Category Archives: Spiritual Maturity

Identification with Christ

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20  (KJV)

While “identity” denotes that set of characteristics that constitute our essential self or personal uniqueness, it also describes our sameness with groups.  We identify with groups based on their characteristics, values, and/or belief system.  For example, we may identify with a particular area (Midwesterner, New Yorker), a certain demographic (Baby Boomers, Gen-X, Millennials), or even a certain cause (MADD—Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, Save the Whales).    Our identity with certain groups may be intentional in hopes of elevating our status or gaining influence.  Identification with Christ is, however, what really matters both now and for eternity.

“Identification”, for purposes of our teaching today, denotes association in name, feeling, interest, or action.  When identification is used in this manner, it is usually followed by the preposition with, such as, “He preferred not to identify himself with that group.”  How do we identify with Christ and what does it look like in our lives?  Mark Hankins, in his book, The Power of Identification in Christ, gives us great insight as to where identification with Christ begins:

“Your identification with Christ or who you are in Christ begins with the grace of God.  God puts you in a place where you can see His glory, get in His presence, know and experience Him.”

This grace of God was demonstrated to us through the gift of His Son Jesus Christ.

 “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” Titus 3:4-6

So how do we begin this journey of identifying with Christ?  We begin identification with Christ by identify with…

His deathBefore Christ came into our lives we were dead in our trespasses (Col. 2:13).  We were bound by our human tendencies to follow the impulses and temptations generated by the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life (1 John 2:16).   Now with Christ, our old nature has been put to death ((Ep. 4:22; Mark 8:35).  This dying to sin and self is possible as a result of the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

His burial.   What do you do with dead things? You bury them!  Sin is no longer “operative” (effective) in the believer’s life.  We do not have to respond to sin’s demands (Col. 2:12) and we are released from Satan’s control over our lives (Romans 6:11-12).    To return to a lifestyle of sin is as unthinkable for a Christian as for one to dig up a dead corpse!

His resurrection.  We have been “quickened” (made alive) by the Spirit (Ep. 2:1,5 ; 1 Pet. 3:18) and are raised by the power of God into “newness of life” (Rom. 6:4).  This power (dynamis) is the same power that God used when He raised Jesus from the grave (Ep. 1:19-20).   It is now the believer’s privilege and responsibility to “appropriate” that power in our Christian walk. 

His glorification.  Since we died and were raised with Christ, we will also be glorified with Him (Ep. 2:6).  The believer’s greatest hope is to partake in the future glory with Christ (Rom. 8:17).  This hope outweighs any trials we may experience now and becomes the goal of our high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14).  Through identification with Christ’s glorification we see the culmination of God’s plan of salvation (Rom. 8:30).

Why is identification with Christ important?  By identifying in Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and glorification, we begin to shed ourselves of the earthly entrapments that compete for God’s love and affection.  Christ becomes the standard as to what true love and obedience looks like—love for our Father and love for one another.  During this process of identification, transformation begins.  Our spirit man no longer must be coaxed to do what is right but finds joy in fulfilling God’s purpose, as willing bondservants to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:1; James 1:1; 2 Pet.1:1).

Our identification with Christ is our personal witness and commitment to the values and beliefs that are associated with Him.  Our life is now hidden in Christ and our attention is focused on a heavenly agendas and kingdom building (Col. 3: 1-3).   In the identification process, we become conformed to the image of Christ, which has always been the desire of the Father (Rom. 8:29).  It is through our identification with our Savior that we achieve our true identity of “Christ-likeness”.

Turn on the Light!

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.

Walk as children of light.”  Ephesians 5:8 (NKJV)

 “Where’s the light?”  This is the panicky question young children ask their parents as they enter into a dark room.  They are concerned in knowing where the light can be found.  Similarly, “Where is God?” is the panicky question the unbelieving world asks Christians as the see their “secure” world coming unraveled before their very eyes.  “Where’s the light?”  The Apostle Paul reminds us of our role in answering that question.

In Ephesians 5, Paul explains the extraordinary transformation Christ makes in the life of His believers.  He accomplishes this by contrasting the believer’s old life with their new life.  Paul borrows an example from nature that would be easily understood by his readers—light and darkness.

