If you do a search in the Books category of Amazon.com for “identity in Christ,” you’ll come up with over 1,000 results. “Who I am in Christ” has become a hot topic, and rightfully so. Knowing who you are is critical to living a victorious Christian life. But sadly, many Christians have fallen victim to identity theft. The enemy has robbed them of knowing who they really are– and it’s a very successful tactic.
Back in the 1960s, a social psychiatrist with the interesting name of Erik Erikson came up with a theory of development in which he stated that teenagers reach a point of crisis which he called role confusion vs. identity. In general, teenagers go through a phase where they are searching for their identity.
Searching For Identity
I know that was true in my life. I was bullied throughout my childhood and adolescence (and even by my pastor in my twenties and early thirties– but that’s a story for another article). I had many labels attached to me by many people who were verbally and emotionally abusing me, and after awhile I began wondering if these lies were true. I also suffered deep depression from a very early age, which further clouded my thinking.
Coming to Christ at the age of 18 literally saved my life– but it didn’t clear up my identity confusion. I was given yet another label by others– “You’re a Jesus freak!” I actually took this as a compliment, and it did explain a significant change in my life. But it remained a label, not an identity. As I grew older, mainstream culture revised the label to “born-again Christian,” which was both a compliment and an insult, depending on which side you landed on.
But a new label didn’t help me see who I really was. I continued to go to church, continued to grow in my knowledge of the Bible, continued to participate in church activities…and continued to struggle with identity confusion. I knew I was saved, I knew I was forgiven, I knew that heaven was my eternal home. But I was constantly afraid that God was mad at me because of a particular problem in my life. I believed that I wasn’t measuring up to His expectations, that I was a disappointment to Him. The sin I battled kept me in a continual state of condemnation, which I mistakenly thought was coming from God. I confused temptation with sin, and I became trapped in performance-based Christianity, believing that if I behaved and performed well, God would continue to accept me (and maybe I’d even find some self-acceptance). I did this for years, but it didn’t work.
New Labels Aren’t Enough
I know I was not alone. In his book iDENTITY, pastor Eric Geiger states, “Most Christians do not know who they are. Most Christians lack a coherent sense of who God has made them to be. Thus they wander through life merely existing instead of living the reality of who God has called them to be…Attempting to live out our faith without first understanding our identity leads to a legalistic faith. Instead of enjoying the freedom that comes from a vibrant relationship with Christ many Christians are handcuffed with performance-based Christianity.”
Geiger goes on to explain, “Instead of beginning with identity, we often begin with behavior. The order is wrong. Our identity must be the starting point. When we understand who we are, we are motivated to live the reality of who we are.”
I like how Bible teacher Joyce Meyer puts this. She says, “Don’t confuse your who with your do.” Knowing your true identity in Christ enables you to live life out of who you are rather than what you do.
This is God’s plan, but Satan seeks to disrupt that with lies about ourselves. Revelation 12:10 identifies Satan as “the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night.” His attacks are relentless, because he does not want us to understand who we really are. Many Christians are totally unaware of how he is undermining them and sabotaging their impact for the Kingdom.
The turning point for me came when I attended a “Living Free in Christ” seminar taught by Dr. Neil Anderson in 1997. At one point in the seminar, Dr. Anderson asked, “How many of you are sinners saved by grace?” Virtually all the hands in the auditorium went up.
What happened next totally shocked me. Dr. Anderson leaned over the podium and shouted, “NO, YOU AREN’T!”
A collective gasp went up from the crowd. Then he quietly said, “You are not sinners saved by grace. God never calls you that. You are saints…who sometimes sin.”
I felt as if a surge of electricity went through my body. I was stunned– but instantly I knew he was correct.
God no longer saw me as a sinner. God wasn’t angry at me. God’s Word called me a saint.
That revelation started me on a deep study of this topic. I discovered I was a child of God, and nothing (not even that overwhelming issue I struggled with) could ever separate me from His love. I didn’t have to perform to receive His acceptance, because I already had it. He would never condemn me. My relationship with Him was forever secure. I did not have to live in fear anymore.
My Father loved me. Period.
I Am Who I AM Says I Am– And So Are You!
I had been through years of counseling and prayer, but it was this revelation of my true identity that set me free. I learned the truth: I am who I AM says I am! Satan may continue to hurl inaccurate insults my way, but now they fall on deaf ears because God reminds me of the truth of my identity in His Word.
I believe one reason God called me to start this blog is so that I can help others discover what I did. I didn’t realize my true identity in Christ until I was 42. I had already been a Christian for 24 years! My prayer is that every Christian who reads my blog will discover for themselves who they truly are in Christ…and that it won’t take them 24 years, as it did me!
So when I see all those books on Amazon about the believer’s identity in Christ, I rejoice!
I’ve already mentioned one of those books, iDENTITY by Eric Geiger. It’s an easy read. Geiger explores seven aspects of our identity in Christ, and I’ll be reviewing those in another article.
If you would like to purchase a copy for yourself, you can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Identity-Who-You-Are-Christ/dp/0805446893/ref=sr_1_1?crid=MNHB9VECXAMB&keywords=identity+by+eric+geiger&qid=1655491428&s=books&sprefix=identity+by+eric+geiger%2Cstripbooks%2C1227&sr=1-1
I’m going to leave you with a wonderful song by one of my favorite Christian artists, Matthew West. It’s called “Hello, My Name Is.” As you listen, let those lyrics marinate your soul, as you rejoice in who Almighty God says you are!
“The One Question Everyone Asks” http://www.livingthetransformedlife.com/the-one-question-everyone-asks
“Is a New You Really Possible?” http://www.livingthetransformedlife.com/is-a-new-you-really-possible
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3 thoughts on “Hello, My Name Is…?”
For some reason that teaching from Dr. Anderson just clicked and really made sense to me. I really appreciate this, Tim, because I’ve always struggled with my identity in Christ due to a difficult background. Thank you for ministering to my heart tonight!
So glad this was helpful, Patti!
Tim, this is an amazing article! Starting with those wonderful quotes and going right to the end with the Matthew West song – “Hello, my name is…”. Thank you for your down to earth, easy to relate to writings. I am sure that the hearts of many will be touched and encouraged as they grab a hold of who they are “IN CHRIST”. So grateful for this blog!