IDENTITY: Who We Are and Why We Are Here –
A Journey of Discovery
By Colleen Donahue
PART 1 – Our Family History Leading to a Universal Problem
CREATION—The “Back story”
Prior to the creation of earth and man, God made the angels to serve Him. He made them spirit beings and gave them free will. One of the angelic leaders –Satan—used his free will in deciding he’d rather be like God instead of serving God. He enticed 1/3 of the whole body of angels to join him in his coup and Satan was thrown from the highest heaven to middle earth. (Ezekiel 28:12-19)
Evil was not on earth when man was created and didn’t have to be, but Satan’s thirst to be God everywhere, brought him to earth. You can’t be legitimate on earth without a body and so Satan inserted himself into a snake (the shrewdest of animals -Gen 3:1) so that he could begin his tactic of deception.
CREATION – Earth and Man
- God made just two people – Adam and Eve --- who were the crowning touch of all His creation. He made man different from everything else He created. He did so in 3 ways:A. God made man in His own image and likeness.
This means man was given the same capacities that God had. He was given a spirit to be filled with God’s Spirit so that we could walk together in a partnership on earth. Only man has a spirit and this enables us to communicate with God. Man was also given a soul (mind, will, and emotions) to be able to relate to other people and ourselves. And finally, we were given a body so that we could operate on earth.
B. God commissioned man to rule over his creation – not each other—but everything else he had made.
Genesis 1:26b, 28/ 2:15
C. God gave man free will.
He would be able to choose to live in partnership with God …or not. Therefore, Adam and Eve (and all of us since) were created in God’s image and made to be filled with God’s Spirit so that we could partner with God in ruling the earth. Adam and Eve were “neutral” in that they could choose whether they would cooperate with God’s big plan…….or not. To test their free-will, God gave Adam and Eve only one command. They were not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or they would die spiritually. To die spiritually would mean being cut off from God.
THE FALL OF MAN- Our Family History
3. Satan knew about this command (Genesis 2:16-17) just as Adam and Eve did. To begin his tactic of deception, he chose Eve. We see in his exchange with her the anatomy of all deception.
1st- Satan gets Eve to doubt and question God’s love and goodness as to why he asked them NOT to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
“Did God really say that…..?
(Today, Satan might get you or I to search the scriptures about something we have a feeling is wrong -- but ---where we want to find some justification or rationalization for our behavior.)
2nd- We see Eve defending God but adding to what He said. You must not eat it – or even touch it (added) – if you do, you will die.
3rd- Satan refutes this absolutely: “You won’t die!” In essence he calls God a liar. He knows that Eve’s eyes will be opened as soon as she eats it, and will be like God, in the sense of knowing good and evil.
4th- Eve is convinced. Notice the progression. She saw the tree was beautiful and that the fruit looked delicious. Then she wanted the wisdom the fruit would give her. So, she took ….and ate.
5th- Sinners love company so she gave some of the fruit to Adam who should have known better and refused….but he capitulated and ate the fruit. Therefore, both of them sinned.
6th Result: At that moment their eyes were opened and they felt shame at their nakedness. They then hid from the Lord and were afraid. God asks them how they know they are naked… “Did you eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?” Genesis 3:8-11
Their answer starts the “blame game”. Adam blames Eve and when God says, “What have you done?” Eve blames the serpent…it was his fault!
7th- Judgment – God first judges Satan, then Eve, and finally Adam.
4. We can see that in our “family history” when Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death and because we are all born “in Adam” (or, a descendant of Adam) we all naturally sin and this is why death has spread to everyone.
Romans 5:12 / 1 Corinthians 15:21-22
5. In falling prey to Satan’s deception, Adam and Eve gave over the rulership and dominion of this earth to Satan. Their very purpose for living was to fill and rule over the earth with God. Now, and until God creates a new Heaven and Earth, Satan is the “god of this world”.