“For you were once darkness.”  This statement of conclusion describes the state in which current saints found themselves before Christ.  Darkness (skotos) described their past condition. The unredeemed were not in darkness but actually were darkness.  Metaphorically this describes individuals in whom “darkness becomes visible and holds them sway.” (Thayer)  They are morally darkened by sin, spiritually bankrupt, and desperately in need of salvation (Rom. 3:23).

“But now you are light in the Lord.”  What caused the change between “once darkness and now light”?  Salvation!  God’s plan of salvation provided a change in status—from darkness to light.  Light (phos) is used figuratively to describe truth and its knowledge, together with the spiritual purity (in contrast to vv. 3-5) associated with it.  God took sinners who were “foolish, disobedient, and deceived and according to His mercy, He saved them” (Titus 3:3-5).

“Walk as children of light.”  As new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), new relationships emerged.  No longer in fellowship with darkness, the redeemed became children and joint heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17) with all its power (Ep. 1:19) and privilege (Ep. 2:6).  In addition, new believers’ lives were redirected to God’s purpose—to walk as children of light.  As “light bearers” they now offer to the lost the same light they received when they walked in darkness.  By hearing the Gospel and through the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, the darkened world will be attracted to The True Light, Jesus Christ (John 8:12; 9:15).

As you plan your daily activities remember to embrace your identity in Christ as children of light.  Look for opportunities to “turn on the light” in dark places and “show others the goodness of God, for He also called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9, NLT).

Living a Surrendered Life In Christ

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”  Matthew 16:24   (NKJ)

“So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:33

Jesus in His teaching on the cost of discipleship was brutally honest about His expectation of His followers.  There was no mincing of words or changing of position to make the offer more appealing to His listeners.  To be “in Christ”, to be in relationship with Him, required denial of self and forsaking all.  Christ’s expectations have not changed.

Deny has two meanings:  (1) to affirm that one has no acquaintance or connection with someone and (2) to lose sight of one’s self and own interests.  The writer of our Matthew text (Matt. 16:24) uses the second definition.   As we explore the surrendered life in Christ, I would offer both definitions.  As part of their “bond with Christ” (Ep. 4:3), believers must also reject their love of this world—“the lust of their flesh, the lust of their eyes, and the pride of that tempts them” (1 John 2:16).  All these must no longer pull the believer’s affections from Christ.  Denial of self is possible through the believer’s “supernatural position” as a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).

The world, Satan, and our flesh are not big on “denying or forsaking.”   They encourage believers to place their desires above the Lord’s.  They deceive by whispering, “You can have it your way right now.  Jesus can wait another day.”  Jesus replies, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6) and offers instead His love (John 3:16), salvation (Heb. 2:10), forgiveness (Ep. 1:7), freedom (Ps. 146:7), and peace (Col. 3:15).  Living a surrendered life in Christ is not “burdensome” (1 John 5:3) because there is the realization that we have chosen “the Pearl of Great Price” (Matt. 13:46).  To give up other offers, by comparison, is a surrender of the lesser.

Good to the Last Byte…

In the following excerpt from Immortal Diamonds Richard Rohr shares a glimpse into the secret of living a surrendered life through the contemporary example of the Amish.

 “The Amish people know they are connected to and a part of a much larger divine reality which looks naïve to the rest of us.  On the foundation as to what is real and what is passing, they are experts.  It also explains their peace, happiness and contentment.”

The Power of Proclamation

“As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”  Colossians 2:6-7 (NKJ)

“And they overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” Rev. 12:11a (NKJ)

As I was finishing my evening devotions, I asked the Lord why we, as believers, have such a difficult time receiving the power He has given us to live out His purpose.  As I finished my reading, this thought came to mind, “You cannot claim what you do not proclaim!”  In other words, there is an apparent disconnect between what we mentally believe and how we personally walk out that truth in our lives.   We fail to make a personal proclamation.

Our failure to boldly proclaim and claim God’s power in our life may be as a result of choosing to operate independently, outside of God’s direction.  We may opt to follow the path of “diys”—do it yourself.  This may be a good approach in doing home projects but not in the advancement of one’s spiritual maturity.  Failed efforts are reflective of our failure to accept our own human imperfection.  In reality, what seemed to be the “best way” results  in failure to proclaim God’s sufficiency and failure to claim His desired outcome for our lives.  “For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago”       (Ep. 2:10, NLT).

