“What is My Identity?”
At various times throughout our lives, we are asked to provide some form of identification. It happens when we vote, when we check into a motel or lodge, and it happens when we are questioned by the police or some other authority. In response, we provide proof of who we are by showing our driver's license, our passport or something else that verifies our identity. And that proof is important. It lets us and others know who we are and that we have a place in this world. It means something to us, and we go to great extremes to protect our identity. Now, for those who have a relationship with the Lord, we too have an identity. It is something special. It reminds us of who we are and to whom we belong. In our lesson today on “Key to the Kingdom,” we will look at one of the most important chapters in the entire Bible. It offers a clear reminder of our identity in Jesus Christ. Living in a world of confusion, chaos, and uncertainty, we need that reminder, don't we! Well in the lesson today, we will focus on many of the ways in which God lets us know we belong to Him and how He belongs to us. We will highlight the assurance we have of His never ending love. We will also notice that His presence never leaves us, and we will be strengthened as we consider how His Holy Spirit guides us every single day. I hope you will join us for the following message and that it will remind you of your identity in Christ. Let us now open up our Bibles and study together.
A question that is asked by many people today is, who am I? And those who ask that question do so with all sincerity. They truly want to know more about themselves and about their purpose in life. Some might even take a course along that line, or perhaps even visit with a counselor who can help them. Talking with their friends or family members might also lead to some answers; but, such people are simply searching for their identity. It is the process of trying to figure out life and where they belong in it. Well, we are all familiar with seeking and finding our identity. Perhaps at one time or another we have all asked that question, who am I? Yes, we all want to know more about who we are and about our purpose and our existence in this world. And once we come to somewhat of an understanding of our identity, it is a sense of relief. The anxiety subsides and the pursuit or the fulfillment of that identity begins. Well, obviously that takes on an added significance when we come to God's Word and we seek to find our identity spiritually. We might ask the question, “Well, who am I in the eyes of God, and what does that mean for me?” Our perspective might even change once we realize who God is, and who His Son Jesus Christ is, and what they have done for us. And for those who know God, for those who already have a relationship with Jesus Christ, then the answer is clear. There is no doubt about it. We know our identity in the Lord. And a good place to see that is in the letter called Romans. Now, this is a letter written by the apostle Paul to a group of people who were already believing in and following Jesus Christ. But in the letter, Paul reminds them of their identity. He reminds them of who they are and to Whom they belong. Someone once said, “If you want to study and learn about salvation, then read the letter called Romans. And if you want a good summary of the letter of Romans, then focus on Romans chapter 8.” And that's what I want us to do for a few minutes in today's lesson. From the beginning to the end of that 8th chapter, Paul reminds us of how special we are to God. He reminds us of our identity in Jesus Christ. He wants us to know, without any doubt, to Whom we belong, and the blessings and the benefits that come from that. We learn of the freedom and the power and even of the love that we can experience in Jesus Christ. Yes, in Romans chapter 8, our identity is made clear. And so we ask the question, who am I, and we begin by offering this short and simple answer: I am somebody special whom God loves very much. Yes, that is the identity of those who are in Jesus Christ. Let's see how that all plays out here in the 8th chapter, as we begin reading with verse 1 and 2. <Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.> I love the way Paul begins here: “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Now, now that's good news, isn't it! We experience enough condemnation in the world today. We are condemned, or we are judged, in various ways; but Paul says, if you are in Christ, Jesus Christ, none of that matters. Rather, we are free in Christ. And that's what happens for those who have received the Lord’s salvation; we are free in Christ. Now, obviously that does not mean we can live any way we want to live. It does not mean that we can show disrespect for God or for ourselves or for other people. It does not mean that we can throw out God's commandments and not give any attention to obeying them. No, our freedom in Jesus Christ allows us to be free from sin and death. In chapter 3, Paul wrote about the problem of sin. He mentioned the burden and the guilt that sin brings into one's life. And he reminded these believers how God had already dealt with that. That one is made right with God, through their faith in Jesus Christ. And that's where it all starts, through a sincere and believing faith in Jesus as God’s Son. And then Paul, in chapter 6, illustrated what that looks like. He wrote about how we die to our sin, we are buried in Jesus Christ and then we rise up to walk a new life. And so our sin is buried. It is eliminated. It is gone. And also, the guilt of it is gone. And Paul, in that 6th chapter, points out how all of that corresponds to Jesus' death and burial and resurrection. And so, Paul's point here in chapter 8, verses 1 and 2 is that when one becomes a child of God, there is freedom from the past, there is freedom from the guilt that sin brings, and now there is a new life to be found and experienced in Jesus Christ. The sting of death, or the sting of sin and the curse of death is eliminated. Well, let's move on to another passage here in chapter 8, and that's verses 9 through 11. <You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of the Spirit who lives in you.