Embracing My True Identity
I came to the Lord when I was 4 years old. At that age I couldn’t understand how a man’s death and the shedding of his blood helped me to be right with God. I didn’t understand it at all, but I believed it anyway. Yet believing God’s remedy did not make it true. His remedy already was true simply because God said it. But believing opened the door, giving me personal access. The believing is what made it meaningful and productive in my life, because the decision to believe aligned my will with the truth. So I didn’t DO anything to be free from the penalty of sin. I simply entered in through believing that the work was DONE. Even though I didn’t understand how it could be, at 4 years old I simply believed God that He had made it possible for me to be right with Him.
But at the very moment I become free from the penalty of sin, I also become free of its power over my performance. Yet I was not aware at that age that my freedom from sin’s power would not be meaningful in my life unless I entered into it throughbelieving. Again, it’s all about believing. There isn’t anything that I can DO to be free from the power of sin. It’s already been DONE. So I literally own this freedom from the power of sin, but I cannot have access to it unless I enter into it the same way – through simply believing what God has said. I see it not so much as a positional truth, but as a present reality.
Doing right must grow out of believing right. For this reason we need to be less focused on doing right, and more concerned about believing right. However, because we are naturally performance-driven, we tend to base our spiritual growth on the practical sections of scripture that tells us how to behave instead of first engrafting the doctrinal sections that tell us what to believe. There is a reason that the doctrinal sections come first. But even as we read and apply the practical sections, if the effort flows out of a preoccupation with our performance and not out of a Christ-focus, it is worth little. Our focus should be, singularly, looking into the face of the Lord Jesus Christ, believing what He says is true (even if it’s beyond the scope of our understanding) and then believing that His life will energize our work. It is not possible to advance toward Christ while focusing on our performance. On the other hand it IS indeed possible to apply thee practical sections of scripture through looking into the face of Jesus. But the process begins by believing what God says is true.
And what He says is that I am alive to Christ and dead to sin. It is completely true, and there is nothing I can do to make it more true. I can, however, make it more meaningful and productive by choosing to believe it. This is reinforced as I continually remind myself of the meaning and value of my identity. The more I reaffirm the truth, the more my behavior will begin to reflect it. So I need to exhort myself and others in the same manner that Paul exhorted the Romans: “Don’t you know that when you were baptized into Jesus Christ, you were baptized into His death? Don’t you know that you have been united with Christ both in His death and resurrection? Don’t you know that your old man is dead and that you have been raised in newness of life.” I must continue this barrage until I am able to answer,“Yes I do know-I am a new person in Christ, and by God’s grace I will live accordingly.”
I am now a little over 50 years old. I must truthfully say that there have been seasons in past months that I didn’t even want to live anymore. I was discouraged, but I was learning that the answer was bot in trying harder or just making myself do the right thing. I now understand that this situation existed not because I wasn’tdoing right, but because I wasn’t believing right. The believing right must take the lead, because it is the only response that pleases God (Heb 11:6). For years I have acknowledged my “sainthood” in my mind without actually embracing it in my spirit. But one year ago I made a simple life-changing decision to believe that my true identity flows from Christ and not from my performance. I then began to daily embrace the truth that I am the righteousness of God in Christ declared into existence “out of nothing,” and I quit the practice of simply giving it lip service.
Did it make any difference in my life? Let’s just say that for 50 years I lived one way, and now I live another way simply because I am now believing what was true all along. The believing doesn’t make it true for me, but it does make it productive and meaningful in my life.
But someone might come to me and say, “Dan, I saw you sin last week.” Unfortunately I wouldn’t be a bit surprised. The difference is that now I know that the existence of sin has no effect on my identity. Before this watershed, the existence of sin would have devastated me because the identity that I embraced flowed from my performance. I now know that my true identity is not tied to my performance. Yet as I continue to embrace my true identity in Christ, my performance will naturally fall in line as if it were a fruit that naturally grows from a life-giving vine.
Guilt and fear are great motivators. Guilt focuses on the past and fear focuses on the future. Yet why should we motive by guilt when “There is therefore now no condemnation”? And how can we motivate by fear when “God has not given us the spirit of fear”? God’s method of motivating us to godliness is based on our present identity in Christ with al of its benefits. “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God. Beloved now are we the sons of God…And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as He is pure.”
For many believers, the concept of being “in Christ” is simply a curious idea portrayed as a positional truth that will some day in the sweet by and by have a substantial bearing on our existence. So it is not meaningful. But God would have us embrace His words as being true right now. He wants us to embrace the truth in our spirit, not merely acknowledge it in our mind. I find then that whenever I begin to question the truth and value of the finished work of Christ in regard to my daily life, the ensuing struggle becomes a futile attempt at self-improvement framed aroundtrying to become someone that I already am. That struggle is not necessary. I am right now the righteousness of God in Christ declared into existence “out of nothing” through His spoken word. God has finally brought me to the end of my resources so that I can discover His.
- Understanding Identity in Christ (READ, LISTEN)
- Resolving Emotional Problems Biblically (READ, LISTEN)
- A Strategy for Resolving Strongholds (READ, LISTEN)
- Overcoming Bitterness & Resentment (READ)
- The Believer’s Identity in Christ (READ)
- Surrendering to God with Humility & Courage (READ, LISTEN)
- The Biblical Foundation for Discipleship (READ, LISTEN)
Victory Over The Darkness – by Neil T. Anderson
The Bondage Breaker – by Neil T. Anderson
The Steps to Freedom in Christ Workbook – by Neil T. Anderson