Have you wondered who you really are?
I have often wondered who I am. What defines me? What is the center of my being? Through the years I have attempted to identify myself through different means.
When I was much younger I wanted to be like my dad. As the firstborn son, I imitated what he did and said. Sometimes my mom (and now my wife) will tell me, after I say something, “That sounds like your dad.” So I looked to my dad and my family name to figure out who I was.
In high school, my classmates and I often identified ourselves by our school name and/or mascot. When we cheered at sporting events or wore our band uniforms, we said our collective name by the location we were from and school we attended.
From time to time, I thought about who I was in light of what I did, for example: how my grades were in school, or what I did for part-time jobs. It was really easy to rate myself according to how others saw me, and it was difficult for me to say no things, because I wanted to please other people. But that did not result in lasting fulfillment.
How do we identify ourselves here, today? We could easily use some labels.
Do we see ourselves by our nationality: Americans, Polish, South African, etc.? It is easy to use these labels when describing ourselves or others, isn’t it?
Do we look at ourselves through our daily work? Our occupation?
How Does God Define You?
But let’s think for a moment: have you ever wondered how God defines you? How does your heavenly Father see you? What is His perspective of who we are? As we look at the Biblical story, what does God reveal to us about our true identity in Christ?
Before Adam took his first breath, before the earth was formed, and before He spoke all of creation into existence, our God had a meeting. Allow me to explain: in eternity past, the triune God, all three Persons, decided something together. And this something was a mystery to be hidden in Jesus. Part of that decision was to create mankind.
Your True Identity in Christ: From God’s Perspective
In the letter we know as Ephesians, Paul presents a magnificent vision of what God’s eternal will is and who we are in Christ. This is the truth of who we are. May I present it from God’s perspective:
I have blessed you with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. I chose you in Christ before the creation of the world so that you would be holy and blameless in My sight. In love, I predestined you to be adopted as My sons and daughters through Jesus Christ. I have freely given you My grace and you are accepted in My Beloved Son. In Me you have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. I have lavished the riches of My grace upon you with all wisdom and understanding. (Eph 1:3-8)
In Christ, you were chosen and predestined according to My eternal plan. You have been given an inheritance in Me. (1:11)
You were included in Christ. You were marked in Him with a seal of the promised Holy Spirit. The Spirit is a deposit guaranteeing your inheritance. You are My possession. (1:13-14)
You used to be dead in your trespasses and sins. You used to follow the way of the world and the ruler of the kingdom of darkness. (2:1-2)
We, who have a great love for you and who is rich in mercy, made you alive in Christ, even when you were dead in transgressions. You have been saved by grace. We raised you up with Christ and seated you with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus in order that in the coming ages I might show the incomparable riches of My grace, expressed in My kindness to you in Christ Jesus. You have been saved by grace, through faith. It is not of yourselves, but it is the gift from Me. Not by works, so that no person should boast. You are my workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which I prepared in advance for you to do. (2:4-10)
You are now in Christ Jesus. You were once far away, but you have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (2:13)
I Myself am your peace. (2:14)
Through Christ you have access to Me by one Spirit. (2:18)
You are fellow citizens with My people and members of My household. (2:19)
You are being built together to become a dwelling place in which I live by My Spirit. (2:20)
You are members of one Body. (4:25) You are dearly loved children. (5:1)
Christ loved you and gave Himself up for you as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to Me. (5:2) You are My holy people. (5:3) For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. (5:8)
I have rescued you from this present evil age (1:4). You have been justified by faith apart from the works of the Law (2:16).
You have died to the Law so that you may live to Me. You have been crucified with Me. You no longer live, but Christ lives in you. He loved you and gave Himself for you. (2:19-20)
You received the Holy Spirit by believing. (3:2) You are children of Abraham. (3:7) Christ redeemed you from the curse of the law (3:13). Since faith as come, you are no longer under the supervision of the Law (3:25).
You are My sons and daughters through faith in Jesus Christ. You were baptized in Christ and you are clothed with Christ. You belong to Christ and you are heirs to God’s promise (3:26-29).
