Many of the young adults that I work with describe their lives as boring, stuck, or insignificant (or all three!). They are struggling to discover authentic answers to the more profound questions that linger in their hearts and minds about themselves.
As they share their stories with me, I become filled with great excitement and anticipation for them. Why? Because these are the people that Jesus loves to encounter. Jesus wants to take you on an incredible adventure of knowing and living your spiritual identity.
Lots of Questions
Throughout life, we are bombarded with questions. For example, the most common questions that people will ask you are:
- What’s your name?
- Where are you from?
- What do you do for a living?
- Where did you go to school and what did you study?
These questions help others know a tiny portion of your story: what they should call you, a bit of your background and academic experience, and what type of job you perform.
However, the most vital questions you need to ask yourself are:
- Who am I?
- Why am I here?
These questions help you discover two essential factors about yourself. The first question is about your identity. The second question is about your calling and destiny in life.
Jesus Knew His Identity
Jesus was asked a multitude of questions by others while He ministered for a little over three years on this earth. One of the most crucial questions came from the Jewish religious leaders when they asked Jesus, “Who are you?” (John 8:35). The people had seen His marvelous works and had heard His astonishing teachings. The fundamental question that they needed answered was, “Who are you?”
Jesus answered the question by stating, “The one I have always claimed to be” (John 8:25, NLT). Jesus did not give them a bulleted list of answers to their question. Instead, His response provides us with incredible insight into how Jesus viewed His life.
Jesus says, “I am whom I have always claimed to be.” Jesus knew His identity early in his life, and it is what allowed Him to pursue His calling and purpose.
When he was about 30 years old, Jesus began his life of public ministry. His first act was to locate his cousin, John the Baptizer, and be baptized by him.
As Jesus was praying and coming up out of the water of His baptism, the heavens opened, and the Spirit of God descended upon Him. A voice from the heaven declared, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16-17).
The Father spoke identity over Jesus indicating sonship and approval. What is so extraordinary about this event is that God bestowed identity over Jesus even before Jesus’s public ministry began. God was well pleased with Jesus even before He had accomplished his mission. God pronounced His approval before Jesus had healed any lepers or cast out a legion of demons, before any miracles of walking on water or multiplying food, in advance of anointed teaching, and well before the cross.
The Father’s love and approval of Jesus were based on His identity as a son and not on any merit of Jesus.
Therefore, when the religious leaders ask Jesus who he was, Jesus could confidently say, “I am who I have been telling you from the very beginning.” He knew who he was – the son of God who was completely loved and approved of by His Heavenly Father.
In Christ, We Have Our True Identity
Another great question we need to answer is, “What is the Gospel?”
The Gospel is not a what – that is thinking the right theology. The Gospel is not a how – that is, living by the correct principles.
The Gospel is a Who – Jesus is the gospel.
The Gospel of Jesus is not just about God forgiving us of our sins and enabling us to go to Heaven after we die. The good news is that through Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection, we can interactively know God and walk in new life with a new identity.
This remarkable reality is through the working of God. By His design, God:
1) Places us in Christ
In 1 Corinthians 1:30, Paul explicitly declares, “And because of Him [God, the Father] you are in Christ Jesus.”
When we become a follower of Christ, something incredible takes place. The Father sets us in His Son. We are in Christ. Throughout the New Testament, these two words, “in Christ,” carry a remarkable revelation concerning our new spiritual identity.
2) Seals us with the Holy Spirit
The Apostle Paul informs us, “In Him [Jesus], when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 1:13).
In ancient times, sealing a document was equivalent to the signature of a person pledging a promised outcome. God has not only placed us in His Son, He then seals us in Christ with the Holy Spirit. The Father has marked us as His secure possession. We belong to Jesus!
3) Makes us a new creation
A wonderful truth from God’s word states, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Being placed in Christ means you are now something new. You are no longer your old self. It has passed away! You are no longer your former identity. That identity has ceased. The old things have died, and something new has come into being. In Jesus, you are a new creation.
4) Bestows upon us a new identity
The New Living Translation of Colossians 3:4 declares, “For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.”
Again, our old life and identity have perished, and we now have a new life in Jesus. This new life is our real life! So not only are we new creations with a new life, but we also have a new identity – an identity in Jesus.
Knowing Our Identity
The extraordinary truth is this: neither our circumstances nor what we have or have not done can define our real identity. God alone declares who we truly are!
Our wrong perceptions about ourselves and the untrue opinions of others concerning us are all false identities. Thankfully, our gracious and loving Father determines and decrees who we are.
We must understand that our spiritual identity is our actual identity.
So the vital question is this: Who am I? What is my new spiritual identity? We will explore several different aspects of our true identity in the next post.