Discover Your Identity

As soon as a new baby arrives in the world, we try to discover who that child most resembles. Later we see traits that resemble adults we know who are involved in the child’s life. What’s your story?

  1. Who do people say that you look like or act like?
  2. What is one character trait that you hope to pass on to the next generation?
  3. Describe your family of origin. What made your family unique?
  4. How do you think that adopted kids feel about hearing comments about how much someone’s child looks like one of the parents?

Video Discussion:

  1. In what ways did you attempt to define who you were as you were growing up?
  2. How does that differ from how you define yourself now?
  3. What are some defining markers in your life?
    1. Women tend to define themselves in terms of relationships (I’m Scott’s wife, or I’m Bethany’s mom).
    2. Men tend to need more autonomy to strengthen their identity and create individuality (I’m a pastor, I’m a golfer, I’m a Packers fan).
    3. Definition of Identity Crisis: According to Merriam-Webster online, it is “personal psychosocial conflict especially in adolescence that involves confusion about one’s social role and often a sense of loss of continuity to one’s personality.”
    4. Men can experience a loss of identity when they lose a job, or survive a divorce, or face a tragic loss.
  4. How do you describe your understand of “identity in Christ?”

Bible Study:

Paul wrote almost half the New Testament, covering tons of topics. He has likely influence the faith of Christianity more than any other human being. Let’s take a look at the event that cause Saul/Paul to have an identity crisis in his life:

  1. Acts 8:1-3
  2. Acts 9:1-31
  3. Philippians 3:3-6
  4. Acts 22:2-5, 28-29
  5. Galatians 2:18-20

Paul had every reason to take pride in his accomplishments, he was a guy who made it to the top of his profession, but none of those achievements mattered from God’s point of view. Take a look at how Paul sums up what happened to him (Philippians 3:7-10).

  1. Are you able to look at your own identity markers and say the same thing to God?
  2. Imagine for a moment that you are holding that which is most precious to you, it is possible for it to be a total loss compared to knowing Christ?
  3. How does this all play out in practical everyday life?

Take a look at Jeremiah 2:4-13. To whom is God speaking? Israel should have known better, but they chose to forsake God for wooden idols. An Idol is simple something that receives your faith other than God. It’s not always a false religion; it can be a job, a relationship, a position or status, a marriage, a possession. These are the things that begin to define our identity and relationships other than Jesus. Which identity marker do you struggle with the most? Which item has become to you as a broken cistern?

New Creation in Christ: 2 Corinthians 5:17

There are two Greek words which are translated “new” in the Bible. The first, neos, refers to something that has just been made, but there are already many others in existence just like it. The word translated “new” in this verse is the word kainos, which means “something just made which is unlike anything else in existence.” In Christ, we are made an entirely new creation, just as God created the heavens and the earth originally—He made them out of nothing, and so He does with us. He does not merely clean up our old selves; He makes an entirely new self. When we are in Christ, we are “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). God Himself, in the person of His Holy Spirit, takes up residence in our hearts. We are in Christ and He is in us.

Regeneration in Christ:

In Christ, we are regenerated, renewed, and born again, and this new creation is spiritually minded, whereas the old nature is carnally minded. The new nature fellowships with God, obeys His will, and is devoted to His service. These are actions the old nature is incapable of doing or even desiring to do. The old nature is dead to the things of the spirit and cannot revive itself. It is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) and can only be made alive by a supernatural awakening, which happens when we come to Christ and are indwelt by Him. Christ gives us a completely new and holy nature and an incorruptible life. Our old life, previously dead to God because of sin, is buried, and we are raised “to walk in newness of life” with Him (Romans 6:4).

New Status in Christ:

In our relationship with God, we are no longer His enemies, we are His children.

  1. Romans 3:10-11 describes the old self: “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God.”
  2. Romans 5:10 describes the old self as enemies of God.
  3. Hosea 2:23 predicts the change of God’s heart toward us: “I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.'”
  4. Galatians 3:26 announces the arrival of our new position in Christ: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”

Set Free in Christ:

If we belong to Christ…

  1. We are united to Him and no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6:5-6)
  2. We are made alive with Him (Ephesians 2:5)
  3. We are conformed to His image (Romans 8:29)
  4. We are free from condemnation and walking not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1)
  5. We are part of the body of Christ with other believers (Romans 12:5).

The believer now possesses a new heart (Ezekiel 11:19) and has been blessed “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:3).

My Identity in Christ:

  1. I am God’s child (John 1:12)
  2. I have been justified (Romans 5:1)
  3. I am a friend of Christ (John 15:15)
  4. I belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:20)
  5. I am a member of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27)
  6. I have assurance of God’s best (Romans 8:28)
  7. I have redemption (Ephesians 1:7-8)
  8. I have purpose (Ephesians 2:10)
  9. I have access to the Father (Ephesians 2:18)
  10. I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16)
  11. I have victory (1 John 5:4)
  12. I am blameless (1 Corinthians 1:8)
  13. I have been set free (Romans 8:2)

Think About It:

  1. Which of these claims is most comforting to you?
  2. Which of these claims is most difficult for you?
  3. What part of your life will you surrender to Christ? (this does not mean you can walk away from your roles or relationships… but consider it loss in relation to the fact of loving and knowing Christ.

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What Defines You as a Believer?

Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthian church to help instruct the new church on what it means to be a follower of Jesus. One topic he addressed is the problem of division among the Christians in Corinth. For whatever reason, these believers were not getting along, and were dividing up into little cliques rather than living as the unified church of Jesus Christ. Take a look at this passage:

I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow only Christ.” (1 Corinthians 1:10-12)

One of the central factors for their disunity in Corinth was the tendency of these new and therefore immature believers to bring into the church elements of their culture that were inconsistent with the Christian life. For instance, in their previous “pagan” experience they were led into “religious mysteries” by a special person designated as a spiritual guide. They strongly identified with this mentor as their doorway into “the divine.” For others, certain Corinthian converts may have studied with a certain philosopher whose teaching and personality defined their intellectual and moral lives. So it felt natural for the Corinthian Christians to identify themselves according to the one who introduced them to Christ, perhaps Paul, Apollos, or Peter. But they must have been extremists because they seemed to define themselves in terms of the old human mentoring relationship, which was threatening the unity of the Christian community in Corinth.

Are we so much unlike them? For some people, denominational identity (or nondenominational identity) says who we really are as Christians. For others, it is our theological position or perhaps the teaching of our favorite theologian. Denominational or theological distinctions aren’t necessarily wrong, but they are harmful when they threaten our unity in Christ. If I let my identity as a Baptist become so elevated that it threatens my relationship with Methodists or Presbyterians, then I am falling into the same Corinthian trap. We have our theological differences based on interpretation of Scripture, but our identity in Christ brings unity. My identity as a Christian is my relationship with Jesus Christ. Everything else pales in comparison to this essential fellowship, through which we are bound to others who have put their trust in Christ.

On Facebook, they give the opportunity to display one’s religious preference. On questionnaires there may be a question asking the same. How often do people use the word “Christian” when asked their religious preference, rather than Catholic, Baptist, or nondenominational?

How do you define yourself as a Christian? How important to you are denominational labels? Have you ever identified so thoroughly with some Christian leader that it threatened your relationship with other believers? How can we be unified in Christ when we who have put our faith in Jesus differ theologically?

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