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Our Joyful Identity in Christ

One of the great joys of a life in Christ is knowing God has chosen us to be his sons and daughters.
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What defines you?

In my professional life, I work as a financial advisor, counseling couples nearing retirement. People often come to me when they are contemplating leaving the workforce. The idea of retirement is exciting for most people because it means freedom from work routines and responsibilities.  But it can be a scary time too, since retirement also means the paychecks stop forever.

My work involves helping clients discover their “retirement readiness,” and my experience tells me that retirement readiness involves much more than the financial question of whether one can afford to retire. Sometimes, the people who can most afford to stop work are least prepared to do so. That’s because so much of their identity is inextricably linked to their work. People who have devoted their lives to their careers sometimes wonder, “If I’m no longer a [insert job title here], then who am I?”  

Where Do You Find Identity?

When a retiring doctor or banker feels insecure about losing a job title, it’s because their identity is uncertain or threatened. We often construct our identities based on various factors—professions, marital status, parental roles, or hobbies. For example, I can say I’m a husband, a father, a grandfather, a son, a brother, and a loyal friend. I might also say I’m a cyclist, a woodworker, and a business owner. However, do these roles and labels truly define me? Perhaps not.  

It has been said that if you base your identity on people or things, you are setting yourself up for an identity crisis. While these things may feel like solid foundations, none are permanent or guaranteed. People die, interests fade, and health is fleeting. 

God, however, is unchanging. He is reliable. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. One of the great joys of a life in Christ is knowing God has chosen us to be his sons and daughters. At our core, we are Christ’s brothers and sisters, and because we have responded to our calling through baptism, we have taken on a new identity. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20 ESV). Our identity is in Christ, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Galatians 3:27 ESV). 

Our New Identity in Christ

Our authentic identity is who we understand ourselves to be at the core. Identity reveals what truly matters to us—what we love, what we want, and what we believe offers us hope and security.  

Your baptism was a public declaration that your deepest convictions revolved around God and His Son.  When you entered the waters of baptism, you wanted to publicly demonstrate your desire to renounce your old way of life and live a new life. Baptism changes our entire perspective on life. Instead of worrying about the concerns of the world that will not last, we can focus on matters of eternal significance—faith, hope, and love of God and neighbor.  Here’s what the Apostle Paul wrote:

For Christ’s love compels us… He [Christ] died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again… Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:14-17 NIV).

What a joy it is to be united with Christ! Our identity is not in our past sin or present struggles. It is in Jesus. And because of our association with him, we are children of God. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that’s what we are!” (1 John 3:1 NIV).  

Tension and Insecurity Resolved through Christ

When we are honest with ourselves, doubts about how well we live up to our high calling will undoubtedly arise. We publicly proclaim we are born again and are living a new life in Christ, and yet deep down, we know the struggle with sin continues. We feel the weight of our weaknesses and failures. We fear examining our new identity because we’re afraid doing so will confirm our deepest fears about ourselves, that we are hypocritical, inadequate, insignificant— failures! Instinctively, we know all too well that we stand “naked and exposed in the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13 ESV).  

The Apostle Paul felt this way, too, of course. He considered himself chief among sinners and expressed something that we all sometimes think, “nothing good dwells in me.”  If you’ve ever felt that way, you’re not alone. After Paul wrote about his struggle with sin in Romans 7:24 (NIV), he exclaimed, “What a wretched man I am!”  But in making this exclamation, he was setting his readers up for the greatest rhetorical question in Scripture, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (ESV). The answer, of course, is God. Paul answered his own question and wrote, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (NET).

One of the great joys of a life in Christ is that we can resolve these feelings of insecurity through our Lord. When we remain in Christ and endure to the end, we can put the nagging insecurities of doubt behind us. Not because we are perfect but because God loves us and “for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you [us].” (Ephesians 4:32).

How God Sees You

In times of trouble, it’s easy to fall back and view yourself as broken and unworthy. What do you see when you look in the mirror, and how do you talk to yourself?  When we are down and struggling, it’s not uncommon to say things to ourselves that we would never say to anyone else, even our worst enemies. “I’m such a loser.”  “I’m such a failure.” “I can’t do anything right.” This type of negative self-talk can be crippling, and when you say those types of things to yourself repeatedly, you’re bound actually to start believing them.

One way to align your self-perception is to think about how God sees you. Meditate on passages that describe your worth from God’s viewpoint. Seeing yourself as God sees you creates a powerful, joyful, and transformative perspective. Remember, God has blessed you with “every spiritual blessing.”

All Spiritual Blessings:

Here are seven spiritual blessings to consider.  They are examples of how your Heavenly Father sees you:

1. You are credited with righteousness.

What does God see when He observes you struggling? Our Heavenly Father sees the righteousness of His own Son instead. Because you are in Christ, God sees Christ’s righteousness covering you.  

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:22-24 NIV).

2. You are a Saint.

Even though we still struggle with sin, our core identity is as saints, not sinners. As believers, we acknowledge our ongoing battles with sin, yet we also hold onto the truth that God has declared us righteous through Christ. Despite our struggles, God sees us as saints—set apart for His purpose.

You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. (Ephesians 2:19 ESV).

3. You are chosen.

Before our Lord’s crucifixion, Jesus gathered his disciples to comfort and motivate them to continue glorifying God. He said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you to go and bear fruit.” (John 15:16 NIV). Being chosen signifies that you have a divine calling and role to play in God’s plan. God views you as having a significant purpose.

You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9 NIV).

4. You are strong.

Life can be challenging, as we all know. Paul says, “We must go through hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” And when God looks at you, he doesn’t see you facing these things alone. No, God sees you with an army of angels commanded by Jesus to help you in your time of need. It’s for this reason that we can echo the words of Paul from Philippians 4:13 (NIV):

I can do all things through him who gives me strength.

5. You are loved. 

Hymn 132, O Perfect Love, was written for a wedding and included the wish “that theirs may be the love that knows no ending.” Sadly, even the very best marriages end in death, leaving the survivors longing for the love they once enjoyed. God wants you to know there is no end to his love for you.  

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 NIV).

6. You are part of God’s family.

God’s love is eternal, and it was there for you from the beginning when He selected you for adoption into His family. God sees something in you that caused Him to choose you as a beneficiary of His great and precious promises.

In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. (Ephesians 1:4-6 NIV).

7. You are victorious.

We all have days when life seems anything but victorious. But God sees the end from the beginning and wants to assure you that you are and will be victorious by remaining faithful!

For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:4-5 NIV).


It is a great joy to live a life in Christ. It gives us meaning and purpose, hope in times of trouble, and a family of believers who support and encourage us. But most of all, a life in Christ gives us an enduring identity. We are God’s children and heirs of salvation. May our lives reflect our thankfulness to God for these indescribable blessings.

Steve Davis,
Boston Ecclesia, MA 

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