Summary: The most critical teaching in the Christian faith – accepting and living in who we truly are in Christ. We call this our identity in Christ.
Last Sunday we began a series of lessons on what’s arguably the most critical teaching in the Christian faith – accepting and living in who we truly are in Christ. We call this our identity in Christ – and as I shared last Sunday – as believers in Christ – our identity is not determined by who we are or what we have done or not done – our identity is based solely on who He is and what He has done.
We’re not defined by our vocation – or our successes, fears, or failures. Who we are is determined by spiritual birth. We’re no longer sinners but saints – set apart from sin to God – established by adoption to be God’s inheritance – rescued from sin into a new creation where the old is gone and all things have been made new. (Lost/Found Chart)
As I shared last week, we’re all in 1 of 2 camps – either we’re lost or found. The lost include any persons who have never experienced the spiritual transaction of salvation where they’ve responded to the wooing/conviction of the HS by acknowledging they’re sinfulness and placing they’re faith in the gracious and merciful atoning sacrifice of Jesus.
Once we’ve received Christ as our Savior/Lord, we receive a new identity. We become the children of God. Saints.
This leads us to our study today – for while we might be children of God (our new identity), all too often, many believers live in the pattern of their old identity. Instead of living the abiding life and under the influence of the HS, far too many believers live unplugged and under the direction of their flesh – attempting to manufacture a life that pleases God – only they can’t b/c the righteous live by faith.
W/out faith it is impossible to please God. Hb. 11:6
This AM we’re going to focus on the subtleties of the false identity or what some might call the inclinations of the flesh – so we might become aware of our patterns and learn the difference b/w walking by faith in the Spirit and walking by sight in the flesh.
What is False Identity and how is it formed?
To grasp the idea of false identity, let’s return to my basket of bulbs. Each of these bulbs has the same identity/purpose designed to contain/channel electricity and then manifest that energy through heat/light which can be perceived w/ a person’s physical senses. Yet all of these bulbs are different. Some are short. Some are tall. Some are different colors. Some have clear glass. Some have frosted glass. Some have cut glass. Yet each “light bulb” has been designed to interact w/ and display the light depending on the circumstances and location w/in which it is to be used.
Human beings are designed by God in a similar way. We’re all designed to be living souls who are animated by God’s life and who manifest His glory into our world. Our physical bodies are different shapes, sizes, and colors. We differ in gender. We speak different languages w/ different sounding voices. We’ve been given different intellects and physical capabilities. We’re born into different families. We have differing dispositions and senses of humor. Some people are extroverts – some are introverts.
Consider that if you break the filament and separate the bulb from the source of electricity, it’ll no longer be a “light” bulb. It takes on a new identity. It can no longer serve the purpose for which it was designed and it therefore loses all sense of worth/value.
Our sense of worth/value flows from our identity. So what do we do w/ a bulb whose filament is broken? We throw it in the trash can. We say it is worth nothing to us and put it in a bag to be taken to a landfill to be crushed and buried. It is the same for humans. When Adam and Eve sinned and assumed a new identity of sinner and child of wrath, their sense of worth/value evaporated. They felt intense shame. I think of Jesus words in the Sermon on the Mount – You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. Mt. 5:13
For an inanimate item like a light bulb to break and become worthless is one thing, but humans can’t thrive w/out feeling loved and having worth. We’re designed to need love/respect and to be valued and accepted. So if in the fall our sense of worth was removed – the question becomes – how can I get those needs met on my own?
Consider that what’s left of this bulb after you disconnect it from electricity and the heat and light are gone? Just glass and metal. So this bulb will have to derive a sense of identity from something related to the materials it was constructed from to meet its own needs for worth/value. How does a bulb go about getting significance/worth from its glass or metal? One way is to develop some sort of cataloging and ranking system to start measuring worth. Then there needs to be an audience or outside voice to validate the attributes. For instance, all of these bulbs might get together and decide that cut glass bulbs are the most beautiful and therefore have more worth/value. Or all the blue glass bulbs might agree that blue bulbs are worth more than pink bulbs. They might assume the identity of “blues” and make fun of and oppress any bulb that doesn’t have blue glass.