Identity Series: Part 5—Who God Says You Are

In the past few weeks we’ve looked at a few false identities men are prone to latch onto such as Social GroupsHobbies, and Romantic Relationships. This week, we will shift gears and take a look at who God says you are, which is your true identity. Please subscribe using the links in the sidebar to be sure you don’t miss out on the remainder of this series.

Who God Says You Are

As far as God is concerned, there are only two possible identities for every man, woman, and child alive today. You are either “in Adam,” or you are “in Christ.” You must be one or the other, and you cannot be both. The most important thing to understand in regards to your identity—and ultimately in your battle against temptation—is which camp you belong to.

You are no longer “in Adam”

The moment Adam chose to turn away from God and share the fruit with his wife, the cancer of sin entered into the human race and changed the default identity of everyone (See Genesis 3). Since that day, every one of us have been born physically alive but spiritually dead:

When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned (Romans 5:12).

Our identity at birth is now “in Adam,” which means we are all born with a sin nature.

Adam and Eve by Jacopo Robusti Tintoretto

Adam and Eve by Jacopo Robusti Tintoretto

If you are a parent, it shouldn’t be too hard to understand this. Unless your name is Mary, your sweet little kiddo didn’t need to be taught how to sin. It’s in their nature from day one to be selfish, to lie to you, to yell “NO!” when asked to do something they don’t want to do. Did you ever sit down and have a conversation with junior discussing the benefits of dishonesty and how manipulation can be used for his gain? Of course not. Any child knows these things because they are born with a sin nature.

As long as your identity is still “in Adam,” you are separated from God because of this sin nature within you. You are spiritually dead. If this is your reality, the lie of this chapter is unfortunately true for you—your sin really does define you. You can do all sorts of good things here on earth, but ultimately none of them will matter in eternity because they will be done for your own benefit and not for God’s glory. You are also forced to live your life, fight your temptations, and manage your pain using your own power. You are on your own. This does not mean God is not actively pursuing you while you remain “in Adam” (He certainly is), but ultimately you will need to reach out to Him and accept His help.

Don’t be discouraged by this, though. If you are reading this book, there’s a good chance your identity is no longer “in Adam.” Why? Because the moment you placed your hope and trust in Jesus, your identity switched to “in Christ,” and the separation no longer describes you! Satan will still try to convince you that even though you have placed your hope in Jesus (in Christ), you are still defined by your sin (in Adam). But remember, you are either “in Adam” or “in Christ.” It’s fully one or fully the other. You cannot be both.

You are “in Christ”

Just as everyone is born “in Adam,” everyone is also given the opportunity to be born again “in Christ.” The moment you place your hope and trust in Jesus to rescue you and set you free from your sinful nature, you are reborn with a new nature—a new identity. Your identity is now “in Christ.”

Chances are, you have a pretty good understanding that being “in Christ” means you are now reconciled to God. Even if you haven’t spent much time in church, you’re probably still familiar with John 3:16:

God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

When we believe in Christ, we receive eternal life in heaven with God. Most churches do a wonderful job of preaching this central truth of salvation. What is sometimes missed, though, is the truth that this life “in Christ” is available to us right now! If we understand the gospel as merely the promise of eternal life after death, we remain stuck trying to live life here on earth in our own power—living as if we are still “in Adam.” We miss the reality that God has promised us His life (and all the benefits that come with it) today. It begins the moment our identity changes from “in Adam” to “in Christ.”

Jesus Washing Peters Feet by Ford Madox Brown

Jesus Washing Peters Feet by Ford Madox Brown

Let’s take a look at what Jesus teaches us about what it means to be in Him:

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5).

This verse is a great positional statement showing us what happens when we live with an understanding that our true identity is in Christ: We will produce much fruit. We will receive His power in us to live the life He has for us. We will see all the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—flow from our lives (Galatians 5:22–23).

But what happens if we don’t understand that we are “in Christ”? We will live our lives as if we are a disconnected branch and will quickly become discouraged by our inability to produce fruit by ourselves.

How many of you, like me, read this verse a hundred times thinking, I don’t see much fruit in my life…does this mean I’m not really connected to Christ? Thoughts such as those are precisely what comes when you do not realize that, once your identity is “in Christ,” it will never revert to “in Adam.” As long as you are questioning the security of your identity in Christ, you will live as if you are still partially “in Adam.” You will attempt to produce fruit on your own in order to confirm your own salvation. But it will never work, because you can only produce fruit if you are living out of your true identity in Christ. That’s because fruit isn’t the proof of being in Christ; it is the product of being in Christ.

Perhaps this will be easier to understand if we back up a few verses and see what else Jesus says in this passage:

You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me (John 15:2–4).

Did you catch that? You have already been pruned and purified through Jesus. The reason you may be experiencing a season of unfruitfulness is not because you were cut off or never attached, it is because you have believed the lie that you are not now attached to Christ. You are believing that something, usually sin, has separated you from Him. Simply put, you were not remaining in Him.

Furthermore, you may have been striving to produce fruit in your own power in an attempt to prove that you really were in Him. But the key to living in your true identity isn’t to try to become who you think God wants you to be; it’s to trust that you already are who God says you are. If you trust that Christ is really in you, and you really are in Christ, fruit will flow naturally. Like most truths in Scripture, though, you must choose to believe this first in order fully experience it.

Come back next week for Part 6: You Are No Longer a Sinner, You are a Saint

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