living “as” righteousness. We don't have to “try” to be righteous, but that we “are” righteous. If we “try” to be righteous, then we are doomed to failure. That is because we are trying to be something that we are not. But when we “put on” righteousness (take it inside us and make it a part of who we are), we “become” righteous. We no longer have to try to be something that we are not. Instead, when we “are” (or become) righteous, then we are acting in accord with our inner nature (our spirit).
But what does that mean practically. “Being” involves our thinking, our behavior patterns, and our actions. It starts in our thinking patterns. The transformation of “acting” righteous to “being” righteous is not instant or quick and easy. It involves putting to death our old nature and everything that goes with it. It also involves learning to monitor ALL of our thoughts and thinking patterns (taking EVERY thought captive to the obedience....) It means that we don't let ANY deceitful or impure thought have a home in us. We get rid of every selfish, evil …. thought or motive within us.
Ouch, how do we do this? This sounds impossible, and painful. From the perspective of our old way of living it is impossible.
The way that it becomes possible is that we take on the character and nature of God as our own character and nature.
This is not an instant process. Our spirit and our flesh (selfish motives and desires) are at war with one another. As we are told, we must “die to self daily”. To have progress on this path we must constantly be aware of what is going on inside us. It is much like driving a car, where a good driver is constantly watching all around him all the time, watching out for other cars, pedestrians, animals that might at any time jump out in front of us. To be drivers we must train ourselves to be “aware” at all times, and be ready to respond to any hazardous situation that may arise. In the same way we must do this same thing inside ourselves, watching our thoughts, our reactions, and the temptations that arise....
And, when we are acting or responding, look at our hidden desires and motives. We must retrain our thinking patterns, and our behaviors.
This all begins at a deep level within us, in our spirit, into the place of our deepest desires and motives. Everything has to change, to be renewed (that is, to be retrained)
In the midst of the transformation, your desires and wishes, and wants are also transformed. We no longer try to please God. But, instead, we have taken inside our inner beings (our spirits) the nature and character of God as our source for living, as who we are. Our whole new life, all our desires and wishes are pleasing to God. Our desires are the things that God desires. We want the same things that He wants.