Thoughts on Identity—Part One
What is our identity in Christ?
Many Christian speakers and writers have discussed the topic of our identity in Christ. There are differing opinions on what the definition is of our identity in Jesus. Most seem to conclude that our spiritual identity is everything that is promised to us when we receive Him.
However, because we cannot realistically appropriate every single promise in the present, this doesn’t really answer the question, “What is my identity in Christ here and now, today?” For example, many of these promises pertain to heaven and eternity.
To understand what our identity in Christ is, here and now, it can help to look at what makes up our human identity. We identify one another through physical characteristics or our name, culture, job, age, or social status. We are also known by our personality, attitudes, hopes and aspirations. All these contribute to who we are as individuals at a certain time. However, as we grow and learn and experience, aspects of this identity change. It’s not something that remains the same.
Our human identity is constantly developing and expanding, so how we were identified yesterday may not be the same as our identity in the future. For example, today someone can be a single woman, Miss Jones, and tomorrow a married one, Mrs. Brown. Last year you may have been an executive in someone’s company, but today you are self-employed. Your looks change as you grow up and mature.
I believe that this other crucial part of who we are—our identity in Christ—develops in much the same way as our human identity. In other words, it is never static but is constantly changing. Over time we can continue to realize more of our potential that is available in Jesus, in the same way that over time we can realize more of the genetic potential we possess in our physical bodies.
Our identity in Christ continues to mature and grow throughout our life on earth and even into eternity. As we continue to learn about who we are and who we can become through our relationship with God, our qualities as believers become increasingly visible in our daily lives. That is our identity in Jesus.
Your human identity and your identity in Jesus are both works in progress, and together they make up the unique creation of God that is you. You have the privilege of choosing to reshape and refine who you are and who you will become.
I’d like to offer for your consideration the following thoughts and descriptions related to our identity in Christ and how it can develop. These are not in a particular order, but hopefully they will help to give a clear picture of this topic.
Jesus: The rights and privileges (and responsibilities) accorded to you in the Bible have been yours from the moment you became My child. The awesome wonder of being a member of My royal household is yours. As your relationship with Me matures, your identity as My follower becomes more established and refined.
It’s like playing a piano. The piano, representing My promises to you, remains the same. Its potential to create the most beautiful music is always there from the moment the student begins to stumble along, exploring its sounds and learning to blend them into melodies. The piano is still the same from the beginning of the student’s learning experience, right on through the time when he or she becomes a maestro, performing a symphony that lifts the listeners’ spirits to heaven with its beauty.
The piano doesn’t change. However, the melodies that echo from it grow and develop and change dramatically and continually as the skill and passion grows in the one striving to discover its deepest and most perfect sounds.
I don’t know about you, but I’m excited about continuing this process of developing my spiritual melodies. Here is a short list of just a few of the many realities that you can build on from the pages of God’s Word. (See part two of this series for a more extensive list of Bible verses on this subject.) You can claim these declarations and ask God to help you to realize the potential in His promises for you, today and every day.
1. I am an ambassador for Christ.
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”—2 Corinthians 5:20 ESV
2. I can be a light to others.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”—Matthew 5:16 KJV
3. I am authorized by God to make disciples of all nations.
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”—Matthew 28:18–20 ESV
4. I have a vital mission, given to me by Jesus.
“As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”—John 17:18 ESV
5. I am chosen and dearly loved by God.
“For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you.”—1 Thessalonians 1:4 NIV
6. I am God’s co-worker.
“We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.”—2 Corinthians 6:1 KJV
7. I can encourage others about the glorious future God has for us.
“Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”—1 Thessalonians 4:17–18 ESV
8. I am free forever from condemnation.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”—Romans 8:1 NIV
9. I am forgiven.
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight.”—Ephesians 1:7–8 NIV
10. I am able to face and overcome everything in life through Jesus.
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”—Philippians 4:13 ESV
11. Jesus is my friend.
“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”—John 15:15 ESV
12. I am adopted as God’s child.
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”—Romans 8:14–15 NIV
13. I am the bride of Christ.
“Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”—Romans 7:4 KJV
14. I have the mind of Christ.
“For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”—1 Corinthians 2:16 ESV
15. I am delivered from my vices and addictions.
“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.”—Colossians 1:13 ESV
16. I can have God’s healing and forgiveness.
“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”—James 5:14–15 ESV
17. I am a citizen of heaven.
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”—Ephesians 2:19 ESV
“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”—Philippians 3:20 ESV
18. I am never alone.
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”—Hebrews 13:5 ESV
19. I have been given the high privilege through prayer of being able to tap into the power of God on the behalf of others.
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.”—1 Timothy 2:1–4 NLT
I came up with some exercises that I’ve found helpful. The more we appropriate what Jesus has told us we can be and do as His children, the more we reflect His spirit. That is how we develop and expand our identity in Jesus. I hope you will find some of these exercises useful, along with whatever ideas you might want to add.
