IDENTITY: Who We Are and Why We Are Here –
A Journey of Discovery
By Colleen Donahue
Part 4 – How Can We Know Our True Identity?
- If we have any hope for discovering, embracing, and walking out our identity in Christ, it’s vital that we are assured of our salvation. It’s something we can definitely know and God wants us to know it.
1 John 5:13
- We can actually examine ourselves to see if we are “in the faith”. According to the Apostle Paul, what is the key element to being in the family of God?
2 Corinthians 13:5
Is Jesus Christ in you? Have you confessed your sins, received his forgiveness, asked Him to be your Good Shepherd and then submitted to His Lordship?
3. No sooner has Christ’s Spirit moved into our own human spirit, when we might start having doubts about whether it’s really true. Why do these doubts come?
Revelation 12:10 (especially the last phrase of this verse)
This is part one of Satan’s strategy – to get us to doubt our salvation. He’ll say to us something like:” Now look what you’ve done again. There is no way that you are a Christian.” He’s also up at God’s throne accusing us before Him as well.
Then, part two of his strategy is to deceive unsaved people that they are doing just fine without God. He wants us to think we are fairly good people, doing our best, and therefore God’s goodness will let us into Heaven regardless of what we have done or believed.
4. It’s true that salvation is a gift from God to us (Romans 6:23/ Ephesians 2:8-9) but it’s not automatic. Who is salvation promised to?
Acts 2:37-39 / Romans 10:9-10, 13 / 1 John 5:12
5. This is serious. We don’t want to get our eternity wrong. What did Jesus tell people who thought they were in a good place spiritually?
Matthew 23:13,27-33 (especially vs 33)
If we doubt that God will send people to hell, we should consider this….
6. If God allows us to face consequences for what we do with our lives on earth….
Romans 1:18 / Galatians 6:7
7. Then, won’t He also allow lasting consequences in eternity for those who reject Him and the sacrifice of His Son?
In truth, God never sends anyone to hell. We send ourselves when we reject the gift of His Son Jesus who covered the penalty we owe.
God does ALL the saving of you and I with the intention that salvation will change ALL of us. He wants the world to see that He can transform spiritually dead men and women into ones who are spiritually alive – where the world can actually see the proof of it.
In fact, there is no possible way that God the Father can actually adopt us into His family, that Jesus can become our Lord, that the Holy Spirit can dwell in our hearts and we NOT CHANGE!
8. When we trust God for salvation and walk in faithfulness with Jesus through life, we’ll develop fruit that will ripen into fruit like this:
Here are a few ways you can test yourself which can show and reveal true salvation….
9. How do we respond to God’s commands?
1 John 2:3-6
It’s true that while in this fallen world there will still be mistakes and times when we sin. But the overall pattern of our life will be a humble submission and increasing obedience to Jesus.
10. Who do you believe and say that Jesus is?
1 John 2:22-23
11. How do you respond to the sin in your life?
Luke 13:3 / Proverbs 24:16
(A nonbeliever doesn’t deal with sin and has little desire to repent)
12. How does God respond to your sin?
13. If we aren’t convicted by our sin, it’s not a good sign. The Holy Spirit’s conviction to you is evidence that you consider yourself one of God’s children who desires to walk in holiness with God. Therefore, you don’t resent God’s conviction and discipline.
Proverbs 13:24 / Hebrews 12:9-12
14. How do you treat other believers?
John 13:35 / 1 John 3:10, 14-16
15. Does your life give evidence of the Holy Spirit abiding in you?
1 John 3:24
16. What are you trusting for your salvation?
1 John 5:12
17. Like the Apostle Paul, we’ll need to give up our spiritual pedigree and embrace Jesus alone.
It’s possible to fake being a Christian for a short while – but never for very long. So, these questions can help you refocus and get on the right track. Eternity is forever and you want to make sure you’ll spend it forever with God.
WE ARE MEANT TO LIVE ON A HIGHER LEVEL!
18. God gave the 10 commandments to the children of Israel so that they could function as a society without destroying themselves. But non-Jews (or Gentiles) also instinctively know that these laws are correct because God has wired them into every human heart.
