Be Who You Are!
I've been posting a series of meditations on the Christian's identity according to Scripture. That sounds a little pretentious to me, but that's what I'm calling this series for now: Meditations on the Christian's Identity. I simply want to take up some of the Scriptural statements about who we are - we believers - and, well, blog about it. So far I've done four:
Christian, You Are a Child of God
Christian, You Are a Branch of the True Vine
Christian, You Are a Friend of Jesus
Christian, You Are the Light of the World
This writing-program has served as a kind of spiritual discipline for me. These are "meditations," not acts of thoroughgoing Biblical scholarship. I don't pretend to have said everything about these passages, of course, or even necessarily the most important things, but I simply wanted to use them to speak a word of encouragement to believers and to myself.
Yesterday I listened to John MacArthur on the radio. He was speaking about 2 Peter 1:5, explaining Peter's use of the Greek word arete, translated "goodness" in the NIV, "moral excellence" in the NASB, "virtue" in the ESV. Drawing on extra-Biblical sources, MacArthur showed that, broadly speaking, the word can be applied to anything that fulfills its function with excellence. Thus, a knife that cuts well, a horse than runs fast, an actor who performs brilliantly, these things have arete. So to call a Christian to "arete" or virtue, is to call him to live out or fulfill his God-assigned purpose. Or, to put it another way,be who you are!
This imperative - to be who God says we are - runs throughout the Scriptures. Think of Paul saying, "for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light . . ." (Eph. 5:8) Or: "How can we who died to sin still live in it?" (Romans 6:2)
I was born into darkness and continued in it far longer than I have lived in the light. My self-identity, complex and deep-seated, was formed in that darkness, and so I often continue to think of myself in the old way, as I was before the new birth. These are habits of thought that one can only deal with by taking in the truths of God in His utterly trustworthy Word. If you face the same predicament, then ask yourself, who does God say that I am? And then believe it!
Here's the application. When facing temptation, do we have an expectation that we are bound to fail, because that's just how we're wired? We've always failed in the past, after all. We've been doing that particular thing for as long as we can remember. The flesh is strong, and we are so weak in the spirit, we tell ourselves. Hey, it's just who we are! But God says, Christian, you are who I say you are. And I call you my children. Jesus, my Son, has made it so. Christian, I am for you! And I have not given you a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom you cry, "Abba! Father!"
When you're facing that temptation, that pain, that enemy, that voice of condemnation that speaks the old damning lies of the evil one into your soul, remember who you are, child of God, and cry Abba, Father. He will rescue you!
[BTW: another blogger posting recently on this same theme is Brad Hightower at 21st Century Reformation]