1. Voice your acceptance of the things Jesus has given you as His follower. Commit to making them a part of your life so that your identity in Him grows clearer, stronger, deeper each day. The more you agree mentally with what He says about you in His Word, the more your behavior will reflect His spirit in your own unique way. That’s your identity in Jesus.
2. Read the declarations and verses listed above and those in the coming segment. Meditate on what each of them means personally for you. Reading them audibly to yourself may help you focus on them more easily.
3. Personalize each one by praying it in an affirmation or a declaration of praise.
4. Sing these during your devotional times with Jesus. You could set some of them to simple tunes to help you remember them. These are for you personally as God’s child. They represent what you are in Jesus. Yes, they are for the entire body of Christ, but when God thinks of you, He thinks of each of these promises or statements and the way they apply to you individually.
5. Voice them vehemently out loud to the Enemy if he tries to make you doubt.
6. Memorize as many of them as you can.
7. See their full context by reading the surrounding verses or chapter.
8. Look up these verses in different translations to get a wider range of wording that might give you a fuller understanding.
9. Seek the Lord to find out how you can apply each verse personally in your life in a way that will be most effective for you.
10. Be more aware of the fact that the spiritual part of you is of vital importance. Determine to adjust your thinking to coincide with what God’s Word says about you as His child and heavenly citizen.
11. Frequently read the list of Bible declarations that are in this article and the next. Believe they are for you.
12. My prayer: “Thank You, Lord, for the breath-taking, spectacular gift You’ve given me of being adopted by You into Your family, for blessing me with the opportunity to reflect You by choosing to act in love. Thank You for making it possible for me to have a heavenly identity in You. I’m determined to grow in learning and understanding Your nature. Through building an increasingly deep and personal relationship with You, I’m learning more and more how to implement Your promises so that the benefits they bring in my life can enhance my identity in You.
“My heart’s desire is to grow closer to You and to use all that You have provided to become a clearer and more accurate reflection of Your Spirit in this world. I know I won’t be able to see the fullness of what You have promised I will become, manifested in this moment, but I trust You that each promise will be fulfilled in this life or in eternity. I pray this in Jesus’ name.”
Jesus: A natural expression of your admiration and love for someone is in emulating or working to develop those same attributes or qualities in your own life that you see in them.
That’s how our relationship grows too. The more you study about Me and My nature and My words, the more you will discover about Me to emulate. The more you take on My nature, the more you will realize the truth in the promises I’ve given to you and how to use them in your life. You are still you, but My Spirit is helping to enhance both the qualities I gifted you with when you were born and the things that became yours to claim when you received Me.
As you study and memorize God’s promises in the Bible and appropriate them personally, they will develop the qualities in you that are part of your identity in Christ.
For example, if you struggle against feeling bound by guilt and the sense that you can never be free of past wrongs, you can find freedom in knowing that Jesus says there is now no more condemnation when you are His.1
If you feel you are a prisoner to your fears, you can declare in faith that things will change when you trust in Him: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in You.”2
If your circumstances make you feel small, insignificant, or worthless, you can declare with perfect assurance, “God says that I am His handiwork, His masterpiece; therefore I know that I’m important to Him.”3
If the Devil whispers in your ear, “No one really cares about you,” hit him back by reminding him that it’s God’s promises that rule. God has chosen you and He loves you unconditionally.4
When you feel like you have nothing to offer, remember that you are God’s child, and He says He’s given you the greatest job in the world, as His ambassador.5
If you feel anxiety and stress, or you’re in turmoil or worried, don’t just stay in that unhappy state. Take Him at His word that says, “My peace I give unto you.”6 It’s there; it’s available for you, if you choose to accept it.
You could try going through the whole list of scriptures in part two, coming in my next post on Directors’ Corner. As you read and meditate on each one, focus on what God has said and believe that it can be true of you. You don’t have to think negatively anymore.
Remember, it is God’s opinion that counts. You can choose to accept it and live victoriously! Accept what God says about you, agree with Him that it’s true of you, and become the person you can be.
Why should we work so hard to discover and develop our identity in Jesus? There are the obvious benefits of greater faith and confidence through knowing who we are in Him and that we are unconditionally loved by Him. There is, however, an even more compelling reason: the more our identity in Him develops, the more it becomes evident to others.
As others see these positive manifestations of God’s Spirit in us, they will desire those qualities in their lives. This may be the starting point for those who haven’t received Jesus to desire to know Him, grow closer to Him, and begin the process of building their own identity in Christ. What greater reward could we have than that!
1 Romans 8:1.
2 Psalm 56:3.
3 Ephesians 2:10.
4 1 Peter 5:7.
5 2 Corinthians 5:20.
6 John 14:27.