Bible Reading Blog
“Identity”Categories: Congregational Bible Reading
BIBLE READING: Philippians 3
“…I have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more… but whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” (Philippians 3.4-7)
A friend of mine joined a support group for people dealing with addictions. At each meeting they always started with an introduction: “My name is ___ and I’m dealing with ___” He talked about how, at first, it was good for him to admit his struggle. But over time it felt like he was just identifying with his problem rather than getting rid of it. If he wanted to move on, he needed to let go of his past failures and adopt a new identity.
The same is true in our walk of faith. In Christ we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5.17), but things from our past sometimes linger. Following Christ requires a radical change of thinking that can be incredibly difficult to adopt (Philippians 2.3-5). For some, failure can feel like an inevitable identity. But one of the great promises of God is that when we turn away from sin, he forgives our past and empowers our future (Hebrews 8.12; 1 John 1.9).
However, even as we mature, there are habits and attitudes that can remain because they are justified by our identity. For instance, our lack of love can be justified by a commitment to truth. We’re not all bad, we’re just not doing everything perfectly. We cannot be satisfied with this “lesser of two evils” attitude. We need to be resolute in changing any area of life inconsistent with the nature of God.
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2.20). We must appreciate Paul’s word choice here: he describes his actions in the strongest possible terms. He had brutally executed his former self and left it behind for something of surpassing worth (Philippians 3.13-14). Notice that Paul doesn’t enumerate his past to wallow or boast. Instead, he does it to identify what he is getting rid of.
We are not always mindful of who – or rather whose— we are choosing to be. We need to understand our identity is important to God. On the day of judgment, He will say to many “I never knew you” (Matthew 7.23). But to those who choose to know him, He will welcome them home (Matthew 25.34). If you were to die today what would God say about you?
In Christ, we are given a new and wonderful identity. By the grace of God, we are children of the king, heirs of the promise, and conquerors over whatever comes our way. That is our identity if we choose it. But we must get rid of excuses and be who we need to be today.
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philippians 3.8)