There has been a strange phenomenon taking place in our world within just the last few years. It is something that, in this writer's opinion, goes far beyond the laws of common sense, and yet it is something that is now reality. What am I talking about? There is an identity crisis taking place. Men are not sure they're men anymore. Women are not sure they're women. Children are being taught that they might not really be little boys or little girls. Yes, people's identities are up in the air, and there are no longer just two genders among us (or so the “experts” say). My heart breaks as I see Satan's deception gaining more of a foothold in our land. A concise response to this issue, based upon God's Word and also true science, is that there are only two genders – male and female (Gen.1:27). So much more could be said, but this current societal crisis is not the main point of this article and so I am not going to delve into it. I'm only using this as a springboard into another identity crisis that I am burdened about and that is affecting multitudes of God's people.
This other identity crisis has swept through the church in epidemic proportions. It is a sobering reason why so many believers appear no different from an unsaved world, continuously struggle with besetting sins, and live a very discouraged and defeated life. Here is the crisis: many Christians do not know, or at least do not fully understand, their identification in Christ. Notice, I said in Christ, not just with Christ. I believe there is an important distinction.
For example, I identify with Chicago Cubs fans; I put myself with that group of people (though not as fanatic as some!) But I do not identify in the Chicago Cubs. In other words, I am not actually connected to the organization at all, and I do not receive anything from them (any type of livelihood that would actually help me). I will cheer for them if I watch a game, but the Cubs really have no impact upon my day to day life. All true believers identify with Jesus – they put themselves in the group of Christians, or Christ followers. But that doesn't mean that all believers identify in Jesus (knowing their position in Christ and drawing upon Him). You see, being a Christian is much greater than just being in a “church club” where you are fans of Jesus and you really want His cause to do well in the world. There is certainly an aspect of wanting His Kingdom to advance, but being a Christian means you are, in actuality, spiritually united to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! We are much more than just with Jesus (on His side), we are in Him and He is in us!
I'm afraid many believers do not know their true identity. They know they have their sins forgiven and are on their way to heaven, but many still have feelings of guilt over the past and feelings of despair at trying to presently measure up to God's standard. Many still view life as being about what they are trying to do for God, and not about what God has already done for them in Christ. Many feel like the abundant life is for the spiritually “elite”, well outside of their capability. This outlook reveals confusion about our true identity, which always leads to unnecessary conflict in our lives. Defeat and discouragement in a believer's life can often be linked back to either not knowing his identity, or not drawing upon it. There are dozens of verses we could look at, but let me just highlight a few that speak to our unmistakable identification in Christ. Read carefully what the Spirit of God tells us:
Jn.14:20 - “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you”
Rom.6:3-5 - “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection”
Rom.8:1 - “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit”
Eph.1:1-3 - “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed bethe God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places inChrist:”
Eph.2:6 - “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:”
Col.2:10 - “And ye are complete in him. . .”
Col.3:3 - “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God”
2 Pet.1:4 - “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust”
Much more than just being declared righteous before God (although that is glorious), we are actually joined to the righteous One and have been made partakers of His holy nature! At the moment of salvation, God unites us with Jesus. He identifies us with Christ in all of His experiences. Jesus died, I died (Gal.2:20). Jesus was buried, I was buried (Rom.6:4). Jesus rose again, I also rose again (Rom.6:4-5). Jesus was exalted over the enemy, I also am seated with Christ far above the powers of darkness (Eph.1:21, 2:6). To be in Christ means that we share in all of His experiences and also all of His resources. His resurrection life and victory is not given to just a select few, but is the inheritance of every child of God!
It is vital that we view ourselves as God views us. Anything less is a deception of the wicked one. God sees a believer in the righteousness of Christ – this is not just for salvation, but for sanctification as well (1 Cor.1:30, 2 Cor.5:21). Listen to Galatians 3:27, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Wow! This is life-changing, liberating truth! We as believers have been immersed into Christ and also been clothed (endued) with Him. This is our true identity, despite how we may feel or what our flesh says to the contrary. Of course, we still have the sin principle within us that we may unfortunately yield to, but it is not our spiritual identity anymore. When we live in unbelief and sin, it doesn't change our identity, no more than playing in a pig pen would make me a pig. It doesn't make me a pig, it just makes me foolish! Your actions will fluctuate as you either live in the flesh or the Spirit, but your identity in Christ is secure and should not be questioned. The spiritual man has been regenerated; it has been created within us in righteousness and true holiness (Eph.4:24). There is a part of us that is absolutely holy – it has to be because God moved in there!
As a believer, you are not just a sinner saved by grace, you are more accurately a saint who sometimes still sins. Some may think that is just a matter of semantics, and perhaps, to a certain extent, that's true. But I think it goes deeper to our understanding of who we are in Christ and where our focus should daily be. If you're focused on your past failures, you do not understand the total forgiveness that is in Christ. If you're focused on your inabilities and weaknesses, you are not reveling in the new resurrection life God has placed inside you. If you view your obedience to God as trying to earn His acceptance, you have not rested in the fact that you are already accepted in the Beloved (Eph. 1:6). Despite what you may think or feel at the present moment, be assured that you are who God says you are! His truth is all that matters, and we must line up our thinking with it or else be doomed to frustration and failure.
Successful Christian living starts with knowing your true identity. As Bob George says in his tremendous book Classic Christianity,
“You have to know you're a butterfly before it makes any sense to think about flying.”
His point was that if a butterfly still viewed himself as a caterpillar, he would never do what he was created to do. If your view of yourself as a believer is not accurate, then you will never “fly” as God intends you to and has provided for you in Christ. You will waste your time making laps around square one of your new life if you fail to grasp the ramifications of being in Christ and Him being in you. You are as righteous as Jesus is – you have to be to get to heaven. You are completely holy in your inner man – again, that's where God dwells. Sin operates in your soul and body levels, but your spirit is now one with Jesus, sharing His very life. These truths should not cause us to live carelessly, but should push us to walk in a worthy manner of our true calling or identity (Eph.4:1).
There is no need for an identity crisis if you're a child of God. Take God at His Word about who He says you are. Stop trying to measure up on your own. Identify in Jesus today!