Category Archives: Spiritual Maturity

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)

Identity Crisis, Part 1

“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.”  2 Peter 1:4

Identity denotes that set of characteristics that constitutes individual personality—our essential self. Last week we talked about our spiritual identity and the need to protect it from “theft” by Satan and the world.   This week, we will begin to examine another aspect of our identity also at risk in this “present age”—identity crisis.

 Identity crisis, in the psychosocial sense, is a condition of disorientation and role confusion as a result of conflicting pressures and expectations.   Identity crisis seeks a clearer sense of self and acceptable role in society.  Spiritual identity crisis is very similar, in that it occurs because of the conflict exerted from Satan, the world, and self. 

Satan challenges our identity in Christ Jesus by first targeting our mind.  He uses as his weapon lies that are designed to deceive and discourage.  Satan’s purpose is to make us ignorant of God’s will and plan for our life.   The world also attacks our mind and our body.  It creates an insatiable desire for “all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16).  Lastly, self contributes to spiritual identity crisis by demanding freedom to exercise its personal will.  The desire to rule self and operate independent of God leads to self-promotion, self-elevation, and selfishness.  Left unchecked, man’s attention shifts from “what God desires” to “what feels right.” 

 While identity deals with personal uniqueness, it also describes a person’s sameness with others.  For example, one’s identity may be tied to a particular area (Midwesterner, New Yorker), a certain group (Boomers, Gen-Xers), or a cause (Save the Whales).  For believers, our identity is rooted and grounded in Christ Jesus (Col. 2:7).   Through His work of redemption, we have been reconciled to the Father (Rom. 5:10).  “In Christ Jesus” we are now sons and daughters of God (John 1:12), endowed with a new identity and power.  Through spiritual regeneration (2 Cor. 5:17), we have become partakers of His divine nature, the Holy Spirit, who is daily conforming us to the image of Christ (2 Pet. 1:4). 

As believers in Christ Jesus we are not to experience identity crisis.  Our identity in Christ Jesus has releases us from not only the penalty of sin, but also its power and influence.  We no longer identify with Satan, the world or self.  We are to reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive in Christ (Rom. 6:11-13).   We know not only “who we are” but also “whose we are.”  Our spiritual identity is in Christ Jesus, who is our “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30).

 Next week we will continue this discussion on identity crisis with more detail as to how to reverse this threat facing believers living in the 21st century.

Identity Theft

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  Galatians 3:26 (KJV)

 The recent security breach of the million dollar merchant, Target, has left many of us extremely nervous concerning identity theft.   It has become a lucrative business as personal information is illegally accessed and sold to the highest bidder whose intent is to defraud and swindle.   It is an event we pray never happen to us.   Similarly, theft of our spiritual identity can be a costly event. 

 The identity thief, in this case, is Satan.  Our true identity was established in the Garden of Eden.  There man was created in the image of God and shared unbroken fellowship with the Father.  He was given authority over all creation and total access to limitless resources (Gen. 1:28).  That was God’s identity for man—beloved creature and ruler—until his identity was “stolen” through deceit and deception.    Satan took man’s glorious identity, given by God the Creator, and robbed him of his “good name”, leaving him “spiritual bankrupt.”   Why is spiritual identity important?

First, our spiritual identity “in Christ Jesus” connects us to our source of life, God the Father.  In Christ Jesus” we are reconciled to God.  Now we are “children of God” and His “son” (John 1:12; Rom. 8:14).  Understanding our spiritual identity, we can access those rights and privileges that are rightfully our “birthright”.   Our identity, which was loss in the garden, was restored at the Cross.

 Secondarily, our spiritual identity “in Christ Jesus” replaces the distorted view we have of ourselves communicated by Satan and the world, and through unhealthy attachments and relationships.  It is here that we develop “false identities” of who we are.  These false identities leave us broken hearted and emotionally damaged.  God’s truth, our identity in Christ Jesus, is needed to replace the lies we believe (John 8:32; 10:13).

 God, in His mercy and love, sent Jesus to retrieve and strengthen our true identity that was stolen in the Garden.  “In Christ Jesus” we have been given a new name and new blessings to be enjoyed now through eternity.   Our true identity is now safe and secure, “theft resistant” because of that which Christ accomplished on the Cross.

 Good to the Last Byte…

Want to take back your identity?  REJECT Satan’s attacks on our identity in Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).  RENOUNCE Satan’s presence and power over you (James 4:7).   RECKON yourself dead to sin but alive to God (Rom. 6:11).   Actively engage in proclaiming and pursuing your true identity in Christ.  

Learning to Forgive

“…bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you,  so you also must do.”   Col. 3:13 (KJV)

  To forgive is not easy.  It’s antithesis, unforgiveness, is usually  entwined with the emotions we felt (or still feel) during the original offense–anger, shame, or fear.  Regardless, it is still an expectation of God that we forgive (Matt. 6:14-15). 

 In the parable of the unmerciful servant, Jesus makes the point that human beings are obligated to forgive because God has forgiven them (Matt. 18:23-35).  Jesus contrasts the “forgiving” heart of the father in the prodigal son story with the “unforgiving” older son.  It is a study in the stubborn refusal to forgive that is characterized by hardness, a demand for revenge, and arrogance.  Unforgiveness often causes as much pain as the original offense. The older son’s self-justified indignation and smugness “over being right” was causing just as much pain and separation between himself and his father as was caused by his younger brother. 

 It has been said that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.  The damaging effect of unforgiveness is seen not only in the emotional and physical health of people but also in their broken relationship with others and God.  Forgiveness is an act of the will (versus what we feel) and as believers, we are to forgive as an act of love and obedience to the Lord (John 14:15).

 Refusal to forgive indicates a rebellious, stubborn heart that has “not drunk deeply of the water of grace and mercy at the well of God’s forgiveness” (Luke 7:47). While forgiveness is not easy, God has provided His Spirit within us to show us how we can be freed from the death grip of unforgiveness.  Ask Him to set you free.

Divine Transformation

If we want to be “divinely transformed”, we must begin with “First Things First”.  We need to build a framework of FAITH, whereby we are able to continue on the path and purpose that God has planned for us.  We must: 

 F Have Faith in the truth of the Gospel (2 Cor. 5:17). “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Faith in the gospel places the believer “in Christ,” where everything becomes new.  Your new identity is characterized by faith and solidarity with Christ in his resurrection so that “we might bear fruit to God” (Rom. 7:4b; cf. Rom. 6:1–11; Col. 3:1–4).

 I Take on the Identity of Christ (Rom. 6:6). “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Formally, the transformation by faith is immediate, but we must work to bring about changed thinking or behavior.

 R Develop a Relationship with the God of glory (2 Cor. 3:18). “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  It is being in His presence that we are changed (2 Cor. 3:18).  Your relationship with God now must takes precedence. 

 S – Strive to live as Sanctified people of God.  (Col. 2:6) “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.”  We now choose a lifestyle of holiness controlled (filled) by the Holy Spirit (Col. 2:6-7) Believers are to “pursue” sanctification (Heb. 12:14). God will judge any person claiming identification with Christ while not actively engaged in pursuing sanctification (Matt. 7:21–23).

 T – Trust in the finished work of the cross (Phil. 1:6) “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  Trust is living in the light of everything that characterizes the “new man,” even if it doesn’t “feel” right. All of this is done in hope, or forward-looking faith—confidence that God will carry out his sanctifying purposes to the end.