Identity – I am what I am!

Once you begin to understand that you are not what you do or what you have done, you are free to be something different.  Nor are you what has happened to you.  Many people form their identity based on the things that have happened in their lives, whether things done by themselves or by others.  They refer to themselves by the events of their lives.  “I am a _____ survivor.”  Or, “I am a _____er.”

As Christians, we must learn to see sin as an event and our past as something that happened, and neither as a definition of who we are today.  “I did this,” is vastly different from, “I am this.”

Identity is so important for victory in the Christian life.  If I see myself as a sinner, worthy of the wrath of God, I will live in fear and worry.  If I see myself as God’s child, unconditionally loved by the Creator and Judge of the whole world, I have peace.  But there is more than that.  From which perspective will I be more likely to move into victory in my daily life?

The person who sees himself as a failure will fail.  The person who understands that success is already accomplished can only succeed.  A regular person who goes into a job interview will be worried about doing well.  He may be afraid that failure will define his life.  He wants to be someone who makes $XXX per year and has a comfortable life.  Blowing the job interview will cause the failure.  But someone who is already a millionaire will go into the job interview with a much different perspective.  He may still want to do well, but the fear of failure will not be the same.  The regular person may be afraid of financial doom.  The millionaire will find rest in the fact that his money and his comfort are secure.popeye

Now, that’s not a perfect illustration, but it makes a point.  You and I are in Christ, already saved, already forgiven, already bound for Heaven.  No failure can take that away.  We didn’t earn our place and we don’t maintain our place.  Jesus does it all.  We are the millionaires—and so much more.

We must understand who we are in Christ and who Christ is in us.  We are not what we used to be.  Before Christ, sin did define us.  We didn’t have anything else.  Now that we have Christ in us, He defines us.  We are not Him, but we are what He says we are.  We are saints.  We are free, forgiven, loved, accepted, and already citizens of Heaven.

This is why boundaries are so important.  We will talk more about this tomorrow, but let me say here that strong personalities will try to impress on us an identity that is not ours.  They may move us to be like them or they may try to make us something they can use.  In either case, we are faced with the challenge of losing who we are.  By standing our ground on truth and believing in our identity, they lose much of their power over us.

Long before Popeye said it, Paul proclaimed his identity.  He looked back on his life, filled with failures, and proclaimed that he was just who Christ said he was.

 

9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 1 Corinthians 15:9-10 (NKJV)

9 Comments

Filed under Freedom, grace, Legalism, Theology and mystery

9 responses to “Identity – I am what I am!

  1. “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Prov. 23:7 KJV.

  2. annie

    I struggle with this in regard to the violent Narc who says he is a Christian and goes to church to get Supply and even hunt his next female victim. The Narc attends the ‘men’s study home group’ and builds up his reputation ready to groom the next lady. He even sits with a Chaplain and his wife which adds to his credibility…..ready for the next victim the Senior Pastor does nothing but advise the woman to “sit down the front, avoid him, dont talk to him and get on with your life, you are safe here ” . But hes not accountable to anybody in the Church community cause theyre all pouring their Grace and love onto him … she ends up leaving the church as the principle of no contact cannot work in this situation ,But it’s OK as Gods Grace is upon Him, he is saved and it doesn’t matter what bad works he does he still goes to heaven and we have to love forgive and be his friend. That’s not possible to me. I’ve been a Christian all my life and was shocked that I got manipulated by this clever Narc. Now I find a new church… But he used to be there too, hunting, so the story continues… I can’t get away. No contact meant leaving the church. I asked for another appoint with the Pastor to explain that I was not feeling emotionally or spiritually safe and my anxiety increased. The Pastor did not allow me to have an appointment. I am pleased I left but miss my friends. I don’t believe you can have a Grace message without a message of accountability. The problem is that Grace is pushed and sin is OK. As Jesus has paid the price. That then means we can continue to be a rapist, murderer, abuser until the day we die…. As long as we gave our life to Jesus …. It doesn’t matter. I know my ex Narc has taking on that message in his heart as he continues to live a double life. I divorced him earlier in the year but I still get triggered. I live in a city of 60,000 people in Australia but might as well be in a village. …. The triggers are everywhere. Jesus clearly told the woman “go and sin no more”. He also ” shook the dust from his feet when the men wouldn’t listen”. Paul said we were accountable to each other … “go and tell your brother who has wronged you…… Then those in charge, then the church … If he doesn’t listen”. This is new testament teaching not Old. Jesus didn’t throw out the
    Ten Commandments on the cross. We need to walk a Godly path if we are Christians. Not live a double life like the Abusers do. I’m not perfect, but when my Spirit is pricked I listen and do something about it. We need to encourage each other to say sorry and make amends by example. Not give the message that we can do what we like anyway… The Narc loves that sort of message…… They don’t have to change a thing. God does love everyone but gave us Holy Spirit to let us know right from wrong. We need to teach more about The Trinity and what each part means. I don’t know if Narcs can be truly Christian OR they are using God and His Grace to get supply. terrible thought. I have lived it and find it difficult to accept that God accepts the Narc as he is. As he could be in Christ, yes, but not as he is. That is as good as God condoning the violence against me and others. I don’t believe he does. I think the dust must eventually get shaken off His feet,,, The bible says Adulterers and liars will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven….. So there must be accountability.

