What exactly do Christians mean when we talk about our identity in Christ?
Finding and defining our identity is a significant and important endeavor to people. In the past decade or so, defining our identity has gained more and more significance and attention.
Today’s society wants to know whether you are part of a minority or repressed group, it stresses the importance of identifying yourself and others in politically-correct terms, and it emphasizes displaying that identity on all social media platforms.
Children at younger and younger ages are being told to identify themselves, even before they’ve had a chance to learn much of anything in life, or develop the mental capacity to understand the meaning of identity.
And to complicate things further, society’s rules surrounding how one should identify themselves – the identification options available – have drastically changed.
Does Identity Change with the Times?
But has anything really changed? Has society become more ‘woke’ and realized that we had it all wrong in the past? Or is identity something that is not subjective at all?
This blog post is all about defining our true identity: our identity in Christ.
The Bible tells us that we are all created by God, and that he defines who we are. Whether we are followers of Jesus or not, we have already been defined and identified by God. And this identity is ultimately the only one that matters.
When we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, the Bible says that we find our identity in Christ. But what do we mean by that?
A clue to answer this is in the phrase itself: identity ‘IN’ Christ. The Bible tells us over and over again that we are ‘in’ Christ. In fact, the phrase ‘in’ Christ is what the Bible uses to mean a Christian. We define a Christian as a follower of Christ, but the Bible also defines this person as someone who is ‘in’ Christ.
Ephesians 1:4-8 says,
‘For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.’NIV
We are IN Christ
Notice how three times in this passage, we are identified as ‘in’ him, or ‘in’ the One, which is Jesus. We are not just followers of Jesus, we are literally ‘in’ him.
What does that mean? Well, when Jesus took our punishment, died in our place, and was raised to life again, we also died with him – our old sinful natures died and were buried. And then we were raised to a new life in Christ. Our life – being made spiritually alive – was only made possible through Jesus.
God’s grace and forgiveness which granted us this new life – was only possible because when God sees us, he sees Jesus’ righteousness. Jesus’ righteousness covers our continued sin and imperfections, and God sees us as holy and pure. Our records have been wiped clean.
But this life in Christ is only possible when we remain ‘in’ him, covered over by Jesus’ righteousness. Our identity as Christ followers then, is only possible when we are ‘in’ Christ – when we continue in faith and obedience to him.
What Are the Characteristics of Our Identity in Christ?
What are the terms we can use to identity ourselves? Let’s take another look at Ephesians 1:4-8.
Identity in Christ#1: Chosen
Ephesians 1:4 tells us that God chose us even before the creation of the world. He thought of us, had us in his heart, and made plans for us even before our creation.
What is so incredible about this is that God knew us before he created us. He knew we would be sinful and reject him, yet he created us anyway. He knew who would choose to follow him and he chose us long before we were born. He was already faithful to us when we were not yet faithful to him. He already loved us before we were in our mother’s womb.
Jeremiah 1:5 says,
‘I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born, I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.’NLT
Identity in Christ#2: Holy & Blameless
Ephesians 1:4 also says that God chose us for a purpose: to be holy and blameless.
1 Peter 2:9 says,
‘But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you many proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.’ESV
And John 15:16 says,
‘You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.’NLT
We weren’t chosen just to receive salvation, we were chosen to be his people – set apart to be holy, to glorify God, and to produce lasting fruit! God had a plan to mold us into his image and he chose us for this very purpose.
Living as God’s chosen, does not mean that we should simply accept his gift of salvation and go on living any way we choose. We were chosen to live a life of obedience to God, to become more and more like Jesus, to glorify God, and to share God’s ‘excellencies’ with the rest of the world.
Identity in Christ#3: A Sonship
Ephesians 1:5 tells us that God predestined us for adoption to sonship – to become his children.
We were not only chosen to become holy and blameless, but God chose us to become his children! God had a plan that would enable us to be forgiven and counted as righteous, and he did this so that we could become his children. This speaks of his great love for us: the love of a parent for a child. Knowing how sinful and rebellious we would be, he predestined us to be his adopted children just the same!
Romans 8:14-15 says,
‘For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father”.’NLT
Just as a parents watch over and comfort their children, so does God by giving us his Spirit to live within us. In fact, having the indwelling of the Spirit is the mark of being a child of God.
Identity in Christ #4: God Takes Pleasure in Us
Ephesians 1:5 tells us that it gave God great pleasure to give us this gift of salvation and adopt us as his children. This was not simply a charitable act.
Have you ever does something charitable? Maybe helped somebody out by doing a task, or in giving of your money or time? It can feel rewarding to give to others, but do we take great pleasure in it?
God saved us, when we were his enemies, and he took great pleasure in doing so!
Psalms 149:4 says,
‘For the Lord takes pleasure in his people, he adorns the humble with salvation.’ESV
God takes pleasure in us – his children – and he didn’t save us simply as a charitable act, he takes pleasure in us. It says in this passage that ‘he adorns’ the humble with salvation. The word adorn, paints the picture of something being given in a tender and loving way, and with great honor. God lavishes his love on us because he takes pleasure in us!
Identity in Christ #5: Redeemed
Ephesians 1:7 tells us that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. Other translations use the word ‘redeemed’. To redeem something, means to buy back, or to purchase. God bought us back with the blood of his own Son so that we could be forgiven.
Bought us back from what?
Romans 6:23 says,
‘For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.’NLT
We were given a death sentence because we have all sinned. We were awaiting our final punishment, but God paid the penalty for us, and freed us from the requirement of death. Not only are we free, but God has pardoned our guilty verdict, our record has been wiped clean!
Though the world may not forget or forgive our failures and mistakes, God does!
Identity in Christ#6: Blessed
Ephesians1:8 tells us that God showers his kindness on us. Another word used for kindness in other Bible translations is ‘blessing’. Not only has God showered us with his kindness and blessing by saving us, but he also wants to continue to bless us through his power, wisdom, and understanding.
Jeremiah 29:11 says,
‘For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’NLT
Ephesians 3:20 says,
‘Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,’ESV
And Philippians 4:19 says,
‘And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.’ESV
God delights in blessing his children. He promises to supply us with everything we need. Now that doesn’t mean he will supply us with everything we think we need, but the almighty God who created the universe wants to bless us, take care of us, and he takes pleasure in doing so!
Society tries to shape and define our identity. It tries to dictate what matters most. You might even be struggling to find acceptance among your peers or even family members. You might feel pressure to define yourself by society’s ideals and standards.
But the Sovereign God who created the world and everything in it, decides our true identity. He desires that the entire world be identified as his children, but he gives us free will to choose. When we choose to trust and obey God, our identity is in Christ. But when we choose our own way, our identity is tied to Satan and sin, whether we acknowledge this path of life or not.
Our identity in Christ is our true calling. Not only should it define who we are, but it should define how we live!
Identity: Who You Are in Christ by Eric Geiger – While careers, relationships, possessions, and other things are important aspects of our lives, they don’t last forever. But God gives us a real purpose and meaning in our lives. When we seek our identity in places other than Christ, we find ourselves empty. God invites us to lose our lives and find our identity in Him.