I’ve recently finished two excellent short little books that are related to the topic of this article. I highly recommend you consider reading them. The first one, Who Am I?: Identity in Christ by Jerry Bridges provides a good basic overview of what Scripture says about who we are as followers of Christ. The second book, Sanctification: Transformed Life by David Campbell is a Biblical exposition on how we grow into that which God would have us to be as His followers. Here, I will provide a brief overview of this, but I do suggest you check these books out for yourselves. The quote above is a good summary of what I want to emphasize today: Be what you are.
Much of our trouble as Christians comes from bad theology and a poor understanding of the basic tenants of Scripture. In a sense, we are spiritual schizophrenics, living and making decisions that do not align with who we are in Christ. God is not a warden, policeman, judge or gatekeeper for Christians, but is a loving Father, who provides a wise counselor in the form of the Holy Spirit in order for us to live an amazing life according to all that God has created us to be. It is to our folly when we depart from that life, pursuing a different picture of reality defined by the world, the flesh or the devil.
You would be well served each day to take time to remind yourself of the truths of God’s Word and what they say about you. In them, we find the truth of who God is and who we are in Him. In contrast to the old SNL skit with Stuart Smalley and his daily affirmations, our best source of hope for who we are is not in ourselves or in what others say about us, but rather in who God says we are and who we are to be. In your daily time with God, you can focus on the truth that our sufficiency and worth are centered in God’s infallibility and not in our own weakness. Here are just a few of the essential truths that God shares with us.
- You are a created being, created in the image of God. Genesis 1:27 – God created us, but we are above the rest of creation. Of all the things He created, only mankind is created in His image. As created beings, we are dependent on our creator and it is important to remember that as we go through life. We need Him, physically, spiritually, psychologically. We were created to find our purpose in Him. When we do that, we experience the life that God intended for us as His greatest creations.
- You are in Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:22 – The term in Christ is used over and over again in the NT, most frequently by Paul. Our new status as Christians is secured in Christ. All that it means to be a follower of Him is because of what He did, not anything specific about us. This status is what takes us from being spiritually dead, enslaved to sin and the objects of God’s wrath and assures our new status before God, which is defined by all of these terms, summed up by “in Christ”. Also read Romans 5:18-19.
- You are Justified. Galatians 2:15-16. Justified is a legal term that means we are treated as being in right standing according to the law. The law would bring punishment and death to all who have sinned (everyone), but in Christ, we are treated as those who are righteous before God. The law doesn’t change, the punishment for breaking the law doesn’t change, but Christ paid the price for our sins, so we are now treated as if our slates are completely cleaned. Our ledger now has Jesus’ 33 years of perfect righteousness in our favor. We are justified by our faith in Jesus Christ.
- You are adopted children of God. Ephesians 1:4-5. Galatians 3:26-29. God doesn’t stop with changing our status for all time to being “saved” or justified, He brings us into His family. Even if we never experienced a loving parent on this earth, we now have the most loving, caring Father that we could possibly have. God takes people from every background on earth and brings them into his family. In Biblical terms this also means that we are His heirs. We are given a future hope as people who can now look forward to the eternal inheritance that we were granted access to through God’s loving adoption of us into His family.
- You are a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17. We are given a new heart, we are a new person. Only the transformative power of Christ through His sanctification can explain the changes brought about by the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of people like us. In Romans 6:1-14, Paul describes the struggle on this earth as who we now are in Christ struggles with who we used to be, but the promises of God are a reminder of the change. 6:14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. The power of living as a new creation on this earth is still a battle, while on this earth. Dr. Bridges described it this way, “You and I are now engaged in a spiritual guerilla warfare against remaining corruption within us, and that warfare has real consequences-for ourselves, others, and the glory of God-depending on how we engage with it…Though we have been delivered from absolute bondage to sin, we have not been freed from its presence or influence.” In heaven, it will be impossible for us to sin, but on this earth we live with full access to the ability to live as new creation’s in Christ. We should live as we are.
- You are a saint. Colossians 1:11-13 – This is a word that can be misunderstood and some would only want to apply it to those existing in a special category of Christian, but as you read through the NT, you find that it is the norm to refer to all followers of Christ as saints. A saint is one who has been sanctified and we are in the process of being sanctified, but it could also mean “set apart” and that is who you are. As a follower of Jesus Christ, you are set apart as His. As the saying goes, we have been bought with a price. This does not make us slaves, but rather free men and women, our freedom was bought with a price. We are now saints living our lives for God’s glory. 1. Corinthians 10:31. Our sainthood “does not come in its fullness in a once-for-all experience. It is an ongoing experience with a beginning, an end and a long in-between.” (Campbell)
- You are servants of Christ. Colossians 3:22-24 – We are now followers of Christ and we find our truest joy in serving Him and the purpose of God. This doesn’t mean that we all leave our jobs and become full time ministers, but it means that wherever we are and whatever we do, we serve the purposes of God. We are serving the Lord Christ when we work at our job, serve in our church or minister to our family. We serve in each of these roles according to who we are in Christ, not who we are in the flesh and by this we bless all those who regularly interact with us. In every endeavor, we have the opportunity to serve the purposes of Christ, thus we can be called as Christians to any vocation, as there are opportunities to act as His servants in any of those positions.
- You are not yet perfect. Philippians 3:12 – We are to stay in touch with our own imperfection. In this life, we will still struggle with sin and makes mistakes and yet we glorify God through our imperfections. As we openly and honestly reflect on and deal with our continuing imperfection, we reflect the power of a redeemed life in reality and demonstrate the power of Christ all the more as we confess our need for His help. We preach the Gospel to ourselves daily, reminding ourselves that we have no justification for feeling self-righteous, but only righteous before God through Christ. This helps us to remember that we are not performers, but frail creatures of dust that will only be perfected in Christ in heaven.
- You are loved. Romans 8:37-39 – Many passages tell of God’s wonderful love for us, but this passage assures us that nothing can separate us from that love. In spite of our imperfection, in spite of our sin, God loves us and our testimony to the world is of confident adopted children who should never doubt the continuing, never finishing love of our Heavenly Father. We live as those who are loved by the one who understands who we are at a deeper level than any human ever can.
- You are blessed. 2 Corinthians 9:8 – We are spiritually blessed. God has given us many wonderful gifts, the greatest of which is our salvation, but He has also given us each other, in the Church. He has given us wonderful spiritual gifts and resources to use to accomplish His purposes. Spiritual gifts like: Ephesians 2:10, 1 Peter 4:10-11, and Romans 12:4-8.
Our call today is to live as Christians who believe the truths about what God’s Word has said about us. We are not defeated. We are not prideful. We are not despondent. We are no longer slaves to our sin. We are not dependent on our own strength. We are not hopeless in the face of a culture without God. We are sanctified sinners who serve the All-Mighty King of all creation and in Him we find our life and hope and have our being. You are a child of the King, you are an Heir to the Kingdom. You are the Saints of your generation, carrying forward the faith of previous generations on the strength of His wings. Live like that today and every day and start each new day with this reminder.
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