You are My sons, and you have the full rights of sonship. Because you are sons. I have given you My Spirit. And that Spirit testifies that I am your Father. You are not slaves, but sons and heirs of Mine (4:4-7).
You are children of promise (4:28). You are called to be free (5:13). You belong to Jesus Christ and you have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. (5:24)
What counts is a new creation, of which you are a part (6:15).
From 1 Corinthians:
You are holy in Christ and you are called “holy ones” (1:2).
My grace has been given to you in Christ. In Him, you have been enriched in every way. (1:4-5) Because of Me, you are in Christ Jesus, who has become your wisdom, your righteousness, your holiness, and your redemption. (1:30)
You have received My Spirit, not the spirit of the world, that you might know what I have freely given you. (2:12)
You all are My temple and My Spirit lives in you (3:16). Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you. You are not your own. You were bought with a price. (6:19-20)
You are holy and faithful in Christ (1:2). I have qualified you to share in My inheritance. I have rescued you from the dominion of darkness. I have transferred you into the Kingdom of Christ. In Jesus, you have redemption and the forgiveness of sins (1:12-14).
Jesus is the Head of the Body, the church, of which you are a part. (1:18) Once you were enemies alienated from Me. Now I have reconciled you by Christ’s death to present you holy and blameless in My sight, without blemish and free from accusation (1:21-22).
Christ is in you, the hope of glory. (1:27) You have received Christ Jesus as your Lord. (2:6)
You have been given fullness in Christ. In Him, you were spiritually circumcised and have put off the sinful nature. You were buried with Christ by baptism and have been raised with Him through faith in My power who raised Him from the dead. (2:10-12)
I made you alive with Christ. I forgave you of your sins. I cancelled the writen code that was against you and opposed you. I nailed that code to His cross (2:13-14).
You have died with Christ to the basic elements of this world. (2:2) You have been raised with Christ (3:1).
You died and your life is hidden with Christ in Me. Christ is your life. When He appears, you will appear with Him (3:3-4).
You used to walk in the sinful nature. You have taken off the old self with its practices and put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of Me, your Creator (3:7-10).
You are My chosen people, holy, and dearly loved. (3:12)
You are members of one Body and are called to peace. (3:15)
What a magnificent Christ!
Our response to what Jesus is to us is one of amazement, adoration, and worship. When we accept it, we can put aside everything that is of the old creation.
God’s Spirit lives inside us and is our way of communicating and connecting with the triune God, according to 1 Corinthians 2:11. It is He who reminds us of our identity in Jesus.
The words we use when we speak are very revealing when it comes to how we see ourselves. Do we continue to call ourselves “just sinners saved by grace”? If our identity in Jesus is true, we can no longer say that we are sinners! Yes we may sin from time to time, but we are not identified by it and we do not have to focus on it!
In some of the songs I’ve sang for years, I have noticed the wording in two hymns: in Amazing Grace, we call ourselves a “wretch”, and in the song At the Cross we say that we are just a “worm”. But that’s what we used to be, we are no longer that way!
The cross of Christ gives us our true identity.
As we are at the cross, we see that we are not the only ones present. All of us are brought together in Jesus’ body.
Watchman Nee writes,
“Whatever our nationality or color or denomination, we must die, for only those who have been crucified with Christ, only those who have let go of something, find themselves at home there. Natural traits, national rivalries, class traditions, personal preferences, all the things that we would instinctively clutch to ourselves and seek to carry over, as it were, from the old life and order–are all by the Cross excluded.” (from the book, What Shall This Man Do?)
Not only are we identified by being in Christ, we are also identified by the relationships we have with others. People, just like God Himself, do not live in a vacuum. God exists in a loving relationship of three Persons, eternally pouring love into one another, respecting each other, and giving life to each other.
The same is true for us. We continue to exist by pouring love into one another, respecting each other, and giving life to one another. God Himself is the model for human relationships, and God gives us the power of abundant, eternal life to make it so.
My friend Don, when he first read what I wrote above, said:
“I have read those Scriptures many times, but putting them together as you have, paints a joyfilled picture of who I am because of Christ. Thanks.”
This post is based on a teaching I originally gave to a small group in March 2010.