(1 Corinthians 1:2) “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:”
One of the most difficult but life-shaping questions we could ever answer is: “Who Am I?” It goes to the heart of how we perceive ourselves. Like you, I’ve had many roles at different points in life: son, student, husband, father, employee, boss, pastor, teacher, coach and the list goes on. But then I also consider my behavior and have to consider another aspect of identity: Am I a sinner? Am I religious? Am I a good Christian? Am I a bad Christian? For sure, a lot of my self-perception has been shaped by upbringing and environment. But one critical thing I’ve had to learn is that God doesn’t expect my past to define my present and certainly not my future. In other words, God shapes who I am – nothing and no one else!
This issue of identity is so important because I live aligned with how I think about myself. I am an adult, so my decisions are adult decisions. I am a father, so I make decisions based on fatherhood. So if I start to think of myself as a sinner, or “merely a sinner saved by grace,” then I will not have the confidence that God has instilled in me as His child. I will live my life based on thinking about who I was before Christ instead of who I am in Christ. My decisions will be based on thinking I am a sinner instead of thinking I am a saint of the Most High God. Who I believe myself to be in the eyes of God affects how I live my life.
How could the Apostle Paul write to the Corinthian church full of believers involved in all types of immorality yet still call them “sanctified” and “saints?” It goes to the heart of how God views His people. One of the key things I had to learn after coming to Christ is that God gave me a new identity. My true identity rests in who He made me to be in Christ. Calvary and the empty tomb are the lens through which God now sees me and everyone else who trusts Christ for salvation.
It’s hard to believe that God actually does see me through the finished work. The cross is what allows me to be set apart from this world for a holy purpose. I am righteous because of His resurrection. I am also a saint, which is not a description of my behavior. Saint is another name for someone who is no longer identified as a sinner! This is what allows me to recover even after stumbling in the eyes of God. I don’t have to live in self-condemnation believing I am a dirty rotten sinner who will never measure up to God’s standards. I can live free because that is the person I am in Christ!
Renewed Thought – I am…all of the awesome things God declares me to be in Christ. Today, He wants me to live like that person.