Have you ever thought about the first questions God ever asked mankind? Consider these questions in Genesis and the sequence in which they were asked.
- Where are you? 3:9
- Who told you that you were naked? Genesis 3:11
- Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat? 3:11
- What is this you have done? 3:13
- Why are you angry? 4:6
- Why has your continence fallen? 4:6
- If you do well, will you not be accepted? 4"7
- Where is Abel your brother? 4:9
- What have you done? 4:10
All of these questions – directly or indirectly – have to do with the individual’s identity and the consequences of a false identity. Adam and Eve were created in the image of God, according to their likeness. How wonderful was that? But then satan, in the guise of a serpent, came along and attacked their identity. Here they were, a wonderful creation by the Ancient of Days Himself. Unlike any of the animals, they were made in God's likeness, and as God. (Our Bibles say in God's image but the Hebrew is actually "as." (Genesis 1:26, 27)
The ploy of satan was to convince them that they were lacking something – that God was holding out on them. Look at the progression:
- Satan went to the woman whom he knew had gotten her guidance from the man. (God formed the man out of dust, put him in the garden, gave him his instructions, then made the woman out of Adam's rib and brought her to him.)
- He questioned her understanding of God's instructions.
- He accused her of not being "like God," even though she already was.
- Having accused her of lack, he gave her a false solution to her "problem."
I put the word "problem" in quotes because truthfully, Eve didn't have a problem. That was the lie with which satan deceived her. Unfortunately, mankind has been falling for the same lie ever since until it's become second nature to disagree with what God calls good. Why? Could it be because we first believe the same lie that Eve did? That we're not good enough, smart enough, talented enough or have enough?
When we accept the lie that we lack something or are less than, we create an open door for all kinds of other lies to take root in our lives. A wise pediatrician told me years ago to never discipline my children by saying, "You're a bad boy" because that is an attack on his personal identity. He said, "If you'll simply tell him that he did a bad thing, that will enable him to step back and look at what he did as opposed to who he is." When someone attacks who we are, it is an attack against our identity– our heavenly DNA.
Two women came to my door one day to share their occult-type religion with me. With each point they made, I countered with a scripture that said just the opposite. Finally, in frustration, they began to attack my character. And they didn't even know me.
Meditating on the encounter later, I came to realize that when people run out of argument and logic, if they are unwilling to change, they get into name-calling, attacking their opposition's identity. And isn't that what we see so much of today? It is so prevalent that new derogatory words have even been made up. Consequently, a large percentage of people have lost their identity. Speaking negatively over someone often enough can cause that person to begin to believe it.
Recently a 50-something year old woman began to give me a litany of how lacking she was. After listening to her berate herself, I finally asked her, "Who told you that you were all those things?" In a little-girl voice, she said, "My father." I was shocked but shouldn't have been. At the same time, I heard two words fly out of my mouth. "He lied." Shocked again, I realized those two words were absolutely true. It's the same lie that satan has been telling us since the Garden of Eden.
Jesus came to set us free from such lies. And when He says we are free, He means free indeed! (John 8:36) But how do we get such freedom so deeply into our human spirit that it touches our feelings about ourselves so that we can become secure in our identity? I believe there are four steps.
- We need to identify the lie.
- We must confess and repent of accepting the lie as truth. (1 John 1:9)
- We must receive the cleansing that God offers. (1 John 1:9)
- We must take (possess) our freedom.
This fourth step is a hard one because it requires self-discipline. After all, we've lived so long believing a lie that it's become a part of how we view ourselves. And, because we've trained those around us to view us the same way, we can't expect or rely on others to help us have a godly self-view. Eve believed the lie and had to fight her own battle with the consequences. We must do so too. Having fought this battle myself, I would add the additional step of digging into scripture to find out - for yourself - what God says about you. Here is how I did this:
- I took a highlighter and marked in my New Testament every place where I found the words "in Him," "in whom," "in Christ," "in God." (You get the picture.)
- Then I made a list of what those verses referred to. (An example is given below.)
- I took that list and taped it to my bathroom mirror so I would read it every day. Since it was a long list, I folded it so that I never had more than 12 things showing, changing it once a week.
- Whenever someone put me down or I did so to myself, I'd look at that list and remind myself that it didn't matter what others thought about me. It only mattered what God thought.
