Who are you?

is a lesson I gave at a Bible Study a few weeks back. So I was already going to type it up for a few people, thought I'd slap it on here. A lot of this comes from Victory over the Darkness by Neil T. Anderson, which is a book I couldn't recommend higher.

Who are you? Many people have different answers. If I drive around town right now, I see all sorts of billboards for Mall of America that say "more ways to be you." If they can wrap your identity in what they sell, they know they will have a customer for life.

The reality is that we as people build our identities on changing issues. If someone asked me who I was a few years ago, I would have said, "My name is *******, I go to college at ******, and I play lots of ultimate frisbee and volleyball, love geography and eat a lot. A false identity is one that can change. All of the things I listed, my name, where I go to school, what I love, etc. is all changeable. It is a false identity. Not too long ago before chemo, I wasn't playing volleyball or frisbee, I wasn't going to school at *****, there were times that I didn't feel like eating a lot, etc. My identity was not a true identity. If I was to have derived my worth from how well I did those things, I would have viewed myself as worthless. But did my worth go down because of that? Of course not. Does a person who views their worth based off of how they look lose all of their worth when they have some permanent medical issue (say burn victim, for example) because they had that happen? Of course not. When my identity is on the line in volleyball, it puts an unhealthy need to succeed on the game. If I play horribly, not only is it bad, but if my identity is on the line, I can be downright devestated, as this event destroyed me as a person.

The danger of deriving my identity from these things is it becomes very easy to judge myself against those around me. By doing so, I can run a roller coaster of pride and insecurity depending on how I think I stack up on the issues that control my identity, security, self-worth, etc. As a result it becomes easy to gossip or attack those who don't do as good (or better) than me.

Our identity can be made up of facts, truth, and lies.

A fact could be that I am white. A truth is a truth because the Bible says so. That is the authority of all truth. So a truth would be that I am loved by God (John 3:16). A lie/curse could be something placed on us by another, or by ourselves... (i.e. I'm fat, I'm ugly, I'm just like my father, you get the idea.). The danger is as we believe the curse it often times turns eventually to be true because we change our life to fit that. A person who views themselves as fat, for example, will think it doesn't matter what I eat, I'm already fat.

So what's a false spiritual identity? One that views ourselves as worthless, guilty, sin-sick, etc. If we have asked Jesus to forgive us (and turned from our sin to follow God), we are now cleansed from sin (1 John 1:9). A false spiritual identity spends their life trying to constantly earn what God has given us. God has given us acceptance, love, forgiveness, etc. A wrong spiritual identity tries to earn the gift after it has been given.

So why do people sin? Neil T. Anderson claims 4 reasons. A) a need to belong, B) A need for self-worth, C) a need for strength and self-control. In today's churches much of the preaching is focused on preaching against sin... lying, stealing,etc. Be good type of messages. But the reality is, as you think of a plant, the wrong roots produce the wrong fruit. The roots control the person. So if a person spends their life trying to pick wrong fruit out of their life they can spend a lifetime doing that, without getting to the underlying issues. For example, a person can have a huge fear of rejection, and as a result, it doesn't matter how many sermons they hear on sharing their faith, they won't, because when push comes to shove, their fear of rejection is greater than there desire to share. Their wrong root controls their outward behavior. So if a person has roots of fear, blame, shame, guilt, etc. one can imagine the negative consequences that will occur in their life. Bad roots bring about bad fruit. Good roots bring good fruit. For example a wrong root of guilt will cause a person to feel the need to punish themselves long after they have confessed it and asked God to forgive them. At this point, according to 1 John 1:9, they are cleansed from all unrighteousness. But if the person chooses to live in guilt, they falsely think they are paying for something that Jesus already did. Not only that it stops us from being used by God in the way He wants to.

I'm going to skip over the part on Rom. 7:15-25, if you want me to post that, let me know.

So what is our true identity? If we have asked Jesus to save us from the punishment of our sin, repented of it, and choose to follow Him, than it is what the Bible says it is. According to John 1:12, I am a child of God. According to John 15:15, I am Jesus' friend. According to Col. 1:25-26 and the beginning of the Ephesians, Philipians, and Colossians, in Christ Jesus I am a saint. Not because of my righteousness (Isaiah 64:6) but because of His. When He took my place, I am now looked at by God through Christ Jesus. I look much better than way. Nowehere does the Bible issue condemnation on those that have repented. In fact, Romans 8:1 says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

As we begin to see ourselves the way that Christ does we will be continually growing spiritually, but as we get our eyes off of it we will struggle spiritually. The process of sanctification is the process of becoming more and more in action and thought like my identity.