Two, Part VII – The Final Beginning

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In order to walk in our real identity in Christ, we must rely on it as Fact regardless of our outer circumstances or inner soul-storms. But first let’s get the Facts straight; What does God say about our real identity?

I’m a child of God, John 1:12.

I have been justified and redeemed, Rom 3:24.

I am holy, Rom 11:16. I am righteous and holy, Eph 4:24.

I am a son of God; God is literally my Dad, Rom 8:14, 15, Gal 3:26, 4:6.

I have been freed from sin’s power over me, Rom 6:7.

My old man was crucified with Christ, Rom 6:6, and now I am a new creation, 2Co 5:17.

I am dead to having to earn God’s acceptance, or His sanctification, by my performance or my human effort, Rom 7:4.

I have been given the mind of Christ, 1Co 2:16.

I am a temple or house of God; the Holy Spirit lives in me, 1Co 3:16, 6:19, Christ Himself lives in me, Col 1:27, and He is now my life, Col 3:4. I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me, Gal 2:20.

I have been raised up and seated with Christ in heaven, Eph 2:6.

I have been given a spirit of power, love, and discipline, 2Ti 1:7.

I am an enemy of the devil; he is my adversary, 1Pet 5:8.

In Christ all the Godhead lives in bodily form, and I am filled full in Him, Col 2:9-10.

Satan has tried to duplicate this in the world, but since there is no basis for his identity statements it’s all shadow and chimera in the end (“Because I’m good enough, and smart enough, and doggone it, people like me”). These Biblical truths I’ve listed are just a few of God’s Facts about believers in Jesus Christ. There are many more in the Word, but having the wrong Tree in our minds filters the information; we skip right over the “being” verses to the “doing” ones. We might go for years seeing that Jesus paid our sin debt but never really see that we are indwelt by Him, that He is our life. So there we go, trying to be like Jesus, trying to work for God.

When I first began to learn these truths in the mid 1990s I was going through a lot of emotional turmoil as God shook what can be shaken. I wrote many such verses on 3×5 cards and carried them in my back pocket; when it seemed as though all the world, my flesh, my mind, and the devil were saying the opposite about me, I grabbed on and wouldn’t let go. I had to fight to win the truths, and in any area where I’ve not appropriated Christ as my life there is a fight ahead.

For that is just exactly what happens – a faith-battle. We are reprogramming our worldly thinking that says, “I must become someone! I must make something of myself! I’ve got to try to be like Christ! I have to win souls for the Kingdom of God!” Note the pronouns.

In reality it all begins and ends with Christ. In the end we’ll be “casting down our golden crowns around the glassy sea” at His feet, because He’s the real Worker in us, the real Overcomer, the Man in us.

So we take these truths and eat them daily. We take them by faith because God says they are Facts. This mind renewal is a process; there will be days where it seems as though nothing is “happening,” that “this can’t be true.” But if our eyes are continually on our actions to see, “Is it working?” we’re not really relying on the Answer; we’re questioning whether it’s true and whether it “works.” We’re plugged back to the wrong Tree: “My actions determine my identity.” We’re really saying, “Lord, I see these truths, but before I really believe them, prove it in my behavior.”

It sure would be nice, but it doesn’t work that way. Faith is always plugged in first; before the air compressor kicks in we’ve got to connect it to the outlet. This is how God has designed us. Faith in what? In faith? No. The power is in God Himself, God’s Reality; the power outlet is His Word. The Word is the interface through which we can plug into true Reality.

If you begin to grab these truths and appropriate them for your own, renewing your mind daily, it will transform you over time, area after area. But don’t think the world around you will applaud you and believe with you. A few mature believers might, but the rest of the world through their own unbelief will attempt to keep you in the same consciousness you’ve always had. It might be your boss, or your co-workers, or even your spouse. Of course it won’t be intentional, but they will have the Thomas attitude: “I’ll believe it when I see it.” The rest of the world is going to be looking at your actions to determine your identity, because that’s how the world thinks, and even many believers are caught up in its thinking.

Some days it is going to be a big fight of faith in you. The storms of your own soul will scream at you that none of this is true. Say these truths again and again. Don’t try to believe them. Simply, humbly, with childlike faith, believe them, say them, confess them. Know they are fact, because the Fact of the ages lives in you and has spoken out your identity through His Word.

After a time of faith-stretching, faith-testing, the Holy Spirit will manifest these truths in you as reality, first in your spirit as a knowing rises in you, next in a particular area of your psyche and thought life, and then  through your body in your actions. That’s how this operates, from the inner to the outer. Sometimes during this process it can seem as though we’re getting worse in our behavior – but that’s because God is drawing out the hidden, subconscious sins that are blocking the flow of His Spirit through a particular area of our psyche. Remember that it is not you, the real You in Christ, but some form of sinful independent-self thinking which has a foothold in some area of your psyche.

That’s why we don’t start with the outer form, our actions, our behavior, to determine our identity. That is a big mistake; it short circuits our real identity, and keeps us from living out all of God’s true purposes for our lives. If we want power, abundant life, and rivers of living water flowing through our inmost being to others, here is the Center: Christ and Christ alone, in me, through me, as if it were me living. We faithe in Him, in us, to live through us – as us. And we trust that He is sufficient for the job, and willing to do it, because that is what God is all about – redemption, restoration, wholeness; not someday way up in the sky but here and now.

