How does one put on the truth when the reality of their life says one thing about their identity yet God calls them something new? What does one do if their feelings never change? What is ultimate Truth? We can argue over these questions all day long, but until we come to a firm grasp of where our foundation truly lies, we will always lack peace. As long as the wisdom of man is the foundation from which you base reality, your foundation lasts until the first failure of that wisdom - and have no doubt, man’s strength always fades. Always. If feelings are what you rely on to confirm your identity, you are still operating from a man-centered worldview. If I identified myself by the way I feel from time to time, I would be an angry, vengeful, wounded, greedy, over-indulgent man, to say the least! Thank God He gave me a brand new identity and reminds me I have no right to call myself something my Father does not call me!
And just what is ultimate Truth? From God’s point of view it is His written Word. The Holy Scripture. The Bible. As new creations, we are no longer made righteous by the Law of the Old Testament (Covenant). That Law was fulfilled by the work of the cross and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We operate out of a New Covenant. Jesus fulfilled the Law and we are free to approach God through our faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, we are granted all the benefits of that Covenant because we have been made joint-heirs of the Kingdom again through faith in Jesus Christ. Here’s what the Word says in this regard:
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. Romans 8:16-17 NASB
If we are joint heirs of God with Jesus Christ, then all that is made available to Jesus Christ is available to us, as well! Do you get that? All that Jesus has, WE have! All the power He has been granted, WE have been granted! All the blessings He has received, WE are able to receive! All the power that raised Him from the dead is the same power God has given us! We have power over sin! We have power over temptation! We have power over our past failures! We have power over our present circumstances! We have power over our own thoughts! We have power over death! We have power over every choice we are faced with! We have the power to love to the degree that we believe we are loved! That is what ultimate Truth grants us! That is utter reality through faith in Jesus Christ! This is who you are, believer!
Just because we choose to disregard the Truth has no effect on its validity or staying power. My lack of understanding or ability to see what God sees never negates the truth! That brings me great joy and peace as I pursue Him. If I believed everything that was said about me that is contrary to His Word, I would be relegated to deep, dark depression and stagnation! I simply respond to the truth in faith regardless of whether I feel like a new creation or not. That is what faith does. That is how a man or woman of faith responds. We respond out of the Truth in spite of how we feel. And speaking from my own experience, feelings always follow suit when I walk in the Truth of God’s Word. Always. They may not unfold in my being instantaneously, but as I change my thoughts, I give way to new emotions. My attitudes change in the process, and these changes effect the way I behave…and when I have success in my behavior, this produces even more healthy emotions and induces further righteous thinking…and whole new upward spiral floods in to replace the formerly downward cycle of my thoughts!
The truth has the awesome ability to transcend any feeling or circumstance I face.
The truth sets me free from the snares of fleshly feelings and actually taps me into the emotions of my Creator.
The truth sets me free from the snares of hopelessness by taking my eyes off of me and my circumstances and placing my gaze upon the goal of my calling, Jesus Christ.
As a new creation learning to see myself as God sees me, I must also learn to see others the way he sees them. I can no longer judge people according to all I see, but I choose to judge them according to their destiny and true calling. In other words, when we see someone who is acting in a certain way we deem selfish or sinful, we need to see what Father God sees. He sees a lost sheep in need of guidance and love. He sees a fallen child in need of rescue. We need to view others the same way and as we do, we will come to appreciate all the more who Father says we are. Remember, except for the grace of God, there go I…
For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. 2 Corinthians 5:14-16 NASB
With other believers I can make appeals for them to put an end to sinful behavior based upon their identity in Christ. When my own children were still at home, if I saw them sin - caught lying, for instance - I would say, “Son or daughter, you lied to me, but that is not who you are. You are not a liar. A new creation’s true desire is to tell the truth. You are a truthful person. A portrait of God’s grace to the world, like a trophy that declares the power of God to all who see you!” Just as I did with my children, I now do the same thing for those I am in relationship with, regardless of whether they are my children - or grandchildren - or not! That is what Truth and love born out of my identity demand!
In the last chapter, we focused on Who Father God says He is - what He calls Himself - revealing His character and nature. Let us go to the Foundation of His Word once again and discover some specific things He calls us. Who does Father say you are?
Who does Father say I am?
