I sat this morning asking Jesus who I really am, begging Him to show me. I sat a long time with that question before Him. I don’t know about you, but I struggle. I am in recovery for addiction. I am a survivor of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. I am a failure at everything that matters in life – my faith failed when Jesus would have held me firm. I have a laundry list of negative labels that I have worn. Shame that I have carried.
Maybe you have some things that are stumbling blocks, sins, struggles. Maybe you identify yourself, like I have identified myself, by the things that trip you up: addict, liar, thief, cheater, failure, felon, abuser, glutton, fool, sluggard, slacker, scoffer, murderer, prodigal, prostitute, adulterer, orphan, and so goes the list of self-condemning truths. Maybe all your failure adds up and paralyzes you, like mine has me in the past.
Or maybe, you have carried the label of the things that have harmed you: divorcee, victim, abuse survivor, hated, rejected, sex traffic survivor. Or maybe there are those life situations that you have been through that made you feel like you were less than: unemployment, poverty, infertility, physical disability, mental illness.
I am sure that there are more than I have listed. But really, in Christ, none of my failures (or successes) or sins or my addictions or the things done to me or the things I’ve done right are my identity. God has promised that I am someone new. In 2 Corinthians 5:16-18(ESV), Paul instructs us not to think of anyone according to the flesh. That laundry list of labels that I have worn like a millstone around my neck, letting it weigh me down, is not who I am in Christ.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:16-18
In Christ, I am a new creation. In Christ, you are a new creation. The moment I turned to Christ, the old things passed away. The moment you turned to Christ the old things passed away – they are dead. That drug addict I once was is dead – even if I have given in to the temptation, I have sinned, but it is not my identity. In Christ, I am a new creation. That woman who had an abortion, in Christ, she is forgiven and has nothing held against her. That woman whose husband left her because, according to him, she just wasn’t wife material, her husband’s failure to see her value is heartbreaking, but it is not who she is. The one who was just released from prison because she siphoned money out of the company bank account, in Christ is blameless.
No longer. I am no longer a victim. I am no longer a survivor. I am no longer a denier of the truth. In Christ, I am a new creation. In Christ, I have a new identity. That laundry list of failures and accusing identities was removed and cast into the sea without me. Thank you, Jesus! Now, I am something new. In Christ, the same is true for you as well.
And so, if today finds you asking, “Who am I really?” Let me answer. If you have surrendered your life to Christ, you have been adopted. If you were an orphan, you are now a member of a family – God’s family. He is your father and you are His beloved daughter. (Galatians 3:26). If you are in Christ, you are now an heir according to God’s promise. You are God’s chosen one, holy and beloved, forgiven (Colossians 3:12-13). All the identities you once wore, no longer belong to you (Colossians 3:11). Instead, you belong to Christ and all the things that once identified you are dead. No longer a slave to drugs or alcohol, no longer controlled by pornography or sex, no longer a servant of the flesh – so when the body cries for heroin or alcohol or marijuana or sex or food or some other worldly desire, you no longer have to answer the call. Jesus has overcome the flesh (didn’t he die and raise from the dead?). In Christ, when you turn your eyes to Him, is victory.
Jesus Christ has wrapped you in His identity. So, the more important question isn’t who are you, really, but who is He?