Mark Driscoll on Identity in Christ and Spiritual Warfare

Mark Driscoll has contributed to the conversation on Christian identity by preaching and writing from the book of Ephesians. It is so clear that Christian discipleship and formation in the early church emphasized one’s identity. Ephesians is helpful in this regard. Driscoll and I share a similar conviction. He begins this book by saying, “I believe that correctly knowing one’s true identity is the one thing that changes everything” (p.2).

Although his diagnosis of just why Christians embrace a false identity is not isolated in one chapter, Driscoll writes at one point: “This propensity to find our identity in others is commonly referred to as giving in to peer pressure, people pleasing, codependency, and having a fear of man” (p.10).

Of all the authors on Christian authors, very few address the demonic as well as he does later in the book. Driscoll offers some very practical advice: “If you struggle with believing Satan’s lies, get a journal, write a line down the middle of the pages, and write, ‘Lies’ at the top of one column and ‘Truth’ in the other column. Every time you hear a lie, write it down in the ‘Lies’ column, and next to it, in the ‘Truth’ column, record a refuting truth from Scripture. As you do, you are engaging in spiritual warfare” (p. 222). Then the author provides a form of prayer:

“Lord Jesus Christ, I acknowledge that this [name the specific area of sin] may be empowered by demons and evil spirits. If it is, I want nothing to do with them. I confess that you triumphed over these demons and evil spirits by the power of your shed blood that purchased forgiveness for all my sins and by your death, burial, and resurrection that provided my new life in Christ. I ask that you send any demons and evil spirits away from me. Demon, in the name and authority of Jesus, I command you to get away from me now. Lord Jesus, I thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Please fill me anew with your Holy Spirit so I will be empowered to live in obedience to you and in freedom from sin and harassment” (p.222).

ISBN 978-1-4002-0386-4 (eBook)
Driscoll, Mark (2013-01-07). Who Do You Think You Are?: Finding Your True Identity in Christ (p. vi). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Who Am I in Christ? A Review of Jerry Bridges

IMG_2605On a recent trip to Medellin, Colombia to teach at a seminary, I read one of my favorite authors, Jerry Bridges of the Navigators. He struck me as very humble and thoughtful when I had lunch with him at Glenn Eyre, Colorado. In 2012 Cruciform Press published his book, Who Am I in Christ? Identity in Christ. The book is organized in the form of answers or declarations about the Christians identity. Who are you in Christ? The Christian, according to the author, is a creature before being united in Christ. Then, she is justified, adopted, made a new creation, anointed a saint, ordained a servant, and not yet perfect. Bridges uses scripture to answer this vital question, and helps readers see the dangers of autonomy:

“Our tendency, however, is to look within ourselves to try to find some reason to feel good about ourselves, and this, of course, misses the point entirely. We are performance-oriented by nature, that is, by our sinful nature. To use a British term, we don’t want to be “on the dole”— to be a charity case before God. We want to “pay our own way” to self-respect based on what we accomplish” (Kindle Locations 1165-1168).

Reading this kind of paragraph reminded me that I do not have to base my sense of well-being on my performance or resume. Rather I am free in Christ to simply be myself. Have you ever been tempted in a new situation to try to prove you’re somebody?

Ruth Meyers on Identity

 

This is a helpful eBook with 40 short chapters, which seek to answer the vital question about who you are in Christ. Myers is particularly helpful in diagnosing why we feel dreadful without a solid sense of being. Myers writes:

“Why do we feel like this? Because we’re basing our self-image on (1) Satan’s lies, (2) our own past experience, and (3) our feelings—instead of on the solid, glorious, scriptural facts of who God is, what He has accomplished, and who we are in Him”  (Kindle Locations 128-130).

Myers, Ruth (2010-06-24). Christlife: Embracing Your True and Deepest Identity The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Your Name

IMG_2848To name something or some one means that we are stewarded by them. Adam and Eve named the kinds of created plants and animals, and each other. On the one hand, they could not exploit or abuse creation. On the other hand, they could not neglect creation or their family with passive laziness. They were stewards of God’s world. People name their pets and things they own as stewards of them. Parents are given stewardship of their children to raise them and send them off into their callings. They do not own their children; God owns all.

Christian names are outward expressions of what people are inwardly good at being, doing, and demonstrating.  When Adam named the first woman Eve (Life-giver), he had the power to peer into her glory and to draw out her calling. To this day, a spouse’s voice trumps all other voices with the authority to enhance or to degrade. Jesus perceived Simon (Pebble) had a greater heart and glory than his outward name expressed. So Jesus renamed him Peter (Rock). Saul (big man) had a Christian name of Paul (little man), which expressed the glory of humility in Christ.