> For those who are right with God, through faith and obedience in Jesus Christ, we now have the Spirit of God dwelling within us. Yes, God puts His Spirit into the lives of His children. In other words, God, Himself, lives in His children, His sons and His daughters, as He is our Heavenly Father. We also know that the Holy Spirit guides and directs our life in the way we need to go. The Spirit gives us insight about living in accordance with God's will. Oh, in a world of never ending trouble and uncertainty, through the Spirit we are reminded of God's continual presence and the peace that we can experience because of that. Well, Paul writes even more about the Spirit's role in a believers life, in verses 26 and 27. <In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings to deep for words. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.> Paul makes it very clear that God's Spirit helps us in our times of weakness. You know, I don't know about you, but I've been weak before. I've experienced some struggles and trials and weakness in my life, and I'm glad that the Holy Spirit was with me during those times. And even during times in which I don't know for sure how to pray or come up with the words to express to God, we find that the Holy Spirit helps us and intercedes on our behalf. Has something like that ever happened to you? You have some things weighing heavily upon your heart and you don't know for sure how to deal with them, and don't even know for sure how to pray to God about them, but yet the Spirit takes those inner most thoughts and those groanings and He communicates them to our loving Heavenly Father on our behalf. And so in regards to our identity, Paul reminds us that we are empowered by God's Spirit. Oh, being filled with God's Spirit reassures us of His presence. It's wonderful to know that the Spirit is God's personalized mark of approval and acceptance on our life. He recognizes us as His children. We recognize Him as our loving Heavenly Father. And that is one of the most basic and important things, in regards to our identity. We belong to God, through Jesus Christ, and He belongs to us. Our identity is further emphasized in verses 14 through 17 here in Romans chapter 8. <For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs -heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.> Most of us are part of a family unit, and within that family unit we find all kinds of love and support and encouragement. And, no doubt, that is a tremendous blessing. And within our family units we have privileges and blessings and opportunities that only come to us and that really are not available to anybody else, for the simple fact they are not a part of our family. But what Paul is trying to remind us of here is that the greatest family to which we can ever belong is the family of God. We are co-heirs with Christ. And we have all of the blessings and all of the privileges and all of the rights and promises that belong to anyone who is in God's family. Oh, there is absolutely nothing we need, which we do not already have as being a part of God's family. And so that is another part of our identity, we are an heir with Christ. One of the greatest blessings that come with being an heir of Christ is that there is no need to be afraid. Any kind of fear that we might experience in life is replaced with faith. There's no need for us to be afraid. There is no need for us to fear anybody or anything because we are a part of God's family, and everything is going to be okay. Whenever evils or dangers arise, fear is replaced not only with faith but it is also replaced with hope. And that is the next point Paul identifies. Let's notice the passage here in Romans 8 that begins with verse 22. <We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, by the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.> If there is one thing needed in the world today, I've got to believe, it is hope. Many people live without it. There are economic problems and medical emergencies and all kinds of crisis situations, with our health and with the economy and various things in this world, that can create a great deal of fear in our lives, if we let it. But those things take away our hope of living a normal and a safe and a productive life here in this world. But yet we sometimes need to be reminded of our identity in Jesus, in that we have hope, not only for today, but also for the future. You know, when Paul wrote this letter, he was referring to a type of hope that perhaps we don't know about, or we don't think about very often. When we say the word hope we do so in regards to our life. We hope for good health, we hope for a nice vacation, we hope for good weather next week, and a variety of things like that. But when it comes to the hope that Paul had in mind, he was thinking about something that lies in the future, an eternal hope. But he states that we already have it. That hope, or that promise, is something that we have, but it is not yet fully realized. And when it is fully realized, then we will recognize, indeed, that we are God's children, and we can have a further realization of all of His blessings and all of the promises that God gives to us. Yes, in Jesus Christ we have the assurance that no matter what happens around us we can never be separated from God's love. He does not forget us. Nothing in this world can take away our hope or eliminate our faith in Jesus, and we are not to allow anything to come in the way of that. Now, when Paul wrote this letter, he referred to hope as being something special and something precious. One’s hope in Jesus Christ involves the assurance of our salvation. And we can know without a doubt, it is secure. Well, Paul now summarizes the identity of a believer in some of the most reassuring words in all of Scripture. They are found here in the last nine verses or so of Romans chapter 8. We won't take time to read them all, but I want to begin with verse 31 and read through verse 35. <What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all -how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died -and more than that, who was raised to life- is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?