Whether it is our job, school, or even in church; we are all familiar with working hard in order to receive approval.
This is the way life works, but grace and Christianity are meant to be different.
“God pronounces believers righteous at the beginning of the course, not the end of it…it cannot be on the basis of works they have not yet done” FF Bruce
Let’s not just talk about this, lets see it in Bible; even in the life of Jesus
Luke 3:21-22 tells us the story of Jesus’ baptism. He had not begun his ministry. But God’s feelings for him were not based on what He did but who he was.
“You are my Beloved Son with whom I am well pleased”
When we receive Jesus, we are a new creation; receiving a new identity.
This happens at the beginning of the journey, making Christianity unique.
The enemy wants to drag us back to the old identity.
Consider the 3 things Jesus was tempted with in Luke 4:1-13.
Temptation #1 “If you are the Son of God…..command this stone to be bread.”
This questions His identity, challenging Him to prove himself by what He does.
The temptation states you are what you do.
Jesus already knew who he was because God told him at the beginning.
So often we define ourselves by what we do. As Christians, we relate to God by doing the job of a Christian – prayer, giving, reading, etc.
Relating in this way resembles a slave or an employee rather than a son or daughter.
Temptationn #2 Tempts with power. “You can have the kingdoms of the world if you worship me.”
This says your identity is in what you possess, your influence and education, housing, looks, and more.
Jesus knew He was given power…but it was the spirit of God who lived in him! He trusted God to take care of his needs, not needing him to prove his love.
The temptation questions our identity saying you are what you have.
God wants to be our source. Not our money, our passport, or our education. The gospel glorifies weakness and trust rather than self reliance.
Temptation #3 “If you are the son of God,throw yourself down…God will save you.”
Put God to the test and prove who you are and who God is.
The temptation here questions our identity saying you are what people think.
We can limit and box ourselves in if we are defined by what people think. We may be labeled stupid, ugly, a failure, or a screw up. How does God see us?
It is interesting to note that after his identity was secure, then Jesus begins his ministry.
In fact, all throughout Scripture we see the repeated pattern of establishing identity prior to calling to action.
We do a lot of good things to hear the voice of approval, hoping to be good enough. Maybe rather than working hard to hear it, we should listen to what He has already said.
Instead of the temptations, perhaps we should consider three truths.
- You are what God has done. – Sons and Daughters, Accepted, Adopted, and much, much more.
- You have God’s Spirit and He goes with you.
- You are clothed with Christ, this is what the One most important thinks.
This settles the question, “Who Are You?” He told us this at the beginning of our journey.
Jesus modeled for us how to walk in our identity not giving into temptations of Enemy and our culture.
God wants us to know that is settled, setting us free to love and serve him.
“But if in God’s grace he assures me of his acceptance in advance, and I embrace it, then I can go on to do his will without worrying if I am adequate enough.” F.F. Bruce
Satan says we must grab our identity.
You don’t need to grab for something you already have.
Rather, we can stand, we can trust, and we can abide.
Several things I have been reading lately have touched on this. I would recommend both [amazon_link id=”B00L0S6IAM” target=”_blank” ]Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: It’s Impossible to Be Spiritually Mature, While Remaining Emotionally Immature[/amazon_link] by Peter Scazero and Jefferson Bethke’s latest book, [amazon_link id=”B00WDJSWVK” target=”_blank” ]It’s Not What You Think: Why Christianity Is About So Much More Than Going to Heaven When You Die[/amazon_link]. Stay Tuned for More on Bethke’s book!
Photo by Joshua Earle