If you don’t understand who you are it’s impossible to develop self-control. In fact, without identity, we don’t know where we’re going in life.
In our generation, there are many who search endlessly for “identity”. The search for identity is perhaps one of the greatest issues of our century. We hear about racial identity, political identity and sadly gender dysphoria and identity.
As a country which is typical of western decline, it seems that in abandoning our Judaic-Christian heritage, we’re now in search for a new identity, a new constitution, and a new flag with new colours.
Of course, identity is important – it’s at the heart and core of human consciousness.
I recently came across a news report where a young lady learned that she was conceived by a sperm donor. In the course of time, she further learned that she has some 168 siblings!
Not knowing her biological father, her search for identity has been relentless; legal constraints have prevented her from finding all the relevant information she so desperately wants. She has, however, found 12 confirmed siblings, each of whom were willing to participate in DNA tests.
She said that wherever she goes now, she searches the faces of strangers everywhere, hoping to find yet another person who bears a biological resemblance to herself.
Like her, we all have a strong, almost inexplicable sense and will to know who we are, what is our biological parentage, where our unique features come from, and have a greater sense of personal place within society. Identity and its implications for personality, individual expression, and a sense of place and belonging are powerfully important.
Today, much of the erosion in matters of morality, ethics and conservative values stem from the voices of dissent that focus on and accentuate identity. For example: “Because you aspire to traditional values, and are a white, middle-aged male, you must be the cancelled, ridiculed and disadvantaged.” And so un-Godly folk such as leftists seek to control the narrative, and further try to suppress freedoms of speech in their woke aspirations to foster and advance dangerous legislation.
This is a deadly path to follow, and manifests in opposing group identities such as sexual/gender identity, ideological identity, political identity, as well as of course racial identity. The latter “classing” has been a popular false fire of discontent sown by malcontents for decades, coercing people to believe that they are victims of oppression – essentially white oppression. A victim-identity is dangerous and disempowering, because it creates a false sense of self and a perverted view of justice.
We hear today that the enemies are allegedly “privileged, white, middle-ages males”, (which is generally representative of the roots of western civilisation, built on the values and ethos of the Judaic-Christian heritage).
The devil’s deception currently pervading particularly the western world is insidious, relentless and deadly. And, it all centres on identity. In other words, the devil doesn’t want us to know who we potentially are!
We were created in the “image and likeness of God.” We are to become God’s own children! The devil knows and fears our identity in Christ; he hates God, he hates the Son of God, because, in Christ, you and I were given a new identity – an identity that frees us from the curse of death.
Raised from the waters of baptism, with the laying on of hands to receive the Holy Spirit, we became a “new creation”. Scripture teaches that our old self died and was washed away in the waters of baptism.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:3-4 ESV)
Paul personalised his conversion experience when he wrote to those first century churches.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 ESV)
We are no longer defined by our sinful past.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)
“If you abide in Me, and my words abide in you,” Jesus explained, we would be able to have all that we prayerfully ask for. Why and how? Because of our identity. Once, our identity was sold under sin. The consequence of this was the certainty of the death penalty. God told Adam what his identity looked like because of his sinfulness: “From dust you were taken and to dust you shall return.” Adam and Eve’s identity as sinners was worth little more than the soil on the ground!
But through the redemptive process available only in Jesus Christ, we have become a completely new creation. Our identity is in Christ. He is our LORD, our Saviour, Redeemer, and the One who justified us by his blood.
Yet, there are risks living in this broken and deceptive world. Jesus warned that “if it were possible, even the elect would be deceived”. In other words, the risk of losing our crown can be tangibly real. Jesus told his followers that the entire world would be deceived, led astray, and perceived as lost.
When I was much younger in my late teens, I did for a while struggle with identity. My father was Austrian and my mother Greek. Living in Australia with European-modelled family values amidst Australia culture, there were times when I didn’t really know who I was.
Thankfully, that was just a passing phase. However, in following years, I sought identity, among other things, as a mechanic, as a motorcyclist, and as an artist. Many men find their identity in their work, or sport, or some consuming hobby.
It was only many years later that I encountered the Lord Jesus Christ. At that moment, everything changed. There was one particular scripture that really spoke to me in that conversion process.
my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! (Galatians 4:19 ESV)
I learned that Jesus offers to take away our sin, sin which defines us all, and gives us His righteousness – my life becomes conformed to his! The grace and truth in the depth of fellowship offered to us changes everything, for now Christ is being formed in all faithful believers.
I understand now, why some months ago when prevented to re-enter Western Australia enroute on the Eyre Highway, I was able to speak with the aggressive police sergeant from my anchoring in Christ.
“Keep your religion to yourself,” was his response. He didn’t realise that in Christ, faith isn’t just a compartment of our life; just the opposite is true.
We have an identity, beyond our physical parentage, where we live, and what we do for a living. We can be at peace, because know who we are – and that of itself changes everything. Jesus told his disciples that their understanding would manifest fully in the future.
In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. (John 14:20 ESV)
The takeaway for us is that in Christ, “we are the light of the world.” John wrote in his testimony, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
The illumination of the light of God in Christ can never be overcome by the darkness of this world! This is so important in our mission and ministry work, because each of us is the closest that most people will come to experience the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ! This new identity affects everything and everyone around us.
Paul discussed the equalising nature of our new identity in Christ.
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:27-28 ESV)
Because of God’s calling and mercy in our lives, we are capable and equipped. We know who we are in Christ. We know we are loved, and therefore able to love others. We know and remember that a great price has been paid on our behalf. Thus, every day we begin each prayer with, “Our Father in heaven…”
Resurrected and clothed in glory, Jesus tells us that one day he will give us a new name – a name that will reflect more fully the identity we have become!
Each of us are defined by the more we grow up in Christ, and therefore we become more like the person we’re meant to be. Baptism is the outward affirmation of the beginning of this new life in Christ.
We remember, celebrate and proclaim this reality that Jesus gave up his life so we could have ours!
That’s where our assuredness of faith stems from – our identity in Christ.