Identity Crisis

coffee 2

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Psalm 139:13 NIV

Everyday we are bombarded with images of what we are supposed to look like and how we are supposed to act. If we aren’t careful, we can be swept into the societal belief that our worth is based on our outward appearance. When we give into this notion, we are letting society construct our identity. The real question we need to ask ourselves is where does our identity come from?

Satan knows exactly how and where to attack each one of us. He knows where we are vulnerable. Even back in the garden of Eden, he used lies and doubt to tempt Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. And he is still using the same tactics today. As Christians, we need to learn to recognize the lies and replace them with God’s truth. Satan wants us to focus on our flaws and feelings of inadequacy, and then exhaust ourselves trying to hide them…

This is a portion of an article that I have featured on Encouragement Café  and Crosswalk today. I would love for you to read and then come back and share your thoughts and something you are holding on to in the comment section.

If you read my devotion on Encouragement Café or Crosswalk and are here for the first time, Welcome. Feel free to look at the “About Me” page to learn more about me and then share something about yourself in the comment section. I would love to get to know my readers better.

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Victorious

victorious

The last identity I am going to delve into is that of a victorious child of God. This characteristic is mentioned several times in Scriptures, including this one in Romans, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37 NIV). Did you ever think of yourself as a conqueror?  In my mind, the word conqueror evokes the idea of a conqueroring hero who rides in and saves the day. Through Christ, we, as Christians, are even more than that conqueroring hero. Paul takes this idea one step farther, “But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV). God has made us victorious. Examining this verse, we discover,

Paul emphasizes that suffering and distress, particularly suffering that results from believers’ faith in Jesus Christ, cannot separate them from Christ. On the contrary, suffering in union with Christ leads to glorification with Christ, to a triumphant victory, which means infinitely more than merely the end of suffering (The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary, 1253).

Since our identity is wrapped up in Christ and He had victory over sin and death, we as His children are victorious.

The truth is, even in the midst of the most difficult circumstances, God’s love is real and active in your life. Nothing can ever separate you or me from His love. Nothing can ever cause Him to love you less. God loves us without constraints or limits. In the midst of difficulty, cling to God’s love for you, and ask Him to keep revealing His love to you.

We can begin to take the wall down, that has been built by other people’s views, our own insecurities and the influence of the world around us, brick-by-brick, if we start by simply replacing each one of those lies with the truth. By taking these pieces down, one-by-one, you and I will be able to walk to the other side paved on the road of God’s truths. We will then be free from the masks we have been hiding behind for far too long.

We were made to be set-free, holy, new, loved and confident, by having our identity tied to Christ. Because of this, we cannot allow ourselves to partake in anything that negates our true God-given identity. The real reason for grounding ourselves in the truth that we are made for more is so that we may know Him better. The more we operate in the truth of who we are and the reality that we were made for more, the closer to God we will become. Your identity and mine does not depend on something we do or have done. Our true identity is who we are in Christ. When we are in Christ, we are a new creation, the old has passed away. It is time to stop living as the person others expect you to be and take hold of the truth of what God’s Word says.

**I will be announcing the winner of the signed copy of my book, Get REAL: Stop Hiding Behind the Mask on the blog Wednesday, April 2nd. Be sure to comment today to get entered in the drawing.

Confident

confident

After examining the other identities already covered this month, we can be assured that we are confident children of God. Paul writes in Ephesians, “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence” (Ephesians 3:12 NIV). This means that not only do we have the freedom to approach God whenver, but also we have the confidence because we have put our trust in Him. According to The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary, “This age-old, unanticipated plan he carried out in the person and work of Christ, Lord of the universe (3:11), in whom we have full confidence, by faith, to come freely and boldly into the presence of God (3:12).” By being in Christ, we do not need to fear; we have full confidence.

Our confidence is also mentioned in the book of Romans, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV). You and I can be confident that God is working everything out for our good because we love Him. I am sure that as a Christian you have heard this verse several times. You might have even quoted it to someone who was facing a difficult situation. I encourage you to work on memorizing this verse, if you have not already done so. It has such power behind it.

Let me ask you a question; do you believe the promise in Romans 8:28? It is one thing to say it, but it is quite another to live like we believe it. One reason why this may be difficult to believe is because the storms in your life may be so overwhelming. However, no matter what the situation is or how all encompassing it may seem, God is right there with you. He did not create everything and simply walk away. He is intimately involved in the details, both big and small, in each of our lives. Take a moment and think of the dark times in your life; how did God make Himself known to you?