God doesn’t desire that we grasp our real identity simply to feel good about ourselves. We’re to know who we are in Christ so we can forget about ourselves and get on with the family business of loving God and loving others through the abundant overflow of Christ within us.

Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he's not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin' on audiences around the world, he's taking care of his donkey named "Trash" and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.


5 Comments

  1. Kevin Elias

    Thanks again Ron. I have recently been listening to some talks given by Norman Grubb including ‘Free to be ourselves’. The implications and ramifications of having the Holy Spirit in us to ‘will and to do’ are so wide reaching it almost boggles the mind. I receive great joy from knowing that the bondage of sin is only an illusion and that the truth is infinitely more wonderful and liberating. Some of these ideas make Christians as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs but for myself I have to say that recognizing this freedom will not and indeed cannot make me a passive Christian looking for a license to sin, but rather fills me with the joy of the Lord which is my strength to do the things placed in my heart through the Holy Spirit.

    I look forward to hearing more about these topics in the future.

  2. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Kevin, good to hear from you. “If only Ishmael might live before Thee,” said Abraham.The child of fleshly effort always seems more attractive to us because it caters to our long-cherished lie of independence and self-improvement. If we have the wrong Tree in our minds and think life is about Me4God we’ll be nervous when we hear about our real identity; we’ll either pooh-pooh it as new age, or too easy, or take some other way out, preferring instead our years of honing and smoothing and culturing the false self.

    But the reality is that a child who is loved and adored by his father, whose father speaks out the child’s identity consistently, is going to have a lot easier time than the kid whose father is absent, or worse, who is actively impacting his identity in a negative way.

    God’s way is identity first, then as we rely on our identity our performance flows from it. Faith brings endurance; unbelief in what God says about who we are (the wrong Tree) produces shipwreck and sin.

  3. Tony Heringer

    Ron,

    Here we are at the end of the series. Whew! It’s been a good walk through these topics my friend. Thanks again for putting this series together. It has been fun.

    Here are my thoughts on part VII of Two.

    My pastor has a saying: “Right thinking leads to right believing leads to right living.” That fits what struck me in this post.

    I really love this line: ” If you begin to grab these truths and appropriate them for your own, renewing your mind daily, it will transform you over time, area after area.” It reminded me of Romans 12:1-2. Whenever folks ask about God’s will for their lives, we should first be pointing them to His revealed will or the Word just as you’ve done here. Excellent!

    Your thoughts on transformation or identity reminded me of Scouting. For the past five years, I’ve served as the chaplain for a Scout troop run out our church. Our vision as a troop is to train and equip young men to be mature and impactful disciples of Jesus Christ through the vehicle of Scouting.

    In defining how we wanted to tackle this vision, I created a document to describe how that process would look as a resource for our parents and also for other Troops who wanted to take a Christ-centered approach to Scouting. After consideration of biblical discipleship principles, the Scouting model and lots of prayer, I came up with a document entitled “HWJL?” or “How Would Jesus Live?”

    I’ll close my first post in Part VII with an excerpt from that document as I think it gets at the themes you’ve noted above and like a good programmer, I’m using code I’ve already written (object-oriented posting?). Here’s the excerpt:

    “HWJL?

    Each young man should be challenged with the question: “If given your life, how would Jesus live it?” Not “what would Jesus do (WWJD?)?” because life in Christ is not just about what you do. The real question is “how would Jesus live (HWJL?)?” Life in Christ is defined by who you are becoming. Christianity is not simply reformation of a person’s character. Living in Christ completely transforms a person (Rom. 12:2; Gal. 2:20).

    This curriculum provides tracks to run on for Scoutmaster Minutes, Scouts Own Worship, and patrol prayer. There are two main questions we will drive toward with these three engineered vehicles of discipleship:

    •How has my affection for Christ increased? (Mark 12:30)
    •What effect has this had on my walk with Christ? (Matthew 28:19-20)

    The order of these two main questions is important. In the “Great Commandment”, Mark 12:30, Jesus tells us: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The love of Christ compels us to live for Him (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

    Your love for Christ will determine how you live for Christ. As John Eldredge once said, “God did not move heaven and earth to make you busy.” Christ came to give us abundant life. He wants us to be free and that freedom gives us purpose and assurance which translates into hope. That hope is what makes us effective in reaching the least and lost because we know that we are “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37) because of Christ. What follows is an explanation of the discipleship philosophy of Perimeter Church and how we will attempt to integrate this philosophy into the life of Troop 317”

    In this context the focus is on how this transformation plays out in a Scout Troop and the lives of those involved. However, it could be modified to fit any group. If you want to see the whole document go here: http://troop317.com/Discipleship/HWJL.doc If any Scout Leaders in the Room are looking to take a Christ-centered approach to Scouting check out this document and the Troop 317 website. It’s one way to do it and after 5 years still feels like a work in progress. Feel free to use as much or as little as you need for your troop and may God bless your efforts in the lives of the young men you lead.

  4. UaMV

    Ron, thank you for this series. Many of the thoughts and truths you raise have encouraged me. As i’ve read through this series, i have also been making my way through Watchman Nee’s The Normal Christian Life, which focuses in on much of the same knowing. It’s a way of which i’ve needed to hear. Again, thank you.

  5. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Joshua,

    Thanks for the encouragement. Christ has transformed my life, and continues to do so, through these truths.

    Best,
    Ron

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