    • I agree with you on this. There are a lot of verses in the Bible concerning holy living. Although our standing with God is already given (we are saved, we are forgiven, nothing can change that), it is more right that we move in love, and gratitude.. something like that..

    • Hi Annie! Thanks for writing. I have a couple of things in response, but generally I agree with what you have written.

      First, your note prompted me to write a different post about narcissism than I was planning for today. There is no doubt that narcissists should be held accountable for their actions and that most of them get away with a lot. Especially those who pretend to be Christians. I have been abused by a narcissist for his own gain and I think a great deal of my pain came when I watched him do the same thing to others. But he goes merrily on his way and the “dead bodies” lie on the path behind him. He doesn’t care and no one holds him accountable. In fact, he is in a high position of church leadership.

      So, I agree that true grace does not overlook sin. Often people accuse grace teachers of preaching that sin isn’t a big deal. If that is taught, it is wrong. Sin is a big deal. Jesus went to the cross because of sin. Sin damages the lives of everyone. God hates sin.

      It is wrong that the leaders of your church ignore the actions of such a man under the disguise of grace. This is just what Paul talked about in 1 Corinthians. They boasted of their “grace” while they did nothing to stop the abuse and immorality. But many church leaders won’t do their jobs because of political pressures and narcissists are expert at applying political pressure.

      I had to go back over my post to see if I wrote something that might have suggested that sin was not a big deal. The real message of grace is that we are fully dependent on Jesus for anything spiritual. Salvation, forgiveness, freedom, strength—all come to us as a gift from Him. We can’t earn any of it, no matter what we do (or don’t do). Thus, the fact that I stand righteous is because of Jesus, not me. It is fact and is outside of my actions—good or bad.

      When I tell people to be what they are, I mean they should see themselves from the perspective of the truth Jesus says about them. When they do that, they should see sin as altogether inconsistent with who they are. No grace teacher or believer should take sin lightly or find occasion to sin with impunity because of grace. While God will no longer hold our sins against us, He may certainly allow our sins to destroy us. There are many reasons not to sin. Losing salvation or changing our true position in Christ is not one of them.

      You wrote: “The problem is that Grace is pushed and sin is OK. As Jesus has paid the price. That then means we can continue to be a rapist, murderer, abuser until the day we die…. As long as we gave our life to Jesus …. It doesn’t matter.”

      Like you, I think this is terrible. If this is the message taught by this church, then you should leave it and so should everyone else. That is not the grace message, in my opinion.

      About your narcissist, you wrote, “But it’s OK as Gods Grace is upon Him, he is saved and it doesn’t matter what bad works he does he still goes to heaven and we have to love forgive and be his friend.”
      First, is there any real evidence that the narcissist is saved? I find it extremely difficult to believe that a narcissist can be saved and still be a narcissist, simply because narcissism is almost a direct opposite of being a Christian. A Christian has released himself into the hands of Jesus for judgment and for forgiveness. A narcissist will refuse to do this because he will not allow himself to be exposed to anyone, even God, in this way. If he does, he will cease to be a narcissist. His actions may still continue out of habit for a while, but so much will change.

      Second, where does it say that we have to love him and be his friend? I don’t forgive sinners, I accept the forgiveness Jesus gives them, but being their friend is something quite different. Being a friend means to open yourself and let someone in. I won’t do that with the narcissists in my life and I certainly don’t recommend that for others. In fact, I would do all I could to protect myself from these people and people like them.

      So let me say strongly that I believe sin is a big deal, even in the life of a Christian and even though it no longer defines someone who is a believer. And also let me say that what the narcissist does is not OK. It hurts others and it should be stopped. Church leaders should take their responsibility seriously and step in to help. They should deal in truth, not politics.

      Annie, I hope this helps. I invite you to write to me again, either through a comment or privately. There is much pain in what you have written and I believe you. I know what these awful people can do. I care about you and I am praying for you.

    • Annie, I have one more thought. You mentioned that your narcissist was violent. If he has done something to you, you should report it to legal authorities, not church authorities. I understand that some time has passed and you have to sort this out, but I also know that church leaders often don’t handle abuse situations well. That’s what law enforcement is for and, again, the abuser should be held responsible. You may have survived, but others may not.