Lack of success in our personal proclamation often stems from a lack of understanding and acceptance of our identity in Christ.  “In Christ, in Him, of Him” was used most often by Paul in his letters to the Early Church.  It describes our special union with Christ and the benefits we can “proclaim and claim” as a result of that union.  We are one with Christ, therefore what Christ has we also possess.  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ep. 1:3).

Satan desires that we remain “spiritually ambivalent.”  If he can silence our proclamation of the freedom and goodness to be found in Christ, he can continue his campaign of deception, disbelief, and disobedience in the believer’s life.  It is the proclamation of believers in Christ that will ultimately lead to Satan’s defeat (Rev. 12:11a).   In Christ, we have “redemption, righteousness and access”, just to name a few.  Once we better know who we are in Christ, we can boldly proclaim and claim His power and presence in our lives.

 Good to the Last Byte…

Using your Bible concordance, find scriptures that include “in Christ”.  Begin to see all the things we have and are becoming as a result of our special union with Christ.

Listening Prayer: Engaging with God in the Prayer-Filled Life

“I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and

will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.”   Habakkuk 2:1  (KJV)

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 11:15

This week’s teaching brings to an end our discussion of the prayer-filled, contemplative life.  We began this series by inviting our readers to pursue the prayer-filled life.  Fulfillment of this life entails both love for God and the desire to be in His presence continually (practicing His presence).  For many believers, such a pursuit necessitates a return to our First Love (Rev. 2:4) and desiring the needful thing (Luke 10:42) which can only be found in fellowship with Infinite God.  Today we will spend time looking at a key practice in the prayer-filled life—listening prayer.

Listening prayer was a new experience for me.  I admit my prayer life was pretty one-sided—asking, seeking, and knocking (Matt. 7:7).  I invested much time in learning what I thought was the “right way” to pray.  I followed the PAPA prayer formula.  I prayed the Scriptures.  I employed the infamous ACTS model (adoration-confession-thanksgiving-supplications).  I wanted to better communicate with God but I failed to realize what God wanted.  God was not concerned with “correct communications” but God did desire “devoted relationship.”

Listening prayer is about joining with God at the “heart”.   By heart, I’m not speaking about the emotions only, but that “intuitive part” which instructs the mind and the will.  It is a place of union with God.  Through the eyes and the ears of the heart we see and hear God—who He is and how He operates.  We discover God’s purpose for our life and how we can better serve Him (2 Cor. 5:15).  In listening prayer we exchange our “intermittent” requests for “continuous” dialogue with the all wise, all powerful God.

How does one begin listening prayer?  Believe that God desires to communicate with you (Gen. 35:13).  God is not some distant deity disinterested in His children.  We cry “Abba Father” (Gal. 4:6) knowing He hears our every word.  Know that God wishes to be in relationship with you (James 4:8a).  By instituting His plan of salvation, He created the means to restore that which was loss in the Garden of Eden—fellowship with mankind.  Declare your intentions by asking God to help hear His voice. Hearing God is not natural (remember we loss that in the Garden) so you must be intentional (Matt. 11:15).  At first, you may need to set aside time, to listen for His voice, perhaps during your morning or evening devotional time. Invite Him into that time with you and expect to hear (1 John 5:14).  You may receive a fleeting impression, a scripture or a song.  Don’t ignore it!  Write it down then ask God to dialogue with you about what you heard.  Journal what He says to you!

Listening prayer is not a method, but a walk with God where ongoing dialogue occurs.  It’s not about doing but it is about being in unbroken relationship with Triune God.  It is an exciting time of fellowship and discovery.  It is what God has always wanted for us.  Visit our website for a reading list on listening prayer and the prayer-filled life.  Happy listening!

Watch and Pray

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” Ephesians 6:18 (KJV)

“Watch and pray” has been a rally call for the saints since the recording of biblical history.  Whether the call came from Nehemiah and the builders of the Jerusalem wall (Neh. 4:9) or those who would stand for the LORD (Jer. 51:12; Hab. 2:1), dedication to these two activities has been a recipe for victory.  In our text today, watching and praying become a critical strategy to employ as believers engage in spiritual battle against Satan and his evil minions.  While this letter was written by the Apostle Paul to the church of Ephesus over a thousand years ago, it still holds wise counsel for believers today.

