Sep 25 2022 Finding our Identity In Christ
25th September 2022
Melissa: We were recently talking about things that have changed since our early Christian lives. I focused a lot on DOING rather than BEING. I could really relate to Martha. And if I weren’t doing enough, I’d feel bad about myself. God taught me a lot through that – and I know I was being obedient to Him – but recently I’ve started focusing on how much God loves me, regardless of how much I am DOING.
Several years ago, I started the habit of praying when I got in the car or walked alone. It has changed my perspective on my walk with Jesus – I would try to pray through – because You have died for me, I have eternal life – and after years of doing this – I am still discovering new things about the meaning of Christ’s death on the cross.
Last year – I was watching the waves on the beach – “Each day, the Lord pours His unfailing love upon me” – the waves never stop – and it has stuck with me. Now I am trying to learn to walk with Jesus – in the idea of being yoked together with Him – at His pace – at His direction – He says His burden is light – and that is so different from what I felt as a young Christian. I’m trusting as I walk with Him – He will show me when I need to be active and when I need to rest. It is the process of walking in step with Jesus that really matters.
The verses I have been thinking about – Matthew 11:28-30
Mike Marette: In connection with what Melissa shared about being and doing – I’d like to talk about our identity in Christ. I know that identity is an important issue in the culture today – and I won’t focus on that today – but the transformation of our souls – my soul – our souls – should be the number one concern for Christians. If we are focused on that – our mission becomes clear and we will be much more on target.
It is only when our souls are transformed that we can be focused on what God wants us to do.
The world will be under the control of evil forces until the devil is cast into the Lake of fire in Revelation 21
First – we need to understand our identity in Christ. What Melissa shared really ties in.
The problem we have – in our lack of understanding – we have other identities.
Our true identity is something we receive – not something we achieve – Tim Keller.
We are all, at some level, trying to achieve an identity – I am what I do – accomplish – what I feel about myself – what I create, what I possess – and what people say about me.
All of those are false identities. Our identity is found in Christ. Your life is HIDDEN with Christ in God. Any identity we achieve will fail and disappoint us. Eventually it will destroy us.
If you get nothing else – our identity is received, not achieved.
Francesca – this spider that lives in our garden. Francesca captured a grasshopper – and Cindy posted a video about it to our family – and one of the grandkids asked – How do we know the spider’s name is Francesca? To which I would respond – how do you know your name is what it is?
1 Cor. 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
Luke 3: 21 Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased."
Jesus is God the Son – the Son of God – the Eternal Word – no one had to tell Him who He was. But as a human – in the flesh – He receives this identity from the Father. I think it is critical that we all receive this identity – a beloved child in whom He is pleased.
Matthew 4: 2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.“
In part, at least, this story is about identity – when Satan says if you are… Satan is trying to put doubt in Jesus’ mind – and for Jesus to choose another identity.
1. Man does not live by bread alone.
The false identity is self-reliance. You are what you accomplish – whether career, education, or economics – you are the faithful provider – but our identity is not found in any of those
2. Do not put the Lord your God to the test.
The temptation to be famous – in control – in charge – so much of some people’s identity is a need for control – and that prevents us from living out an ‘in Christ’ identity – To live in Christ, we will have to give up control.
3. Showed Him all the Kingdoms of the world and their glory;
Power and Position – human power and the power of the world. The Bible gives clear warnings not to trust in horses and chariots, princes, the legs of a man, and riches. 4 things – horses and chariots – military power, princes – political power, leg of a man – human power, and riches – power of the world.
Nouwen – its leaders give in to power – even though they speak in the name of Jesus, who emptied himself. The temptation to consider power an apt instrument for the proclamation of the gospel is the greatest temptation of all.
We do not need to trust in any thing the world offers to accomplish what God wants to accomplish. His ways are different and we need to discover those ways.
There are over 100 verses that use the phrase ‘in Christ’ – I will talk about a few of those. It is amazing all the things that are connected to be in Christ.
Ephesians 1:4 For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love.
First – we are chosen in Christ. Now, when we see this – there is a lot of theological issues and debate about what this means, but that misses Paul’s point. Paul is saying – God picked you! And all we have to do is to go back to elementary school playground – we all know what it felt like to get picked first or last. God picked you first. It was the first thing He did before any of creation. He picked you -and He picked me.
Eph. 1:7 NIV In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace
To be in Christ is to be forgiven. God’s forgiveness is really large. We can shrink it. Human forgiveness can be very limited, but not God’s. Not only are we forgiven. We have redemption – freed from slavery. We are forgiven and are freed from the slavery of sin and evil. It is a much larger forgiveness.
Something I have noticed – our sin can become part of our identity – especially the things we struggle with the most. We focus so much on victory that the sin with which we struggle begins to define us, rather than being defined and measured in Christ. That is a shift – from I have to get victory to I just have to be in Christ. Being in Christ – the natural outworking will be victory. But this becomes about doing rather than being!
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Rom 8:1 NET)
We are forgiven, freed from slavery – and now, all condemnation is removed. We are not condemned for anything we have done – by God, by others – and by ourselves. We all struggle with condemning ourselves. Romans says – there is NO condemnation in Christ – None!
Forgiveness can only be received – it cannot be achieved.
Being forgiven leads to doing, as Melissa said.
John 13: 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God,
This is identity language – knowing who he is – knowing where is from, where he is going – who he is from…
4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
This is an active parable about what was about to happen – death, burial, resurrection. Jesus accomplished His mission out of his received identity – and it is the same for us – we will receive our most important mission out of our understanding of who we are.
Ephesians 2: 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Paul says the same thing – our service – our ministry to God, comes out of being in Christ. Our job is to walk in what He created for us to do. We are to receive our work. We think we have to create work for us to do – but He has already created the work – we just need to receive what He is calling us to do.
Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, (Col. 2:6 NASB)
How did you receive Jesus? By faith – through grace. IN context – we add two more – because of His love and because of His mercy – as I pray for people – even though there are requests or important things – I pray that they would know and experience God’s love, grace, and mercy – because if they get that – they get it.