Divine Determination: Our Identity in Christ

by Mary Beth on April 13, 2012

 
 

“… we always live out of some kind of identity, and the identities we assign ourselves powerfully influence our response to life.  As people pursue the process of lifelong change, they need to live out of a gospel identity.”  

~ Paul David Tripp, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands

Who are you?  From where or who do you draw your true identity?  Since we’re all created in the image of God, we’re called to reflect His holy character and to imitate Him in daily life.    There’s many ways to answer this question.  Whether it is our individual upbringing, experiences, single or married, past or current struggles, hobbies or career, it’s common even trendy to think and actually believe these imprints or constructed words of identity define us.  We all have our preference to style, social status, race or culture but regardless of these choice’s or difference’s, they’re not sustainable for a strong foundation upon which to stand for our identity.

As a biblical believer, looking into the hope, face and life of Christ Jesus forms our understanding of our true selves with direct implications for our identity in Christ.   The primary overflow of a biblical believer will not center on outward religious activities for worth, value, acceptance and love but an inward reality, of wholehearted living for God’s glory and kingdom that responds to Christ in being adopted as a child of God, maturing into a disciple and ambassador for Christ.

Our Identity in Christ rises as a child of God~

It is through faith in Christ Jesus that God adopts us.  As J.I. Packer states in Knowing God, “Sonship to God, then, is a gift of grace.  It is not a natural, but an adoptive sonship, and so the New Testament explicitly pictures it.”  We receive a new status through the Son to become God’s children and experience becoming His child through the Holy Spirit.

“…God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.  Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, Abba, Father.  So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.”

~Galatians 4: 4-7

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”   

~1 John 3:1,2

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundations of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.  In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has blessed us in the beloved.”    

~Ephesians 1:4-6,

“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-children born not of natural descent, not of human decision or husband’s will, but born of God.” 

~John 1:11-13

In His example, Jesus led and taught us to pray, “Our Father in heaven…” ~Matthew 6:9, knowing that in returning to God for strength and sense of belonging, it would be central to remember that we live, move and have our being before our gracious Father. 

It’s good for my own soul to remember, a subtle temptation was also given to Jesus, to doubt his God given identity:  “If you are the Son of God…” (Matthew 4:3)  The Devil will taunt, pester or aim to bring doubt, confusion or lack of confidence within the understanding of our identity in Christ.

Our Identity in Christ further develops as His disciple~

“…If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.    What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”  Luke 9:23-25

To become our true self, we must die to those parts of our selves that are not true.  To know and believe that our soul is in need of spring cleaning is one thing, yet to have the cleaning done is another matter.  Our faithful Shepherd will gently lead and guide us by the Spirit’s wise conviction and counsel to seek and further surrender ourselves in His work to sanctify and restore us.  In our walk with God and within true biblical community, the exercise of prayer, studying of scriptures, silence and solitude to name a few of the spiritual disciplines, will help us “speak the truth in love..” to one another to gain further understanding of our new identity in Christ and to faithfully walk it out in our everyday lives.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”  2 Peter 1:3-8

Finally, our Identity in Christ in the joy of being co-workers, as His ambassador~

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  All of this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.  And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.  We implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.”   2 Corinthians 5:17-21

How exciting to be invited by God to participate as co-workers for the Kingdom of God!  The purpose, adventure and joy He ignites in our hearts, while serving for His glory, is like nothing else in this life.  His love is better than life!  God’s heart and work is vast and boundless in vision, being gospel-centered and faithful with His gentle presence, yet strong to sustain us in His design often through true biblical community.   To be invited to partner with God and experience the joyful transformation of another soul through the powerful Word and Spirit of God, from the bondage in darkness to the freedom of light in Christ Jesus, is an honor and privilege of every child of God.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” 

~Matthew 28: 19, 20

“So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner.  But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life-not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace…”   

~2 Timothy 1:8-10

Our identity in Christ calls forth a life of holiness within these three points of discipleship; we see a call to wholeness and fullness of life.  Each point of discipleship with our identity in Christ, be it as a child of God, a disciple and ambassador develops and builds within each other, not at the cost of one another.   As we grow in our faith into all its fullness through the gospel message that Christ Jesus died, was buried and rose again initiates our identity in Christ as a child of God, a disciple and ambassador, following the Lord who is our Shepherd.

 

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