Identity - Who are you really?
When asking people about what is the most important thing a person needs to be successful I get a lot of answers. A good education, wisdom, character, life skills, resilience etc are common answers. When reading the Bible, if we look at the first interaction Satan had with Adam and Eve, we find that his first mission was to strip them of their God-given identity and replace it with lies. When we look at what is happening in the world, we find that the agenda is for people to "find" themselves through pleasure, image, knowledge, gender etc. It is leading to a society that is not more content and happy, but one more bound up in anxiety, sin, divorce, broken relationships and lives that are a mess. What is the answer to this? I would challenge people to stop and to re-discover what their identity is in Christ. When established in their identity things will mean something totally different.
When you read this today, ask Jesus that you hear the voice of Jesus calling you out of darkness into light and out of death into life. This is why Jesus so often said things like, "Take heed how you hear" (Luke 8:18), and, "If any man has ears to hear, let him hear" (Mark 4:23). And once you hear the quickening voice of Jesus, you must, as Paul says here in verse 21, be taught in him as the truth is in Jesus. If you both understand your identity and walk in this new identity you will experience life in a new way.
As you read allow God to renew you in the spirit of your mind. That you will be not only able to comprehend your identity but live in the way He has made you live as you understand your identity in Christ.
Let's explore together what identity means for Christians.
1. All truth comes from God. Being open to hearing from God.
In the Garden of Eden, there was an opportunity for Adam and Eve to walk with God, to ask questions and receive wisdom from Him on how to understand the world and to live. God also put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for them so they, with their God-given free will, could choose where they received their wisdom from. In Genesis 2 we read:
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Genesis 2:16-17.
Truth from God brings life but when we choose knowledge and wisdom from this tree, it brings death to our body, relationships including the one we have with God. Choose to know and understand what God says and do not pursue knowledge and man's wisdom. It will only destroy.
2. What is identity? Image versus identity. It starts in the mind.
In our society, the huge focus in many lives it to look good so others think highly of us. The lie from Satan is we need to do something to be somebody. That lie has caused us to walk with a constant fear that we are not good enough and that people will not like us because we are not good enough or do not present ourselves well enough. We are caught up in our image or what people see about us so we strive to do things to make our image one that impresses people so they like us. Facebook, Twitter and social media are just about putting across a doctored image of who we are.
People came to Jesus and said, "What must I do". Jesus replied, "‘Tell me who you are, and then you will know what you must do." When we read the Bible we can grasp who God is. We find out that we are made in His image. John Calvin writes, “Without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God. Without knowledge of God, there is no knowledge of self.” You cannot know yourself without knowing the One in whose image you were created.
When we focus on our image, all is well and we can hold things together until there is a tragedy and all things are stripped away. Many people in a situation where image is the thing that they live to find that when tragedy comes they are destroyed. Instead, when Joseph and David, for example, had tragedy and were stripped of everything they were not destroyed, but this was a place where their identity could be truly established.
Image is something you have to strive at, pursue and can be destroyed at any moment. Identity is a knowledge of who you are and cannot be changed even when your situation changes. Image exhausts you. When you stop working at it then people will discover who you really are and everything is destroyed. With identity, you can go from a place of great power and influence to nothing and still be content. Apostle Paul went from being a leader in the church to being despised and rejected by the church. He said "
12–13 I know what it means to lack, and I know what it means to experience overwhelming abundance. For I’m trained in the secret of overcoming all things, whether in fullness or in hunger. And I find that the strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty. Philippians 4:12-13 (TPT)
3. Find your identity in the right place.
The Bible tells us what our identity is. Our identity does not come from our experiences or our image. When we come to Christ we become a new creation. It is a gift.
Many people live their lives insecure because they try to find their worth and security in their image. In Christ, we are secure and have His stamp of approval. Love is a gift, not something we strive hard to earn. He will never leave us or forsake us. When we become a Christian we become a new creation and our identity changes as we are rescued, redeemed from sin and darkness and welcomed into God's family. 1 Peter 2:9 says, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light."
4. 6 reasons why identity matters
When we see what is happening in the world now, we see that Satan is still doing everything he can to strip us of our identity. You could even argue, this is the major issue and where we can get the greatest victory in our lives when we stop doing things for image and have a deep knowing of who we are in Christ. We know our true identity. There are 6 reasons why identity is so important for Christians to understand:-has created
1. Our identity tells us where we belong. We no longer have to strive to fit in anywhere or with anybody. As Christians, we know we are accepted into God's family and we are God's no matter what happens. We are now on the inside and part of the greatest family with an amazing Father, an elder brother, Jesus, and so many brothers and sisters who are fellow Christians. In Isaiah 43 we read that God formed us and redeemed us AND has called us by name. God says "You are MINE!". We belong to God and His family.