  3. joniw

    I like what you said it taken me many years to understand this even if emotionally i havent quite gotten it yet. This year i went to my 30th high school reunion; I went with the attitude of reaqainting myself with other individuals i remembered. I really enjoyed it that i was trying not let my past get to me. I was bullied in high school in the 80s but i got home after having a good time realizing that it was me that should have worried because it was not my issue but at the same time wondered why God allowed and why I let them have so much power over me for so many years. It was my first reunion 30 years because of the fear of the taunting not taking into consideration others maturity. I assure i wont make that mistake again.

  4. annie

    Thankyou David. I have responded in your next blog. I will write via email. Just wanted to comment re the legal. Without the Police two years ago I don’t know where I,would be. The story is long. To shorten it. We had a flood, I lost my vehicle and his. He conned me financially for that, not insured. Cost me financially. I he tried to strangle me three weeks before flood. I knew I had to get out and had a plan. Flood happened first. My adult children came to help and the truth came out from me. He tried to con us all, insurers, everyone. The lies grew. I didn’t go back. I just had overnight clothes. He changed the locks. I got police to help me get my personal effects. When they found he had guns, I was removed from the house for safety. My son took me to the Police Station. They refused to take my statement…. as it was three weeks ago and I had no bruises AND why didn’t I report it when it happened….all the cliches. Eventually the Constable who I first contacted took the AVO (apprehended violence order) out for 1 year on my behalf. I later tried to breech him but the Police said I could be seen as manipulating him and be charged with entrapment. At least his guns were removed by the police, he was kept in jail for one night..He was charged with twenty gun offences. … His pastor(chaplain) friend bailed him out next day. Police opposed bail. The magistrate let him out even tho the police included AVO in why he shouldnt be allowed bail. He had to appear before police weekly but got let off this after 6 months for good behaviour. He lied ti his Solicitors, had a plea bargain agreement, reduced to four charges, fined $200 and given a good behaviour bond for two years. Police known there are 4 automatic rifles out there hidden. Until they are found and can be connected to him …. They are still out there. Our gun laws are strict in Australia. He also sent out letters to people full,of lies for character references. And he got them. He pulled the sympathy vote saying he ” forgot” about his Dads pistol for years (he didn’t he put it in our drawer to scare me and the police got it when I told them). His guns were not stored legally and he knew this and was planning to make a new one before he got audited…. He told the Solicitor he thought it was legal. There were so many lies and the Magistrate and friends believed him. I agreed to counselling last year so I could tell him what I thought. I found out more … He wanted me to drop the AVO so it would look better in court and tried to find out who dubbed him in about the guns….. Very angry and yelling. I ended the counselling and ended the charade. He went to court, pleaded guilty and the plea bargain was accepted. I tried to renew the AVO and he objected. I then had to pay solicitor and court costs for any further …. I no longer had any money to fight. The Police can only arrest and charge with evidence and often witnesses. I want to encourage women to go to the hospital, get the police to take photos if there is physical evidence. Often there isn’t. When there was he convinced me it was my fault. I did make a long statement to get him charged and breeched but the Sargeant wouldn’t go ahead. I know other cases where the woman comes out worst. In NSW their is still the law of Provocation and the perp gets a much lesser charge. Even getting off. It has changed in some states but is being sorted in NSW. Getting charges to stick is very hard when there are no witnesses. The Offender is such a good liar. The Police helped me get safe but they couldn’t help me put him away!!!

  5. annie

    Added to the above legalities in Australia …. It was recently announced by media that AVO and DV charges can now include “manipulation and financial abuse”. The police response was ” all allegations will be investigated according to the law … Charges will be laid if evidence of an offence is able to be gathered”. There lies the problem. How do you prove manipulation which has no witnesses AND even the victim doesnt recognise what it is … and financial abuse …. His word against hers, ie. “she agreed to sign the papers ….or pay the bills …. Or pay ….. “. OR ” she was so bad with money, I had to take control of the finances or we wouldn’t be able to pay the bills”. If Police take out an AVO or press charges it doesn’t cost BUT take it any further or through civil court then it cost $$$$$. To renew my AVO it was solicitor costs AU$550. To take it further when he objected AU $2,500 up front and his costs and court costs if I lost. As the Police would not breech him for several instances, I had no “proof” that I needed the AVO to continue. As far as they were concerned I couldn’t “prove” he had done anything wrong. Because I’d had contact ie the counselling AND he drank in front of me which was in the AVO not to. That was seen as entrapment. I am helping others but getting legal action is hard. Even women who have physical damage or die …. There’s the “Provocation” factor. We’ve still got a long way to go with getting the laws right but we can’t ever give up!!!!!

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