“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.