I have lost track of the number of personality tests I’ve taken over the years. Some of them were part of the hiring process for a new job, some were ministry related in order to better understand the gifts God has given me, while others gave vital insights into which Star Wars character I am most like. I’m sure you have taken some of these as well as you scrolled through your Facebook feed; proudly sharing your results when they aligned with your vision of yourself, while just so happening to keep your results to yourself when they turned out less than satisfactory. Culture is obsessed with getting to the deeper meaning of what makes each of us unique. But the real question is, are we really getting to the deeper issue? Or should we be going to a more authoritative source in order to understand our true identity?
In my previous post, I stated that the first question we should be asking ourselves when we read the Bible is, “What does this passage tell me about God?”. But, I also observed one of the things revealed in the Bible is how God worked through human history; which means we can also gain insight from God’s perspective about who we are as well. One of the things the Bible clearly reveals from the beginning is that due to the sin of Adam and Eve in the garden (Genesis 3), our understanding of God and ourselves is distorted by sin and we cannot understand our condition clearly by ourselves. The other thing to recognize is that our own knowledge and understanding is limited to our own experience, while God being all-knowing has no such limitation. Therefore, we should come to God’s revealed Word in order to not only understand who He is, but how He views us as His creation.
There Are Two Camps
Jesus painted a very clear picture for us about our identities, that frankly grates against our cultural desire for tolerance and being opened minded to other beliefs. He made statements to show that every one of us is in one of two camps, we are either with Jesus or against Him (Matthew 20:30). We have either built our house on the rock of His word, or we have built on the shifting sands of the world (Matthew 7:24-27). We are either represented by Adam and remain dead in our sin, or we are represented by Jesus through faith and are therefore declared as righteous.
“For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man [Adam], how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”
– (Romans 5:17)
Throughout chapter five of the book of Romans, we are given a picture that our identity is either in Adam and we remain under the righteous judgment of God, or we are in Jesus and now have peace with God. When we read the Bible, it is important to recognize that all humanity is in a relationship with God, the question is, is that relationship hostile or does it have peace through faith in Jesus? The most important thing to understand about our identity is not our personality, our preferences, or even the events that have led to where we are today. The most important thing to know about who we are is what our standing is with God.
A New Identity In Light Of The Old
As followers of Christ though, we need to remember not only our new identity in Christ but also to be reminded of our old identity and standing apart from God’s grace. One of the places this is highlighted well is in the first two chapters of Ephesians, where the Apostle Paul reminds his audience that they “were dead in the trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) and “were by nature children of wrath” (v. 3), but now for those in Christ they are “alive together with Christ” (v. 5). He goes on to intentionally give them a reminder of their old identity and then directs them again to their new identity in Christ.
remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. (Ephesians 2:12-16)
Christians need to spend time in God’s Word to continue to understand their old identity because it humbles us and causes us to once again recognize the grace and goodness of God at a deeper level. But, it is also important to see our new identity which is seen as righteous before God because of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), which is free from condemnation (Romans 8:1), and adopted as God’s children (John 1:12). In light of this new identity we seek to live in a way that is glorifying to God; not as a means of earning or showing God we deserve our salvation, but out of a new heart with new desires that seeks to love God by living in a way that is pleasing to Him. God has given us His Word so that we can know Him, and how our relationship with Him can be reconciled by faith through Christ. We cannot truly know who we are apart from the revelation of God in Scripture.
As you read Scripture this week begin by asking, “What does this passage tell me about God?”, but also ask, “What does this passage tell me about us?” Then move toward personal application and ask what it reveals about yourself.