Since Pastor At’s sermon last Sunday on establishing a personal identity, my life has been evident in progression. Conviction, followed by metamorphosis, transition and paradigm shifts… it is not easy to explain all this-but I could share a few testimonies. Every word that Pastor At spoke last Sunday at church felt like a hammer breaking through my conscious. Jesus was bringing into light my own lack of identity and how I needed to work on establishing one. I came out of church feeling convicted and touched, but I did not just want to remain touched, I wanted to be moved. For so long we listen to life changing sermons, read challenging books and yet remain the same because we remain touched and not moved. However, the Christian life is progressive. God wants us to gradually develop not only in our spiritual lives, but our characters as well.
I've always struggled with establishing an identity even after re-dedicating my life to Jesus. In one moment somebody would tell me how beautiful I look and I’d feel happy, the next moment the same person would tell me how much weight I've gained and that would make me feel sad. Not only that but many instances that clearly showed that even how as a born again believer, I longed to be validated by other people’s opinion of me. Thing is, we can claim as much as we want of how we don’t live by other peoples approval until a challenge arises especially by those closest to us. It’s very easy to be controlled by external factors such as what people think of and say about you, the presence or absence of a specific person, and temporary things that don’t last. So it is God’s will for us to establish a personal identity in Him and not only talk about it!
I saw the need to get a hold of my identity even if it meant change. Change is uncomfortable both for you and those around you. For the first time in my life I bought sneakers, I’m usually the sandal type of girl but I bought sneakers for a little bit of change. It was uncomfortable walking in them yet expecting to be complimented by those who noticed the change. Well they did notice, but they didn't seem impressed and I wanted them to validate me by their compliments. How often do we want to be accepted by others while we cannot even accept ourselves? One said to me, “I’m not used to you wearing sneakers” you could see she was uncomfortable seeing me in them because she’s accustomed to me wearing sandals. I got the courage to reply, “Well you will get used to me.” This real life example is a metaphor of how change can be so uncomfortable for us and those around us, but we need to embrace change, to work through the change, to improve ourselves, and to accept that change. And after we have accepted ourselves people will ultimately learn to accept us too. Many people want us to live according to how they view us and it’s easy to try and please them by living according to the view and expectations they have of us. We would be like the wind carried away by everything with no stability, trying to please people of all kinds even those in the world. And if you are a Christian that pleases everybody then you are a hypocrite.
Listening to pastor At preach made me realize that I am that hypocrite. Well, maybe I don’t do it intentionally I just don’t have a secure foundation in my identity. Saved for about two years yet still living a defeated life simply because of pleasing everybody even those who are in the kingdom of darkness. Flirting with those who flirt with me because I don’t want to feel abandoned, and hanging with those who drink alcohol and practicing their deeds simply because I don’t want to seem extreme. But the Christian life is extreme so to say, it’s either you’re in or you’re out, you’re hot or cold and you are not going to be able to experience victory if you don’t have a personal identity. Hence we have Christians saved for ten years yet still struggling with the same issues or sins, they don’t know their identity in Christ.
Once you get saved the devil will do everything possible to blind you to the realities of your inheritance as a child of God. You will feel lazy to read God’s Word which is the exact mirror of our identity; he will have you thinking bad thoughts about other Christians in the body of Christ who try to help you grow. He will cause you to be ignorant and naive concerning the importance of church attendance and being involved in small groups such as home cells. He will blind your eyes to the spiritual realities of listening to and watching sexual contents, the devil is a real deceiver and he is after you soul. I visited one of my cell members earlier on today because she had been requesting endless prayers and was feeling defeated in all dimensions of life. As I told her how it’s the devil’s work that she was experiencing this kind of defeat she said, “Ugh Tissy, stop blaming the poor guy.” Well, that is the devils agenda to blind believers to the power of deceit he possesses. He wants to be felt sorry for, making believers feel that it’s their fault that they are defeated. He doesn't want people to see him for who he really is- an evil being opposing the almighty God and using God’s people as a tool to break God’s heart. He makes them disobedient to God’s precepts; he makes them pleasures of themselves, lovers of money, gives them diseases and causes people to hate each other. Ultimately he is after their souls to kill them, to steal their inheritance and to destroy their unity with their Creator. He does this first and foremost by confusing them about their identity in Christ.
For so long I believed that the Christian life is so hard because I was defeated in my mind, the devil had blinded me from seeing my identity in Christ. Whenever sexual temptations arose I would give into them believing that I’m just a poor old Christian who was chosen for a life that is not mine, thinking I’m doing God a favor by living for Him. But after living “freely for so long in the world, experimenting with my life and having to bear painful consequences that could have been avoided, I have concluded as Dr Myles Munroe states, “freedom without law is anarchy” and have come to accept God’s law as the law of liberty. With the law of God I know I can get a hold of my life, I don’t think it is God’s will for me to be passive, carried away by every sin, every temptation, and every viewpoint that is presented to me. I need to find my identity in Christ!
Christianity is very difficult to enjoy for those who have not found their identity in Christ, but you know, it’s a gradual process. “A thousand mile journey begins with the first step” and can only be taken one step at a time. Many people give up along the way when their short comings are brought into the light. They will be known as those people who were once on fire for God but gave up along the way because they couldn't man up and search for the identity Christ has for them. The devil is pleased. Many born again believers are dying spiritually and physically and the devil is pleased. There will be no mercy on judgment day; the only justice that God can render for those who turned their back on Him on earth would be to discard them from His presence since they never wanted it on earth. It all began with a mindset… somebody telling them that it’s okay to do certain things, and because they don’t have a secure foundation of who they are, they find themselves actively involved in sin.
Those who have not found their identity in Christ, though born again, remain servants of Satan. He tosses them around as the wind until he destroys them and all people would begin to think that the Christian life is futile. This is not God’s will for born again believers. He wants us to live with victory knowing that Jesus has overcome the world! All this starts with knowing who you are in Christ and carrying that identity with you everywhere you go.