And so, from the beginning we have been wired to live through the lens of justice.
19. But true Christianity is living by the riches of God’s grace given through Jesus. The fact that God through Jesus has created us, then saved us, forgiven us, and restored us is almost overwhelming because we feel we don’t deserve it – which is true.
Ephesians 2:7-8/ 3:8
20. Grace is a higher level that we have been called to live by. It results in us no longer treating others according to who THEY are or what they have done.
2 Corinthians 5:16
21. Instead, we treat others based on what God has done for ALL OF US and specifically what God has done for you and I. In other words, since God has extended grace to me, I must now extend grace to others around me. Living by grace is the only way we can make sense of these seemingly unrealistic commands given to us by Jesus.
WHAT IS GRACE? I remember it this way:
G = (God) giving Himself to us through Jesus (John 3:16) and then Jesus giving His Holy Spirit to indwell us so that we have the power to live for God in this fallen world (John 20:22)
R= (God) restoring us through Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:30 / Ephesians 1:4) so that we become what God originally intended --- His child walking in partnership with God throughout our life.
A= (God) accepting and adopting us in Jesus as his own son/daughter (Ephesians 1:5-6, 13-14) so that we now belong to the family of God with all its rights and privileges
C= (God) caring for us because we belong to Him (1 Peter 5:7)
E= (God) embracing us as His own so that we can always go to Him with any big or little thing. (1 John 5:14-15)
The key elements of grace are:
- It always starts with God giving… his love, his mercy, his kindness….etc.
- It’s given freely to men and women whom God created and loves as His own
- It’s God’s undeserved favor to us
- It’s the person of Jesus and His Holy Spirit
- Grace is the power of Jesus within us by His Spirit to enable us to live for God
- Grace is a free gift impossible to be earned, deserved, or paid back
- Grace is love poured out
- The results of grace are well-being, joy, gladness, and thanksgiving.
22. There is a wonderful example of grace given in:
2 Samuel 9:1-13
King David had an overflowing desire to bless anyone still alive from his dear friend Jonathan’s family. In his search to fulfill this desire he discovers Mephibosheth – a son of Jonathan but lame in both feet. Notice that Mephibosheth sees himself as “a dead dog” (verse 8).
David gives him all of King Saul’s property, including servants, and a seat at his dinner table. It had nothing to do with Mephibosheth being worthy by good deeds or character. It was all to do with David wanting to bless someone for the sake of Jonathan. This is grace. God wants to bless you and I for the sake of His Son Jesus. This is grace.
23. The Bible often uses the image of a river to describe grace. First it flows from a reliable source (i.e., the heart of God) and then branches off to reach even further.
24. Then we see that wherever grace flows, things prosper.
Psalm 1:3 / Revelation 21:1-2
25. A river, like grace, flows down and out so that things keep flourishing.
26. Grace becomes like living water to whomever will drink it – provided by Jesus.
John 4:10, 14
27. As a reminder…. What are we all by nature?
But now, God has funneled us into His river of grace --- planned from the beginning. The fall of man brought into action God’s epic plan to save us, forgive us, and restore us to fruitfulness.
28. Grace is God’s weapon against the sin and death brought into the world through Satan’s deception. And it’s the same weapon that will help us to win our personal battles against sin and death here in this world.
29. The Christian life is never about what we’ve done but everything to do with what God has done. It’s never about trying harder, being more committed or enlisting self-help methods to change. Rather, it’s all about taking the plunge into God’s River of grace and letting Him guide and carry us through our life so that it sings to the praise of His glorious grace.
Ephesians 1:6-8, 12-14
30. God has given us his Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13b-14) – the same Spirit that filled Jesus – to have the power we need to live for God in this world and to live as overcomers. All we really deserve is God’s wrath for what we have said and done against God and other people. Instead, we have been given grace, with our judgment laid upon Jesus.
So, our job now is to walk in this grace, receiving it constantly from God, and sharing it with others so that they too can see what the “kindness of God” has done for them.
2 Corinthians 4:14-18
Next Study: Part 5- Who We are in Christ