Our society seems consumed with discovering individual identity. Behavioral assessments, psychological tests, even apps to align you with a well-known character are available everywhere you look. It seems like everyone is searching for someone else to determine who they are, what they should do and how they can change to better relate to others.
Once you reach Heaven, none of that matters because your unique identity will be in Christ, and that is a HUGE DEAL. But did you know that same truth applies to your life in this world? The Bible tells us that humans are created in God’s image. True, we feel, we rejoice, and we even appear somewhat like God – just look at Jesus when He walked the earth. God created us to reflect some of His attributes. Looking for one’s identity in the world just leads to more and more questions, but followers of Jesus should find their identity in Him.
Where Do You Find Your Identity?
While humanistic approaches tell you to look within yourself for your identity, that does not reach into the truest part of yourself. True, your natural tendency is to search for your identity in external things, but if you are a believer in Jesus as your Lord & Savior, then God’s Holy Spirit lives within you, and that makes you extraordinarily special.
Status often dictates how people perceive themselves. If you are like most, you may be tempted to look to your career or your lifestyle as indicators of your identity. Spending your time and energy pursuing a certain position or status can cause you to feel like it is the greatest defining characteristic of you. Take your job for example, if you are dedicated to your work, it is likely to take up most of your attention.
A job or career may lead you to your identity based on your financial success and status. Identity in the world often directs attention to outward effects. People ask about or view our relationship status, appearances, scholastic achievements, and reputation to impose a sense of identity upon us.
While on the surface these may feel like lasting foundations, all of them fade with time, and then we die, leading to an eternity according to different standards. Any of those fleeting foundations could change without warning. If you base your identity on things like success, appearance, influence, wealth, power, and so on, you are setting yourself up for a rude wake-up call when all of these disappear. A sudden job loss could leave you questioning your worth and leave you searching for just a paycheck. One negative comment about you could destroy your reputation, even if it is untrue, especially given that we live in the age of social media. Your appearance will change as you get older. The Bible tells us that this life is like a mist – and then “puff,” it is over.
Thankfully a foundation built upon God is unchanging. He is reliable. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. If you find your identity in Him, you will never ultimately be let down because He has proven time and time again to be trustworthy. He sees you like you are the most important person in the world, and nothing you can do can change the all-consuming Love that God has just for you.
As a God-centric identity becomes more top of mind, remember that God is not be just a figurehead of who you are, like “I am a Christian,” or” I a spiritual,” or “I am a believer”. Understanding your identity in God grows through understanding who He is, what He says about Himself, and what He says about you. Your identity can be defined by who God is making you to be in His image.
A healthful identity in Christ thinks this way: “I am continually growing closer to God by spending more time with Him so that I can be more like Him.”
How God Sees You
To be able to understand your identity as a follower of Christ, you need to understand how He sees you. God cares about each detail of your life, including how you support yourself, but mostly He cares about You, period. He sees you as the most special person in the world, and He wants to be with you all the time.
Ultimately, your truest identity is based on what God has done for you. In the Bible, God tells us often about how He views His people. Let’s look at what He says about you, if you received Him as your Lord and Savior. We will begin with the most important fact.
You Are Loved
In Christ, you are loved. You were created with a purpose for each moment of your life. No one else is exactly like you in the world, or in all of history. You were also created to live with intention, doing things as if you are doing them for God. God lovingly designed every detail of your person. Can you imagine the love involved making every part of you past, present, and future – from the cells in your body to God’s plan to give you a hope and a future?
You Are Chosen
God chose you. God sent Jesus the Savior to earth to die in your place so that you could be included in His family.
God did not choose you based on your performance or credentials. He chose you because He first loved you. He chose to carry out a complex plan to ensure you a fulfilling life in this world and a life of eternity in Heaven that involved the sacrifice of His only perfect Son, Jesus, which granted you the opportunity to be a child of God.
You are chosen by design. You are precious and irreplaceable to God.
You Are Forgiven
In order to be counted a child of God to live forever in His perfect Heaven, you had to be free of sin — because no sin can exist in a perfect Heaven with a perfect God because any sin would in Heaven would make Heaven imperfect. God had to make the central part of you, your spirit, perfect so that you could be with God forever. That is a miracle considering only Jesus was or is perfect and no one can attain perfection by their own effort.
However, because Jesus, who was without sin, died in our place on the cross, you can be forgiven of sin. What you’ve done wrong is not counted against you, and all that Christ did is counted for you. This forgiveness allows you to be considered a child of God.
