The concept of identity in Christ is something that I’ve struggled with in the entirety of my relationship with the Lord. How can a sinful, broken, and messy person possibly have an identity in the Almighty King of kings and Lord of lords? I’ve written blogs about it, read books about it, have sought wise counsel and prayer over it, and I’ve never been able to fully come to grips with what identity in Christ looks like… until now.
A literal transformation.
Salvation is a literal transformation. I was reminded of Ezekiel 36:25-27 which says “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”
The heart is the centerpiece for the entire being. The Bible states it as the innermost topos—place for the human knowledge, emotions, and decisions. Upon salvation, the Lord quite literally has given us a new heart. The heart is the seat of wisdom (1 Kings 3:12) and the heart is the instrument of faith through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit dwells in the heart (Rom. 5:5).
We have not only been given a new heart and a new spirit, but we have also been given the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5). To put on the mind of Christ isn’t a mere suggestion, rather it is a command, and we can only obey this command if our identity is found in Him.
Since new life in Christ is a quite literal physical transformation, these verses aren’t a metaphor. It’s not a metaphor when Romans declares us dead to sin and alive to Christ. It’s not a metaphor when 1 Corinthians tells us that we are a new creation. These are literal happenings which take place. So why does the Church, myself included, often walk as if it’s not? Why do we often walk in our former unregenerate self as if we are still alive to sin?
Alive in Christ.
Christ died for you, as you. Because of this fact, we are already coming from a place of victory. We are already righteous. We are already in right-standing before the Father. He took our rightful place on the cross, and it is actually quite offensive to God when we walk as if we are still unregenerate and not as a person who has an infilling and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is our sole identity. It is who we are. We are Christ’s beloved. We are delighted in by Him.
Our master named Sin no longer has authority, but now our authority is the Good Shepherd who calls us innocent. No shortcoming, no failure, no mistake, and no sin can possibly undo the work of the cross in our lives or make it any less powerful or true for us. We were brought from death to life once and for all. We are still made new. We are still alive in Christ.
When we say “yes” to Jesus and accept His salvation, we are now declared holy. We are declared righteous. We are declared blameless. Nothing can change that, for He has removed our transgressions from us as far as east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). We were once dead in sin, but we are now dead to sin. But should we keep on sinning because of the fact that nothing can remove our innocence before the Father? The Bible says absolutely not. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” / Romans 6:1-2.
The more we are like Christ, the less we are like our dead self.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Col. 3:1-3
The temple of the Holy Spirit.
The moment I take my eyes off of Jesus is the same moment my identity is found in things outside of Him. But when I seek His face and walk as if I am the literal temple—the dwelling place—of the Holy Spirit, that’s when chains break. That’s where freedom begins. That’s where peace takes its rightful place in my life.
We are the literal image of God. We are the literal dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. We are literally dead to sin and alive to God. We have a literal new heart, the centerpiece for our entire being. We quite literally are holy, righteous, and blameless sons and daughters of the risen King. Freedom will reign in our lives once we begin walking as if this literal transformation is our identity; nothing and no one else.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9