2. Our identity tells us we are wanted. God has chosen you and you are His. You are deeply loved, accepted and God wants to have you as part of His family and a relationship with you for eternity. No longer to do we try to fit in. We are placed on the inside of God's family.
3. Our identity puts a weapon in our hand. When we focus on our image our life is based on feelings. What do others think about me drives me and I work hard to feel good through working constantly on my image. When we know our identity in Christ we can fight any battle as our identity cannot be changed by anything anybody does or says to us. We are a member of a chosen race, the royal priesthood and an alien in the world. Feelings change but our identity in Christ is a constant. We fight our feelings by declaring who Jesus says we are. Identity is not a matter of feeling or even of choice; identity is a matter of declaration.
4. Our identity gives confidence in our actions. When you begin to accept that God has declared you to be a royal priesthood, a chosen people, His own possession, you start to act in godly confidence. When we sin, we put on a mask and act like someone we are not. When we live with joy, peace, patience, self-control etc we are actually living out who we actually are. With a clear identity, we can live out who God has made us to be.
5. Our identity is of a citizen living in a new kingdom. When we know our identity we know where we belong and that we have a home we fit in. CS Lewis says: “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” Jesus came to bring in a new kingdom. We, as God's children, have been told He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, Colossians 1:13 (NKJV) When we enter His family we are brought to live in a new kingdom. We become citizens of a new kingdom and the world is no longer our home. We live with Jesus being our king and follow Him. We live as aliens in this world and how we think and act is totally different from how people of this world think and live.
6. Our identity shows us that God has a deeper purpose for our lives. In this world, it is all about what we want to do and achieve in life. When we have our identity in Christ, we read that He has made us to have a relationship with Him and to do "good works" that He has created us for. (Ephesians 2:10, Psalm 139). Our lives have purpose and meaning as we live out the purposes God has made us for.
5. Finding our identity the right way. Before coming to Christ our experiences shape our identity. Coming to Christ our identity changes. We take off the old person and put on the new.
" that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:22–24
To begin with, the foundations of who we are changes from being based on a lie to being based on truth. Ephesians 4:22 says the desires that ruined the old person were based on deceit; verse 24 says that the righteousness and holiness of the new person are based on truth.
When we enter God's kingdom, (Become a Christian / follow Christ) we put off the old person [or: old self; or: old man] which accords with the former way of life and which is corrupted in accord with the desires of deceit. When we put off the old man we are renewed in the spirit of our mind. As we cannot have 2 men controlling us we need to take off the old man and put on the new person which was created in accordance with God in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
And so after you hear the voice of Christ and are made alive and brought to faith in him let him teach you how to live, the first thing he says to you is: "change your clothes." Take off the old person (bad practices that belong to the old way of life including lying, cheating and in fact any sin. It includes anger and wrath) and put on the new person. The attitude, emotions and practices I had before coming to Christ are discarded as we are called by Jesus out of the darkness and into His light.
The new person is totally different and is actually living in the same nature as God. Colossians 3:12 gives the same kind of clue about the meaning of the new person that we are supposed to put on. Paul says, "Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and loved compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience. "So the new person is the new bundle of attitudes and emotions and practices that Jesus has called us to become. We must take off the old person and put on the new person. It is absolutely imperative that we get our moral clothes changed. If we don't, we will not live the life God has made us for and live in the amazing purpose God has for us.
This new person is not an optional thing, but something that happens when we come to Christ. We cannot have the old man and walk as a Christian. Holiness will cause us to see the Lord.
So when Paul says, put off the old person and put on the new person, he is not talking about an optional elective that some true Christians enrol in and others don't. This is the core curriculum in the school of Christ. It is a requirement for graduation. There is a holiness without which we will not see the Lord (Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: Hebrews 12:14).