Matthew 4:8-9/ Luke 4:5-6 / John 12:31 / John 14:30 / John 16:11 / 2 Corinthians 4:4 / Ephesians 2:2 / Ephesians 6:12
6. The result of Satan being the “god of this world” is……
1 John 5:19
THE UNIVERSAL PROBLEM: Loss of True Identity and Taking on False Identities
- So, this is how we are born:
A. With an inherited sin nature from Adam so that it’s just natural for us to sin.
Reread: Romans 5:12
B. Physically alive, but spiritually dead without the life of God within us.
Romans 6:23a / Ephesians 2:1
C. With a spirit filled with the influence of the “god of this world” masquerading as ourselves.
- Since we were originally made to be a man or woman with the life of God filling us, we have lost our identity and that’s why we stumble around until we find God and become informed. This is what the “good news of the gospel” is about. It is simply God wanting to restore a fallen mankind (you and I) to his original purpose and intent.
- This is the story of the Bible – God’s way of bringing our restoration about by coming to earth Himself in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ.
- A loving Creator – our Father God—expressed His love to all of us by coming in person on a rescue mission.
- He came to save us from a hopeless future by paying the cost for our redemption and snatching us back from the slavery that the god of this world holds over us.
- The entire Old Testament traces the story of a nation called Israel that God wanted to use as a prototype nation to show the world what life with Him as the center would be like. They failed miserably, but in the process were used by God to show us why we needed a Savior. They could not obey God’s Law on their own no matter how hard they tried!
- It was from this special, chosen nation that the Messiah would come.
- Man, originally had God’s Spirit breathed into him so that he became a “living being” (or spiritually alive with God’s Spirit).
At “the fall” (because of sin), man lost God’s Spirit and was driven from God’s presence. Gen 3:22-24
Without God’s Spirit filling our own spirit we died spiritually.
15. Jesus was the first man back on earth, full of God’s Spirit, with a mission to pour out this Holy Spirit to as many as would receive him.
John 1: 32-34
16. The incarnation was the process of Mary becoming pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit (Matt 1:18,20). The incarnation enabled Jesus to be born fully man but… a man WITHOUT Adam’s inherited sin nature. Since Jesus was conceived by God the Holy Spirit, He was also fully God.
It was just this combination of a “God-man” that was needed to redeem us. Men were all in the same boat and couldn’t redeem themselves. God alone, as a Spirit, couldn’t redeem man for he needed a body to operate on the earth. God had given men and women dominion over the earth and he still respects that authority even though Satan has usurped it from us.
- Now, in Jesus Christ, came the God-man needed to restore us to God’s original intention. He is the only one with the qualifications to redeem us: fully God and fully man.
- Jesus offers EVERYONE a new life and that becomes a reality when we believe in Him and accept the sacrifice, He made for us on the cross, as our own. If we do that, we can start to find our true identity and ultimately our purpose in life.
- When we place our faith in God’s Son, then God adopts us into His family and completely changes the identity that we have falsely acquired over the years.
John 1:12 / 2 Corinthians 6:18 / Ephesians 1:5
WHAT ARE SOME OF THESE FALSE IDENTITIES THAT WE ACQUIRE?
20. The longer we live, the more likely we’ll take on false identities. They may seem right for a while, but always they prove wrong in the end. Let’s look at some common identities that we see all the time.
- We base our identity around what we do for a living. But what happens when we lose our job, get too old, become disabled, or start hating what we do?
- A mother or father might base their identity around their spouse and children. But what happens if they divorce, their spouse dies, or when the children grow up and leave the home?
- It’s easy for young folks to base their identity around their good looks, fine build, and sharp wit. But wait a few decades and wrinkles start appearing, pounds sneak up on us, and we aren’t funny like we used to be. This commonly leads to the “middle-age” crisis.
- Some men and women fashion their identity around their sexual preferences. They’re gay or trans or bi-gender and they gravitate more and more to those like them. Their identity revolves around just this one aspect of life causing a great imbalance.
- Many build identity around their wealth and what they own. But what if the stock market crashes and we lose it all?
- Some base identity around nationalism or the country they live in. They are thoroughly French, or Russian or American and proud to be one! But what happens if the country is taken over, falls into deep troubles, or is destroyed?
- Still others base their identity around religion and who they follow. But what happens if you find religion to be false?
Can you see that all false identities gradually narrow us? Then, one day we wake up to find that the thing which defined us is gone, or changed. The sooner in life we come to know God, the sooner we’ll find our true identity that never changes. After all, He made us and therefore has the answers that we seek and need.
Next Study: Part 2-Identity: What is it?