Strategy 3: Your Identity (Fervent Bible Study Blog # 4)
Since last night was Good Friday, we sat down together as a family to watch The Passion of the Christ. The movie opens with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying fervently. A figure dressed in black, who you presume to be Satan, circles him. Jesus is crying out to His Father, tears rolling down his face. At one point when He is lying face down on the ground, Satan comes up to Him and whispers, “Who is your father?” Then he asks another question. “Who are you?”
“If I were your enemy, I’d devalue your strength and magnify your insecurities until they dominated how you see yourself, disabling and disarming you from fighting back, from being free, from being who God has created you to be. I’d work hard to ensure that you never realize what God has given you so you’ll doubt the power of God within you.” (Shirer 55)
From the time we are kids our identity is being shaped by those around us. Both adults and kids chime in about who they think we are. Smart, dumb, good, bad, pretty, not-so-good-looking. Sometimes we are even told what career we should enter into. All of that sticks with us and forms us into the adults we are.
I published my first book in my twelfth year of teaching. It took me fifteen years to write and publish that first book. My second novel took nine months. The third? Six months. It was obvious to my husband and my kids that I had become an author, yet when I met people and they asked, “What do you do?” the answer was always the same. “I’m a teacher.” Yes, I was still teaching, but I wanted to be a full-time author. After years in the same profession, it was difficult for me to see myself as anything different.
Maybe that’s where you are today. For so many years you have placed your identity on your successes or failures that you can’t see anything else. You don’t want to cling to rejection, but you can’t see beyond it. And the problem with identifying yourself with your successes is all that can crumble in a moment. So, where do we find our identity?
“That’s why he doesn’t want you praying— not fervently— because fervent prayer keeps your true identity in focus. Reminds us of who we really are and taps into the power we really have in Christ.” (Shirer 57)
We find our true identity in reading the Bible and connecting with God in prayer. The truth is, though we label some acts as “good” or “bad” we are all sinners. But check out what Titus 3:3-5 says—
“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit”
The word kindness is frequently used in the Bible when speaking of Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross. It refers to Him doing something for us that we are unable to do for ourselves. Yes, we are sinners. We have blown it. But that’s not the identity we need to cling to. We can cling to our salvation and rebirth through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Watching The Passion and reading the story of Jesus’s crucifixion reminds me of God’s great love for me to make a way for me to spend eternity with Him and Jesus’s love for me to be beaten and killed for me to be right with God.
Priscilla lists various ways we should view ourselves that Paul shares in Ephesians 1:1-14. Which of these identities do you already claim? Which do you need to include in your prayer so you remember to claim it?
Next comes Paul’s prayer for the believers in Ephesians 1:17-20—
“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father may give you the Spirit and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms”
Do you have a vision of the hope He has called you to? Are you aware of His glorious inheritance? Do you realize His incomparable power is available to all who believe? That, my friend, is why nothing is impossible with Christ Jesus our Lord. Which of these do you need to ask the Lord for?
The second book of the modern prodigal series that I’m writing is entitled The Beloved. When God gave me that title, He revealed to me that it is because He loves us deeply, even when we are wallowing in our sin. The verse God gave me for the book?
“Now rescue your beloved people. Answer and save us by your power.” ~ Psalm 60:5
Beloved means greatly loved. Do you realize you are God’s Beloved? No matter how far you fall, how you have sinned or turned from God, you are still loved greatly by Him. All you need to do is call out to Him and He will save you. You are greatly loved by the one who created you.
So, there Jesus was in the beginning of the movie Passion, face to the ground. As Satan asks Jesus who his father is and who he is, a snake comes from Satan’s robe and slithers over to Jesus. After a few minutes, Jesus stands and smashes the head of the snake with His heel. That is our response to Satan when we claim an identity that is firm in the Lord. We destroy Satan’s schemes when we cling to the truth of who we are.
Who are you? In the comments below, please share verses or phrases you are going to cling to as you rebuild your identity in Christ. Share any ah-ha moments that came as you read Strategy 3 and what verses from the end of the chapter you are incorporating into your prayer. This is where our battle is won, my friend. By realizing who we truly are not only will our lives be transformed, but we can change the world for Him as well.
All quotes not from the Bible are taken from:
Shirer, Priscilla. “Fervent.” B & H Publishing Group, 2015.