Walking In Your New Identity Pt. 1
Have you ever realized how challenging it is to begin a new position in your life? If you are recently married, perhaps it's stepping into your new role as a husband or wife. If you’re a first-time parent, then it is beginning your journey as a new mom or dad. If you are in the military, it is walking into that new role at a higher rank or position. This challenge isn’t subject to only the natural things in our lives, but also our spiritual life. The moment you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you step into a new role. You become a child of God. You are no longer bound to sin, but are free to live as a Good and Faithful Servant of Jesus Christ. The question arises, however, “how do I walk in this new identity?” “How do I assume my new role as an ambassador of the Kingdom of God?” Today we are going to discuss three ways that can help you walk into your new identity.
Are you ready? Let’s go!
In his Letter to the Colossians, Paul provides a practical way for the men and women of the Colossian church to live their lives as followers of Jesus Christ. After providing an in-depth defense of the Gospel message against heretical teaching circulating in the church, Paul gives instructions on how they can move forward as God’s chosen people. He begins in Colossians 3:1-4 (NIV) with:
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
The Colossian believers had received the Gospel message from Epaphras, one of Paul’s co-workers in ministry. Since then, they had begun to grow in the love and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Paul was happy about this and continued to pray for them. However, some false teachers began expounding a message contrary to the Gospel. This message sought to persuade the Colossian believers to practice circumcision, extreme ascetic practices, observe religious festivals, and worship of angels and elements. After reminding them that it was Jesus Christ who had supremacy over all creation, he then proceeds with encouraging them to put away their old life of sin. In Colossians 3:5-10 (NIV) he says,
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Moreover, after putting to death their old lives of sin, he tells them to
12 … clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
As Christians, the Colossians were to clothe themselves with the fruit of the Spirit. They were to continue to bear with one another and forgive each other just as Jesus Christ had forgiven them. Finally, they were to “put on” love which would bind the church together in perfect unity unto their Master.
As we reflect on this passage, I don’t think it’s hard to see that the Colossian believers were very similar to you and me. In fact, the same message Paul wrote to them by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is still applicable for every believer today. From this passage, the Apostle Paul gives us three ways to walk in our new identity in Christ.
- Set Your Mind on Christ
Paul told the Colossians to set their minds on things above where Christ is seated.
Because they are now hidden in Christ. As believers, the moment we accept Christ as our Savior, we no longer live for ourselves, we live for God. The tension, however, is that we must continue to live our lives here on earth while recognizing our total allegiance to the Lamb of God. But how are we to do this while still fulfilling roles as parents, spouses, and leaders? One way is to continually set our minds on Christ who is seated on the throne of God.
Often, life throws many things at us that tend to shift our focus from God to our problems. The kids are acting out in school. My wife is upset with me for some odd reason. These bills keep coming to my house and I don’t have the money to pay them! All these problems come storming at us and knock us off our feet.
Because we have taken our minds off Jesus Christ. Paul tells us that we have died to our old lives and our new lives are now hidden in Christ. In other words, we no longer have to live as if we have to handle all of our problems alone. We have a Savior who is waiting to take our care from us. The first step in walking in your new identity is to set your mind on Christ. (If this is something you need help with, check out our G & F Bible Reading Plan. Prayerfully designed to help you learnt to meditate over the Scripture throughout your day)
- Put to Death Your Old Self
The subtopic may appear to be a little drastic but hear me out. After you have set your mind on Christ, you must ensure that you are putting to death all the things that belong to your old lifestyle. Too often, people accept Christ and then go back to doing the same thing they did before they experienced the grace and love of our Savior. I believe part of this is because they don’t understand that they are no longer slaves to sin. In Christ, we have been made free. We are no longer bound. We now can walk in the newness of life, leaving behind the hideous skins of that sinful life. (Listen to our Breaking the Sin Cycle Series to learn more)
Sexual disorientation that characterized our lives no longer holds sway over us because God has told us who we are in Him. We no longer need to be greedy and hold every coin we get to ourselves because Jesus has told us that it is better to give than to receive. Every lie that Satan told us is now abolished with truth and love from our Father. We are now God’s children. We belong to Jesus. We have been bought with the precious blood of our Savior and no longer submit to the gods of this world.
- Clothe Yourself with the Holy Spirit
You’ve set your mind on Christ. You’ve put to death your old self. What else is there to do? Well, you can’t stand around undressed, can you? Of course not. You must dress yourself! So next let us clothe ourselves with the Holy Spirit.
But how do we do that?
By producing the fruits of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV) says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” The final step in our journey to new life is to reflect those characteristics that Jesus Christ resembled. This is only possible when the Holy Spirit is living within us. Once we have accepted Christ as Savior, we are filled with the Spirit of God that produces spiritual fruit that is characteristic of God. Paul tells us that, “… as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
As a Christ-follower you are called to look like your Father and reflect His character. Jesus, as the perfect image of God, provides the standard by which we are to live by. As we continue on our earthly journey, it is our duty to reflect our Savior and glorify our Father. In fact, this is exactly what Jesus tells us to do in Matthew 5:16 (NIV), “… let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Good and Faithful, you are called to let the light of the Holy Spirit shine bright through you for all the world to see. You are called to reflect the new life you have in Jesus. You are called to identify as a child of the Most High. You are called to love that friend that hurt you and talked about you. You are called to be patient with that child who has kept you up at night. You are called to forgive that mother or father that abused you as a child. That’s what it means to clothe yourself with the Spirit of God. That is what it means to be a child of God. This is what our Father requires of us.
In closing, I pray that you take time to reflect on these steps to walk in your new identity. I know it can be challenging. I know it can be hard. But there is something available to us as Good and Faithful Servants: hope. Hope that God will finish what He begins in us until Jesus Christ returns.
You can find more practical content from Pastor Charles D. Chaney Jr. in our Devotionals blog.
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