“See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.” (from 1 John 3)
“But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.” (from John 1)
We are God’s beloved children. When we take Jesus at His word and believe He is indeed the only true source of life and He alone worthy of submitting ourselves to (and then proceed to act as if we actually believed it!), we enter into that new identity and can begin to experience the truth and power of it. We know the Father’s unconditional love, regardless of our behavior or performance. We can truly rest for the first time in our lives, because the constant striving is over at last!
“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
As a new creation, we have a real choice whether to sin. We are no longer enslaved and unable to reject sin (or to even discern what is sinful). The truth of Jesus is that in Him we are no longer sinners. We are now “saints with a sin challenge”, to use Suitt’s wonderful phrase. Our core character, our true inner nature, has been transformed from the “old man” of sin and death to the “new man” of Jesus and His Spirit.
The value of being aware of and embracing this new identity in Christ cannot be overemphasized. I was a “Christian” for many years before I ever knew my true and actual identity in Jesus. All those years were constant, mostly fruitless, toil and shame, trying unsuccessfully over and over to be good enough to be worthy of His Name. The best concise expression of this amazing transformative experience is in my favorite hymn, A. B. Simpson’s “Himself“:
Once it was the blessing, Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling, Now it is His Word.
Once His gifts I wanted, Now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing, Now Himself alone.
Once ’twas painful trying, Now ’tis perfect trust;
Once a half salvation, Now the uttermost.
Once ’twas ceaseless holding, Now He holds me fast;
Once ’twas constant drifting, Now my anchor’s cast.
Once ’twas busy planning, Now ’tis trustful prayer;
Once ’twas anxious caring, Now He has the care.
Once ’twas what I wanted, Now what Jesus says;
Once ’twas constant asking, Now ’tis ceaseless praise.
Once it was my working, His it hence shall be;
Once I tried to use Him, Now He uses me.
Once the power I wanted, Now the Mighty One;
Once for self I labored, Now for Him alone.
Once I hoped in Jesus, Now I know He’s mine;
Once my lamps were dying, Now they brightly shine.
Once for death I waited, Now His coming hail;
And my hopes are anchored, Safe within the vail.
Everything else in our lives as disciples depends on this realization. It is knowing the truth of who we are in Him, who we truly and actually are, that enables our running to Him, instead of fleeing from Him, when we stumble. If we know in our heart of hearts that we are treasured and loved beyond all measure by our Heavenly Father and our “big brother” Jesus, there is no other place we want to be, especially when we feel cut off from God by any sinful choice we might make. And by being convinced right down in our bones that God is for us and not against us, we do not fear any failure or lack within ourselves, because we know He is more than sufficient for every need. We find that it is truly only in Him that we are able to “live and move and have our being” because it is only in His unalterable assessment of our ultimate worth that we can know unshakeable love, security, significance, and peace.
He truly is greatly to be praised!
Upon this solid foundation of Jesus Christ and who we are in Him we can now begin to build our life in Him and grow up into full maturity in our true identities as sons and daughters of God Himself. We will take the first steps on that journey in the next chapter.