What Determines Our Identity?
Our identity refers to who we perceive ourselves to be in terms of our abilities, talents, values, preferences, experiences, education, personality, behaviors, successes, failures, affiliations (what we are a part of), relationships (who we know and associate with), possessions we own, positions we’ve been in, places we’ve lived, and our physical, mental, emotional attributes. In many cases, these things that define our identity will often combine together to determine our sense of value and level of social acceptability.
Our identity can have a huge impact on our life because our feelings about our identity tend to be a key factor in how people treat us and how we choose to live our lives. Much of our identity is often derived from how we think others perceive us, which is something that we often let determine our personal value and self-worth. This can be quite dangerous and destructive. If we surrender our perceived identity to the perceptions and opinions of others, we no longer have control of our own identity and let others take control of who we become.
When we feel that our current identity is causing others to disapprove, devalue, exclude, ignore, mock, or look down upon us, it can easily lead us to believe that there may be some flaw in our identity that is causing this type of treatment. In an effort to improve our identity and social standing among others, it is common for us to compare ourselves with others who have achieved the status that we would like to achieve. A process then tends to occur where we begin to imitate the fashions, values, preferences, accomplishments, and behaviors that those with higher status have acquired in hopes that we will be accepted like them. When we get caught in this process, our true identity is set aside in favor of copying others in an attempt to help us to fit in and be more acceptable in the eyes of others.
Destructive Behavior in Search of an Acceptable Identity
One of the worst parts of surrendering one’s identity to the opinions and perceptions of others is the destructive way that people go about trying to avoid the risk of being lowly esteemed. It causes people do things that are completely irrational; things that that they would never truly do out of their own desire, but they do those things anyway if they think it will make them look a little tougher, a little cooler, a little more popular, and a little more esteemed. At the same time, they may also avoid doing positive things that they truly want to do because a segment of the population around them would look down upon it.
It is also quite possible that some of us would choose not to care about what others think and form our own opinions about our identity according to our own standards. When done in a healthy manner, this can be good. However, it can also be a trap as it is quite possible for us to be harder on ourselves than others are, resulting in the inability to accept ourselves, even though others do accept us. The outcome is still the same; low self-worth, lack of value, inferiority and disappointment with one’s own identity.
Another long standing source of destroying one’s identity is poorly applied religion and a false view of God. Religion has standards and God has standards. God’s standards consist of laws that require perfection. No one can live up to God’s standards of sinless perfection one hundred percent of the time. This will inevitably bring about a sense of failure and shame before God for anyone who truly desires to always do what is right. Basing your identity on your ability to keep the law is futile and is a dead end road of inferiority and unworthiness before God.
Finding Your Identity in Relationship to God
God never meant for us to have an identity that is constantly at risk from failing to measure up to standards, expectations, and opinions. To do so would be identity suicide. Instead, He meant for our identity to be rooted in the certainty the certainty of unconditional love that is offered by the greatest being in the universe (this of course refers to God). When God made us, He never meant for our priceless value and identity to negotiable and at constant risk. Instead, He meant for us to derive value and identity from being His greatest creation that was planned and designed in His own image, and the treasure that He dreamed about creating.
None of this talk about identity will amount to anything unless you first acknowledge the supreme identity of God. No one who has a low opinion of God cares that He treasures them, created them, and would give up His life for them. Let me ask a question; what people do you hold in highest esteem in this world? Who do you admire and stand in awe of? If there is such a person that you esteem highly, you love it when they accept you, approve of you, and highly esteem you. Such a person has the ability to boost your sense of value and self-worth more than anyone else. Would it be any different with God? If you esteem Him and stand in awe of him, then His high regard for you secures your identity with high value. If you have low regard for God, He can do little to secure your identity and your identity will always be at risk. You will be subject to the uncertainty of standards and opinions that change with the moods and trends that make up your surrounding environment.
This life is not a perfect picture of how God feels about you, rather it’s often a picture of how others feel about you, and at times it is even a picture of how the devil feels about you. But in spite of how things look according to our circumstances, we can be secure in the certainty that God still loves us.
