Who do you think you are? As we saw last week from Romans 6, Scripture calls us to know who we are in Christ! “Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin.8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.” (Romans 6:6-10)
As we will see in the message this week, if we don’t know who we are in Christ, the world, the devil, and the flesh can lie to us, deceive us, tempt us, and defeat us. None of us want to be lied to or defeated and God shows us the way out of this struggle. We see in Philippians 2:12-13 that there is a Divine/human collaboration in our spiritual growth: “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” This is not our will power but God’s power working in us as we consciously and willingly depend on Him and submit to His leadership through His Word and by His Spirit. God’s grace is not opposed to effort but it is opposed to earning. As we willingly trust and obey God and He changes us we are quick to give Him all the credit both to others and to ourselves. “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)
The following is an excellent teaching from Dr. Ken Boa from his book Conformed to His Image on this very important subject, our identity in Christ.
[“Joe Louis was the world heavyweight boxing champion from 1937 until he retired in 1949. During his time of service in the army, Louis was driving with a fellow GI when he was involved in a minor collision with a large truck. The truck driver got out, yelling and swearing at Louis, who just sat in the driver’s seat, smiling. “Why didn’t you get out and knock him flat?” asked his buddy after the truck driver had moved on. “Why should I?” replied Joe. “When somebody insulted Caruso, did he sing an aria for him?” This is one of my favorite illustrations because it is so relevant to the theme of identity. The truck driver clearly didn’t know the real identity of the person he was cursing, for if he had, he would have treated him in a dramatically different way! On the other hand, Joe Louis knew who he was—the best boxer in the world—and therefore he had nothing to prove. Many other men in his position would have been tempted to fight back or at least return insult for insult. But Louis was secure enough in his identity to understand that such a response would only be degrading. The truck driver’s opinion of him was irrelevant to Joe’s self-understanding. I have come to view this issue of identity as a powerful potential source of motivation for believers, particularly during times of temptation and spiritual warfare. The problem here is that most people who have received God’s gift of forgiveness and life in Christ have either forgotten or have never grasped what it means to be a child of God.
Our parents, friends, associates, and society give us one set of impressions, and to the extent that we expose ourselves to Scripture, we discover an entirely different picture. The usual way of resolving these conflicting inputs is to filter out the biblical passages that do not fit the self-perception we have picked up from the world. For instance, many of us have experienced significant amounts of performance-based acceptance. Because of this, we may conclude that love is conditional and must be merited. When Scripture tells us that as believers in Christ we are unconditionally loved and accepted by the Father, we find it difficult to internalize since it is so radically opposed to everything the world has told us. When <st1:bcv_smarttag>Romans 6 tells us that we have died with Christ and no longer need be dominated by the power of sin, we say that our experience suggests otherwise.
Our culture tells us that our worth is determined by our accomplishments and encourages us to pursue significance and meaning through the things we do. Scripture tells us that our worth is determined by what Christ was willing to do for us, and that in Him we have an unlimited and unchanging source of meaning and purpose. Who we are in Christ is not shaped by what we do, but by what He did on the cross and continues to do in our lives. It is not our performance that determines our identity; instead, our new identity in Jesus becomes the basis for what we do. If we perceive ourselves to be worthless or inadequate, this will be manifested in our behavior. But if we choose to acknowledge the truth of Scripture, we will begin to see God and ourselves in a new light. In spite of what our culture and experiences have taught us to feel, the New Testament tells us that we became new creatures when we trusted in Christ. In Him, we have been granted great dignity, security, forgiveness, unconditional love and acceptance, hope, purpose, righteousness, wholeness, and peace with God. We may not feel that these things are so, but Scripture does not command us to feel the truth, but to believe it. This is a matter of acknowledging its authority by taking God at His word in spite of how we feel or who we think we are. As we expose ourselves to Scripture and make the faith decision to regard its proclamations as true, we are inviting the Holy Spirit to make these truths more real not only in our thinking, but gradually in our feelings as well. This internalization process requires the discipline of mental renewal through time in the Word, equipping through good teaching, and fellowship with like-minded people in the spiritual journey.
