Suppose you decided that you were afraid of banks and you took all your savings and other money in cash and put it in a special safe in your basement. For a while, everything is good. When you need money, you go down to get some. When you get money, you put it in the safe. The system works fine.
Until you lose the key.
Something happens to distract you and you put the key somewhere, but you can’t remember where. Suddenly your money isn’t available to you. When you need it, you can’t get to it.
But here’s a question: Did you lose your money? Of course not. It’s still right where you put it. You own it and it’s yours. But you don’t have access to it because of that distraction that made you lose the key.
Now, can you lose your identity? Well, there is a sense in Christian teaching that all people lost their identity when sin entered the world. In Adam, we all lost the identity that was supposed to be ours. In fact, much of life consists of trying to rebuild or refashion an identity. Identity apart from Christ is part of the flesh and part of the deception.
But believers cannot lose their identity because Jesus is our life. What He says about us is true even when we forget it.
And there’s the rub: identity can be forgotten. The distraction comes—a relationship, a temptation, a decision—and the rabbit trail leads away from the truth. Feelings and bad logic assert themselves and give false information. It certainly is not uncommon for a believer to forget his identity.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that some people never really learned the truth about their identity. Some people receive such poor teaching about their relationship with the Lord that they never find the assurance and acceptance they should experience in Christ. They think they must still try hard to get what they already have.
But all the things you received in the package of salvation are yours to keep. They define you. They reveal your identity. You are righteous. You are free. You are strong. This is who you are, even when you forget.
And, yes, sometimes life gets so distracting that it is easy to forget the truth. The lie sounds so right, so close to the truth, that it just has to lead you a little off the path. Pretty soon you find it hard to get back. But when you can see the truth again, you rediscover who you are in Christ. Your identity hasn’t changed.
This is what I meant by saying that identity does not suffer when abused. The real you is still the same person. Your circumstances might be different and you might be a little smarter now, but all the things you found in Christ are yours.
You see, our identity flows out of Him. Our security is in Him. Even our own forgetfulness or distraction, even our own denial, cannot change the truth of who we are in Him.
Thanks to those who asked about this. Let me know if this helps or if it causes more questions. 🙂