Our Identity in Christ
I have come to view the issue of identity as a powerful potential source of motivation for believers, particularly during times of temptation and spiritual warfare. Coming to grips with our true identity in Christ can be a significant component of godly motivation, but lamentably, this rarely seems to be the case. The problem here is that most people who have received God’s gift of forgiveness and life in Christ have either forgotten or have never grasped what it means to be a child of God.
Charlie Chaplin entered a Charlie Chaplin look-alike competition in Monte Carlo—he came in third! We too are getting mixed signals about our identity. Our parents, friends, associates, and society give us one set of impressions, and to the extent that we expose ourselves to Scripture, we discover an entirely different picture. The usual way of resolving these conflicting inputs is to filter out the biblical passages that do not fit the self-perception we have picked up from the world. For instance, many of us have experienced significant amounts of performance-based acceptance. Because of this, we may conclude that love is conditional and must be merited.
When Scripture tells us that as believers in Christ we are unconditionally loved and accepted by the Father, we find it difficult to internalize since it is so radically opposed to everything the world has told us. When we read in Ephesians 1-2 that we are not only members of God’s family, but we are already seated with Christ in the heavenly places, we are inclined to think it must be talking about someone else. When Romans 6 tells us that we have died with Christ and no longer need be dominated by the power of sin, we say that our experience suggests otherwise.
Our culture tells us that our worth is determined by our accomplishments and encourages us to pursue significance and meaning through the things we do. Scripture tells us that our worth is determined by what Christ was willing to do for us, and that in Him we have an unlimited and unchanging source of meaning and purpose. Who we are in Christ is not shaped by what we do, but by what He did on the cross and continues to do in our lives. It is not our performance that determines our identity; instead, our new identity in Jesus becomes the basis for what we do.
If we perceive ourselves to be worthless or inadequate, this will be manifested in our behavior. But if we choose to acknowledge the truth of Scripture, we will begin to see God and ourselves in a new light. In spite of what our culture and experiences have taught us to feel, the New Testament tells us that we became new creatures when we trusted in Christ. In Him, we have been granted great dignity, security, forgiveness, unconditional love and acceptance, hope, purpose, righteousness, wholeness, and peace with God. We may not feel that these things are so, but Scripture does not command us to feel the truth, but to believe it. This is a matter of acknowledging its authority by taking God at His word in spite of how we feel or who we think we are.
As we expose ourselves to Scripture and make the faith decision to regard its proclamations as true, we are inviting the Holy Spirit to make these truths more real not only in our thinking, but gradually in our feelings as well. This internalization process requires the discipline of mental renewal through time in the Word, equipping through good teaching, and fellowship with like-minded people in the spiritual journey.
We honor God when we allow Him to define us and tell us who we are regardless of our feelings or experiences to the contrary. In Christ, we are overcomers who have been adopted into God’s family; set free from bondage to Satan, sin, and death; called and equipped to accomplish an eternal purpose that will have enduring results; raised up with Christ and partakers of His life; sealed, anointed, indwelled, and empowered by the Holy Spirit; recipients of an imperishable inheritance that is reserved in heaven for us; members of the body of Christ and joint heirs with Him; chosen, redeemed, forgiven, and set apart; destined to be raised in a glorified body in which we will behold God and live in communion with Him forever.
Since things are so, and since nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39), we are spiritual champions who are called to live as such.
Taken from Ken Boa’s Handbook to Spiritual Growth
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