Paul writes this letter from prison concerning conflicts which have risen between the Jewish and Gentile believers.  Rather than maintaining every effort to maintain “unity in the faith” (Eph. 4:3-4), these new Christians had forgotten that the real enemy was Satan—“not flesh and blood, but the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12, NLT).  They are exhorted to “stay alert and be persistent in their prayers for all Christians everywhere.”

This rendering of “watching” (agrpneo) is used in the New Testament only four (4) times with three distinct definitions.  The first two citations are found in the Gospels (Mark 13:33; Luke 21:36).   In these accounts Jesus is speaking to his disciples concerning the signs of the end of time. Here, watching is defined as “being circumspect, attentive, and ready.”  Jesus further illustrates “watching” through the parable of the fig tree to ready them for His imminent return.  In Hebrews 13:17, “watching” means “to exercise constant vigilance over something”; the image is one drawn from shepherds and their watch over their sheep.” The Hebrew author uses this rendering of “watching” to convey the seriousness with which spiritual leaders (“those who have rule over you”) are to exercising constant vigilance over their human flock. 

In our study text of Ephesians 6:18, “watching” means “to be intent upon a thing”—in this case it is prayer.  And for who?  The saints of God.  Satan hates the church, collectively, and believers, individually.  Satan especially targets the Church and believers for his attacks in order to discredit our witness, to discourage our service for the Lord, and to destroy us—spiritually, physically, and emotionally (1 Pet. 5:8). 

Jesus was intent upon prayer for his disciples (Matt. 26:4; Luke 22:31).  His intentionality extended His prayers to His future Church who “believe in Him through their word” (John 17:20-26).  Are we then exempted from responsibility to pray for one another?  Are spiritual and moral failures within the church a result of human frailty or are they the casualty of “our failure to pray” and cover our brothers in Christ?  Let us in our daily prayers include those who battle alongside us for the Kingdom of God.  Let no believer fall from Satan’s attack as a result of our failure to “watch and pray.”

Good to the Last Byte…

How does the conflict in Ephesus play out in the modern church?  I will address the impact as it relates to both the universal and local church because the effect is pretty much the same.  Forgetting who the real enemy is and failure to “watch and pray” result in denominational squabbles and competition for memberships versus battling for human souls.   The 20th century comic strip character Pogo, was once quoted, “We have met the enemy and it is us!”  It’s time to wake up and return to the unity of the faith Christ envisioned for His Church!

Confusing Maturity for Complacence

Is He continually calling you out of sin (elementary) or is He empowering you to remain pure and lead others ill to holiness (maturity)? Is He continually telling you to increase your faith (elementary) – or are you using the faith you have to step out in the area of miracles, signs and wonders (maturity)? Is He continually reminding you of the infilling of the Spirit of Jesus you received at your baptism (elementary) – or is the Spirit in you collaborating with Him to change the world (maturity)? Is He continually reminding you of His resurrection power (elementary) – or are you living in it every day (maturity)? Is He continually reminding you that there is a judgment that will be eternal (elementary) – or are you living your life open before the throne of God (maturity)?

We all have become content with far less than what God has for us. It is no wonder that so many people approach Christianity as an obligation or even as boredom. We have lost the excitement of exploration with God in His Kingdom. When did spiritual maturity begin to mean that you don’t dance and leap for joy in His presence? Or that you must not show any physical signs of surrender and delight in worship? Or that you must only whisper in church? Who made these rules? Surely not God! Instead, He encourages His people to praise with abandon, with extravagant worship, with shouts, singing, dancing, demonstrations of love and adoration.

When Michal, David’s wife, saw him worshiping God exuberantly, she scornfully criticized him, embarrassed by his lack of dignity. The last word the Bible says about Michal is that she was barren the rest of her life. Besides the fact that she bore no children, there is a spiritual principle here. Our scorn of exuberant worship causes something to die within ourselves. Each time we criticize, we put to death our child-like capacity to be fully present with the Lord, without self-consciousness and without fear of man.

Question Him in your quiet time today. Ask Him what more He has for you. Ask Him to show you open doors. Ask Him to give you that child-like heart to live in awe and wonder at what He is and what He does. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4) Ask Him for the desires of your heart!

What did the Lord say to you today?