Sometimes we wonder if God can truly love us in our fallen condition. It is true that we have all sinned before God and God hates sin, but He still loves the sinner; and yes sin is punishable, but God is willing to take that punishment for us. It’s true that we have all done things that we are ashamed of if we understand the difference between right and wrong, but if we turn to Jesus, we find that He was willing to take that shame upon himself for us, so that when we stand before God, we don’t have to be ashamed. Yes, it’s true that we are fallen creatures, but God has come to redeem us and restore our identity from those who are subject to the devil, to those who are sons and daughters of the Most High God. His destiny for us is to be heirs and coheirs who will reign with Him in His Kingdom for ever and ever.
There may be some who are perfectly content with their identity and feel no need to invite God into the picture at all. They either refuse to recognize sin as being something that is wrong, or they just excuse it as an inevitable thing that everyone does. Failures don’t matter to their identity and the opinions of others who may devalue them are not important to them. They may believe that value simply comes from being, and existing, and considering oneself as highly valued so that there is no need for God. These thoughts ignore our need for God’s intervention to restore our identity to His original intention before sin entered the world. Even though God values us from birth, part of our identity is that we are born into sin, which can only be remedied by someone who would be willing to take the blame for our sins by being punished with death on a cross while rising from the dead to impart His resurrection life of perfection into us. Only Christ meets this qualification in order to restore our identity to God’s original intention. We must simply believe in this work that Christ has done on our behalf. This is the only way that our identity can be restored to the image of God and counted worthy of heaven with a perfect God.
God gives us the choice to strive to find our identity within ourselves and others, or we can choose to find our identity in Christ, who will redeem us, renew us, and restore us to the esteemed status that He always intended for us. Without Christ, we will forever strive for the right to achieve an identity that is acceptable. With faith in Christ, we can quit striving and rest in an identity as one who is made in the very image of the supreme being of the universe; God.
Are you ready to rest in the certainty of a highly valued identity that God has provided through His Son, Jesus Christ? Then renew your mind with scriptures that reveal God’s intended identity for you until God’s view point becomes your view point that outweighs the worlds fallen view point.
Scriptures that tell us who we are in Christ. WE ARE:
LOVED – CHILDREN OF GOD
1 John 3:1
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.
SONS (AND DAUGHTERS) AND HEIRS OF GOD
Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
CONFORMED TO THE LIKENESS OF HIS SON
Romans 8: 29
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that he might be the first born among many brothers.
JUSTIFIED (MADE RIGHT BEFORE GOD) AND GLORIFIED
And those he predestined, he also called, those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
MORE THAN CONQUORORS
Romans 8: 35-37
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For our sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No in all these things we are more than conquerors through his who loved us.
FORGIVEN OF ALL SIN
….He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with is regulations that was against us and stood opposed to us; he took it all away, nailing it to the cross.
FREED FROM OUR SINS — A KINGDOM AND PRIESTS
….To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
CHOSEN – HOLY — BLAMELESS IN HIS SIGHT – ADOPTED AS HIS SONS – REDEEMED (purchased by God from Satan’s dominion and made to be His possession designated for blessing instead of under a curse)
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 to be adopted as his sons 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 with al wisdom and understanding.
RECONCILED (peace is made between us and God) — HOLY IN HIS SIGHT – WITHOUT BLEMISH — FREE FROM ACCUSATION
But now he reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.
Because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
WASHED WITH PURE WATER
Therefore brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscious and our bodies washed with pure water.
ANOINTED – SEALED BY HIS OWNERSHIP
2 Corinthians 1: 21-22
He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come
A NEW CREATION
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD
2 Corinthians 5:21
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
QUALIFIED TO SHARE IN THE INHERTANCE OF THE SAINTS –
RESCUED FROM THE DOMINION OF DARKNESS—
BROUGHT INTO THE KINGDOM OF HIS SON
Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.
MARKED IN HIM
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.
A CHOSEN PEOPLE – A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD – A HOLY NATION – GOD’S SPECIAL POSSESSION
1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
SEATED IN THE HEAVENLY REALMS
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
GOD’S TEMPLE — A TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
1 Corinthians ch.3: vs. 16 and ch. 6: vs. 19-20
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own, you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body.