Posted by: SandreS | March 21, 2010

I Am … Who and What God Says I Am! – The Divine Reckoning of the Renewed Mind, Part 1

Am I Having an Identity Crisis?

Who am I? Who am I really? Some may respond to the question of who they are by giving an answer related to what they do, or based on their human relationships.

Answers related to what I do are:

“I am a carpenter.”
“I am a housewife.”
“I am a student.”
“I am a secretary.”
“I am a salesman.”
“I am a foreman.”

Answers related to my human relationships are:

“I am a mother.”
“I am a father.”
“I am a wife.”
“I am a husband.”

Now, these answers are not “wrong.” There is some sense in which these represent a part of who I am; but these do not ultimately represent who I really am. They are not my true identity.

If these represent the way in which I define myself, what happens if my life changes? The circumstances of life are far from being stable. They can change in a moment; sometimes drastically, sometimes permanently. If I see my core identity in the frailty of what I do, and in my human relationships, then my identity is always subject to change. How fragile such earthly identities are!

Yet is who I really am constantly changing, or at least subject to change at any time? Who am I anyway (I mean, really)?

Before I can actually answer this question, I need to think about some biblical terms to help direct my thinking of just who I am, just what my true identity is. Here are just a few things that God says I am:

Saved – II Timothy 1:9
Blessed – Ephesians 1:3
Forgiven – Colossians 2:13
Complete – Colossians 2:10
Reconciled – II Corinthians 5:18

There is a very common mistake that is made when it comes to seeing ourselves as who we really are. It is a religious teaching that could be called “the Filter.” Here is how this teaching goes:

God is holy. I am a sinner. For God to have a relationship with me, or even look at me, He must place a filter between me and Himself. This filter is Jesus Christ. After the filter is in place, when God looks at me, He doesn’t really see “me” anymore; instead, He sees me through the filter so that what He really sees is Christ. God sees His Son and His record of righteousness, not me (the sinner and my record of unrighteousness).

What would happen if this filter were removed? What would God see then? He would see the real me for who I truly am: a sinner. In other words, “the Filter” teaching leaves me unchanged – I am still “just a sinner.” That is who I am. Or, at least that is how this “Filter” doctrine is taught. Little wonder that so many seek to find their identification elsewhere, for this understanding does nothing about one’s true identity!

Here is one of religion’s tragic flaws: that I only receive something new (like “righteousness”) instead of becoming something new (like “righteous”). There is a vast difference between having righteousness and being righteous. Notice what the Scripture has to say about this:

For He has made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (II Corinthians 5:21).

This passage does not say, “that we might have the righteousness of God in Him”; instead it says, “that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” – the magnitude of such a distinction! To be righteous is to be holy; and I am holy because God says I am.

… the elect of God, holy and beloved … (Colossians 3:12).

… all the holy brothers (I Thessalonians 5:27).

… the temple of God is holy, which temple you are (I Corinthians 3:17).

To be holy is to be a saint, and I am a saint because God says I am. The tragedy of “the Filter” teaching of the religious system is expressed in the old familiar adage, “I’m just a sinner saved by grace.” A “sinner” is not who I am now. This does not mean that I do not sin; this is just not my true identity any longer. My true identity is: a saint. “Sinner” was my former identity in Adam. Notice how Paul speaks of it in the past tense:

But God commends His love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

Now, instead of calling me by my former identity, Paul calls me by my new identity – a “saint” (c.f. II Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1).

The fact is that I am a New Creature:

Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (II Corinthians 5:17).

This brings me back to my original question, “Who am I, really?” Simply put, I am who and what God says I am! That’s who I really am. I’m not just a father, or a salesperson: I am righteous – holy – a saint – a new creature. These are all my new identity! My former identity would not work in a relationship with God, so it has died – it has “passed away.”

old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (II Corinthians 5:17).

I am not God’s rehabilitation project or remodeling work. I’m not God’s fixer-upper; a sort of divine handyman special. I am God’s new creature – a member of His new divine species!

I need to stop struggling with my former identity. I am called to bask in my true identity – the one that God has given me. I need to let my identity crisis be over.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2009

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