Praise God for His Amazing Grace! "The Church"If you haven't…
It has been decades now since I first prayed when I was seven years old. I am very thankful that I had a mother who tried to point me to God rather than away from Him.
It has even been a couple of decades since I first began teaching, preaching and ministering the Gospel.
The devil wants to steal your identity so that you acquiesce
From these years of observation and experience I believe that I can safely say that lack of identity is, if not the most devastating issue that has caused more problems then anything else among God’s people, it is certainly ONE of the most detrimental issues.
Many years ago I used to watch Western movies. Sometimes the Indians would raid a settler’s camp and take a child captive. The young captive would grow up as a part of the tribe yet they would know that they were different than the others. They never really knew exactly who they were.
It is my observation that that is the way many, if not most, “Christians” are. They know they are different than everyone else but they really don’t know who they are. This leads to a multitude of problems.
There are many aspects of this issue; some of which I have addressed before.
Today I am going to address the approach that some take of embracing Yeshua to the point of claiming that they themselves have no identity whatsoever.
These people will go to church, donate money, be nice, and think that they are surrendering their identity.
It is sad because while experiencing the love of God is indescribable, really walking with God is a great adventure that is more adventurous than anything else I know. It is unfortunate that those who surrender their identity will never really experience all that He has waiting for them.
Not I but Christ in me…
Failing to “surrender all” to Yeshua is a subject that has been well addressed by many including myself. In this article, I am focussing on the other extreme which is disavowing any identity whatsoever and claiming that “it is not I who lives, but Christ in me”.
I am pretty convinced that most who have adopted this position are pretty sincere. However, it is my observation, experience, and view that this approach leads to significant problems regardless of sincerity.
The foundation for this approach
One of the primary snippets of Scripture that are used for this approach is Galatians 2:20. It is easy to see why because, taken out of context, it appears to say exactly what these people are saying.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
At times like this, I pull out the big guns. So, in order to gain a better understanding of this Scripture I am going to invoke the three most important rules of Biblical hermeneutics. The three most important rules of Biblical hermeneutics are; context, context, context.
First, I would like to call your attention to the “word” “I” in the verse. By utilizing the word “I”, Apostle Paul references himself five times in this one verse. He references himself by way using the word “me”, three times.
In the relatively short span of 44 words, Apostle Paul makes a very clear and distinct reference to himself 8 times. A little over 18% of the words in this verse singularly reference himself.
Obviously, he must feel that he has an identity.
Okay, so having addressed that, let’s look at the first element. ” I am crucified with Christ”. In order for Paul to be “crucified with the Messiah” he had to have an identity. Yes, that identity was crucified but nevertheless, it was a real, tangible identity.
Remember, Yeshua was crucified but still had an identity when he rose again.
There are numerous instances in his writings where Apostle Paul refers to himself as “I” in reference to some aspect of his life prior to his conversion.
So he goes on to say, “nevertheless I live;“. Paul is clearly saying here that even though some part of him had died, there is unquestionably an identity that is alive who we identify as Apostle Paul. We don’t identify that part as Yeshua, we identify that part as “Paul”.
“Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:” I really sympathize with the writers of the Bible. While they were inspired by Holy Spirit to write what they wrote, both they and the subsequent translators are tasked with putting divine principles and concepts into human words of language in order to try to communicate that which is super-natural to the natural minded.
Following is how renowned commentator John Gill explains these few elements of this verse; emphasis mine.
Commentator John Gill on this passage of Scripture
“… his being quickened, or having principles of life and holiness implanted in him, was not by himself, but by the Spirit; and the holy life and conversation he lived was not owing to himself, to his power and strength, but to the grace of God; or it was not properly himself, or so much he that lived,
but Christ liveth in me: who was not only the author and maintainer of his spiritual life, but the life itself; he was formed in his soul, dwelt in his heart, was united to him, was one with him, whence all vital principles and vital actions sprung, and all the communion and comforts of a spiritual life flowed.
And the life which I now live in the flesh; in the body, whilst in this mortal state, whereby he distinguishes that spiritual life he had from Christ, and through Christ’s living in him, both from the natural life of his body, and from that eternal life he expected to live in another world; and which, he says,”
Yeshua does not steal our identity, but He does give us one
While Yeshua is clearly the giver and sustainer of life, He does not steal our identity to where we then become non-existent. Yes, we must decrease as He must increase but nevertheless, it is YOU who has a place in the Kingdom of God; a position to fill, a destiny to live.
For God so loved…. YOU that He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16). It is YOU who needs to “work out your own salvation” (Phil. 2:12), not Yeshua. It is YOU who needs to be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom. 12:2), not Yeshua. It is YOU who will be raised up to spend eternity with Yeshua (John 3:16). It is not Yeshua who is going to be raised up to spend eternity with Himself.
I understand, admire and respect the genuine desire to have the “old self” so far removed that it is only Yeshua who shines forth. Nevertheless, even though we are given a new life with a new identity, we do have an identity as expressed in the paragraph above and ALL through the Bible. If we didn’t have an identity, then we wouldn’t have a free will.
There are many mysteries in the Bible that we don’t fully grasp and I believe that this is one of them
For example, all of the dear saints in the faith hall of fame (Hebrews 11) had an identity and they all died in the faith. It wasn’t Yeshua that died in the faith, it was those who are mentioned… by name… because of the life they lived.
The twelve Apostles retain their identity. Their names will be written on the wall of the new Jerusalem. They are being honored in this way as the result of what they did and the life that they lived.
So what does all of this matter?
The reason it matters is because if you have entered into covenant with Yeshua, then YOU are a beloved son or daughter of the Most High: YOU.
The Bible is all about a love story of God reuniting with His people. He created them, loves them, and wants to spend eternity with them. He absolutely does NOT want you to deny your identity. Rather He wants you to embrace it. He made you. You are His creation and He wants YOU!
Yes, you are most certainly a NEW creation but non-the-less, you are an individual, a creation no less than Adam and Eve were (2 Cor, 5:17).
No identity… no responsibility
I have sensed many times over the years that a lot of the reason people have taken this clandestine approach to identity is because it seems easier. It feels safer.
The thinking is if they can sort of convince themselves that since “it is not I who lives but Christ”, then they are somehow absolved from responsibility. I think that some people who think this way are not even aware of what they are doing.
However, whether you realize it or not, you are not absolved of responsibility and God has a GREAT plan for your life.
God made YOU: And just like all of the many men and women we read about all through the Bible, YOU have an important role to play in the Kingdom of God. YOU have a predetermined destiny that God wants YOU to fulfill. It really is a GREAT adventure.
I implore you to not allow the satan to steal your identity. Today I encourage you to take your place in history. Tell God that YOU want to fulfill YOUR destiny and ask Him to reveal it to you. It may be a process but in time, He will.
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