Another key point in this verse is the wording His purpose. Often we lose sight of this. We think everything needs to work out according to our purpose. Keep in mind that God has a greater purpose and plan for each one of us, and this gives us confidence to follow His lead in our lives. Sometimes, however, that means we have to go through the fire or trials of life. Think for a moment about a piece of steel. Alone it is worth only about five dollars. However, when it is shaped, hammered, and put through the fire to make springs for a watch, the value increases to hundreds of dollars. The same principle is true in our lives. Through this refining, God will shape and mold us into even more valuable individuals.

Because God is powerful and loving, we can be confident that He will work out all the details in our life for good, according to His purpose. What a wonderful promise to rest upon. Keep in mind that we do not need to be confident in ourselves, but rather in Him.

Close

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Our identity is also a close child of God: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13 NIV). The blood of Christ has brought us near to God: “But those outsiders [Gentiles], formerly excluded and far off, have now been brought near, within the circle, by the sacrificial death of Christ.”( The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary, 1361). Because of Christ’s death on the cross, we are able to come close to God, our sin and shame no longer keep us at a distance. His blood washes us clean.

A great example of the identity of close that comes to mind is a thunderstorm. Some people absolutely love storms. They find them calming, while other people are simply terrified by storms. They run for cover as soon as the storm begins. I recall as a child being scared of storms, especially those that happened at night. It seemed as if the combination of darkness and storms was too much for me. I went running to my parents’ room. They calmed me down and invited me to sleep on the floor next to them.

In the same way, we have storms, or trials, that roll into our lives from time to time. When these storms come, we each have a decision to make. Will we run and hide from the storm or will we seek the shelter of our Lord? Hiding from our trials, or storms, will not make them go away, as much as we would like. We need to face whatever trials may come our way. However, without God’s strength and refuge, we will not be able to withstand the storms of life. In Psalms 9:9 it states, “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble” (NIV). He longs to comfort us, just like a parent does when a thunderstorm comes. God will pull you close and guard you until the storm passes.

We know that the storms of life will come. The choice we have is how we will approach and respond to those storms. Our identity in Christ states that we are close children of God. Therefore, we do not need to worry about the storms that this life will bring because when we are standing in His shadow the storms may rage, but we are safe.

Loved

loved

The next identity means so much to me. Dear one, as Christians, you and I are loved by God: “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” (Ephesians 1:4 NIV). In this Scripture, the Lord tells us that we are His, and He sets forth what He wants for us—that we should know we are loved, special and valuable and that we should be holy, blameless and above reproach in our lives. Naturally, we should do what we can to live holy lives. But thank goodness, when we do make mistakes, we can be forgiven. We do not lose our God-given position of holiness, and we remain blameless and above reproach—all “in Christ.” We need to keep this in mind, “God made his choice before the creation of the world” (The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary, 1356). The idea of God choosing us is also seen in Second Timothy, “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth” (2 Timothy 2:13 NIV). What simply amazes me is that the creator of the universe chose me and you before the world was created because He loved us that much. It does not matter whether we feel loved or not today because the truth of the matter is we are all loved more than we can even begin to imagine. God loved us so much that not only did He create each of us, but He also lovingly sent His Son to earth to die in our place. Christ’s death on the cross is by far the ultimate display of love.

It is hard for us to wrap our minds around God’s love because our human relationships fail from time to time. God’s love, however, is unending and pure. This promise spreads and affects more than just us. When we begin to live as if no matter what we say or do, God will still love us, then it opens us up to spreading His love to the world. I love this passage of Scripture in Romans, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38–39 NIV). In these verses, Paul lists several different things that cannot separate us from God’s love. Therefore, the promise of God’s love gives us shelter as well as security. There is absolutely nothing that can separate us from God’s love.

Therefore, you and I do not need to try and change who we are so that others will love us. God created each of us for a specific purpose and plan. All we need to do is cling to our identities in Christ and then if others love us for the way we are then great; if not, we are not to change who we are. Are you going to follow man’s view of how you should be or the Creator of the Universe?