We honor God when we allow Him to define us and tell us who we are regardless of our feelings or experiences to the contrary. So Who Does God Say I Am? Here is a list of biblical affirmations about our identity in Jesus Christ that is derived from a few selected passages in the New Testament. This is just a portion of the many truths about who we have become through faith in God’s Son, but it is a powerful inventory to review from time to time:
I am a child of God.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. John 1:12
I am a branch of the true vine, and a conduit of Christ’s life.
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:1, 5
I am a friend of Jesus.
No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. John 15:15
I have been justified and redeemed.
being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. Romans 3:24
My old self was crucified with Christ, and I am no longer a slave to sin.
knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, that we would no longer be slaves to sin. Romans 6:6
I will not be condemned by God.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
I have been set free from the law of sin and death.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. Romans 8:2
As a child of God, I am a fellow heir with Christ.
and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him. Romans 8:17
I have been accepted by Christ.
Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. Romans 15:7
I have been called to be a saint.
To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. 1 Corinthians 1:2 (Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:2)
In Christ Jesus, I have wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and
But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption. 1 Corinthians 1:30
My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who dwells in me.
Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 1 Corinthians 6:19
I am joined to the Lord and am one spirit with Him.
But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. 1 Corinthians 6:17
God leads me in the triumph and knowledge of Christ.
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 2 Corinthians 2:14
The hardening of my mind has been removed in Christ.
But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:14
I am a new creature in Christ.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
I have become the righteousness of God in Christ.
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21
I have been made one with all who are in Christ Jesus.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28
I am no longer a slave, but a child and an heir.
Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 4:7
I have been set free in Christ.
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. Ephesians 1:3
I am chosen, holy, and blameless before God.
just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. Ephesians 1:4
I am redeemed and forgiven by the grace of Christ.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:7
I have been predestined by God to obtain an inheritance.
In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will. Ephesians 1:10-11
I have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise. Ephesians 1:13
Because of God’s mercy and love, I have been made alive with Christ.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). Ephesians 2:4-5
I am seated in the heavenly places with Christ.
and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6
I am God’s workmanship created to produce (or bring forth) good works.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
I have been brought near to God by the blood of Christ.
But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:13
I am a member of Christ’s body and a partaker of His promise.
the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Ephesians 3:6; 5:30
I have boldness and confident access to God through faith in Christ.
in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. Ephesians 3:12
My new self is righteous and holy.
put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Ephesians 4:24
I was formerly darkness, but now I am light in the Lord.
you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light. Ephesians 5:8
I am a citizen of heaven. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20
The peace of God guards my heart and mind.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
God supplies all my needs.
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
I have been made complete in Christ.
in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority. Colossians 2:10
I have been raised up with Christ.
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1
My life is hidden with Christ in God.
For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3
Christ is my life, and I will be revealed with Him in glory.
When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Colossians 3:4
I have been chosen of God, and I am holy and beloved.
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12
God loves me and has chosen me.
knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you. 1 Thessalonians 1:4
The more we embrace these truths from Scripture about who we have become in Christ, the more stable, grateful, and fully assured we will be in this world.”] Conformed to His Image by Ken Boa.
Also see Who Does God Say I Am? at http://www.kenboa.org/text_resources/free_articles/5511
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION
1. The Bible says we are spiritual champions who are called to live as such. Like Joe Louis, when we know who we are, we have nothing to prove. How do people demonstrate they are still trying to earn or prove their self-worth by impressing others with what they have or what they do? What can you do to be free of performance-based acceptance?
2. “Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin (being under the dominion of sin).” (Rom. 6:6-7) I no longer want to sin (per Rom. 7:22) and I no longer have to sin (per Rom. 8:1-4). How often do these Biblical truths motivate your obedience to the Lord? Explain your answer.
3. How does Psalm 1:1-3 relate to our identity in Christ? What is the difference in reading God’s Word and meditating on it? How does this relate to knowing our identity in Christ?
4. God’s grace is not opposed to effort but it is opposed to earning. As we willingly trust and obey God and He changes us we are quick to give Him all the credit both to others and to ourselves. “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10) How does Paul show that our efforts (willingness) and God’s power work together? How does this relate to knowing our identity in Christ?