We should understand that, fundamentally, our faith is not about what we do (as important as that is), nor is it about what we think (as important as that is). Our faith is fundamentally strengthened by understanding who we are through the indwelling Christ. We are who we are because of our union with Him. Nothing else can be the integration point (the place where the promises of Scripture and our identity intersect) of true spirituality. If we make what we do (right actions) the integration point of our faith, then we become fundamentalist and Pharisaical, with the judgement of others’ misbehaviors the preoccupation of our religion. If we make what we think (right doctrine) the integration point of our faith, then we become rationalistic debaters with judgement of other’ faulty doctrine the preoccupation of our religion.
We must understand how to separate our “who” from our “do.” What we do does not gain us God’s affection. Who we are by virtue of His unconditional love constrains us through the power of our gratitude to obey Him. If we ever invert these relationships (as is the instinctive, natural impulse of all humanity) by assuming that who we are before God is a consequence of what we do for Him, then we make God’s love conditional and our security questionable.
You see, the verdict is in. And now I perform on the basis of the verdict. Because [God] loves me and He accepts me, I do not have to do things just to build up my resume. I do not have to do things to make me look good. I can do things for the joy of doing them. I can help people to help people – not so I can feel better about myself, not so I can fill up the emptiness.
God treated Jesus on the cross as if He lived your life so He could treat you as if you lived His.
The Final Passover, the First Communion. The sermon originally appeared at: (https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/42-269/the-final-passover-the-first-communion) at www.gty.org. © 1969-2008. Grace to You. All rights reserved. Used by Permission.
Christian selfhood is not defined in terms of who we are in and of ourselves. It’s defined in terms of what God does to us and the relationship He creates with us and the destiny He appoints for us. God made us who we are so we could make known who He is. Our identity is for the sake of making known His identity.
At the heart of what it means to be a Christian is to receive a new identity. In Jesus, we do not lose our true selves, but we become our true selves, only in Him.
Repentance is a costly call to fundamentally say no to who you are (in your sin) in order to find an entirely new identity in who He is.
This is the stunning message of Christianity; Jesus died for you so that He might live in you. Jesus doesn’t merely improve your old nature; He imparts to you and entirely new nature – one that is completely united with His.
[Jesus] has offered us a new identity – His identity. No longer separated from God, but now united with God. No longer stained by sin, but now clean from sin. No longer slaves, but now free. No longer guilty before God as Judge, but now loved by God as Father. No longer deserving eternal death, never to grasp all that God created us to be, but now having eternal life, experiencing more and more exactly who God has created us to be.
Your true identity is a gift of God, a surprising discovery, and then a committed choice.
Your true identity is who God says you are. You will never discover who you are by looking inside yourself or listening to what others say. The Lord gets the first word because He made you. He gets the daily word because you live before His face. He gets the last word because He will administer your final “comprehensive life review.”
A true and enduring identity is a complex gift of Christ’s grace. He gives a new identity in an act of mercy. Then His Spirit makes it a living reality over a lifetime. When you see Him face to face, you will know Him as He truly is, and you will fully know who you are (1 Cor. 13:12).
It is a shame that the word “saint” has been hijacked by the Catholic Church. In the original Greek the word simply means “holy.” In Christ you are perfectly clothed with His holiness. In that sense you are a saint. That is how you are seen in the eyes of God. How many of you who profess Christ see this as your identity? You don’t if you are trying to find your acceptance from other people. You don’t if you are seeking to earn God’s favor. And you don’t if your life isn’t seen as one that is practically becoming more holy (or more “saintly”) over time. Your position is saint. You are not trying to become a saint. Your identity is Christ. It begins here and everything flows from that reality for the believer.
I am secure in Christ. His presence and His approval is all that matters. Therefore I can make it my ambition to live out by grace perfecting holiness, not what I want to be but what I already am and who I will practically be for an eternity in heaven. I will not be continually defeated by a wounded ego, but will be at peace devoting the rest of my days not to the vain emptiness of self-love that lives for the sinful and the temporary. I know I am already loved by God. I can get out of the way and seek with God’s love now in me to spread of that love back to God and others. I will not use people to meet my needs, but realize my needs are met in the sufficiency of Christ and seek to bless the needs of others instead as Christ lives His life through me.
Are you finding your core identity in Christ? 1. Am I a Christian redeemed by Jesus Christ who is my Lord and Savior? 2. Am I finding my worth in external circumstances or God’s truth? 3. Have I given control of my life to God or someone else I am trying to impress? 4. Do I allow the words of others to sink deeper into my heart more than the words of God? 5. Is my identity rooted in the worship of idols or is it rooted in the worship of Christ? We become what we worship. In whose image am I growing more? 6. Is God’s opinion the highest standard and the only verdict that ultimately matters to me? 7. Is my self-image shaped by the media, experiences, feelings, relationships or culture? Or do I understand who I really am in Christ based on God’s promises from His Word? 8. Is it my desire to tell others about Christ increasingly because the more I understand who I am in Christ, the more delight I have to make known who He is through my words and actions? 9. Have I discovered God’s identity for me? Is it now a committed choice? 10. Am I continually examining where I am defining my true identity? If it is not in Scripture am I repenting? “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).
If you are looking for some good sections of Scripture to determine your identity in Christ, check out Ephesians 1 – chosen, loved, adopted, redeemed and forgiven by God and seen as holy and blameless and Ephesians 2 – alive, saved raised up and seated with Christ in the heavenly places and 1 Peter 2 – a chosen race, royal priesthood, holy nation and people for God’s own possession.
Finding our true identity as a Christian is not about turning to what is inside of us – what we think about ourselves or what others think about us. It is about God recreating us (2 Cor. 5:17) and bestowing upon us amazing promises from His Word when we trust Christ by faith. Therefore it is about ignoring our feelings and the opinion of the world and accepting what God has to say about us. This is about what God does to us. This is about how He now defines us. And since He is God, there is no greater verdict when it comes to our true reality.
When we seek to find our identity, our core value, in the things of this world, we will always feel empty, insufficient, unworthy and insecure on one end or proud, boastful, smug and self-righteous on the other end. Basically, as we see with most people, there is no satisfaction on either side of the equation.
Oftentimes Christians place their ultimate identity in the same things unbelievers do – occupation, ethnicity, accomplishments, health, body composition, personality, station in life and interests. Possibly your identity is not based on what you think about yourself, but entirely by what others think about you. In other words, we think we are who what we think others think we are. All of this is subChristian!
When we find our identity in the opinions of others, we will be man-pleasers to get them to say what we want to hear. And since we cannot program people, there is no guarantee they will do as we desire. Thus will no longer love people, but continually manipulate people for our own selfish gains to hear their praise.