The very foundation of true Christianity involves a remarkable identity change for us who have embraced Jesus and what He has done for us. The New Testament is replete with polar contrasts… what we were (before Jesus) and what we are now (because of Jesus).
This is no small thing. Without this proper foundation of new identity, we will always struggle to live as God would have us live. Why? Because human beings just do not have the ability to live as God intended. We have to see ourselves as more than just “forgiven” or “improved” or “giving it our best effort” – we have to see ourselves as God sees us. And God sees us through the work of Christ. So when we talk about our new identity, God gets all the credit… and we receive all the benefits.
Salvation is ALL God’s work… and God’s work, through Christ, is a complete and a completed work. There is nothing left to be done… except to receive it, by faith.
Jesus was sent, not just to give us a new start… but a new life. He wasn’t just sent to erase our past… but to give us the picture of our new present. He wasn’t just sent to make us better people… He was sent to make us an abode for God’s Own Person. Jesus came so we can live in what He has done for us. He is not forever bringing us into something. He has given us the gift of completeness/wholeness – all because He took our place. He took what we were… to give us what He is. That is what salvation really is, according to the New Testament.
The majority of our struggle as Christians is because we are still trying to become what God wants from us. There is that within us that still, stubbornly, seeks to apply our own energy, willpower, and efforts into doing what “God wants us to do.”
But the amazing emphasis of Jesus was just this… “Stop trying to do things to please God and simply believe in Me… and what I came to do for you (see John 6:29!).
We couldn’t do it on our own. Never could. Never will.
So God ended that struggle – by sending the One Who could do, and did, what needed to be done to make us what God wants us to be. Jesus’ work was to change our focus – from human effort – to simply being who God made us to be – from the very moment we turned to Jesus as Our Savior and Redeemer.
Our only role is to apply our faith (also a gift from God) to what Jesus did. To stop trying to “do” our way into God’s grace – and simply “be” the vessels of His grace.
So when we talk about our new identity, as revealed in the New Testament, we see things that, quite frankly, we find difficult to accept. The description of who we are comes with words like righteous, holy, beloved, free, delivered, whole, light, salt, children of God… Things we ARE because of Jesus – NOT things we are trying to do.
What we are leads to what we do. We cannot do enough “good” to ever become what God wants us to be. Thankfully, this is not what God is seeking from us.
If you’re anything like me, this is the area of Christian living to which I find it most difficult to adhere. I find I am often seeking for things to do for God. But God’s intent is that we actually see who we ARE in Him… and the “doing” flows naturally from the “being.”
This is the miracle that was accomplished in fullness, when Jesus became the Lord of our lives.