For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. I Corinthians 15:21-22
God sees all human beings in two groups, either in Adam or in Christ. We are born with an inherited sinful nature from Adam the first. We spend our entire life with this identity unless we are spiritually born again, in Christ. When we are born again, we get a brand new identity in Christ. This means that what Christ is, we are, which is only possible because of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ.
When Jesus was on the cross, everything we were He became, and everything we deserved He took upon Himself. As we place our faith in Him, everything He was and is gets put upon and in us, and everything He deserved, we receive.
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. II Corinthians 5:21
This truth is one of the foundational pillars essential for a Christian to understand. The two most important things to know and understand are who God is and who we are in God’s eyes. When we first put our faith in Jesus Christ, He comes to live in our hearts. However, another thing happens which is just as remarkable; God places the new believer in Christ. We are accepted in the beloved Son of God or in Christ. Now, when God looks at us covered in the blood of Jesus, He sees the righteousness of the Son of God.
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:6
Being in Christ can be likened to a fish being in the water. The fish must stay in the water to survive and thrive. If the fish gets removed from the water, he will die. Being in Christ can also be likened to a branch abiding in the vine.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. John 15:5
A branch is connected to the vine. The source of life comes from the vine, not the branch. Jesus is the very Source of all life. When we live in Him, abide in Him, dwell or remain in Him, we survive and can even thrive. He fills us with Himself (His Word, His Spirit, and His Glory), which flows through us to others as an overflow of His nature.
The sad problem that most Christians face is that even though they may know they have a new man living in them, they still live from their old fallen nature with which they were born. A Christian has two natures, one in Adam and one in Christ. God’s Word teaches us to put off the old man and to put on the new man. This should not be done forty times a day, as one might struggle back and forth. Instead, we should awaken each day and thank God for our new man, and by faith learn to live through that new identity.
For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:36
Jesus lives in us, and we need to learn to live in Him. From Him comes all life, love, light, and righteousness. Through Him, and to Him, and for Him should all our thoughts and behavior flow. When we love someone, we should recognize that Jesus is loving them through us. In this way, He gets all the glory. Again, when we bless someone, this is Jesus in us and through us blessing someone. It is not us doing the blessing; it is Jesus.
Our lives are to be a reflection of His glory. We are made in His image and likeness, and now that we are redeemed and reconciled back to God our every thought should mirror His glory. Our every action should bring Him glory, honor, and praise. Jesus gets all the glory once we realize that any and every good and righteous thing that proceeds out of our lives is Him and not us. He gets all the glory when we abide in Him and Him in us, and we learn to yield to His life that flows out of our bellies like a river of living water.
The Apostle Paul uses the term in Christ and in Him (or a close variation) 213 times in his epistles. The term Christian is used to describe a believer only two times in the New Testament. If the apostle uses this term in Christ so often, all believers should take note and begin to learn what this means to their lives and how to live out of that new identity that Jesus died to give us.
In Adam, we are born a sinner, and in Christ, we are born again a new creation. In Adam, we are our old man, but in Christ, we have a new man, (Jesus Christ Himself) living inside of us. In Adam, we are born with an inherited carnal nature, but in Christ, we inherit a holy nature. In Adam, we are unholy and called sinners, but in Christ, we are holy, righteous, and called Saints. In Adam, we are defeated and will continue to live defeated, but in Christ, we are victorious and can live a victorious, overcoming life. In Adam, we are condemned, but in Christ, we are saved. In Adam, we are cursed, but in Christ, we are blessed. In Adam, we experience wrath and death, but in Christ, we gain love and life. In Adam, is the believer’s old false identity, and in Christ is the believer’s new man, new nature, or new identity.
I respect what Alcoholics Anonymous has accomplished in helping alcoholics with their drinking addictions all over the world. On the contrary, what I don’t like about their program is that in every meeting the person is supposed to introduce themselves by saying, "Hi, my name is Bill, and I am an alcoholic." By doing this, they continually live from their old identity. A.A. also allows the person to pick whoever they want as their higher power or god. It could be a cow, a tree, or a person. Instead of this, I like the recovery programs that teach their students to say, “Hi, my name is Bill, and I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. I am no longer the person I was before. I am saved. In fact, I am a new man. I have a new identity in Christ, and everything Jesus is, I am in Him." If you can get someone to begin to think like this, their life will be changed dramatically for the better.