This is a photo of my granddaughter, Elizabeth Joy Smart. Each name means so much to her parents and to our family. She and her name is written in heaven when she was born on February 6, 2014 and went home to Jesus on March 29, 2014.

What is your given name, full name, and why were you given those names? What do your first, last, and middle names literally express by way of family meaning? For example, many people are named by their parent(s) after another family relative or culturally important person. Whatever your name is, it has shaped you in some way. How so? Does the Gospel rule you through your name when you hear or speak it?

Risk: There is a tide in the affairs of men

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures. Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224

Brutus and Cassius are discussing the final phase of their civil war with the forces of Octavian and Marcus Antonius. Cassius has been urging that they group their forces at Sardis and take advantage of the secure location to catch their breath. Brutus, however, advocates heading off the enemy at Philippi before Octavian can recruit more men. Brutus’s main point is that, since “the enemy increaseth every day” and “We, at the height, are ready to decline” (lines 216–217), he and Cassius must act now while the ratio of forces is most advantageous. “There’s a tide in the affairs of men,” he insists; that is, power is a force that ebbs and flows in time, and one must “go with the flow.” img_2862

Waiting around only allows your power to pass its crest and begin to ebb; if the opportunity is “omitted” (missed), you’ll find yourself stranded in miserable shallows.

Ships usually need high tides to enter a port or leave it. We cannot control these tides. When these tides come or leave the coast, the ships in waiting must use this opportunity by making no delay. Brutus here says that it is the ripe time, and their army should tackle Octavious and Antony’s forces. However, if they wait further, then they would lose their soldiers and might face defeat. Are you trusting God when opportunities arise? Ecclesiastes 11 warns us about delaying: “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.”

This is a metaphorical expression of ebbs and flows helps us to recognize whether the tide is an opportunity or an obstacle. This requires us to risk and interpret providence, and avail it as an opportunity or a warning sign.

Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest (June 8th) above offers discerning thoughts on the nature of risk.

Vitamin F

This is a picture of my dear father in law. See how he smiles, but holds his head up with his worn out hands? He cannot see well, and this was his last time in our home before assisted living far away. He is over ninety years old, and has a weighty and redemptive story.

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A Christian has a story from the womb (Psalm 139:16), which the Author of Life imprints a thumb-print-uniqueness of His Image on each. He names us, and puts people, ethnicity, and culture around us in our story to shape us into a significant character in His larger narrative.

 

If you listen to any person’s story, you cannot help but love them. As I listened to my father in law’s story for over three decades about the Great Depression, WWII, Cleveland Germans, and hilarious incidents in his work place, I grew to love him deeply. I looked like a kid when he walked his beautiful daughter down the aisle on and, without fainting, said: “Her mother and I” to Alistair Begg’s question: “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”

 

He recently gave his life to Christ, and regularly reads the scriptures and prays for his two children, seven grandchildren, and ten great grandchildren. His face and voice and identity make me weep with joy more than words can describe. Our Father in heaven gave him Christ’s righteousness, sonship, sainthood, and a body that will last forever when he will be glorified – transformed into the likeness of Christ. God gave him a new identity in Christ, and gave me “vitamin F[ather].”

Will Your Identity Crisis Ever be Resolved?

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.”
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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 and 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.” (Good Reads/quotes)

It seems that people all want to empower some one with the authority to define who he or she truly is, even to put a price tag on his or her very worth. The atheist or humanist must make themselves lord, or other people. They do not believe in God or the demonic. 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, it is how God thinks of us that is infinitely more important when we each come to stand before Him.

Jesus said: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:31-32).”

In Jesus Christ the identity crisis, as it were, is settled once for all. In Adam’s first sin all people are sinners and are under condemnation and remain subject to addictions, confusion, shame, guilt, and alienation (Romans 5). By faith in Christ all believers are declared pardoned, righteous, children of God, saints, and free. What defined us before Christ has been exchanged with a wonderful, new identity in his life, death, and resurrection.

Even now God sees us in Christ with a constant approval, as if we are now what we will one day become. As C. S. Lewis once said in a sermon entitled he Weight of Glory, “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.”

Why do you think embracing one’s true identity is so complex?

 

 

Welcome to Your Identity in Christ Blog!

IMG_1934Our 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 the other three seasons of spiritual formation (Calling to Christ, Intentionality for Christ, and Legacy from Christ).

My father and mother named me Robert many years ago, but my oldest grandchildren named me Papa. I am in the third season of spiritual formation; namely, Intentionality for Christ. When I sit alone in solitude with God each morning, He reminds me that He is the only one who has the authority to tell me who I am. Who does God say that you are?

This blog is dedicated to helping you embrace your true identity in Christ