Identity In Christ
Know Your Identity in Christ
A man typically defines himself by what he does –a woman, by her relationships. Both use their physical attributes, heritage, possessions, backgrounds and aspirations to describe themselves. Over time, these become an identity. For example, a man might identify himself as a plumber who has owned his own business in Los Angeles for twenty years and has plans on retiring to Colorado in five more years. Similarly, a woman might identify herself as a mother of three (a toddler and two teens), who also cares for her disabled mother and is looking forward to when the children are grown so she can be an "empty nester" with less demanding responsibilities.
Let's See Your ID
If you were asked to identity yourself you would probably get some sort of ID from your wallet. There is bound to be something in there that describes you. If it was a policeman that asked for your ID, he would use it to compare against a database of criminals. A guard at your work place would want to know you are employed by that company. That's the point of asking to see your ID –it's to determine what and who you associated with.
A Struggling Christian
Do you have a problem living up to what God expects of you in your Christian life? No matter how hard any of us try to do what the Scriptures say, the Christian walk continues to be impossible. So there must be an answer to how we should live –and there is! But surprisingly, it is not about what we do or how we do it. Rather, it's about who we are –our relationship with God.
A New Identity
Like the physical identity described by an ID card, we also have spiritual identities. They depict who we are and what we possess –our associations– in the spiritual realm. The deepest desire of a Christian is to leave the old trouble-ridden self –our old nature– behind and begin with a fresh start. That actually happened when we were saved; we are now "in Christ" and have His identity. Growing in that understanding gives each day a new meaning and purpose.
Being In Christ
Understanding the spiritual things can be difficult so water baptism is a marvelous one act play demonstrating how a new believer becomes a new creation "in Christ." It recreates the death, burial and resurrection for us –describing what our spirit has experienced. When we are immersed in the water, it covers us totally –there is nothing we can do that isn't affected by the water. Christian life is much like being immersed in Jesus. He affects every part of our life.
From Death to Life
God told Adam that if he ate the forbidden fruit in the garden, he would die. Up until that time Adam and his wife lived in the presence of God. But when death came –spiritual death– God no longer lived with them. "Spiritual life" is being present with God. "Spiritual death" is being separated from Him. Since the fall, every person has been born into the world with a natural tendency to not trust God –it's our inherited sin nature. For every one of us, that sin nature has led us into sin with its inseparable penalty –spiritual death.
The Old is Gone
The standard or book of rules (the law) that God provided for us to measure ourselves by was taken away when we became believers "in Christ." Jesus Christ fulfilled every bit of the law leaving none of it for us to even attempt to keep. The law was given to us to lead us (our spiritual being) to Him –not to use as a standard to live by. On the other hand, the flesh (which is contrary to the Spirit) enjoys the law –it revels in it. Of course, it's also very selective in choosing which part it likes. Regardless, that old relationship to God –through the law– is gone.
The New Has Come
The new you won't have all of your attitudes or actions immediately changed to be like Jesus. However, learning who you are "in Christ" is the real starting point for growth. You already know all about the old you –you have lived with yourself all of your life and no doubt learned to hate that sin-controlled flesh. So there is no point in analyzing it any more. The law gives power to sin –to your old self. But the new you has no relationship to the law and therefore sin has no control over you. You are free to let the Spirit express Himself –through love– to those around you.
A New Relationship
Your relationship to God is no longer based on what you do; it's based on who you are –the real you. It's time to quit trying to be pleasing through your own efforts and let that new you take over.
In Summary ...
God doesn't expect you to be obedient in following the rules –the Ten Commandments– anymore. He wants you to know how much He cares for you so that you can live a life of peace, contentment and compassion in response to His boundless love.
Bible Verses about Your Identity in Christ
Here are the many, many verses about your new identity in Christ –and some that explain what changed. There's even a section on the "before" and "after" versions of you since you became a new creation.
Continue reading: "Teaching this New Identity: Here's an example about teaching it to children."
Law (Legalism) vs. Grace
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. (Ephesians 2:14-16 - NIV)