Have you ever watched that show “Who Do You Think You Are”?
A celebrity embarks on a journey through their lineage to find out the secrets their ancestors held, in an effort to learn who they are today.
I love watching that show, even if I don’t know who half of those celebrities are. Just the process they go through, the documents and stories they uncover and how they fit in with history makes it fun to watch.
But this week we read something that should completely blow our minds:
Our past doesn’t have to define who we are today.
Modern psychology would have us believe that if our parents were alcoholics, we have a greater tendency to addictive behavior.
If mental illness runs in the family, we will likely struggle with it as well.
If there was abusive behavior in our family, we may have a tendency to abuse those around us.
And this belief prevails even in the church!
But Paul spends three chapters in Romans debunking the idea that our past doesn’t have to define who we are. We have a new identity and that new identity is who we are.
I think most Christians today understand how to use the terminology of “who are in Christ” or “a new identity in Christ”, but rarely do they actually put it into practice.
There is a great disconnect with what their mouth says and what flows out of the heart.
The person with whom you identify will determine:
- Your choices
- Your behavior
- Your defaults when life goes sideways
- Your speech
- Your belief system
- Your worldview
Essentially, the core of you are is determined by the person with whom you identify. This is what makes Romans 6-8 so vitally important to us today.
3 Steps to Understanding Your Identity in Christ
It isn’t enough to mentally identify with Christ, this new identity must truly become who we are from the very depths of our being.
1. Learn to look at yourself in a whole new way.
Romans 6-8 take us on a journey to understanding who we truly are as children of God. And Paul starts off by reminding us of two things:
- Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection is the starting point for our new identity
- Our old life, our ancestry, and all of those things that used to define us don’t define us any longer.
The alcoholism that both of my parents grew up in, doesn’t define their lives and there is no fear in either of them of “addictive tendencies”.
I am not a victim because of the psychological and verbal abuse that I endured in the past.
I don’t identify with the #metoo movement because of things someone did to me as a child.
These things are not my identity. They are not who I am and when I recall them, I don’t recall them as having happened to me but having happened to someone who is dead and gone.
In Romans 6 Paul explains that the foundation for our new identity is understanding the deeper significance of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.
- When Jesus died, we died with Him on the cross.
- When they buried Jesus in the tomb, we were buried with Him.
- When He rose again, we rose with Him….but here’s the thing. When Jesus’ rose from the dead, we rose with Him with a new identity. He didn’t resurrect our old, dead, sinful man, He gave us a new man!
In Romans 6:4 Paul says, “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
We are to walk in newness of life because we have a new life.
2. Understand the purpose of the law
Most people know the 10 Commandments — the most common ones being, don’t commit adultery, don’t lie, don’t steal, and don’t murder.
When confronted with their depravity and need for a Savior, this is what they reach for.
“I’m not a bad person. I don’t steal, I don’t lie, and I’ve never killed anyone!”
Then we become saved, and two things happen, either we continue to live by the declaration of the law, “You’re a sinner” or we buy into the notion that there is no use at all for the law, misinterpreting the phrase “I’m not under the law, I’m under grace.”
When we understand the purpose of the law, things fall right into place, and we realize that we are no longer sinners, but saints, and that the law still has a purpose today!
That purpose is clearly seen in Romans 7.
Paul illustrates for us so clearly in this chapter the importance of the law to reveal our sin. It’s the law that revealed to us our own depravity: our tendency to blaspheme God, rebellion, steal, lie, and covet.
But that’s where the power of the law ends.
All it can do is tell us how hopeless we are, how utterly sinful we are. But it can’t save us from our hopeless sinful state.
All it can do is lead us to Jesus!
And once we begin identifying with Jesus, we’re no longer sinners, we’re saints. We’re free from the law – not to do what we want to do, but to live obedient devotion to Christ and His Word!
The purpose of the law is to lead us from our old identity to our new identity in Christ.
3. Accept your new lineage
When you received your new identity in Christ, you didn’t just receive a new name on a blank piece of paper.
Your new identity comes with a new lineage!
God is your father, you have been adopted into an entire spiritual family, and this new lineage comes with royal privileges!
Romans 8:16-17 says it this way, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…”
This is our new family!
And we’re not just step-children in the family of God. We’re 100% bonafide children of God and heirs of God – we have an inheritance!
The celebrities that research their ancestry on the show “Who Do You Think You Are” do so because they sense this hole in their identity.
They want to know who they are, so they go back into their ancestral background to discover who they are today.
But as Christians, our ancestral background wont answer these questions. Who are ancestors were doesn’t define who we are.
Who Jesus Christ is defines who we are!
And even more than that!! Who Jesus Christ is sets us free from the bondage of our parent’s alcoholism, our father’s abusive behavior….
from the sexual addiction that runs in our family….
from the rape or sexual abuse we endured….
from the abortion we had or our drug abuse…..
All of that stuff in our past and our family’s past is gone. It’s dead. It’s buried.
And we’ve risen with Christ to a new life!
This post is part of the Blogging Through the Bible series with Good Morning Girls.
For more articles by me on your identity in Christ, click on the links below:
- Rosilind, a Pacific Northwest native, is a missionary living in Croatia and married to her hero. Together they live in the country with their 2 active boys where she enjoys fruity candles and a hot cup of herbal tea on a blustery fall evening. She holds an Associates of Practical Theology and is passionate about discipling and encouraging women. Her passion for writing led her to author a number of books. She is the author of A Little R & R where she encourages women to find contentment in what God created them to be. She can also be found at these other places on a regular basis. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google +.