6. Our identity determines how we live life. What is our identity?
You are more special in God's eyes than you will ever know? If you don't know or truly understand this, that's why you're still trying to fit in with the world. Here's what the Bible says about you and your new identity in Christ when you become a Christian:
You are His own special possession. (1 Peter 2:9, Deuteronomy14:2)
9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light; 1 Peter 2:9
You are chosen, handpicked by the God who created the universe. (1 Peter 2:9, Jeremiah1:5, Ephesians 1:3-4)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, Ephesians 1:3-4
You are treasured. (Deuteronomy 7:6 14:2, 26:18)
2 For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. Deuteronomy 14:2.
You are irreplaceable. (1 Thessalonians 1:4)
4 knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. 1 Thessalonians 1:4
You are loved beyond compare. (1 John 4:19, 4:10, 3:16, Romans 5:8, 8:35-39)
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8.
You are worth dying for. (1 John 3:16, Romans 5:7-9)
16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 1 John 3:16
You are forgiven. (Ephesians 1:7, 1 John 1:9, Romans 8:1, 33-39)
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who[a] do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1
You are His child. (1 John 3:1, Galatians 3:26)
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26
You are secured for all eternity. (2 Corinthians 1:22, John 10:28-29)
28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.
You are set free. (Romans 6:18, Galatians 5:1)
18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:18
You are precious to Him. (Isaiah 43:4)
Since you were precious in My sight,
You have been honoured,
And I have loved you;
Therefore I will give men for you,
And people for your life. Isaiah 43:4
You are set apart. (John 15:16, 19, I Peter 2:9)
9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light; 1 Peter 2:9.
Do not just read this once. Read it over and over again. Write it up and put in on the wall. Read it again and again and again until it is known. This is YOU. If you're in Christ, this is who YOU are. This is your permanent identity. It can never be removed, messed up, forsaken, taken away, or changed.
This your identity in Christ. This is who you are in bed at night. This is who you are when are struggling with your schoolwork or work. This is who you are when you didn't make the team or get to do what you want. This is who you are when you've sinned so severely it doesn't seem forgivable, yet to God, it is.
7. Do you believe in your identity in Christ?
On good days, it might be easy to agree, but when the bottom comes out under you, do you still believe it? Embrace it? Or do doubts arise?
No matter how you feel today, or who you used to be, or what you're going through, your identity in your loving Father is who you are for all eternity. Because Jesus died and rose again for the forgiveness of your sins, when you received His sacrifice as a gift to you, you instantly became His. This is who you are.
Satan causes us to find our identity in how we look, our friends, possessions, our relationships, work etc. He first took Adam and Eve's identity. They were told by Satan that their identity was not from God but to understand themselves from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We are using false identities when we do not know the truth. We are putting on a mask and living a life based on a false understanding of who we are. God is calling us to pursue Him and understand ourselves through the eyes of our creator. Relationship with Him leads us to security, confidence and trust. We can only truly pursue God when we know who He is. Even today we can choose the knowledge of the tree of good and evil or what God says? When we know our identity we can live in a different way.
8. Our identity determines our destiny or destination.
Understanding our identity means we need to know God and then who we are in Him. When we do, no matter what happens in our lives we are content as our identity in Christ gives us the strength to overcome all challenges Satan can throw at us. The fight for our identity starts in our mind.
The answer is to fill the mind continually with the truth about spiritual, eternal, heavenly reality. In 2 Corinthians 4:16–18 Paul says, "We do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day." How can this happen? "Because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." Paul was renewed in the spirit of his mind by filling his mind with the unseen truths of eternity so that the loud, garish deceitfulness of this world was pushed out.
We are made for good works. In Ephesians 2:10 we read, " For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." We are made by God to do things here on Earth. God has planned our days before we were born. He knows us intimately and has recorded His good plans for us in a book or scroll. In Psalm 139:16 we read "
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book, they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
We can walk on the Earth as sons of God. I think Romans 8 is a chapter in the Bible. In Romans 8:14 we read "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God."
As sons of God, we bring liberty to the earth. Romans 8:21 says, "because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
When we walk in the purposes of God everything will work out for good. In Romans 8: 28 we read "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
Father God. I ask for forgiveness for living my life not understanding the identity I have in you. Thank you that You have saved me through the blood of Jesus and as I have come to you I have become a new creation. I want my old man to be put to death and I want to start today living as the creation You have made me to be. I desire to live in the plan you have for my life and to be filled by Your Spirit and walk today as a son of God. As I walk in my new identity I desire to bring deliverance to the earth and liberty to those who are bound. As I walk in a new way I know that I will go through hard things, but I thank you in advance that you will work all things together for those who love You and are called to Your purpose. I love you and am called to Your purpose so I look forward to the exciting future You have for me as I walk in my new identity. AMEN!
Videos: (I hope they are encouraging!)