Our Identity in Christ
Last week we talked about positional truths – what we are as fact in the eyes of God,
because of what he has done for us in Christ. This week let’s talk about the ramifications and benefits of this. As mentioned last week this topic is key to our Christian success against sin and temptation. If you know me at all, you know that I harp on the fact that there is nothing in the Christian life that is formulaic in nature or dependent upon ritualism for power. It is about God producing his divine nature, a “new life” in us as we live by faith and as we set our minds on him who produces change in us. In comparison, “religions” depend upon rules, traditions, formulas, rituals and laws to enforce external conformance. You will not find that in the passage below as clearly indicated in verse 14. Christians live under grace by faith which should produce a change in our thoughts first as we know God’s will and word, then attitudes will reflect His attitude about anything we experience and then we will see a change in our actions as a result as indicated by verse 1, 2. (picture credit Donell Trostrud)
Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ
Rom 6:1-14 Use this link for the NIV or your favorite version. Emphasis verses 2a, 4, 5, 7, 10b, 11, 12, 13, 14. As you can see, this passage is crucial to every aspect of victory over sin and temptation. See my post on Think godly, act Godly Eph 4:17-24
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…
Who are you Lord?
I AM the Victorious God who gave you freedom in Christ. When Jesus died on that cross, so did you. I buried you with him in that tomb and raised you to live eternally when I resurrected my Son from the grave. I no longer see your sin. I just see Christ’s righteousness and life in you. You may not comprehend all of this because you were not alive when Jesus died, just as you were not alive when Adam sinned, but what matters is that I do. What I am asking you to do is to take me at my word as it is written and act accordingly. Since Jesus died for your sin, he now lives for me, and since he died for you, so now I want you to do the same.
I AM the Resurrection and the life. If you believe, though you die in this lifetime, yet shall you live eternally. He that has the Son has life, he that has not the Son of God has not life. I died once for all so that all who believe may never experience eternal death. I went to hell so that you do not have to. “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.” “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” Eternal life starts now for you who believe.
I AM the God who rescued you from the power and penalty of sin. Sin shall not be your master anymore. Satan no longer is your master. Death shall not be victorious over you anymore. You are also no longer under My Law anymore either, thus you are no longer under its penalty, which is death. I lived the righteous life for you on this earth and fulfilled the Father’s will, and I then died as your substitution. As far as the Father is concerned, now you are totally accepted in his eyes as you rely in faith on my work for you. I have given you my righteousness. Now, you are no longer slaves to sin. Now you need not fear death and punishment. Now you are free to live voluntarily for me in genuine righteousness from your heart under my grace. As you do so, you need no laws and rules as you live your life filled with my spirit and controlled by my love for others. As you live thus, what rules are more effective than my Spirit in you?
12 years a Slave
One of 2014s box office smash movies is the story of a prominent Negro man named Solomon who lived in the northern states, during the 1800’s. He was kidnapped and sold into slavery and sent to Georgia. For 12 years he experienced firsthand as a slave himself, the harsh treatment of his race. After some time though, he was able to get word out to his family in the north which eventually led to his freedom. The part that I want to point out is that when the Lawyer came to Georgia to recover Solomon, he came with the authority of the sheriff to confront Solomon’s “Master”. The sheriff released Solomon to the Lawyer all the while the old “master” kicking and screaming in protest. As they walked back to their carriage, the old master was commanding Solomon as his “property”, to get back to work. The correlation to us is similar to our condition under Satan and “Our Old Man” (although not exact; Solomon was a free man who was made a slave, whereas you and I are genuine slaves to Satan who have been set free positionally and legally). Could you imagine Solomon choosing to stay with this “Supposed southern master” knowing that he was made free under the protection of the law? Why would he choose to remain under and obey the “Old master”? He wouldn’t. No! Solomon’s identity is protecting him and no matter how much the old master screamed at him to stay, he had no authority over Solomon anymore to make him do so.
We Christians were slaves but are no longer are under the bondage of Satan and our old man which was “Rendered powerless” because we have a new master in Christ. Jesus bought our freedom. He paid the prices for our release. We died with Christ so that the law of sin is powerless over us. However, even though our old man is dead, our “Sin nature” is still with us though and it is screaming at us to obey just like the “Old master” was with Solomon along the path even though he had no authority any more over him. The choice is ours. We are no longer bound to sin and Satan. Unfortunately, and all too often we hearken to its voice and choose to succumb to its demands Jas 1:14 says: “But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.”
Satan wants to test the resolve in your mind.
As I mentioned, we still have a sin nature. That has not been done away with as was our “Old man” in Adam. But it was rendered powerless. Like a chicken or snake with its head cut off, it still reacts in kind. What is required on our account, and the key to our victory practically speaking is for us to count, consider, believe or reckon that we no longer have to obey its promptings. This is not a mind over matter game, but rather acting on what God says is true of us even when you don’t feel like it is true. Like Abraham believed even though he knew there was no way that it was humanly possible to have a son. This is why the battle for our spiritual purity is in our mind, because that is where we weigh out God’s truth and apply it. Think holy, and you will act holy. Satan consequently fights you in this mental process to test your resolve. The key is to let your new identity dictate to you how to think and feel about your condition and act accordingly. This is why knowing the truth of your Bible is critical, imperative and essential to your Christian success over sin. “Religion” has its Bible prominently poised on a mantle or pedestal for all to see but none to open. “True Christianity” lets the living word of God dictate and rule in their hearts as they know God through the pages therein.
If when Jesus battled Satan, he used God’s Word as his authority; why shouldn’t we? Here are some verses to meditate on when you feel drawn away to bad thoughts: Remember Gal 5:16, 17 say you are controlled by the Spirit or the flesh, one or the other, there is no third option. If there is going to be any victory over sin in your life, it must be based on His work in you and you’re aligning your thoughts to his word accordingly. As a word of testimony, the only victory that I have ever experienced over my desire to sin is when I changed my thoughts to those of the Lords by the verses below.
Col 3:1-2 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Ps 19:14 let the word of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you
2 Cor 10:5 taking every thought captive into the obedience of Christ.
Phil 4:8 whatever things are … praiseworthy…think on these things
Ps 10:9, 10 thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee
Rom 13:14 Do not even think on how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Rom 12:2 be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Eph 4:22 put off the old self which is being corrupted by deceitful desires
Col 3:5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry
2 Tim 2:22 Flee youthful lusts
It is a matter of changing your thoughts to something good, not just trying not to think badly.
Again, for more on this topic, see my post on Think godly, act Godly Eph 4:17-24
More to come,