“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)
Seeing ourselves as sinners after we’ve been reborn into Christ dramatically impacts our self-identity in Christ and prevents us from fulfilling our calling as believers, not to mention, it minimizes the significance of what Christ did on the cross and the gospel of the kingdom.
A believer who’s identity is consumed with sin is focused more on the tragedy that occurred in the garden instead of the victory that occurred at the cross.
There is no arguing that there is a growing segment of the non-believing population of the world struggling to be content with who God made them to be. We have men wanting to be women, women wanting to be men, boys wanting to be girls, etc. I’ve heard reports of folks from one nationality wanting to “identify” as being from a different nationality. All of this ultimately stems from not knowing the Father and understanding the tremendous worth each of us has to Him as He created us. He has already proven His great love towards all of mankind in that while we were sinners, Jesus came and followed through on the Father’s will to restore us to the Father (Romans 5:8).
More concerning to me is the identity crisis in the Church, the Bride of Christ. I have heard it said by an overwhelming number of pastors and other long-time believers that we are both sinner and saint simultaneously. And, it is almost always the sinner side of the equation that gets the most attention. For those of us who choose to be reborn, it is as if Adam and Eve never ate from the tree in the first place. Yet, there is so much focus, preaching, and teaching on sin, managing our sin, and not sinning in many modern-day circles of believers. This greatly concerns me because this is not at all biblical. Occasionally remembering who we were before we were reborn in Christ may be a healthy because it should produce greater love and gratitude towards the Father and towards Jesus but, we MUST NOT continue to identify with that former state since it is clear we are new creations when we are reborn (2 Corinthians 5:17). The moment we are reborn, we begin the process of detoxification from the world while being transformed into the likeness of Christ by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2).
While we are being transformed and learning to walk according to the Spirit to become the sons and daughters of the Father so as to fulfill our destinies in His kingdom, we must not identify with who we were prior to our rebirth.
I’m not advocating for some sort of twisted grace that allows us to live like a sinner. In fact, grace is not a license to live like a sinner. Rather it is the empowerment to live as a victorious Spirit-filled reborn believer. But I am convinced that the modern day movement among many believers advocating that living like a sinner is fine with God because of grace has gained momentum over the past few decades because of the errant teaching in a majority of Christian circles that we are still sinners even though we’ve been redeemed by the glorious work of Jesus (just writing that is strange).
We have been saved from sin completely, once and for all. Romans chapters 5 and 6 make it so abundantly clear that since we have died with Christ, we are no longer slaves to sin but rather slaves to righteousness (and before you throw Romans 7 at me, please go back and read chapters 5 through 8 together – it wasn’t written as chapters). We need to stop glorifying the pre-rebirth state of sinfulness and certainly stop identifying as the someone we used to be. It’s like this: You are poor – financially and materially poor – you have absolutely nothing. You don’t even know where your next meal is coming from. I am wealthy – financially and materially. I give you $10 million today – no strings attached. Would you wake up tomorrow and still consider yourself poor? There is no way you would walk around and tell people that you are still poor or even worse, tell them that you are poor and wealthy at the same time! That is just ridiculous but that is exactly what believers, hordes of believers, actually believe with regard to sin and righteousness. The problem is that if you are wealthy but you still believe you are poor, identify as being poor, and tell people that you are poor, you will never know how to use your wealth to glorify God because the reality is that you actually don’t believe you have any wealth. This is simply crazy but this is exactly what a believer is doing by identifying as both sinner and saint.
A lack of focus and confidence in a reborn identity produces a lack of faith and ability in using kingdom resources to glorify God.
When we are focused on who we used to be instead of who we are in Christ, it will most likely prevent us from fulfilling our calling as believers because we will likely not discover and consequently use the vast resources of the kingdom that the Father through Jesus has put at our disposal.
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Romans 8:14-17)
“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life…..In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:1-4, 11)
Let go of any part of your old self that you may be holding onto. Forget what is behind you. Identify as a child of the Father who has been made righteous. See yourself as new, valuable, and powerful in Him and you will begin to fulfill your calling and destiny in His kingdom!