Therefore, in God’s eyes, if you have accepted what Jesus did for you, you are completely forgiven. From God’s perspective, you are without sin. It’s not that you won’t sin, but when He looks at you, He calls you forgiven. That is something on which you can build your identity.
You Are Redeemed
What does your forgiveness mean? You are redeemed — that is, Christ’s sacrifice has bought you back from the forces of sin and evil that once owned and controlled you and made you His.
When God looks at you, He does not see a former sinner. He does not see you as who you once were. He sees you as redeemed: a new creation that has been made whole.
You do not have to define yourself by your past mistakes. God does not do that. You can walk in the identity of someone who is made new in Christ.
Remember this – Jesus wants to forgive you more than you want to forgive yourself!
You Are Adopted
What does it mean to be considered a child of God? It means that you have been adopted into His family. You are considered an adopted child of the God of the Heaven and the universe, having all the rights and standing of “royalty” in God’s Kingdom.
God sees you as a cherished child who bears His name. Just as earthly adoption is a legally binding process that names you a permanent part of a family, heavenly adoption is just as permanent and binding. You are His child, and He will never take that away.
What the Bible Says About Identity in Christ
You don’t have to take anyone’s word for it. In truth, God wants you to discover this for yourself by reading His Word, the Bible. It is so important that you go to the Bible to find out how He feels about you. Your identity should never be based on a hope or a guess. God gave us His Word, the Bible, so you can know Him and know who He is making you to be in Him.
“You are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.” (Ephesians 2:19, New International Version)
We are members of His Kingdom, not strangers, and certainly not outcasts. If you follow Christ, you belong in God’s Heavenly home and with His people.
In this passage, Paul is encouraging followers of Christ to remember that they are all part of one family – God’s family. We are to be unified with each other. This can only happen if you understand that you are a chosen child of God. You are part of His family.
“God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8, NIV)
As a child of God, you are blessed and provided for. God will provide you with everything you need in Christ. He is the Owner of everything that is good and the Giver of all good things.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.” (1 John 3:1, NIV)
In Christ, you are loved. Your identity is a child of God. This Bible verse comes from a chapter that warns against the temptation to stray from God into sin. You can resist sin by remembering that God provides the best for His children. He offers you more than the world ever could. You are complete in His love.
“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you but will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17, NIV)
Jesus delights in you. You are not just accepted or tolerated. You are welcomed into His family with delight. He adores you, and wants to spend every moment of your life with you.
When correction comes, it lasts for a short time because the goal is for it to help you reflect God’s holy character more accurately. He delights in you so much that He is making you more like Himself day by day.
“God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV)
You are clothed in God’s righteousness. You are His purified with God’s goodness and His rightness because of what Christ did on the cross. This was given to you, and you are called righteous by the Lord of the universe because Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to you.
You can live fully because the righteousness you were given. It not only allows you to approach God with confidence, but it allows you to be an ambassador to others around you. Because Christ’s righteousness is not earned but freely given through faith in Jesus, you can share this gift with others and invite them to be filled with God’s righteousness too.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13, NIV)
You are forgiven. If you are a follower of Christ, you have become God’s child because the Lord forgave you for the sin you committed against Him.
As someone who is forgiven, you can now freely forgive others. God extended grace — that is, undeserved favor — to you. You can extend that grace to others around you. And if you fall (sin), ask forgiveness and get right back up, because God loves hearing the prayers of forgiveness ushered forth by His children.
“We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10, NIV)
You were created with a purpose. God had specific intentions for your life when He brought you into the world. First and foremost, your purpose is to know Him and glorify Him. Then you can engage in other good works that will bring God glory and grow your own faith. God has given you moments in life to do that which is good and honoring to God, and only you can do the good works that God has uniquely fashioned for you to do.
You were saved from great sin. Now, as a child of God, you can walk with God and do great good through His work in you.
“If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)
In Christ, you are a new creation. God has made you new. The old things that used to define you have been taken away. God used to identify you as an enemy, but now he knows you as a child. You who were a sinner are now righteous.
You are new because through Jesus your sin has been paid for. You have been restored in right standing before God.
“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, NIV)
You are special to God. You are chosen by Him. This verse comes from a passage that talks about how Christ was rejected by many. But by faith in Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit, if you trust in Jesus, you are part of His holy, chosen people.
You can rid yourself of things that are part of the old you, part of the darkness, such as deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander because you have been brought into wonderful light.
Obstacles to Believing in Your Identity
Even if you know all these things about where a follower of Christ finds their identity, there can often be obstacles standing in the way of believing who you are in Christ. Other sources of identity often stand in the way, such as career, appearance or love of money. But there are other things that can distract you as well.