> Well, Paul goes on and concludes by stating that we are more than conquerors because of God's love. We have already overcome, and we are not hurt by anything eternally, and there's absolutely nothing and no one that can separate God's love for us. So finally, our identity in Christ makes us overcomers. Oh, perhaps you have faced some problems, some obstacles in the past, and you wondered how would ever make it. No doubt you made it, perhaps, by the help of God as being a part of one of His children. Oh, the good news, in our identity in Christ, is that in that there is absolutely nothing that we cannot overcome. There is nothing that will ultimately defeat us. And there is certainly nothing and no one that will ever separate us from God's love; and indeed, that is some very good news! At the beginning of our lesson, a moment ago, we asked and we answered the question, who am I? And we gave the short answer; we are somebody special whom God loves very much. And hopefully we were able to see that as we worked our way through Romans chapter 8. Paul reminds us of one of the greatest facts we could ever know and be assured of today, as followers of Jesus Christ: Yes, we are somebody special, and that is our true identity. You know, those who are in Christ have a new beginning, and the guilt of the past is gone. Those who are in Christ are empowered by the Holy Spirit and inspired by the hope of eternal life. And there is an abiding love and a presence that comes from God that reassures us of our security and that God's love will never leave. Oh, whenever we find ourselves searching for our identity in this world, no doubt, we can find it in Jesus Christ, the one and only Son of the Living God. And no matter who else we might be able to become on the outside, our true identity is found on the inside, if we have that connection with Jesus Christ, the One who died for us. And whatever we become in the eyes of this world, whatever we might do, whatever we might accomplish in the time allotted to us, none of it really matters compared to our identity in Jesus. And my prayer for all of us today is that as we search for our identity, as we search for meaning and significance in this world, that we will find our most significant and most important identity in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Oh, my prayer for each one of us is that as we find our identity, then we live it out and we experienced the salvation that God has entrusted to us as one of His children. And that is my prayer for you today.
I'm standing here in front of our local department of motor vehicle office. And it is through this office that many people come in and out in order to renew their driver's license. And some enter and come out, having received their very first driver's license, and no doubt that is very special. But that driver's license is very significant and very important. It is one of the primary ways we are identified in this world. It gives our address and our name and various other pieces of information that are absolutely critical to our identity. And no doubt, we are all familiar with having a driver's license. Even though we have to stand in line and fill out forms, and it might even take some extra time, we are willing to go through that process in order to receive that proper identification. But we have some very significant identification marks when we become a part of God's family. We are given His Holy Spirit. We are identified as God's children an heir of Jesus Christ. We are set free from sin. There are so many things that identify us as children of God. And those identification marks entitle us to all of the privileges and all of the blessings and all of the promises that God lovingly gives to His sons and daughters. And that's special, and that's important, and that identifies us in a very special way. No doubt, it is important to have the proper identification as we travel the world, but it is even more important to have our identity found in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Thank you for being our guest today on “Key to the Kingdom.” It is always good to be reminded of our identity in the Lord. He loves us in some very special ways, and there is absolutely no one and nothing in this world that can separate us from that great love. If you would like to listen to or view this message again, it can be found on our website. Please go to keytothekingdom.com and there you can download it in a variety of formats. Many other lessons are on the site as well, and all of them are free from any charge or obligation. Devotional thoughts and short inspirational messages are there as well; and these might assist you in your daily walk with the Lord. A free phone app downloaded onto a smart phone will take you directly to everything that is on that website. If you would like to follow us on social media, please do so through Facebook®. Many people are liking and sharing us with others, and I hope you will do the same. Another way to find us is through Roku® television; many are finding this to be an easy and free way to watch full episodes and the short videos, and perhaps that would be of interest as well. It is our pleasure to share these weekly messages with you, and hopefully they provide an encouragement and blessing as you draw closer to the Lord, every day. Please consider joining us again next time, on this same channel, as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”