Who do we see when we look in the mirror? How do we see ourselves? Often times we allow circumstances and other people around us to tell us who we are. Negative words and events can leave us feeling discouraged and without hope. Past failures start to look bigger than any future chance of success. Some try to find their identity in their careers. Others define themselves in relationships. Possessions can also be identifiers. These are all important aspects of our lives, but they are all temporal and if we hitch our identity to them, then our identity will be destroyed when these things vanish. God has invited us to leave the life of pursuing earthly fulfillment and embrace his invitation to lose our lives and find our identity in Him.
God is the only one that truly breathes purpose and meaning into the details of our lives. We can only truly find ourselves when we die to self and are made alive in Jesus Christ. Each one of us has to choose which voices we are going to listen to. Are we going to listen to the negative words of the world, the flesh and the devil or are we going to listen to the truth of Gods Word? Most people (90%) find themselves believing negative words and then choose to live at a survival level. They experience being manipulated by lifes events, and then, feeling tired, worn out and much like a robot, they go through life with no control over their own future.Today, as we look at the Bible, it will become for us a mirror that reflects what God sees when He looks at us. Then we will discover how we can also see ourselves in the mirror of Gods Word.
How did we get our identity?
Each of us has listened to voices and words that have been spoken over us in the past or are being spoken over us in the present. Because of our family background, because of our disabilities, because of poor health, because of our sin or addictions, because of someone elses sin or just because of events beyond our control, we feel wedged into a no-win situation. We all seem to allow certain people and events to become mirrors that tell us who we are. All of us can identify with Romans 7:24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
What does our identity look like?
2 Corinthians 5:1 compares our old worldly body and identity to a temporary tent. Our new identity in Christ is compared to a strong eternal building from God. Many other verses in the Bible compare our old identity or spiritual state with ragged or dirty clothing and our new identity to new or beautiful clean clothes (Ps 69:11; 102:26; Pr 31:25; Job 29:14; Isa 52:1; Zec 3:4). Our identity can often feel like we just dont measure up. In Lamentations we see the picture of Israel when the nation fell into sin and was taken captive by Babylon. She once was like a great queen, richly adorned among the nations, but in this chapter she is desolate and all her splendor has departed. See the first chapter of Lamentations.
Who does our identity effect?
It affects us. It limits our growth & development. It limits our future and our potential. God has a great future in store for us and we can make it shrink by not believing that future is possible.
It affects others around us. It keeps them from seeing God in us. Our view of ourselves also pollutes their view of us and of God.
It affects our ability to fellowship with God. It keeps us from receiving Gods blessings. Our negative view of ourselves obstructs Gods plans for our life.
What other forces (beyond self deception) seek to influence our identity?
Satan seeks to lie to us to dissuade us from the truth. He uses many avenues to make inroads into our minds:
False prophets/teachers. What people or reading material or movies are affecting your thought life? Who are you allowing to influence your identity? Do these voices contain truth or false hope? We must be discerning. (Heb 5:14)
Deceiving Spirits (1Ti 4:1-2) Demonic spirits attempt to turn people from the truth. Satan is called the Fathers of lies (Jn 8:44). He will use any means possible to turn people away from God. He will try to deceive us as Eve was deceived.
How can we rid ourselves of our old negative identity and the old life?
The heart of the matter is we need a renewed mind (Ro 12:1-3)! We must:
Learn to let the Holy Spirit transform our world view and our identity. He is working to change our hearts and minds from within. He tells us that we are accepted (Ro 15:7). He tells us we are His loved children (Gal 4:6-7; Ro 8:16; 1Jn 1:12, 3:1-3). He tells us that we are His friend (Jn 15:15); that we are now free of condemnation (Col 1:14; Ro 8:1-2). As Christians we are considered saints (Eph 1:1). Now we are saints that occasionally sin rather than sinners. We are not perfect, but we are pressing on towards maturity (Php 3:12-14). We are not stuck!
Recognize that we now belong to the realm ruled by righteousness, life and the Spirit. We are no longer under the rule of Satan and his kingdom. We have a new boss and He is good and loving.
Understand that though we are living in the world, we are no longer of the world (Jn 17:15-16). We have been changed.
Have our mind renewed daily so that we will recognize and put into place Gods will for every situation. It is so easy to slip back into the old habits.
The bottom line is that we must choose to have our values, attitudes and affections brought back into submission to the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Again we are told that we must have our mind submitted to the Spirits control (2Co 10:3-5). We must:
Recognize that we cant fight spiritual battles like the world does using human means.
Recognize the strongholds in our lives. Do we let any of the following hold us in bondage? Depression, anxiety, fear, anger, tormenting thoughts, negative or addictive behaviors or low self esteem? Satan desires to destroy us by gaining control of our minds and bodies and thus our futures.
Take captive every rebellious, arrogant, hostile and negative thought pattern and make it obedient to Christ.
Accept and appropriate the mind of Christ, which is set on knowing, loving, and obeying the Father. We now have Holy Spirit who will lead us into all truth.
Confession. We must agree with God about our sin. We cant make excuses. We must admit our mistakes and face them and let God help us get past them. We must fully realize how much our sin has grieved the heart of Father God and hurt ourselves and other people. We must learn to agree with God about our identity. We as Christians are a new creation.
Let God renew our mind and our way of thinking (Ro 12:2). 1 Corinthians 5:7 states that we are to walk by faith, not by sight. Faith chooses to believe Gods Word above the voices of discouragement around us. We must live according to the truth of Gods Word and the testimony of His Spirit. We must let God work in us a strong resolution to quit listening to the voices of discouragement and condemnation. We need to choose to listen to God. There must be a commitment to ourselves to not fall in the same hole of depression and discouragement again (Isa 61:10).
Spend time in Gods presence and in His Word. Fellowship with God is restored and alienation is overcome as we walk with Him daily. This requires faith, acceptance and obedience of His words on our part. Give time to hear His voice giving us new identity.
Choose to move forward in our relationship with God. Spiritual maturity must be the goal of our Christian walk. It is an act of His grace. It is accomplished through the reading of and obedience to Gods Word and the work of the Holy Spirit. Now we have a new mirror to look in (2Co 3:18; Eph 2:10; 1Pe 1:13).
What will a new identity from Gods Word do for us?
Gives us hope, dignity and a future (Col 3:10; Jer 29:11).
Our new godly identity will make us able to dream Gods dreams for our lives.
Moves us into a closer relationship with God.
Gives us power to persevere through adversity.
Gives us power to do spiritual warfare.
What mirrors have I empowered in my life to deceive me about who I am in Christ?
What actions will I take to insure that I will start looking in the right mirror?
(*Some excerpts from: Identity: Who you are in Christ by Eric Geiger)