Secure in Identity

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Who you are may be a question that is answered by family, friends, and relationships. Ultimately it is a question that must be answered for yourself. I myself have never given proper thought as to who I am. Perhaps I am not aware or smart enough to give much care to the question. When asked by others I gave the easy answers. I am the son of my father and mother. I am a boy from Hinton West Virginia. I’m a member of the Presbyterian Church. After moving to Florida I was a hurricane because I went to Manatee High in Bradenton, Florida. As I grew older I was a soldier, a truck driver, a dispatcher, and then a teacher. But through it all I never gave thought to my self-identity. Whatever my self-identity was it was under the influence of my ego.

Lately I have been thinking about what most people decide in the teen years, who am I? Well I am all of the things mentioned above but they all are related to different times and positions that I once was in. As I travel on through this journey to the Promised Land that condition probably will not change. I have kept adding things that define who I am. Today I am a Baptist, a citizen of Plant City, Florida, which makes me a Raider as that is our High School team. But is that who I really am, something that I associate with. That does fit the definition I found on a web page which reads, “Who you are is your Self Identity, the way you look at yourself and your relationship to the world.” That definition tells me that I have been right all along, I am who I associate with. Doesn’t seem right does it.

Sociologists study how self-identity develops. George Herbert Mead argues that a person doesn’t develop his self-identity until he interacts with others in the community and from that builds his self-consciousness. So it is not who I am but who the folks are around me that shape my self-identity. Early in the 1900s Charles Horton Cooley developed a looking glass theory which states that a person develops their identity as a mirror reflecting back what is seen in others enabling you to see yourself through them. Doesn’t seem right does it that a society of individuals with unique abilities and talents actually meld together into a human stew. So now I have indigestion pondering the question, “Who am I?”

I was reading through Paul’s letter to the Galatians the other evening and came across an interesting verse which says, “For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.” (Galatians 2:19) This verse caused me to stop and wonder what Paul actually meant that he had died through the law so he might live to God. The Law of God is written upon the hearts of men now in the Church age. “This is the covenant that I will make with them After those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws upon their heart, And on their mind I will write them.” (Hebrews 10:16) How can one die to something that is written upon their hearts and mind? Paul must have anticipated that question as he went on to write the words of our text.

Paul answers, “I have been crucified with Christ.” When did Paul die to the law, he died to the law when he was crucified with Christ. Jesus took our place upon the cross and died in our place for the penalty of our disobedience to the law of God. If Jesus took our place and suffered the death that we each deserve, then it is as if we were nailed to the cross with Him.

Paul goes on to say that because he had died on the cross with Jesus it is no longer he that lives but Christ that lives through him. That means that our old sinful life of disobedience to the law of God died upon the cross with Jesus and we now are to live in a new life that has been given us. Our old life of failing to obey the law is now dead. That old life has been crucified with Christ. He has given us a new life, and new hope, and a life filled with purpose. We are no longer stumbling through a passing world living for a dying body but have a purpose for eternal glory with Jesus. “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4)

There was an exchange between you and Jesus on the cross of Calvary. Jesus took your old life of not being able to live by the law of God and it was crucified with Him. In that exchange Jesus gave you a new life to live. A life that does not depend of what you can accomplish on your own but a life that can have victory through the power of Christ. “If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.” (Romans 8:10) Jesus came to live through us in the power of His Holy Spirit.

It is a life that has been ransomed from the pit of Hell and purchased by His atoning blood for the sins that we have committed, the sins we still commit, and the sins we shall commit. Our life is no longer ours but is Jesus’ as it died on the cross with Jesus. We are now given a new life to manage by allowing Jesus to live through us. “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

We can only manage this new life we have been given by faith in Jesus. There is no other way but to have faith in His Word and obedience to His commands. Without faith in His Word it is impossible to please Him. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) This is not a license to disobey the law but a sure way to obey the law. Jesus lived a righteous life and if we allow Him He will live a righteous life through us. Paul lives in the flesh by faith, the flesh being governed in the old way by a sinful nature is now controlled by the new life given by Jesus and lived in us by Jesus.

When we were in the old life we were living in the flesh and now we have been given a new life that lives in the Spirit. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6) The closer we draw to the Holy Spirit within us the easier it becomes to overcome the old sinful nature of the flesh. The point is not that we still have this old flesh body that hinders us but that we can exercise faith in Jesus to overcome the temptations as He did. “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

The faith that Paul has is not in himself, or faith in the law or in what he can earn or what he may deserve before God, his faith is in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ who loved him and gave Himself for him. Paul’s relationship with God was what he could do for God and thus his faith was in himself. Now the foundation of Paul’s of faith was in what Jesus has done for him. Paul has found a marvelous person to place his faith in. A person who loves him. A person who demonstrated His love when He gave Himself for Paul.

What better place can we place our faith in life in? What better person than to have faith in that someone who loves us so much that He gave Himself for us? When we realize the love that Jesus has for us, we will see that there is no greater love given to man, no greater love given to you, and no grater love given to me. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) When we realize the great love Jesus has shown for us, it makes everything in the Christian life easier.

If the sociologist are right that our self-identity comes from a mirrored reflection of our relationship to our associations, then what better association can we have than to be associated with the Son of God Jesus Christ who suffered the cross in our place, paid the price for our sin, took upon Himself our old life and gave us a new life through Him, and all because He loves us. What better image could we reflect than the image of God who loves and gave Himself for us? As Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Take these blessed words of the apostle, and put them in your mouth, and let them lie there as wafers made with honey, till they melt into your very soul: ‘Who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Shouldn’t we be the mirrored reflection of Jesus Christ to form our self-identity? “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, April 7, 2017

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