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"The importance of knowing your identity, part 3"

A major problem that exists among Christians today is an identity crisis. An identity crisis is defined as the uncertainty or confusion with a person's sense of identity; thus, making him feel insecure, worried, doubtful and hesitant in his daily activities. This has been the aim of the enemy against Christians, because in reality, he has lost all control over their lives. 

Put simply, an identity crisis happens under the guise of religion, which teaches our behavior is our identity. 

This is what I have been addressing in our lessons on our new identity in Christ. Look at what Col 1:21-22 says about our new identity — “21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight. In v.21, we see the WERE and NOW picture of our spiritual lives as Christians — we WERE once alienated and enemies in our minds by wicked works, and NOW we are reconciled and made one with God through the work of Jesus. Paul goes on describing that we are now — HOLY, BLAMELESS and ABOVE REPROACH in God’s sight. This is holiness, blamelessness and uprightness is our new identity in Christ as God’s Righteous children. So, any other word contrary to this sound doctrine of your new identity is… well, it’s just wrong.

Looking at Eph 1:4, we see a bit more into our new identity in Christ — “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”. Notice that it reads, “we shall be” (IDENTITY), not we shall become (BEHAVIOR). Because we are in Christ, we are HOLY and WITHOUT BLAME before a holy God, because we are changed and wrapped up in His love! So, any other word that tells you differently from what this says is mistaken. Because you are in Christ, you have a brand-new identity of being holy and without blame. Yes, God’s love is just that powerful and amazing!

Going a bit further in Ephesians, look at 5:26-27, and we see another bit of detail about our new identity in Christ — “26 that He (Jesus) might sanctify and cleanse her (that’s the Body — you and me) with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or ANY such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” It’s easy to see the connection between what Paul said in 1:4 to what he said here, because we have the same words “holy and without blemish”. But he went into a bit more detail by saying that through His grace, we are SANCTIFIED and CLEANSED… GLORIOUS… not having SPOT or WRINKLE or ANY such thing! So, any other teaching that tells you that you have to become glorious, or not having spot or wrinkle is incorrect, because it’s not according to Paul’s sound doctrine.

Let us please understand that our IDENTITY and BEHAVIOR are 2 different things, and that they should never be seen as one unit. For as our identity is in what we are as God’s Righteous and blameless children, our behavior is the result of the choices we have made. Our identity is in our inner man, and our behavior is seen in our outer man. Our identity is intangible, and our behavior is tangible. Our behavior does not and can never change our identity, but our identity can greatly change our behavior. Religion has taught us to work hard, in things like prayer, fasting and Bible Study, and these things change our behavior. But all the while, they ignore the power to change, which is in knowing and growing in our new identity of Christlikeness.

Another important truth we need to know is that our bad behaviors, the way that we sometimes act, will not cancel out and negate God’s grace from working in our lives (If it did, we would all be hopeless and helpless). 

This is important to know, because man-made religion teaches people the exact opposite to this. They teach that when Christians sin, they lose their fellowship with God and forfeit His favor — that is, until they make amends by confessing their sins and asking for His forgiveness. Then, they teach, He restores them to His favor. This kind of teaching is taken from a misunderstood passage in 1 John 1:5-10, where John wasn’t addressing Christians but people who were pretending to be Christians. Another term religion uses for this is the word "backslidden". This word has kept many Christians in the bondage to condemnation, and causes them to focus more on their behavior, instead of Jesus and His grace, see Heb 12:1-3. This deceptive and destructive word and teaching comes from a Covenant (the Old Covenant) that is no longer valid. As a matter of fact, the writer of Hebrews tells Jewish Christians that they are not of those who backslide, see Heb 10:39.

One of the main differences between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant is that the Old was about people changing their behaviors through the law to be accepted and approved by God. But the New is about people receiving Christ and God changing their nature (identity). Religion has made its main focus of ministry in getting people to change their behavior. This is also the reason why, in many churches, so much of the Old Testament is used in their proclamation. They think that one’s adherence to their teaching will bring them closer to the Lord (Because this is exactly what happened in the Old Testament when the people got their “ducks in a row”). To religious mindsets, this is what causes spiritual growth and maturity. But if Christianity was about “behavior-modification”, then it wouldn’t be much different from the Old Covenant. What causes spiritual growth and maturity in Christians and changes behaviors is when we know and grow in our new identity in Christ. 

Look at what Paul said in 1 Cor 1:2-3, to a wild bunch of Christians (BLB)— “2 To the church of God being in Corinth, having been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called holy, together with all those in every place calling on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both theirs and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” It’s important to know that this Corinth church, according to today’s “Christian” morals and standards, were extremely sinful and wild (Many of them were considered “Barbarians” by the Jewish community, and wanted nothing to do with these people). After these spiritually dirty people accepted Christ and became Christians, they didn’t have a clue as to how to live according to the standards of the New Testament. You can imagine then, what kinds of behaviors these Christians had. But notice what Paul said to them — in v.2, he called them SANCTIFIED… HOLY… and on top of that in v.3, he said that they had GRACE and PEACE. These powerful realities weren’t based on their behaviors; they were based on their being as a new creation in Christ! According to the teachings of “behavior-management”, these 4 identity-realities of sanctification, holiness, grace and peace, must be earned and maintained; being based on our performances. But this is not what Paul said to them. But don’t think it was only said about them, because he said, for “all those in every place calling on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” — that’s to every Christian! Paul reminds us all of our new identity in Christ — he said that we are all SANCTIFIED and HOLY, and that we all have God’s grace and peace available to us 24/7/365 — in spite of how we behave and act!

The important takeaway from these lessons is that our behaviors never change our identity — who we are in Christ — but knowing and growing in the awareness of our new identity in Christ will always change our behaviors.

It’s as we grow in the knowledge of our true identity in Christ, that we start resting in Christ, trusting in His grace (ability), and live our lives from the inside out!     -    13120 Three Rivers Road Apt 3004  

Gulfport, MS 39503   


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