You know the list. The one in our memory of shameful things we’ve done, things we’d like to forget. Every so often, our Enemy uncovers it and uses it to condemn us and convince us we still deserve to be far away from God. It often drives us to work hard to be acceptable to God and man, but works are an empty promise. Can we look at our past identity, without ending up hating ourselves?
Past identity: who was I?
In Finding my Identity, I need to know who I used to be if I I’m to understand who I am now. If I promise we’ll end up at a place of hope and relief, would you have the courage to look closely at the “old us” of our past identity for just a few minutes?
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (Ephesians 2:1-3)
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11a)
- We were dead.
- We once walked in sin.
- We once followed the path of the world’s way of life.
- We once followed Satan.
- We once were a son/daughter of disobedience.
- We once lived in our fleshly passions.
- We once were children of wrath.
- We once were unrighteous.
- We once had no claim to an inheritance with God.
- We once were deceived.
- We once deserved labels for the sin we committed.
- We once were far off from God.
The list leaves us feeling shame, because it’s a shame-worthy past identity. With Christ, I’m really not good at all. No list of New Year’s goals or blog post about how to be good could fix all that I once was. Only Jesus.
Hope for our past identity
I promised we would end with hope and relief, so let me give a spoiler for tomorrow’s topic: Who am I NOW?
“But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11b)
Looking back at my ugly, wrong, deceived, confused, shame-worthy past identity shows me how much I needed Jesus to wash me clean. By taking my own offenses on His perfect self when He died on the cross, He set me apart to be His own (that’s being sanctified) and declared me INNOCENT (that’s being justified) of my list of wrong-doing. In Jesus Christ and by God’s Spirit, we are free to throw off our old nasty past identity and claim a new one!
Have you let Jesus give you a new identity? Are you still living shame-worthy when Jesus is able and longing to make you clean and call you His own? If you haven’t, you might be living in an identity crisis. I’m praying 2014 could be the year of Finding your Identity in Christ!
If you have questions about how to leave your shame behind and start a relationship with Jesus, contact me and we’ll chat!