Though We Are Not, We Are
Numerous times in my life I have encouraged people to find their identity in Christ. Just as many times, if not more, I have spoken these words over myself as well. They certainly paint an ethereal, beautiful, lofty picture. They sound great in theory but finding rest in those words alone proves to be quite difficult. The words by themselves seem to carry no value. They are not substantial on their own. They do not give us an anchor for our soul or a firm foundation for our feet to stand upon. They are just words.
It wasn’t until this year, when I started memorizing Bible verses centered on the Gospel, that I began to understand who we are in Christ. I did not know then the treasures the Gospel would unlock for me. I thought memorizing Gospel-centered verses would teach more about Jesus, more about God, more about the Gospel story. And they did. But they also taught me more about myself than I ever imagined possible. It was in the Gospel that I found the meaning to the phrase, “find your identity in Christ.”
As a new Christian, I knew I was a sinner, but my concept of sin related mostly to my past. I didn’t understand that even as a Christian my propensity for sin is great. I thought I was a relatively good person who still made some bad choices every now and then. I did not understand the depth of my sin and that even now my best intentions almost always have mixed motives.
To begin to understand who we are in Christ, we first have to understand who we are apart from Christ. Apart from Christ – meaning without accepting and believing in the perfect life He lived, the death He died, and the resurrection of His physical body that symbolized His victory over sin and death and God’s acceptance of Him as a perfect sacrifice for us – we are:
- Enemies of God
- Eternally separated from God
- Slaves to sin and death
- Under God’s judgment and wrath
- Deserving of nothing
It is ugly, but its truth nonetheless. It is the bad news of the Gospel. But coupled with the bad news is some really Great news.
The Gospel tells us that through Christ, through His life lived in us by the power of the Holy Spirit, WE ARE:
WE ARE…Chosen (Eph 1:3-4)
WE ARE…Holy, blameless, and without blemish before God (Col. 1:21-23, 1 Peter 1:3-5)
WE ARE…No longer separated or enemies, but reconciled with God (Col 1:21-23)
WE ARE…Free from accusation
WE ARE…Heirs to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading (1 Pet. 1:3-5)
WE ARE…Adopted into the family of God – considered sons (Eph 1:5-8) and WE ARE…Recipients of the full rights of sons (Gal 4:3-7)
WE ARE…Redeemed – purchased, set free from slavery to sin and death (Eph 1:5-8)
WE ARE…Forgiven of all sins – past, present, and future
WE ARE…Recipients of lavish grace
WE ARE…Called (Rom 8:28-39)
WE ARE…Predestined to be conformed to the image and likeness of Christ
WE ARE…Justified, declared righteous
WE ARE…more than conquerors through Christ
WE ARE…Secure in the love of God through Christ.
Being in Christ means WE HAVE…
WE HAVE…Atonement (restitution, payment) for our sin (Heb 2:14-18)
WE HAVE…A merciful and faithful high priest
WE HAVE…A Savior who identifies with our suffering and temptation because He suffered and was tempted in every way (Heb 4:14-16)
WE HAVE… Been set free from sin and death to become slaves to God, which reaps holiness and leads to eternal life (Rom 6:20-22)
WE HAVE…Received mercy as sinners, not as righteous people who deserved mercy (1 Tim 1:15-17 and Titus 3:4-7)
WE HAVE…Been washed, cleansed from our sins (Titus 3:4-7)
WE HAVE…Been given new life thru the Holy Spirit
WE HAVE…This hope as an anchor for our soul
AND WHEN JESUS RETURNS…We will be glorified
Though we are none of these things, He calls us as though we are. Though we deserve none of these things, in His kindness and mercy, He has lavished them on us.
This is who we are, what we have, and what we hope for in Christ. This is more real, more secure, and more fulfilling than anything this world has to offer.
This is the truth of who we are in Christ. Everything else passes away. Beauty fades. Roles change. Health dwindles.
The good news for a Christian is that we don’t start at a deficit and try to earn our way into God’s grace. To be in Christ means that we start as justified – just as if we never sinned. We start as accepted – adopted into the family of God. Christianity isn’t about what we do to get to God; it is about what Jesus did to bring us to God.
I now know that I am a miserable sinner, but He is an all-sufficient Savior. I’ve learned that I am still broken, but I am being made whole. I am a sinner, but I have been declared righteous. Though I am not, I am counted as holy and blameless before God. I am guilty, but I have been pardoned. Though, in and of myself, I am powerless, I can rest knowing that I (my salvation, my sanctification, my righteous standing before God) am being guarded by God’s power.
Resources I found very helpful:
The Two Prodigals, sermon by Tim Keller
In Christ Jesus, sermon series by Tim Keller
The Books of Ephesians, Galatians, Colossians, Romans, and Hebrews