Our identity is received from God, not achieved by ourselves. Once we realize what happened on the cross of Calvary, then we can by faith receive everything Jesus died to give us, including His Word, His Spirit, His Name, His Nature, His Power, and His Identity. To refuse to admit, believe and receive this is to minimize what Jesus died to give us. I know I have written on this often, but the more I meditate on this truth, the more liberated I become, and the more victory I experience. As I was praying recently about this, the Lord impressed upon me that I have yet to learn the fullness of who I am in Christ. Therefore, I continue to pray for more revelation of this great mystery.
Our identity is not determined by our behavior. Instead, our behavior is determined by our identity. In other words, whatever I do, whatever I achieve, or whoever I know does not determine who I am, but who I am will determine how I live my life. As long as I think I am a worthless no-good sinner, I will live like a worthless no-good sinner. If I see myself as an angry man, a covetous man, or a hateful man, I will continue to be hatefully angry as I covet what is not mine. On the flip side, if I can see myself the way God sees me, then I will live like God wants me to live, and my life will give Him the glory and honor that He deserves.
Most bad or false religions label man from his old identity causing man to spend his life trying and struggling to change. This cannot possibly work because outside of Christ, there is no redemptive value or power in anything man can possibly do. Man cannot save himself, redeem himself, or kill his old, sinful, fallen nature outside of Jesus Christ. It is impossible. The only One who can change man eternally is Jesus and the power that is found in the cross and in the Gospel. You can educate yourself, perhaps learn some better manners or behaviors, but you will never change your old nature outside of Christ. Only God changes us by giving us a new nature, a new name, or a new identity.
The devil spoke a false identity over Eve, which she believed and as a result, the entire human race fell into sin. This false identity statement was the beginning of sorrows for mankind.
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. Genesis 3:4-5
"Ye shall be as gods." That’s what Eve heard, and that’s what she believed. The lie from the devil set her on a crash course that led Adam to sin and the two of them fell from the perfect relationship they had with God. The problem with religion is that it gives us a false identity; if we continue to live from that identity, we cannot possibly live in continuous victory, nor can we experience the blessings that we can discover and receive from a life of abiding in Jesus Christ.
I know many Christians who are saved, have Jesus in their hearts, but they continue to see themselves as their old man, from their old identity before Christ came into their lives. This causes them a perpetual life of guilt and condemnation. Many turn their prayer lives into one of beating themselves up, trying to feel bad or remorseful in order to somehow earn God’s forgiveness or favor. Grace is not grace if it has to be earned. God forgives us, not because we are good, but because He is good, and He loves us because that is who He is, and what He does. God's grace is the pure, unearned, undeserved, unmerited favor of God.
Again, our behavior doesn’t determine who we are. Instead, who we are determine how we will behave. Our identity is received, not achieved. Only God can give us this new identity, which is only possible because of the life that Jesus Christ lived and the death that He died. It is possible because He conquered death, hell, and the grave victoriously. He did this for you and for me. He took our place on the cross. He took our sins and the punishment for them upon Himself, for us. He crucified our old nature; He nailed it to the cross and put it to death so that we can be raised with Him to walk in His victorious life. This is the Gospel, to the praise of His glory.
We have begun a study of Ephesians at the church where the Lord has assigned for me to teach. Please look at these Scriptures below and meditate upon them slowly and prayerfully. These are the first 14 verses of the book of Ephesians. In the Greek language, these 14 verses are all one verse; in fact, it is the longest verse in the Bible, in Greek. Paul began this powerful epistle by stating over and over who we are in Christ. If God would grant us the revelation of this passage of Scripture, I am convinced it would change our lives eternally.
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:1-14 KJV
My prayer is that we will all, one day, learn who we really are in Christ. We are not who the world thinks we are. We are not who the devil says we are. We are not who we try to be, as we search for significance, value, worth, and identity in temporal things, places, people, duties, longings, or even our sufferings. You may be a businessman, but that is what you do. You may be pretty, but that is how you look. You may be rich and buy nice brands, but that will never be who you are. You may be a minister and have a ministry, but if you get your identity from that, you have a misplaced or false identity that is as temporal as any career choice. No sir, no mam; that is not who you are. You are an eternal soul and spirit. Therefore, you must have an eternal identity that only comes to you as you are born again spiritually, placed in Christ eternally. It is then that you become aware of the blessings of God that are yours continually.
All human beings are either in Adam or in Christ. From which identity do you live? Through which one do you see yourself living? Do you look at your flesh more than you look at Jesus Christ? Is your prayer life more about your sins, shortcomings, selfishness, failures, flaws and weaknesses, or is it Christ centered with your heart and faith resting completely in Him, and what He has done for you? Live either in Adam or in Christ; you have a choice. I encourage you to believe and receive the identity that Jesus died to give you, and receive all of the blessings that come from being in Christ.