One of the main themes of this blog is my belief that we find our true identity when we connect with God and learn who He created us to be. In order to do that, sometimes we have to let go of the old ways we used to define ourselves.
People in the Bible had to do this, too. Moses went from prince of Egypt to shepherd in hiding to leader. Saul went from insignificant Benjamite to king of Israel (1 Sam. 9:16, 21). Paul went from a Jewish religious leader persecuting the church to preaching Jesus (Gal. 1:22-24). They all had to change big parts of their identities to become who God intended them to be.
We all have ways we define ourselves. I’m a writer, a sister, a teacher, a dancer, a daughter, an introvert, a person who struggles with anxiety. When we enter relationship with God, we’re called to use our roles and identities for Him. Sometimes, though, we need to leave parts of our identities behind that don’t line-up with His goodness and/or His plan. And we also get to add new aspects to our identities that make each of us a more whole, complete person.
Becoming A “New Man”
Our walk with God is one of transformation. We don’t stay the way we were before salvation. We learn to “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” as we “grow up in all things into him who is the head, Christ” (Eph. 4:1, 15, WEB). We can’t live in the same way as those who don’t know God once we’ve entered a covenant relationship with the Lord (Eph. 4:16-20).
if indeed you heard him, and were taught in him, even as truth is in Jesus: that you put away, as concerning your former way of life, the old man that grows corrupt after the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, who in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of truth. (Eph. 4:21-24, WEB)
Both the “old man” and the “new man” are “you,” but the new man is the version of you that you’re meant to be. It’s the most real “you” because it’s the life you live after being freed from the evil one who has enslaved the world. It’s who you are after having your mind renewed and connecting with the one who Created you (1 John 5:18-20). The switch from one to the other is a radical transformation, but anything we lose in the process cannot hold a candle to what we gain.
Being In Christ Is Better
Paul understood this transformation because he lived it in dramatic fashion. Before his encounter with Jesus the Messiah, Paul thought he knew exactly who he was and how to define himself.
circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the assembly; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, found blameless. (Phil. 3:5-6, WEB)
He was the perfect Jew, one of the religious elite who knew the Law inside-out. When he accepted Jesus as the Messiah he lost all of the status, power, and identity that came with being a Pharisee who persecuted the “heretical” followers of Jesus. And compared to what he gained, all the former things he had became to him like rubbish and dung (Phil. 3:7-8). Even trading physical status for physical suffering couldn’t dim the wonder of who he now was in Christ.
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Rom. 8:16-18, KJV)
Embrace Your Identity In Christ
Paul said, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17, WEB). We are made new by Christ, transformed from being slaves of sin and children of evil to being children of God and servants to righteousness (Romans 6). The old things don’t matter anymore. We have a new identity, new perspective, and new goals.
No human can give you this new identity. God does, and He’s the one who gets to define you. Embrace who He says you are (it’s amazing!). Ask God what role you’re meant to play. He’ll let you know how you fit in to the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12). And don’t worry — you do fit. God doesn’t make mistakes. He has called you for a purpose, no matter how unqualified you might feel.
Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Ex. 3:11, WEB)
Then I said, “Ah, Lord Yahweh! Behold, I don’t know how to speak; for I am a child.” (Jer. 1:6, WEB)
To me, the very least of all saints, was this grace given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (Eph. 3:8, WEB)
Moses, Jeremiah, and Paul all knew they were unqualified, but God filled up those defects with His power (Ex, 3:12; Jer. 1:7-9; 2 Cor. 12:9-10). And He does the same for each of us when He empowers and transforms us to be the people He created us to be.
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