  1. Is God speaking to your heart?
  2. Are you inviting Him to change your life and make you whole?
  3. What new potential blessing has He been prompting you to taste spiritually?
  4. What opportunities to be in His presence have you neglected?

Taste and see that the Lord is good. (Psalm 34:8)

Signa Bodishbaugh from Divine ConversationsThe Art Of Meaningful Dialogue with God

 

In God We Trust

“Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. 

In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear.

What can flesh do to me?”  Psalm 56:3, 4 (NKJ)

There is much to fear as we look around today.  The daily news is replete with things that cause us to be “fearful”.  We face “tribulation and distress, persecution and famine; nakedness, peril, and sword” (Rom. 8:35); not to mention “pestilence that walk in darkness” (Ps. 91:6).  How are we to respond?  I offer you an alternative to fear—put your trust in God. 

The background for today’s Psalm can be found in 1 Samuel 21:8-15, where we are told of David’s escape to Gath, the stronghold of the Philistines, arch enemies of Israel.   The Philistines were well acquainted with David for he had championed the killing of Goliath of Gath when he was only a young shepherd boy (1 Sam. 17).   Since then, he had been anointed by Samuel the prophet as the heir apparent to the throne of Israel receiving praises from the people for his many conquests (1 Sam. 18:7).  However, those praises had resulted in a death wish from King Saul who now sought David’s life.  Now this young man runs for fear of his life to a place of even greater peril and sure death.  He now stands captured by his worst enemy, the king of the Philistines. 

Psalm 56 is identified as a song for the distressed.  We would agree that David was in distress.  We sometimes describe it as being “between a rock and a hard place.”   Like David, we sometimes find ourselves wedged between many rocks and brutal hard places.  Sometimes this happens as a result of others, like Saul, and other times it is the result of our own disobedience and waywardness.  In those times of distress and fear, we are to call out like David—“In God, I have put my trust.” 

I have put my trust” is translated in Hebrew, batach, which means “bold and confident”.  The description means to literally “throw oneself down, extended on the ground, upon his face.”    Can you imagine that picture?  David, literally throwing himself on the mercy of God, fully confident and bold; defiantly proclaiming, “What can flesh do to me?”  I wonder if his mind reflected back on God’s mighty hand of deliverance in his earlier battle with fear as he faced Goliath.  Did he recall the many times God intervened on his behalf as King Saul sought to capture and kill him?  His eye was not on the source of his fear but on the Deliverer of his soul. David’s spirit was humbled, cast down in full confidence and trust in Almighty God for his life—not the Philistine king.

As we face the many challenges of life that tend to shake the very foundation of our faith, let us “put our trust” in the one who is able to deliver us from all harm (Ps. 46:2). Remember those times that God stepped in to deliver you and bring you to a point of safety.   Exchange your fear for bold confidence (Ps. 20:7). Stretch out on “mature” faith, like David, and expect miracles, signs, and wonders.   Although we flippantly have inscribed on our coins, “In God we trust”, it’s now time to write upon our hearts the Psalmist’s words, “I have put my trust in God.”

 

The Subtlety of Sin

Lent1

“…And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”  Genesis 4:7 (NRS)

They say that if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will leap out to escape the danger. But, if you put a frog in the same pot filled with water that is cool and pleasant then gradually heat the kettle until it boils, the frog will not become aware of the threat until it is too late.  Sin is like this illustration; unrecognized and underrated it will grow in strength until it’s too late. This week’s Lenten study will examine the subtlety of sin.

One definition of subtle is “to operate deceptively.”  Dr. Karl Menninger of the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas, wrote a book titled Whatever Became of Sin? In it he discusses from a psychiatrist’s point of view the tendency in our society to ignore sin, calling it by many euphemisms rather than recognizing sin for what it is.  By using this technique, sin becomes “socially acceptable.”   Therein is the subtlety of sin.

Sin is a riddle, a mystery, a realty that eludes definition and comprehension.  Perhaps we most often think of sin as wrongdoing or transgression of God’s law.  Sin, also includes a failure to do what is right.

