Summary: This is what theologians call "identification with Christ." It means God has acted in such a way that we have become identified with Christ.
Dr. Wayne A. Lawson
The Word Ministries, OKC
Preached on Sunday March 12, 2006
Title: Identity Theft
Scripture: St. John 10:10
10The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Identity theft is something we have heard much about in the media during the past few years. Perhaps you pay your bills on-line, or just do some casual shopping on line for the simple convenience of paying bills or shopping from the privacy and comfort of your own home. I have grown comfortable paying majority of bills on line. I find it to be convenient. There are many safeguards currently in place. But, perhaps there was a planted program somewhere that captured your vital information and placed it into the hands of a thief. Although identity theft is a rapidly escalating type of crime, it is not necessarily new. Incidents of various types of identity theft have more than doubled over the past four years and now represent the leading consumer fraud reported to the Federal Trade Commission, accounting for 42% of all complaints.
Many identity fraud cases begin with the simple theft of a credit card number, as easily as taking the information from a paper receipt. Stolen Credit Cards and Social Security Numbers can devastate your life. When thieves effectively steal your identity they can do one or all of the following:
• Open new credit card accounts using your name, birth date and SSN
• Call your credit card company pretending to be you and change the mailing address
• Establish cellular phone service in your name
• Open a bank account in your name and write bad checks on that account
The real tragedy with identity theft is you may never realize that it has happened to you until you receive bills for a credit card you never had – bad credit report includes debts you never created – billing cycles pass and you don’t receive a statement – charges appear on your bills that you did not authorize. Identity theft can be very subtle in the beginning and before you know it you find yourself attempting to prove your identity. Can you imagine yourself in the position of having to ever prove who you are to creditors or some local agency.
Identity theft my brothers and sisters can also take place on the Spiritual Level. Matter of fact it has been going on since the beginning of Human Kind. One of the Classic, Biblical ways to understand Satan is as a thief, John the Evangelist writes that the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. The author of 1st Peter, possibly the Apostle Peter himself, writes that “YOUR ADVERSARY THE DEVIL PROWLS AROUND LIKE A ROARING LION, SEEKING THOSE WHOM HE MAY DEVOUR.” The devil seeks to steal our likeness to Christ. Satan is the original Identify Thief who would like nothing more than to corrupt the image of God in you, drain your spirit, and therefore, derail your becoming like Christ. For that in itself is the essence of Christianity = to be like Christ.
According to the New Testament, the religious experience of the earliest Christians was derived from and dependent upon Christ. Christian experience is more than an imitation of the life and teaching of Jesus. It is the present experience of the risen Christ indwelling the believer’s heart by the Spirit. Both Johannine and Pauline literature refer to this reality by emphasizing the inclusive and corporate personality of Christ. Stay with me, I am going somewhere with this. Paul expresses the personal appropriation of the work of Christ by the term “IN CHRIST.” It appears to be the Apostles Favorite Term to describe the Personal and Dynamic relation of the believer to Christ, and it appears in a variety of Contexts. This particular phrase “In Christ” is found:
• 8 – times in Galatians
• 34 – times in Ephesians
• 18 – times in Colossians
This is what theologians call “Identification with Christ.” It means God has acted in such a way that we have become identified with Christ. Therefore, as far as God is concerned, what is true of Christ’s standing has become true of us. Did Jesus die? Then so did I. Did Jesus rise from the dead? Then I, too, rose from the dead. The comparisons can be pressed even further. Did Jesus ascend to the Father in heaven? Then according to my identification with Christ, I too ascended to heaven and took my seat at the right hand of the Father! This is expressly stated in EPHESIANS 2:5-6 "AND EVEN WHEN WE WERE DEAD IN OUR SIN AND TRANSGRESSION (GOD) MADE US ALIVE TOGETHER WITH CHRIST….AND RAISED US UP WITH HIM, AND SEATED US WITH HIM IN THE HEAVENLY PLACES IN CHRIST.” Of course we have not become the creators of the world, nor have we become deity, but the areas where we are identified with Christ go much further than many of us would challenge ourselves to think.