Category Archives: Identity

Identity in Christ

Identity in Christ

https://www.amazon.com/Embracing-Your-Identity-Christ-Renouncing-ebook/dp/B06XT2SSLM/ref=pd_ybh_a_19?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=KXNBA27SZ55AV2JXQQR6

Our identities, besides being one of the most precious things to protect from theft, crisis, or loss, are extremely important to God. The Father has given each of His children a personal identity in Christ that will shape them on their journey to heaven. If, in the process of identity formation, we ignore what God says concerning our identities, then we may expect confusion in the other three seasons of spiritual formation, from adolescence to old age (see chart below for Calling to Christ, Intentionality for Christ, and Legacy from Christ).

Robert Davis Smart

https://www.facebook.com/MyIdentityInChrist/

Embracing Your Identity in Christ:: Renouncing Lies and Foolish Strategies (Kindle Locations 116-121). WestBow Press. Kindle Edition.

Four Seasons of Spiritual Formation

https://www.amazon.com/author/robert_davis_smart

Our identity, besides being one of the most precious things to prevent from theft, crisis, or loss, is extremely important to God. The Father has given his children an identity in Christ that will shape us on our journey to heaven. If in the process of identity formation we ignore what God says concerning our identity, then we may expect confusion in other seasons of spiritual formation. four-seasons-chart_print

Just after birth, a child is given an identity. Identity formation, however, is a longer process. When Jesus Christ was approximately thirty years of age the Father spoke of his identity at his baptism just before entering fully into his calling. In the same way, identity in Christ ought to precede our calling to Christ. It is at this important season of identity that Satan challenges each of us, as he did our Lord. The devil’s first attacks on our Lord were aimed at his identity: “If you are the Son of God.”

The evil trinity—the world, the flesh, and the devil—is seeking to kill and destroy us in each season of spiritual formation. In the spring they confuse our identity, in the summer our calling, in the autumn our intentionality, and in the winter our legacy. The world escorts us to the pit; the flesh entices us to fall in; and the devil pushes us over the edge. “The pit,” as it were, represents a dark and slimy collection of lies, condemning thoughts, and foolish strategies designed to confuse and distort our identity formation.

Start a spiritual formation group on your campus or in your church this Fall by ordering a book designed for each season. See the following link https://www.amazon.com/Robert-Davis-Smart/e/B005SXVJI6/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

An Identity Group is the first of four spiritual formation groups designed to shape us into the likeness of Jesus Christ. It assumes that you have to begin here before asking the next three major questions of the Christian life: Where’s my place (calling)? How do I steward all my gifts, resources, and efforts with intentionality in the light of eternity (intentionality)? What inheritance, testament, and benediction do I leave behind as I prepare to cross the river of death in order to gain eternity (legacy)?

Spiritual Failure: The Unlikely Path to Christian Success

“And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter (Luke 22:60-61).”

When is spiritual failure predictable? The disciples were increasingly aware that Jesus was seriously and deliberately going to get in big trouble and difficulty. The situation was intensely dangerous when Peter felt led of the Lord to say something like: “Master, I know things are getting rough around here, but I want you to know that under no circumstances will I let you down. If every single one of these guys let you down, you can count on me. I won’t.” (I don’t think this made the other disciples happy, and they made sure to record this account in the gospels.) Jesus told Peter that before the crack of dawn Peter would fail him.

Spiritual failure is predictable when we rely on the strength of our own commitment, when we think we stand, when we underestimate Satan’s desire to sift us like wheat, when we lack watchful prayer, and when we presume that we can hide and blend in with nonbelievers without having to admit we love Jesus. All this was true of Peter.

How does spiritual failure happen? Spiritual failure happened to Peter so fast. Surprised by the servant girls’ questions and trying to blend in unnoticed, Peter denied Christ three times. The rooster crowed, and Jesus turned and looked at Peter. Peter remembered and wept with the sting of Jesus’ rebuke, the look of compassion, and the promise Jesus made about Peter’s aftermath of failure to strengthen the others. Spiritual failure is predictable and happens fast, but it need never be final.

Peter posted his sign, “Gone fishing.” After the death and resurrection of Christ, Peter and the others fished all night and caught nothing. “Did you catch anything?” Jesus asked them from the shore. “Nothing,” they replied in admitting their lack of success. Peter knew it was Jesus and struggled towards shore to sit by another fire where Jesus again turned to look at Peter. Three times Jesus asked: “Peter, do you love me with deep intensity?” Jesus asked this three times in order to remedy Peter’s three denials.

On that day Peter became a success because Christ makes spiritual failures into his special instruments and endows them with power from the Holy Spirit for victorious living. Whereas Satan wants us to take the occasions of our failures and make it our identity: “You are a failure,” Jesus defines our identity by his victory. “You are Simon (Pebbles), but you shall be called Peter (a Rock).” Although we all have spiritual failures, Christ refuses to let them define us. All God’s heroes have spiritual failures on their resumes.

Spiritual failure may just be the path to success for the Christian.

How to Resolve an Identity Crisis

We all live in an ongoing identity crisis that began when humanity lost its true sense of who we each are in the first chapters of scripture, after the creation of the world. This identity theft was orchestrated and accomplished by Satan; “the Accuser, the father of lies.” IMG_2853

Today we enter this ongoing tension with terms like “sexual identity” and “identity preference,” but deep down the voices of condemnation and self-hatred often trump the therapeutic and radical individualistic terms of our day.

The postmodern philosophers are keen to the crisis more than Christians ought to be. Although Foucault’s work is often hailed as one of the inspirations for various identity movements, Foucault himself favors the dissolution of identity rather than its creation or maintenance. Postmodern thinkers tend to see identity as a form of subjugation and a way of exercising power over people, preventing them from moving outside fixed boundaries.

One Christian writer named Henri Nouwen, who struggled with sexual identity, wrote: “Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection . . . As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking, ‘Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody.’ … [My dark side says,] I am no good… I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the ‘Beloved.’ Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.”

It seems that we are each inclined to empower some one else with the authority to define our identity, even to let others put a price tag on our very worth. The atheist or humanist must make themselves or other people their final authority to define themselves. They do not believe in God or the demonic, therefore they choose to deny their voices. However, to continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, is to remain in the identity crisis filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations, and condemnations. Yet, how God thinks of us is the final resolution to the identity crisis.

In Jesus Christ the identity crisis, as it were, is settled once for all. In Adam’s first sin all people are guilty and are under the sentence of condemnation. We remain subject to addictions, confusion, shame, guilt, and alienation (Romans 5). Until we acknowledge our hostility against God (Romans 8:7) and receive God’s love by faith in Christ’s reconciliation on the cross, we will not enjoy being declared pardoned, righteous, children of God, saints, and free. What defined us before we are in Christ will be exchanged for a new identity in his life, death, and resurrection. Are you in Adam living a in the past (B.C.), or are you in Christ living by faith (A.D.)?

Even now God sees Christians with a constant approval, as if we are now what we will one day become. As C. S. Lewis once said in a sermon, “That Face which is the delight or the terror of the universe must be turned upon each of us either with one expression or with the other either conferring glory inexpressible or inflicting shame that can never be cured or disguised.”