Identity – 3

Names are very important to God. One of the first things God had Adam do was to name all the animals. God is very careful about the names He chooses to call things, especially His people. We see this many times in scripture where God changes a person’s name as He did with Abram and changed it to Abraham. Abram’s wife Sarai He changed to Sarah and Jacob to Israel, etc. all for His purpose. Let’s not forget that God was very specific that Joseph and Mary were to name their child, Jesus. These are just a couple examples.

A name describes the nature and/or the character of a thing or person. It also describes the purpose and function along with the authority to accomplish it. For example; the name Jesus means Savior and Deliverer. The name Jesus describes His purpose and function. Along with purpose comes the authority, given by God, to accomplish His purpose and function. This is a reason we pray in the name of Jesus, which means when we pray according to His will our prayer has the power of His authority behind it to accomplish what we have spoken.

Abraham’s name was changed by God from Abram. The name Abram means exalted father. The name Abraham means exalted father of a multitude. By changing Abram’s name God gave Abraham a new purpose and function along with the authority or ability to accomplish it even before Abraham had a child.

It is very popular in many Christian circles to say that we are “sinners saved by grace”. In other words, to call ourselves sinners and say things like, “we are all sinners”. This sounds humble, but it is a partial truth. It is true that we are saved by grace but, after we are born again we are not called sinners in the Bible. It may be surprising to learn that nowhere in scripture does God say that His children are “sinners saved by grace”. You can’t find it in the New Testament scriptures except in the case of one who falls away from the truth and reverts to a lifestyle prior to his born-again experience, James 5:19.

We may still sin, but that doesn’t make us sinners. I can bark but that doesn’t make me a dog. I love to swim but that doesn’t make me a fish. To call someone a “sinner” is to describe a person’s state of being, his nature, in other words, his identity. The difference is this; a sinner lives a lifestyle of sin, it is his way of life even though they may do acts of righteousness at times. True children of God love and practice a lifestyle of righteousness even though they may sin at times. This transformation is only possible because our identity has changed; we have received a new Christ-like nature and the love of God has been shed abroad in our heart. The basic source of our behavior, whether sinful or righteous, flows out of our perception of God and our self. What we believe about ourselves is what we tend to become. If we believe we are a sinner or a failure, our incorrect thoughts construct a false identification and will affect the way we speak and behave. The reverse is also true, if we believe the truth about our self, based on what God says about us, that will also affect the way we speak, the way we behave and the direction we go in life. It is the natural outcome of our perceived identity. A paraphrase of Proverbs 23:7 says, as a man thinks within himself so is he. How we think about our self is what we tend to become. If I believe I am a sinner then I have an excuse for sinning because, well, that is what I believe I am. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that the moment we are born again, we are “new creatures”, i.e., new creations, old things pass away and new things come. Many Christians believe they are sinners due to an incorrect belief system and bad teaching. The truth rests with God and the way He views us and what He says about us. The truth does not rest upon what we have been taught or always believed.

We behold what we identify with. We become what we behold. To behold means to fix our attention on, to reflect upon and compare to. Have you ever been driving your car down a road and begin to look at something on either side of the road and your car start drifting in that direction? When our focus is in that direction it causes us to drift that way.  When we begin to focus on sin and failure we will also begin drifting in that direction and experiencing the negative consequences as a result. When we shift our focus to behold Jesus we begin to become more like Him. This scripture in Second Corinthians teaches us this principle.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

                                                                                                                            2 Corinthians 3:18

Joe Nicola

Author of Ekklesia; The Government of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth

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