From Judges to Kings, we see that Israel failed to do what was right and forsook the Lord who had brought them out of Egypt and established a covenant with them.  They first followed and worshiped the gods of the nations around them (Judg. 2:10-13). The water was cool and pleasant.  Sometimes they conceded to religious idolatry and paganism in exchange for political favors, agreements, and alliance.  The water was comfortably tepid.   Solomon attempted to serve both God and the Baals at the same time. He built high places for his “strange wives” (whom God told him not to marry).  Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Because you have done this, and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant” (1 King 11:11).   Solomon failed to do the right thing.  The water was boiling and the frog was dead.

Like the frog caught in slow boiling water, mankind is currently exposed to sin deceitfully hidden in language and life style choices that will result in both alienation from God and spiritual death.  Like the kings of the Old Testament, believers are being tempted to accept sin under the banner of the “new normal” when in reality, it is nothing more than the same “old sin.”  Let us strive to combat the subtlety of sin by doing what God has told us is right!

 Good to the Last Byte…

The story of the frog in the boiling water is a warning against acceptance of social trends and values that are outside the will and plan of God.  Sin left unchallenged and unopposed will ultimately lead to death.   Let us “not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up” (Gal 6:9).

Identity Crisis, Part 2

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,

which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10 (NKJ)

 Last week we explored the challenge of maintaining one’s identity in Christ while living in the midst of the 21st century.  We discussed the temptations offered by Satan, the influence of worldview, and willfulness of self.  How then are Christians to maintain their identity in light of these tests?  How do we protect ourselves from spiritual identity crisis?

 Overcoming identity crisis, from a worldview perspective, can be accomplished by employing the following key actions.  First, accept that you are no longer the person you wish.  This will help you begin to identify the things you want to change based on what you like and don’t like about your life.  Second, identify what’s important to you.  Then work on developing those things that make you feel good about yourself and invigorate your life.  Lastly, learn to contemplate and reflect on what you want.  Let go stringent goals and absolutes. Your next steps will then become obvious.  If these actions don’t help, the individual is encouraged to talk to a friend or a mental health professional for support and encouragement.  Unfortunately, the worldview solution is flawed in that it is dependent on a “weak link”—self, which hasn’t worked up to this point.  Identity based on self, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life”, is built upon a foundation that is doomed for failure.  Such a plan is not of the Father but is of the world, which is passing away” (1 John 2:15-17).      

 Jesus left us the best model for dealing with identity crisis.  Although others, including Satan (John 4:1-11), continually questioned Jesus as to His identity, His response reflected three (3) key beliefs that kept Him firmly grounded.  First, He knew who He was.  He was God’s Son and the Son of man (Matt. 3:17; Mark 8:31). Secondly, He knew His purpose.  He was sent by the Father to die for man’s sins (John 3:16).  And finally, He knew who He was to serve—God and man (John 5:30; Matt. 20:28).  If we are to avoid spiritual identity crisis, we would be well advised to follow Jesus’ example.   

  • Know who we are.  As new creatures in Christ all things are of God (2 Cor. 5:17-18).  We now possess our Father’s DNA—His divine nature and righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24).   Knowing God’s truth gives us the assurance and boldness to counter the false identity offered by Satan and the world. 
  •  Know what our purpose is.  We are to be conformed to Christ’s image (Rom. 8:29).  Just as Jesus came to serve, we also are to be servants of God, answering His call to duty.  Just as Jesus was attentive to His Father’s call, through spending time in prayer and meditation, we also must listen to God’s leading to fully realize our purpose. 

  • Know who we serve.  Our identity in Christ necessitates our allegiance.   In Christ, we are no longer “slaves of unrighteousness but slaves to righteousness” (Rom. 6:12-13).  As children of God (Rom. 8:16) we are obedient to our Father.  We are to have the mind of Christ, who was obedient, even unto death (Phil. 2:8). 

Good to the Last Byte…

As believers our identity is founded in Christ Jesus.  It has been revealed in God’s Word and is a reflection of His love for us.  (Read Neil Anderson’s, “Our Identity in Christ”).  Our identity is based on a firm foundation that is eternal and abides forever (Ep. 1:4).  Jesus has made it possible for us to become partakers of God’s grace and power.  Knowing our identity, we are able to hold firm our “confession of faith without wavering” (Heb. 10:23).  CAUTION:  If we as believers are unable to accept the identity God has communicated to us, we need to enter into a time of prayer and examination as to why we choose not to believe God (choosing rather to believe the lie of Satan, self and the world)