Since the ancient Greek philosophers pronounced the maxim “know thyself ’’, humanity’s quest has essentially remained the same throughout the centuries to the present day, searching for truth and identity. Identity, often defined as `who am I?’ Can also be the `I’ each one of us carries within. We often feel pressured to define ourselves by external measures such as jobs, financial status, successes, grades, appearances, tribes and many other means.
An identity grounded in Christ however would mean that when we think of who we are, the first thing that would come to mind is our status as people loved by God. It means that we understand who we are in Christ.
So what then do the scriptures say about identity in Christ?
Identity is basically how God sees us. Ephesians chapter 1 gives a clear picture of our true identity in Christ. We were chosen even before the creation, predestined for adoption and He, Christ redeemed us to the father through his blood that we may not face the wrath of God. In His great mercy, He forgave us and sealed us by the Holy Spirit when we first believed. We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing and unconditionally loved and accepted. In his letter to the Romans, Paul in his response to life through the Spirit and present suffering and future glory, assures us of the concrete identity and love that we have in Christ. Romans 8: 31- 35: “31 what then shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” In conclusion of the matter we seethat nothing that can separate us from the love of God; neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, or anything else in all creation.
1st Peter 2: 9 gives us a clear assurance of our identity in Christ. We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood and God’s special possession that we may always walk in the light having been adopted to his kingdom. What a blessing, and a new nature that we possess, having been adopted and loved in the family of Christ.
How then do we secure our identity in Christ?
Securing an identity in Christ means to acquire and to remain in the son ship of the kingdom of God. The bible says in John 1:12 that all who believed and received Christ are given power to become Children of God. This verse and the famous John 3:16 give us the clear picture of how we can secure our identity in Christ. The bible does not just end in telling us how we can acquire son ship but also tells us how we will be sustained in it. A quick look into the scripture in John 15, Jesus instructs us that if we abide in Him and He in us(vs 4), we keep his commandments(vs 10), abide in his love, hate the world, with the help of the Spirit of truth that He sends upon us(vs 26), we will be sustained in Him. He will hold us fast in His hands such that no one will snatch us away from Him. And so clearly, we cannot acquire or sustain ourselves in his son ship on our own. We are thus called to believe and submit to Him (Christ) if we claim to have an identity in Him.
Struggle with identity in Christ
There is a famous phrase that goes ‘Attempt great things for God’. Many Christians have been overwhelmed by this ideology. Sometimes when we have done great works of compassion we feel we are better Christians. However on our worst days we feel like we are lesser Christians. Sometimes, in our attempts to do great things for God, we forget to examine our lives if we are still on truck, we forget to read the Word of God which should be the guide to our life, we forget to pray for God’s guidance. After all these things we realize that the picture that we have painted about Christianity is not Christ-like at all, but an image of works based salvation. The bible in 1 Corinthians 13:5-7 calls us to self examination from time to time to see if our works are still right with God. We must at all times depend on the Holy Spirit for guidance in all our works so that we may be found righteous before the Lord.
How can we know we have found true identity in Christ?
This question couldn’t be more right and the answer to it is more important. Can anyone know if she’s truly in Christ? Are there ways so to speak of that can let you know if your whole identify is really in Christ? The answer to the whole question of identity will tell a lot about a person’s beliefs and convictions.
Let’s consider out first case in effort to give an answer from the holy Scriptures themselves. In 1 John 4:6 it says, “We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” Notice how the Apostle John calls for the attention of his hearers that if any claims to be of God; he/she believes in the gospel of Christ and has received adoption as sons and daughters of the almighty God therefore that person will naturally receive the word of God when it’s proclaimed by the ministers of God. Indeed one way to know if your identity is in Christ is that you will hear His voice (see also John 10:27) when the word of God is preached.
Second way of knowing if your identity is in Christ is found through the psalmist who confesses truths that only those who are in Christ do also confess with a resounding answer, Yes! That’s me. Psalm 119:15-16,20,97 reads, “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word…. My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times…. Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” It’s not only receiving the Word of God and obeying, but also the one whose identity is in Christ will also delight in keeping His laws and commandments. He loves the perfect law of God and meditates on it day and night, it’s not burdensome but light and the Christian loves the law of His God and Master. The desire for God and His law is found in those whose identity is in Christ. When he/ she reads of the word of God, they’re refreshing unto the soul and the person loves it for as the psalmist also add that blessed are those whose delight is in the law ( the word of God) of God and sweater than honey.
The last way we shall consider as a way of knowing if your identity is in Christ is found in the book of Romans 12:9 “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” To abhor is to hate or detest what is evil and wicked in the world and what we do. The one who has identity in Christ is continually being transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit unto Christ; he is being conformed to the holiness of God, to the very character and the person Jesus Christ. In addition to receiving, obeying, delighting and loving the law of God and to meditate upon it, the Christian also hates what is wicked before God; for to be conformed to the will of God also means to hate and detest sin for what it is and to love what is good. It’s in hating sin for what it is that the person in Christ flees from sexual immorality, resists the devil and puts to death the evil and sinful desires of the flesh, all on reliance on the Spirit of grace. For no one who has no identity in Christ can truly hate sin and resist the devil who has been sinning from the beginning ( see John 8:44) unless he/ she is born of God and loves God and the law of God.