Made-New

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Because of all the previous qualities we have already discussed in this series on our identity in Christ, we are also a made-new child of God. To obtain this identity, all we need to do is accept Christ as our Savior, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV). This Scripture says that in Christ we are each a new creation; the old has past and the new has come. Gary Burge in The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary does an excellent job of further explaining the idea of being made-new,

Anyone who is in Christ has already become a part of a new creation. They have passed beyond the point of living solely as a part of the old creation and have begun to live as a part of the new created order. Moreover, the source of such new creation is God, whose work, as in the creation accounts of the OT [Old Testament], forms the decisive beginning for it (1315).

Being made-new is not only our identity, but also it is a promise from God. Once we receive the gift of salvation, we no longer are stuck in the past. Our sins have been forgiven and more importantly, forgotten. We do not need to let anyone or even ourselves try and define us by what we used to be. We are new creations in Christ Jesus. Everything is the past needs to stay right there. Live in the present and look to the future.

Holy

holy

We are also considered a holy child of God. This identity is seen in First Corinthians, “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30 NIV). We have already seen in First Corinthians 1:2 that not only are we accepted, but we are also holy people. Our righteousness was gained through Christ, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righeousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV). I am in awe of the sacrifice that Christ made for all of mankind. He left the glory of heaven and a place seated on the right hand of His Father to come to Earth. He was despised, ridiculed and rejected all before His ultimate sacrifice, by the death on the cross. Christ took the sins of mankind past, present and future upon Himself on that cross so that through the shedding of His blood we would become righteous in the eyes of God. Christ death on the cross, “[This] took place ‘so no one may boast before him (i.e. God)’, but instead might ‘boast in the Lord’ (i.e., in Christ), who is the focus of the wisdom, righteousness, holiness and redemption that have come to us from God” (The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary, 1282). There is absolutely nothing we could ever do on our own to be seen as holy by God. It is only through Christ and His sacrifice that we have access to this incredible gift. Therefore, there is no reason for us to boast or think highly of ourselves. We are nothing without Christ.

 

**Just as a reminder, every time you comment on my blog this month during the True Identity series, you will be entered to win a signed copy of my book, Get REAL: Stop Hiding Behind the Mask.

Accepted

Tracey

As we continue our series looking at our true identity in Christ, we are going to examine the identity of being accepted.

Besides being forgiven and set free, we are also accepted: “To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ — their Lord and ours” (1 Corinthians 1:2 NIV). Our identity is that of an accepted child of God because we have called upon the name of Jesus. Gary Burge, in The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary, begins to delve deeper into this verse,

There follows a threefold description emphasizing that the church has been set apart or sanctified to be in relationship to Christ, called within that relationship to the pursuit of holiness as saints, and united in these distinctives with all believers ‘in every place [who] call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1:2 Revised Standard Version).

As Christians, we are set apart to have a relationship with Christ. Anyone who calls on the name of Jesus has the distinction of being accepted by God.

Whether we care to admit it or not, being accepted is important to us. In high school, I longed to be accepted by the “cool” kids. This desire does not stop with high school by any means. People long to be accepted and included on the job as well. At this point in my life, I want to be accepted by the other mothers around me. The feeling of acceptance can also be present within the church. The key thing is not to get hung up on being accepted by people. Do not let this mold and shape who you are around these people. By doing so, you are simply putting on the mask of acceptance. They are accepting who you appear to be, not who you really are. Our Heavenly Father has graciously bestowed acceptance upon us. All we need to do is call upon His name.

Our acceptance is also seen in Acts, “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21 NIV). Look closely at the wording of this verse; it says everyone. Not just the good ones, or the ones who have it all together or dress a certain way or fill in the blank, but everyone.

The identity of being accepted makes me think of young children. For the most part, children do not see fat or thin, pretty or ugly, smart or dumb; they see people for whom they really are inside. Children look beyond the exterior straight to the heart. They love freely and accept the people around them. My children are prime examples of this unbridled acceptance. They all grew up around my brother, Jason, who is quadriplegic and in a wheelchair. The kids do not see the chair when they look at their uncle. They see a guy who is fun to hang out with. They do not see limitations; they see love. The kids also do not think anything about seeing other people in wheelchairs. In fact, for the longest time, my son, Devin, thought everyone in a wheelchair must be on Uncle Jason’s quad rugby team. This same kind of acceptance is freely given to us by our Heavenly Father. God graciously extends acceptance to anyone who calls upon His name. We might as well take down the mask we are hiding behind because God sees us and accepts us just the way we are.