This morning, we’re beginning a new message series entitled, “Identity Crisis.” Through it, we’re going to understand better not only who we are now, but also who we are in Christ.
Our culture is suffering from a tremendous identity crisis. We don’t truly know who we are. There is such disagreement over what it means to be American. There is even disagreement on who is considered to be a citizen of the USA. The roles of a husband, wife, mother, father, brother, sister, student, teacher, employer, employee, and so many more are so uncertain.
There is even disagreement over whether someone is male or female. We created a new classification called nonbinary where someone can choose to not choose. There is a movement to actually eliminate the concept of gender altogether. This identity crisis has become so severe that it is now culturally acceptable to choose to identify as something that we’re not and expect everyone to embrace that identity.
Disappointingly, gender and sexuality seem to be the only arenas in life that this applies to, however.
I went to the airport and identified as a pilot, but they very forcibly forbade me from doing so.
I bought $100 of groceries and paid with a $20 that identified as a $100 bill, but the store manager wouldn’t accept it.
I parked in the fire lane in front of the store, but the police officer wouldn’t accept my car that identified as a fire truck.
I joined a singles dating site, but my wife wouldn’t accept that I identified as a single man.
I walked into Heaven, but Jesus wouldn’t accept that I identified as a Christian.
Now I don’t hate anyone because they try to identify as something they are not. Let’s be honest, that root sin of trying to be something that we are not is something that we all have battled. Right now, there are likely things about ourselves that we do not like. We’re too fat, too thin, too tall, too short, brunette instead of blonde, stupid instead of smart, poor instead of rich…
I accept them where they are at in the same way that Jesus accepted me where I was at when I first called on His name.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
We can accept who people are and where they are at in life without agreeing with it. We can accept people and still call sin sin. We are still commanded to love them and serve them and pray that the Holy Spirit would lead them to repentance. Repentance, to see themselves as God sees them. Repentance, to bring clarity to confusion. We’re here this morning because someone cared about us enough to do that for us and to tell us about Jesus.
It’s almost like God knew that this day would come. God reinforces several times in the beginning that He created us in His image male and female. Man and woman. Marriage defined as a man and a woman uniting together as one in life. It used to be so obvious, but He knew that there would come a day when there would be great confusion about these concepts that God, Himself gave us and called good.
There is a huge movement to erase our history and refrain from teaching our factual past from the future generations. Sure, it’s full of mistakes and downright wickedness at times, but what happened has happened. We would be wise to teach it so that future generations might learn from it and not repeat those mistakes.
I love the fact that a perfect and holy God chose to give us the Bible full of imperfect people’s successes and failures. Even the sin that He forgave, He still recorded in His word so that we might learn from it. He even honestly records that at one point, He regretted creating mankind! To erase our mistakes is to forge a clear path to repeat our mistakes.
Even in the church, we see this identity crisis clearly taking place. What does it mean to be a Christian? What should our attitude be? How should we respond to certain issues? How should we behave? Why am I here? What is my purpose? Ask 10 Christians and you’ll receive 100 different perspectives on these basic questions.
Alright, so here we go; identity crisis. To start, the most important thing for us to know and understand is that each one of us were uniquely created by God on purpose and for a purpose. None of us are here by accident, none of us are a mistake, nor are any of us a waste of space regardless of what anyone may have told us otherwise. In fact, we were on God’s mind before we were even conceived.
God told Jeremiah:
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.
1 O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
2 You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
3 You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
4 You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
5 You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
Even more amazing evidence of this reality happened just a few days after Mary was visited by an angel and told about her virgin pregnancy. Mary was at most a few days along in her pregnancy when this occurred:
39 A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town 40 where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
42 Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. 43 Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? 44 When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45 You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”
You were intentionally and purposefully created by God. He knows you full well. He knows all of your sin, your weaknesses, your bad decisions, and He still is fully convinced that the world needs you!
The Heavenly Father saw you as worth sacrificing His own Son for and Jesus saw you and agreed with the Father and willingly took on the cross for you! You are valued and loved more than you’ll ever know!
Here is where the confusion often begins. Thankfully, God is not a god of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33). This is what He teaches us about this.
People embrace sin and use the argument to defend their sin that they were born that way.
This is absolutely true and no Christian should disagree with that.
We were all born into sin.
We were created for the plans and purposes of God, but we were all born into sin.
I was born to selfishly care about myself first.
I was born to kick and hit and bite people to get the toy that they have, but I want.
I was born to say hurtful things that make me feel better.
I grew into an adolescent.
I then realized that I was born with a strong desire for sexual pleasure.
The more that I grow up, the greater and more creative my sinful ways are.
They all stem from the same basic sinful root of selfishness and pleasing myself.
We were all born into sin.
Moreover, we were all born with free will to choose as we wish.
God loves us, but love requires a choice.
He allows us to choose, which enables us to love Him back.
It also enables us to choose ourselves over Him; to sin.
That’s what Adam and Eve chose and that’s why we are born into sin.
That’s why Jesus taught that we need to be born again!
John 3:1-21 (NLT)
1 There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. 2 After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”
3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
4 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”
5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. 6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. 7 So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
9 “How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.
10 Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? 11 I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. 12 But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”
We were born into sin, but we were created for a much greater purpose. Until we are born again, we can never reach our full potential. We are unable, on our own, to live as we were created to live.
We were created to be filled with the Holy Spirit who empowers us to rise above sin and to live life to its full. Until then, we will keep filling our lives with things of the world that just weigh us down.
We were created to live in communion with God and in cooperation with Him. This can only happen when we are born again.
Before we proceed through this series and clear up our identity crisis with who Jesus says that we are, we must start at this point.
We are not all children of God. Again, we are not all children of God. Only those who have been born again are children of God. Only those who have received the Holy Spirit are adopted into the family of God. Over two dozen times we are reminded of this fact in the New Testament.
We are born of the flesh into sin. We are born again of the Spirit, BUT we still live in this flesh of sin. So how should we live after we’ve asked Jesus to save us and have been born again?
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 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.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
One of the greatest privileges that we possess is to be able to rightly identify as a child of God. If you have received the Salvation that Jesus has offered you, you are a child of God.
Child of God, live by the Spirit of God and not by your flesh. Put to death those old, sinful deeds and embrace the new creation that the Holy Spirit is growing you to be. Embrace your new life and enjoy the adventure of exploring and discovering who you were created to be. Dance and sing in the freedom that you have now received as the weight of sin and shame have been lifted off of you!
Who we were created to be is so much greater than the person we were born to be! Join us next week as we begin to explore who Jesus says you are. And, if you’ve never been born again or if you’ve fell away and need to get right with God, we’re going to pray together this morning.
Calling on Jesus is the first step, the rest is up to you. Walk daily not in the flesh, but in the Spirit of God and watch the person that you blossom to become through the transforming work of that same Holy Spirit within you!