He calls me a trophy grace. This is my personal interpretation of what my life is to demonstrate about me. While this is not a Scriptural term, it does express Scriptural truth. What is a trophy? A trophy is a tangible reminder of some great accomplishment or achievement. The redeemed life is a trophy or reminder to all who see of one of God’s greatest achievements - you! Paul the apostle suffered much, yet he believed his sufferings and the display of God’s grace to carry him through them had a profound purpose. ‘...That the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God (2 Cor. 4:15).’ We must learn to put off the old and put on the new of who we really are. In that way, we confront and deal with sin, yet we tear down only the sin and not the person. This is how we build one another up. This is how God builds us up! In this way, we each become testimonies of grace.
Who does Father say I am?
He calls me a letter, written to all mankind
You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 NASB
As others see the changes God brings about in our lives, it is as if He has written a love letter for everyone who comes in contact with us to read! My life without Jesus spoke volumes. My redeemed life reads like a letter that was written with the greatest of care. My desire is that God be glorified for all He has done for me - so I open up that letter (my heart) for others to see and read. My desire is that, as they read, their lives are brought to a saving faith in Jesus Christ as well!
What do others see when they read our lives?
Will we allow others to see and read or will we hide what we have experienced of God? We have nothing to be ashamed of by being honest. Honesty is a byproduct of truth. Truth sets us - and others - free! Let us see beyond our own perceptions and see what we cannot always see. Let us see ourselves as Father sees us. Let us see others as Father does.
Who does Father say I am?
He says I am a winner!
He gives me the strength to fight the good fight of faith and to run the race toward the goal for the prize of my highest calling! Though I fall, I get up and keep running! To win a race I must run that race.
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you win (1 Corinthians 9:24 NASB).”
The Word also says, “Let us lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:1-3 NASB).”
What is a failure?
A failure is the one who falls and does not get back up. Either freedom is worth fighting for or it’s not! Falling does not determine one’s identity. The Creator does that! I am not defined by past failure; present temptations; circumstances; or other people! I am who my Father says I am!
Who does Father say I am?
He calls me a fighter! I do not give up - I am tenacious concerning my desire to conquer sin and to glorify my Redeemer. I fight the good fight of faith by taking hold of the eternal life to which I am called, declaring the truth to all who would see or hear - I am redeemed!
Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12 NASB
Father delights in me more than I in Him. His thoughts toward me outnumber the sands of the sea. Mine towards Him come nowhere near that!
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.
Psalm 139:17-18 NASB
I do not have to earn His acceptance or approval. I already have it by virtue of the redeeming work of Christ upon the cross. God’s Word says that He has made us accepted in the Beloved - accepted in Christ!
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight Ephesians 1:7-8 NASB
He calls me His bride and calls Jesus my bridegroom. One day, my truest identity will be fulfilled in the consummation of true oneness with Christ in the eternal glory of heaven. What joy and pleasure to know I do not have to wait until heaven to experience that joy. I am known by my God in a deeply personal and intimate way and He allows me to know Him! This is my destiny: ’…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection...’ (Philippians 3:10)
My ultimate destiny?
To be all God has called me to be! The overcoming testimony of my life? A fragrant aroma. ‘Thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place (2 Corinthians 2:14 NASB).’
In am a treasure born of God’s spirit to be given back to Him as a sacrifice of praise.
‘But t we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not ourselves (2 Corinthians 4:7-12 NASB).’
We will be afflicted in this life - but we will not be crushed. We may be perplexed by the twists and turns of our life - but we will not despair because we have hope. We will be persecuted for the sake of righteousness - but we will never be forsaken. We may even be struck down because of our faith - but we cannot be destroyed! Why? Because this is part of our identity and destiny in Christ. This is who we are!
“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NASB).”
Believer. This is your destiny. This is who you are called to be. I am so proud of you! Keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus. Enjoy the journey. Enjoy getting to know your God. I cannot wait until we have the time of eternity to share one another’s stories of God’s redemption. Remember this: Our God wastes nothing! He will not waste one moment of sorrow or suffering or pain or even one moment of personal failure. He is able to take what we give Him, regardless of what it is, and make something beautiful of it.
But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Genesis 50:20 NASB
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 NASB
Let us be constantly on the quest of renewing our mind in Christ. Let us remember the enemy wants our destruction and that destruction begins in the thoughts is is able to plant in our minds. Let us not allow them to take root any longer. Let us make our mind good soil and be good receivers of God’s Word. Let us be transformed!
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 NASB
Photo courtesy of https://pixabay.com/illustrations/woman-face-head-identity-search-565127/
Listen to The Dennis Jernigan Podcast called “Who Am I?” at http://podcast.dennisjernigan.com/e/who-am-i-1560263105/