Awhile back I prayed a heartfelt prayer: “Lord, help me get over myself.“
God answered in a glorious way. The power came through many hours of Bible study, paging through most of the New Testament and compiling a list of life-changing verses as the Holy Spirit spoke through his word. The common thread became my identity in Christ, especially in relation to sin.
I then took all the verses and re-arranged the snippets into three sections: How I used to be, What Christ has done for me, and how I live now. When I was done, I read the whole thing aloud, and my jaw went slack. My identity in Christ was so powerful that I recorded myself reading it so I could listen to these truths in the car on the way to work.
Joy. Peace. Clarity. Authority. Freedom. These have defined my life since then. Here is the full “my identity in Christ” document. I dare you to soak in this for a week and not be a different person.
HOW I USED TO BE
I used to be dead in my transgressions and sins, spiritually dead in my sinful nature. I was a slave to sin, a slave to false gods, a slave to the basic principles of this world, a slave to the law of sin and death. I was under the curse of the law, an object of wrath.
As a slave to sin, I was controlled by my sinful nature and walked according to that nature. I followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who was at work in me because of my disobedience. I gratified the cravings of my sinful nature and followed it’s desires and thoughts. My thinking was futile. I was darkened in my understanding, ignorant because of the hardness of my heart. I had lost all sensitivity, with a continual lust for more.
Although I claimed to be wise, I was a fool because I exchanged the glory and truth of the immortal God for idols and lies. I worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator.
I used to walk in these ways, in the life I used to live.
WHAT CHRIST HAS DONE FOR ME
Christ has redeemed me from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for me. God made me alive in Christ, forgave all my sins, and seated me with him in the heavenly realms. Because I am in Christ I am a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. I have been born again through the word of truth, not of perishable seed but of imperishable. His divine power has given me everything I need for life and godliness. Christ dwells in my heart by faith, and I have clothed myself with Christ. I am no longer a slave, but a son.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. My old self—my sinful nature with its passions and desires—was crucified with Jesus. I’ve died to sin, and have been set free from it, because everyone who has died has been freed from sin. Sin shall not be my master, because I have become a slave to God and to righteousness. I have been released from the law of sin and death, the old way of the written code, so that I can serve in the new and living way of the Spirit. Because I am under the Spirit, I am not under the law and it’s curse. I have taken off the old self and put on my new self in Christ. I have died to the basic principles of this world.
HOW I LIVE NOW
How can I live in sin any longer? I don’t live in sin any more. I don’t live under the law, unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I don’t live under the old way of the written code where I never seemed to do the good I wanted to do.
I don’t live according to the flesh, setting aside the grace of God, trying in vain to achieve my goal by human effort. I put no confidence in the flesh, or Christ died for nothing.
I don’t rely on observing the law, because then I would come back under it’s curse—having to continue to do everything written in the book of the law and to be judged for my moral failure.
A little yeast works through the whole dough, so I don’t let anyone take me captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy that depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. I don’t turn back to those weak and miserable principles, to become enslaved by them again, burdened again by a yoke of slavery. I will not submit to the basic principles of this world, as though I still belong to it. If I did that, Christ would be of no value to me at all. It would alienate me from Christ. That would mean falling away from grace.
I don’t sow to please my sinful nature or reap it’s fruit of death. I don’t live like the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking, their darkened understanding, in ignorance caused by the hardening of their hearts. I don’t give myself over to sensuality to indulge my flesh, or feed it’s insatiable lust for more. I will not set my mind and heart on these earthly things.
Now I live by faith. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. By faith I receive the promise of the Spirit, live by the Spirit, am led by the Spirit, and keep in step with the Spirit. When I live by the Spirit, I don’t gratify the desires of my sinful nature. As I set my mind on the Spirit, there is life and peace. When I sow to please the Spirit, I reap eternal life.
I carry around in my body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifest in my body. I count myself dead to sin. I rid myself of the practices of my sinful nature, putting to death whatever belongs to that old nature, because I have taken off my old self with its practices and have put on my new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of my creator. I purify myself from anything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
Now I worship God in the Spirit and in truth. I humbly accept the word planted in me, which can save me. I fix my heart and mind on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. I present the members of my body as instruments of righteousness, clothing myself with the character of the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. I let the peace of Christ rule in my heart.
When I’m tempted, I realize my old sinful, deceitful desires are enticing me to embrace my old self, my sinful nature. They want to drag me away from my new self in Christ, the new way of the Spirit, so that sin is conceived in me that will eventually give birth to death. I will watch and pray so that I will not fall (from grace and Spirit) into temptation. Even when I think I’m standing firm, I’m careful not to fall because temptation is common to everyone. But God is faithful and will provide a way of escape.
The truth has set me free. Through faith in his promises, I partake of the divine nature and escape the corruption of this world. I stand firm in this. If don’t give up, I will reap a harvest. But I only boast in the cross of Jesus Christ. I consider everything a loss compared to knowing Jesus my Lord and having his righteousness, a righteousness that is by faith, apart from the law.
Because I believe, what the scriptures say is true–streams of living water, the life of the Spirit, flows from within me. Because I have faith in Christ I will do what Christ did, and even greater things by the Spirit. I can do nothing by myself. The father loves me and shows me all he does, so I can do what I see him doing. This is to my father’s glory, that I bear much fruit, showing myself to be his disciple.
My identity in Christ. Your identity in Christ too, if you belong to him.
I think my next post will unpack some of the implications.