Your behaviors and habits flow from your identity. So, who are you? Or, whose are you?
Theology matters. Beliefs have consequences. What we think about who we are before God has implications for how we live.
There is a school of thought in mental health called cognitive therapy. In short, it says our beliefs drive our mood and actions. There is more to mental health than this, but this concept has huge implications for Christians and the church. All the emotions we feel—anger, joy, guilt, shame, sadness, fear—can at times be traced back to our beliefs about ourselves and/or God. Think about how the following beliefs about God and yourself can affect how you feel and what you do.
Do you think God tolerates you because you stumbled into his family, or did he choose you because he delights in you?
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6)
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)
Do you think you are responsible for your sanctification? Or do you think that God, through the Holy Spirit, is?
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)
Does your belief about the effect of your sin on your relationship with God determine whether you approach or avoid him after you sin?
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
This list could go on and on.
Summitview is in the middle of a sermon series on the life of David. Much of the series has looked at the contrasts between David and Saul. Saul did not know who he was before God; David did. Saul’s insecurity originally kept him from accepting the position God gave him. This insecurity, and his need for the people’s approval, led to him to attempting to kill David, killing multiple priests, making an unlawful sacrifice and even consulting a medium in violation of God’s law.
Compare this with David. Even though he was anointed king, he never attempted to kill Saul himself. When David took the throne, he was kind to Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson. Even when Shimei cursed him, he did not allow his men to retaliate but said the Lord told Shimei to do that. Even when David sinned, he would repent and turn back to God and repeatedly wrote of his goodness.
We need to know who we are. We are all looking for identity, and when we don’t know who we are, we look to someone or something to tell us who we are. We look for our identity in sports teams, political parties, our jobs, our spouses, our children, our Hogwarts houses. We allow ourselves to be defined by our struggles, addictions and shortcomings. Sometimes, we let our past define who we are, whether that be sins we committed or sins committed against us.
This is why social media can be so problematic. We look for our identity in the likes and responses to our posts. We feel valuable and validated by the retweets and feel like we don’t matter when our posts are not responded to. The issues surrounding cyberbullying can make these problems even more pronounced.
None of these things have the right to define us. God created us and he gets to say who we are. The Bible is full of versus telling us who we are as believers. Here are a few, with thanks to Bob Kelleman for compiling this list.
“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:28-29)
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” (John 15:9)
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him. (Colossians 1:21-22)
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” (Hebrews 10:17)
God wants us to know who we are and has told us plainly. David, the apostles and Jesus all knew who they were. Knowing who you are is freeing. Search it out, remind yourself and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.