Today I had a wonderful time at an overpriced worldwide caffeine dispensary with a fellow believer. We talked about the weakness of many churches in teaching new (and not so new) followers of Jesus the vital fundamental of our identity with Christ. If you don’t get this foundational truth then you are building on some shifting sand.
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2nd Corinthians, 5:17, NLT)
Later during the morning workout I heard some lyrics from one of my favorite singers and songwriters. Andrew Peterson furthered the identity theme with these words from his song Fool With a Fancy Guitar.
It's easy to curse and to hurt and to hinder
It's easy to not have the heart to remember
That I am a priest and a prince in the Kingdom of God
That is the mystery of our identity in Jesus. We may not be acting like it but God says that we are a priest and a prince and a saint. The truth is that more often than not I ain’t feelin’ it on that whole I am a priest and a prince thing. Far from it. But if we believe that we have salvation because of unmerited grace then we have to believe that we have this unmerited standing for the same reason.
But if it's true that you gathered my sin in your hand
And you cast it as far as the east is from the west
If it's true that you put on the flesh of a man
And you walked in my shoes through the shadow of death
If it's true that you dwell in the halls of my heart
Then I'm not just a fool with a fancy guitar
No, I am a priest and a prince in the Kingdom of God
I believe all of that is true. Because of what Christ did on Calvary that is, in theological fact, my identity.
And then driving home I heard a commercial about identity theft. Is there a theme here Lord?
Identity theft is indeed a big problem. The rise of identity theft has produced a number of companies that protect you from criminals that might steal your good name and credit rating. But it occurred to me that identity theft occurs in the lives of Christians all the time and there is very little uproar about it. I wish I could start a company to protect followers of Jesus from this serious crime of Christian identity theft. Any follower of Jesus has the potential to fall victim. The target of this scam is the truth found in Galatians and throughout the letters from Paul. You have a new identity.
For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you. (Galatians 3, NLT)
Pretty amazing stuff. That is my identity and yours if you have put your faith in Jesus. But there is a problem. Satan hates that message of hope and change. He goes about trying to “steal” our identity in Christ. I am afraid we make it all too easy because we find it difficult to really trust that we are changed. When we fail the old tapes are instantly cued and start playing loudly.
You will never change.
You always do that.
I can’t believe you did that again.
What is wrong with you?
And then the next tape is cued. You would not be having these problems if you were (pick one or more):
Reading God’s Word more faithfully
Praying more fervently
Studying the Bible more seriously
Doing more in the church
All of those things on the second list are wonderful. But that list is not what makes you righteous. You are righteous because of Christ. Period. When you trust that and believe that you have a new identity then the list above becomes a grateful desire and not a begrudging obligation to try and be better. I have often quoted from the book Truefaced. This statement rocked my world.
If you are a Christian God is not interested in changing you. That has already happened. You were changed when you trusted Christ. You were imputed with His righteousness. Your very spiritual DNA was rewritten and you became a new person. So the change happened right away. God is now interested in maturing you into what is already true about you.
That has been my journey for the last few years. When the accuser starts I simply remind myself that those things are no longer true about me. I have a new identity.
Protect your identity in Christ with even more fervor than you protect your financial identity. Remind yourself daily who you are. That you are a new person. A prince. A priest. A saint. Righteous because of Christ. A new life has begun. Live it joyfully and without condemnation. It is who you are.