Most people describe themselves by their employment. Someone asks, “What do you do for a living?” You say,” I sell cars, teach school, build houses etc.” This is how we get a sense of who we are, and while the real us isn’t these things; we do have to define ourselves some way don’t we?
There are other ways in which we define ourselves and each other that may be a little more telling. We may say, “I’m an alcoholic” or “I’m an addict.” Then there are those that have problems such as depression and they may say, “It’s my depression” or “My” cancer. Before you know it your whole life and being is defined by these downfalls and ailments.
I in no way want to demean these things because I understand how painful, tiring and scary they can be, but what I’m saying is do we have to be defined by them? After twenty years of sobriety do I still have to identify myself as an alcoholic? What about depression? Even if I feel depressed is it really who I am?
According to the Bible God defines those in Christ in a different way. He calls us a saint which is defined–sacred, pure, blameless, religious, consecrated…holy. Wow! So while the world wants to say we’re an addict, and always will be, God says we’re saints. Scripture tells us “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.”
The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians they were acting like mere men or carnal rather than the Spirit filled believers they really were. As believers we are called to behave differently than the world and that’s because God has called us out for his purposes. He said to them, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” Thank God he didn’t stop there though, but he went on to remind them they were no longer these things. He said, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” In other words we don’t have to be defined by our past sins because we are now in Christ and those things are gone!
While I may commit sins it doesn’t have to define who I am. In my inner man I am joined to Christ. He is the one who gives me my identity. Just as a lost man may do some “good” things a Spirit-filled man can still do some “bad” things. The point is those things aren’t what I am in my center. I may slip off and behave contrary for a while but in the end I will always return to my true identity. The true colors will eventually show up.
In the end the point is we tend to become what we believe about ourselves. If I spend my life identifying myself as an alcoholic chances are I will end up using again, but if I see myself as set free in Christ, more than likely, I won’t want to go back to it. There is a Proverb that says, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” While this doesn’t mean I can go around saying to myself “I am the richest man on earth” and expect to be able to go and buy anything I want, it does mean I can think God’s thoughts after him. If he says I’m holy, blameless, justified, sanctified, righteous and perfect then that’s what I’m going to think about me too. After all God is the one to determine who we really are and if he says these things are true of us it’s because they really are true of us.
Written by Louie