I had not really thought much about my identity in Christ until our ladies retreat last year and I struggled with it. Satan was working HARD to block my understanding and interfere with the Holy Spirit working in my heart. Granted, I wasn’t much help either. Satan knows which buttons to push to draw my attention away from God and focus it on flesh and blood and the problems that can arise from bringing together different and strong personalities.
When I was asked to speak at a local ladies ministry, I had a whole other message planned, but as usually happens, God changes those plans to meet His. I started thinking about identity. I gave the group a handout that said: “What is your identity?” Then I gave them three blanks to write down the first three things that popped into their mind, no matter what they were. No one was going to see it, unless they showed it to someone. Why don’t you try it?
Was it what you thought it would be? The first time I did this, I listed seven things. I had written identity at the top of the page and just listed the top things that popped into my head.
Then the Holy Spirit prompted me to go back and write IDEAL above the word Identity. Further prompting led me to make another list labeled “Real Identity” and just as quickly, I listed seven more things.
#7 Secret Sinner
The first list is what I’d like for my life to say if I were asked who I was. But, deep down, it doesn’t. I might pretend that it does or tell others that this is my identity, but it’s my facade. The mask I wear to hide my real identity. Also, there were several things I wanted to cross off the second list because, surely, they weren’t true. Unfortunately, I couldn’t. It was a wake-up call, slap-in-the-face, now the ball is in your court, so what are you going to do about it, kind of moment.
So, instead of ignoring it or running away (like I’d normally do) I’m showing it to you. I have purposed that I will be accountable TODAY. I have purposed that every day that God gives me, I will be accountable. I’ve spent a lot of time believing that I was being accountable, but I was only flirting with accountability. I was not truly committed (or married to it) if you will.
So now I’ll ask, what’s YOUR real identity? You might not actively participate in gossip, but do you listen? Then you’re guilty. I didn’t realize how much I complained until my daughter made a joke and my husband agreed. She said “If you stopped complaining, we’d never hear from you again.” Ouch! That hurt. Do you let fear keep you from doing something you know God wants you to do? Are you jealous of others because they have the husband, job, house, kids, or whatever that you want in your life? Has that jealousy been simmering under the surface until it has become bitterness? Has that bitterness caused you to “bite” at others? Do you have secret sins in your life that you are desperate to hide from everyone? We all do. You are not alone. Write down anything God reveals to you now, and meditate on the question of what your real identity is. Ask God to reveal to you what you need to do going forward.
Here’s an illustration: In all the superhero stories, there is a moment in which the hero’s identity is revealed to or realized by the hero.When this happens, their identity shifts. Their identity is no longer what it once was. It changed in light of the information they received, and that led to a decision they make.
They choose to BE the hero.
They have a brief moment of clarity in which they see that they can no longer live the life they’ve been living, because they have a higher calling. They sacrifice all they could have had, in order to be the hero. Philippians 3:8 says:
“Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ”
Health/ possibly even their Life? Gone.
They count everything as less important than being the hero. They knowingly lay it ALL on the altar of sacrifice to do what only they can do. Be the hero.
We don’t normally think of ourselves as heroes. Heroes are supposed to be great people who help others at their own expense. They usually have some kind of superpower that ordinary people don’t have that helps them to overcome the enemy. But we ARE heroes. If we have accepted Christ as our Savior and Lord, we ARE the heroes the world is desperately looking for.
“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” Romans 8:11
We have the superpower of the Holy Spirit within us to help us overcome our enemy the devil.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
But unlike the comic book heroes who mostly have alien or mutant abilities that can’t be recreated or transmitted to another person, our superpowers can be shared. And the more we share them, the stronger they get.
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Being a hero is hard. It’s a thankless job most of the time since heroes are supposed to keep their real identity a secret. This secret is meant to protect the innocent. Their friends, family, and love-interests that could be used by the villain (in our case Satan) to weaken them or cause them to give up fighting and being the hero. However, it is the IDEAL identity that causes so much harm. Because it masks who the hero really is and doesn’t allow them to deal with their flaws. And anyone who has seen a superhero movie or read a hero story knows, ALL heros have one, if not more than one, fatal flaw that is likely to be their undoing.
So, as much as it hurts to see my flaws laid out and my REAL identity exposed, I am now able to deal with each of the flaws. I can present them to God, ask for forgiveness, and get help changing to be more like Christ.
A verse that greatly impacted how I see my identity is 2 Corinthians 5:17. The New King James Version says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” The Contemporary English Version says “Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new.” What is my identity now? I’d probably write:
#3 NOT FINISHED
#4 FREE IN CHRIST
Has your identity changed since you accepted Christ? Why or Why not? How has it changed? Despite how you feel, the Bible says that you are NEW, FORGIVEN, NOT FINISHED, and FREE in Christ. New because we have been washed clean and made pure again. I don’t know about you, but that meant the world to me. After feeling so dirty for so long, knowing that He washed me clean and made me pure again, was a blessing. Accepting that I was forgiven for all I had done was easier than accepting that I was forgiven for all I had yet to do. I wanted to live better and not sin so much, but that led me into a legalistic spiral of trying to “earn”it. I finally came to the realization that I am NOT FINISHED and therefore, I am not perfect — yet. I can’t judge myself, nor can I judge others, because we are ALL unfinished projects. Now I try to live free in Christ. Not taking grace for granted, but not shackling myself in legalism either.