Everyone has made mistakes. Everyone has sinned. If you accept Christ, God forgives you of these things.
Psalm 103:12 (NIV) says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Transgression is another word for sin or mistakes. God removes your sin from you. You will still often remember your sins, and those memories can make you feel unworthy, keeping you from accepting your true identity in Christ.
Outside Messages or Experiences
You might not just remember what you have done; you may also remember what people have done to you. Maybe you were treated poorly or abused. Maybe people told you negative things about yourself.
The world is broken by sin – flawed. There are people who have experienced unspeakable injustice. From gossip to verbal and physical abuse, outside messages are trying to shape your identity every day. Those outside messages can lead you to believe that you are unworthy of what the Bible says is true of you in Christ.
As you follow Jesus, you will seek to know Him more. This is called the walk in Christ. You can do this through time in the Word, through prayer, through talking with friends or a mentor and through gathering with other believers in worship.
As your understanding of God grows, you may recognize flawed beliefs that you held before that do not line up with what you are hearing and learning about your identity now.
Maybe you grew up learning that you can lose your salvation. Maybe you thought that there were certain behaviors or sins that disqualify you from receiving Christ’s salvation. There are many false beliefs out there that seem correct but really take away from who God is and what He says. It can be confusing to work through these differences.
How Can You Respond?
These obstacles are difficult to navigate. It’s easy to believe that these things are legitimate barriers to following Jesus. But by the power of the Holy Spirit, you can overcome these obstacles and live fully in the identity that you were given in Jesus.
The word “repent” means that you agree with God. So, the first thing you can do to embrace your identity is to agree with Him that you are believing things that are no longer true of you.
Bring the things you are struggling with to Him. Admit that they are difficult for you to overcome. Confess that you believe Him when He says that they are no longer true of you.
Many places in scripture encourage believers of Jesus to mourn over their sin. Although your sin no longer defines your identity, you do still experience its effects in your life. Therefore, it is condoned and even important to grieve the sin that keeps you from truly believing the things Jesus says.
You can also grieve the sins that were committed against you and all that those wounds cost you. You can grieve the effect that it had on your relationship with the Lord.
Paul was one of the leaders of the early church who helped write the Bible’s New Testament. In a letter to one church, which we now know as the Bible’s book of 1 Thessalonians, he talks about how to mourn for lost loved ones. He helps us to understand how we can grieve well.
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13, NIV).
In this passage, “those who sleep in death” is referring to followers of Jesus who have passed away. Paul says that we can grieve that they are no longer here and yet have hope that in Jesus they live in eternity.
The same principle applies to grief over sin. You can grieve your own sin and the sin of others, all the while knowing that you have hope in Christ. You are a new creation. You are forgiven and restored in Jesus.
Invite the Lord to Change Your Mind
When you have confessed and grieved these things, you can ask God to help you believe what is true. He is the one who renews your mind and changes your heart.
God is the one who grows your faith and makes you new. Ask Him to help you believe the things that He says of you. Ask Him to continue to make you into the person that He intends you to be in Jesus.
He is faithful, and He will do it.
Invite Others to Help You
God never meant for you to walk with Jesus on your own. He brings people into your life so that you can encourage one another.
When you are struggling with past sin or false and discouraging beliefs, share that struggle with a trusted friend. Inviting others to pray for you and remind you of the truth can be so beneficial.
A believer that is farther along on their faith journey can provide great insight to you as you walk with Jesus. Consider inviting a fellow believer to mentor you in areas that are a struggle for you.
When Christ followers bear one another’s burdens, they not only grow closer to the Lord, but they grow in unity with other Christ followers.
Seeing Yourself as God Sees You Matters
If you put your faith in Jesus, you have a new identity in Him. The more you get to know Jesus through His word and time in prayer, the more you will understand your identity in Him.
The more you get to know Jesus, the more you will be able to identify areas of your life that you are not living in this identity by the power of the Holy Spirit.
If you believed that you were all that God says you are in Christ, how would that change the way you lived, the way you interact with others, or the way that you relate to the Lord?
As you find your identity in Christ, you will grow to look more like Him and less like the world. You will grow in intimacy with Him and with other believers.
Where Do I Go from Here?
You can reach us at randykay.org, and you can access lots of resources to help you grow in Christ. Find a local Bible-believing group or church. Get plugged into a consistent fellowship with believers. Read or listen to Bible verses daily. And rejoice because you are a child of God Almighty – that is awesome!