- I came to grips with the fact that nobody was going to give me my inner freedom, or sense of self-worth. I had to TAKE it in much the same way that nobody can give me salvation. I had to take it from the Lord's outstretched hand for myself.
- When I grew weary, I again turned to scripture which says the Truth will set me free. (John 8:32) And the truth is whatever God says. I coupled that with Matthew 11:12 and did violence to my old mind-set and canceled the negative words spoken by others.
Our society is so full of deprecating so-called "humor" - as well as meanness - that we are all prone to putting word curses on ourselves and others. My husband and I have become so sensitive to this that whether we say something negative about ourselves or someone else does, one of us is quick to counter with, "I cancel that in the Name of Jesus." We had a friend once who often accused herself of being a klutz. And, as a result, she was! When she learned that she was actually cursing herself, she stopped and you guessed it, she no longer tripped over things or acted like a klutz!
Please understand, I am not doing things to "build up a person's self-esteem." A few years ago that became a mantra throughout our educational system. Grades were not given and every child received a trophy just like everyone else did. It didn't work because such attempts didn't give children anything to work hard for. It was tackling an issue soulishly. We don't need self-esteem to live victoriously. We need God-esteem. When we esteem God as God, revere Him and believe what He says about who we are, then - and only then - can we "do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13), and be "more than conquerors" (Romans 8:37).
Though it's always been true, because of what's going on in our world, today, more than ever, God's people need to know who we are in Christ Jesus. Really know. Consider the following:
For in Him we live and move and have our being. (Acts 17:28)
God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory, (Colossians 1:27)
When God's people walk in the truth of our identity in Christ Jesus, that is when a godly confidence invades our spirit, we overcome negative circumstances and literally change the atmosphere everywhere we go. I recently talked with a man I met in Israel. He has grown in the truth of his true identity to the point that God has been able to bring change to some very dark, evil places where satan has ruled the atmosphere for decades. As he said to me, "We don't have to worry about evil; all we have to do is stand there and it has to back off." When we choose to believe God's truth more than our doubts, confidence comes into us and, without even trying, all the lies that come against us are overturned. Because we carry God's Presence everywhere we go, the atmosphere around us changes.
Years ago, when I'd just had my third surgery (I've had 19), I was alone and in great pain in a darkened hospital room. Because nobody called, came to see me or gave any indication that they cared about me, I engaged in a huge, big-time pity party. If there'd been any worms around, I'd have eaten them. Suddenly, the still, small voice of the Lord broke through my consciousness. "You are a child of Mine. Is that not enough to give you joy?" Sharper than my pain, conviction pierced my heart and I knew that my answer would have to be, "No." But, recognizing truth, I responded, "It will be."
Thus began my journey to find my all-in-all in Christ alone. The choice was/is mine. The choice is yours. What is your identity based on? If it's not based on who God says you are, you are enslaved, paralyzed and living on sinking sand. Some of the symptoms of a sand-based identity are . . . the need to be complimented by others, the number of friends we have, the "important" people we know, awards and trophies, the need to control situations, the need to control others, a frenzied or too-busy life-style, the amount and quality of our possessions, a title.
To live in victory with a godly identity, we must fight against the need to shore up our self-worth with any of the above things. Such is worldly, fleshly thinking and it is not only unprofitable, it will keep us from fulfilling our destiny. It is, after all, "The little foxes that spoil the vines." (Song of Solomon 2:15)
When it comes to identity, I always remember a YouTube video I saw years ago. The speaker said, "I'm always introduced as a Black Christian. I am not. I'm a Christian who just happens to be Black."
A SAMPLE LIST OF WHO GOD SAYS I AM
Taken from Ephesians
Know the mystery of His will 1:9
Have a view of the fullness of the times 1:10
Have hope 1:12
Have faith 1:15
Have the strength of His might 1:20
Seated with Him in the heavenly places 2:6
Have grace and kindness 2:7
His workmanship 2:10
Brought near 2:13
Have peace 2:15
Have access to the Father 2:18
Fellow-heir, member and partaker 3:6
God's eternal purpose 3:11
Have heard Him 4:21
Have been taught 4:21
Have truth 4:21