Wow. What a month.
We’ve talked about who we were – a condemned people, living in sin, with a scattered and senseless identity – and who we are now – a rescued people, dead to sin and alive in Christ, with an identity that belongs to the One True King. We’ve talked about how amazing God is – how He sent His Son to bear our sins, to invite us into His Kingdom, to call us His own without hesitation or doubt, because of the unending love He has for us.
But there is still a great task ahead of us. So, consider this article your “Live It Out” section of this series on identity. Consider this your “call to arms”.
Because it’s not as simple as “here’s who you are”…yes, you are a child of God…but fully knowing, accepting, and believing that is who you are should bring about the reality that as a child of God, you are called to be spreading the gospel, be in fellowship with others, pursue a relationship with Jesus, etc. Your identity is not just who you are, but what you do. What you do matters, and what God has called you to do matters the most.
The thing is, we can’t do those things if we’re still clinging to our old ways of life.
In Ephesians 4, Paul urges us to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received”. And in verses 22-24 He says, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (ESV)
If you have truly been transformed by the Gospel and Jesus’ work on the cross, then you are not going to want to stay silent, or stay apathetic and not grow in your faith, or not want to pursue this calling that Paul talks about. Those who have been transformed will have an insatiable desire to “deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me (Christ).” (Matthew 16:24 NIV)
And so that is our great task. To put off the old, and to put on the new. To pursue Christ.
I personally believe that awareness is the first step towards this change – which, by the way, doesn’t happen overnight. One of the incredible things about being a Christian, is that “you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” (Ephesians 1:13 ESV)
Now, the Holy Spirit is a vast topic that I will not be covering in this article, but…my point is, if you are a believer, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit. This seal cannot be undone. Nothing you do or say will undo this seal. This seal guarantees your place at the feet of Jesus, when you finally arrive in His Kingdom. Unlike this seal, however, change is something that needs to happen every day. Your identity change is not a once-and-done thing. You’re not automatically a perfectly righteous person. Trust me, I wish that’s how it worked. But part of God’s calling for us, is the promise of suffering and persecution.
God doesn’t call us to live comfortable lives.
This task ahead of us? It’s going to take some serious hard work. You are going to have to push forward, even when all you want to do is turn back. You’re going to want to give up, but trust me when I say that there is a community of believers ready to help you keep going – that’s another thing your new identity brings: unity and fellowship with Jesus and others in the church.
So, awareness. Let’s start by identifying what the old is, and what the new is. I have a pretty brief list below, but I want you to grab a notebook and make a list yourself – specifically listing off areas in your life that you struggle with, and the good habits and Christ-like attributes you should be exemplifying instead.
The old? A sin-filled life. Selfishness. Lust. Pride. Anger.
The new? A Jesus-filled life. Selflessness. Love. Humility. Kindness.
Do you have your list ready? If so, it’s your turn to choose. Will you choose the old, or the new? Because here’s the catch: you can’t say yes to both.
You can’t say yes to God and yes to sin. You either put Him on the throne of your heart, or you put sin there. Only one can reign.
Your identity calls for you to say yes to God. As His child, He is calling you out of that sin and out of who you were, and into who He says you are. If you’re still clinging to this life of sin – to every single thing you put down on your list – then you are still letting those things reign in your heart, which means you’re not doing what God has called you to do.
That is straight-forward, I know. It’s harsh. I get it. Even as I am writing this article, and hammering into you these truths…I’m taking a step back myself, and finding that I need to re-evaluate things. Is Jesus reigning in my life, or is sin? Ask yourself the same question. Be honest.
Now, where do we go from here? I already stated the obvious – this is going to take time.
So here’s what I want you to do: keep that list, but cross off everything that is old, and circle everything that is new. Because maybe it’s not as easy as crossing something off a list, but I want you to have a reminder – a visible, tangible reminder – to put off the old, and put on the new. To say yes to God, and no to sin. To let Christ sit on the throne of your heart. Because you know what? Christ reigning is a death-defying act. Christ reigning means that we can be victorious over sin.
Live It Out
Even though I said this article was the “live it out” section of our series, I still want to include one here.
I want you guys to check out Colossians 3 for me. Read it, then print it off or write it down somewhere. Once you’ve done that, I want you to cross off everything in this passage that you should be “putting off”, and circle everything that is true to who you are now in Christ (kind of like what we did with our lists). Keep this as a reminder.
Lastly – my church did a sermon recently talking about declaring and displaying the life-changing message of Jesus. I started scribbling something down, because I was so convicted of who Jesus says I am, and how I shouldn’t be ashamed of that – and neither should you. I’m going to put it below, and if you ever need some verbal encouragement, go ahead and read it aloud to yourself.
I am redeemed by Christ. This means that I can look my brokenness in the eye, and not blink. I can look my sin in the eye, and not waver. I can look my past in the eye, and not let it define me. Because I am wholly aware that I have been rescued from the depths of my own sin, and brought into the kingdom of God. A kingdom where death does not exist, because Jesus reigns. I have been freed from the chains of who I was, and welcomed into the arms of the One who makes me who I am. The One who takes me, and all my broken pieces, and loves me enough to make me whole. He is the One who shatters the darkness, and calls me as His own. I am redeemed by Christ.