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"Not What I Do But Who I Am" Presented by Cindy Verbeek to - March 24, 2024

When my grandson Hudson was born I felt the universe shift ever so slightly. With this new birth came a new identity not just for him but for me too. I was no longer just mother, wife, friend, daughter, sister… I was also Gramma. Now as you might know, over the past few months I have been taking some time to reflect over the first half of my life and I've noticed some real moments of shift in my life that have taken me from a direction or identity that I was, shifting me into a new way of being. When I started taking medication for my depression my serotonin levels balanced or were rebalanced and my physical body was able to cope with life just a little bit better and there was a physical shift. When I went to talk therapy to work through some childhood trauma I learned some skills for forgiving myself and forgiving those who had hurt me and there was another shift, a mental shift. But my spiritual shift didn't come until 15 years after I had decided to follow Christ. Of course when I first became a Christian there was a shift. I became something new in Christ… it was like I was living in darkness and somebody handed me a flashlight and I was able to see the steps before me and see more clearly around me. But I was still living in bondage to fear. Fear of dying. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of trusting people. Fear of getting in trouble (I hate getting in trouble). And while I was living as a Christian I was not truly free and did not understand my identity in Christ. It was only when I went to a weekend retreat based on the Victory Over the Darkness and Bondage Breaker series by Neil T Anderson that the universe shifted and my spiritual life pivoted. At first as a Christian I was walking with the light in the darkness and after finding out who I was in Christ it was like I someone turns the lights on and I was able to see so clearly everything around me. So today I'd like to share with you excerpts from his book Victory Over the Darkness and some of the teachings that shifted my universe. I hope that it gives you a moment of pause and helps you see who you are in Christ so that your universe can shift in a positive way as well.


Excerpts from Victory Over the Darkness by Neil T. Anderson Chapter 2 Pgs 46-54 


New life Requires New Birth 

We weren't born in Christ. We were born dead in our trespasses and sins (seeEph. 2:1). What is God's plan for transforming us from being in Adam to being in Christ? Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Physical birth gains only physical life for us. Spiritual life, the eternal life Christ promises to those who come to Him, is gained only through spiritual birth (see 3:36).

What does it mean to be spiritually alive in Christ? The moment you were born again your soul came into union with God in the same way Adam was in union with God before the Fall. You became spiritually alive and your name was written in the Lamb's book of life (see Rev. 21:27). Eternal life is not something you get when you die. 

Dear believer, you are spiritually alive in Christ right now. You will never be more spiritually alive than you are right now. The only thing that will change when you die physically is that you will exchange your mortal body for a new resurrected one. Your spiritual life in Christ, which began when you personally trusted Him, will merely continue on. Salvation is not a future addition; it is a present transformation. That transformation occurs at spiritual birth, not physical death. 


New Life Brings New Identity 

Being a Christian is not just a matter of getting something [like eternal life]; it is a matter of being someone. A Christian is not simply a person who is forgiven and goes to heaven. A Christian, in terms of his or her deepest identity, is a saint, a spiritually born child of God, a divine masterpiece, a child of light, a citizen of heaven. Being born again transformed you into someone who didn't exist before. What you receive as a Christian isn't the point; it is who you are. It is not what you do as a Christian that determines who you are, it is who you are that determines what you do. (see 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:10; 1 Pet. 2:9,10; 1 John 3:1,2). 

Understanding your identity in Christ is essential for living the Christian life. People cannot consistently behave in ways that are inconsistent with the way they perceive themselves. You don't change yourself by your perception. You change yourself by believing the truth. If you perceive yourself wrongly, you will live wrongly because what you are believing is not true. If you think you are a no-good bum, you will probably live like a no-good bum. If, however, you see yourself as a child of God who is spiritually alive in Christ, you will begin to live accordingly. Next to a knowledge of God, a knowledge of who you are is by far the most important truth you can possess. 

The major strategy of Satan is to distort the character of God and the truth of who we are. He can't change God and he can't do anything to change our identity and position in Christ. If, however, he can get you to believe a lie, we will live as though our identity in Christ isn't true. 


New Life Results in a New Identity - The most important thing to realize is that we are saints not sinners. 

Have you noticed that one of the most frequently used words of identity for Christians in the New Testament is "saint"? A saint is literally a holy person. Yet Paul and the other

writers of the Epistles used the word generously to describe common, ordinary, everyday Christians like you and me. For example, Paul's salutation in 1 Corinthians 1:2 reads: "To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.” 

Notice that Paul didn't say we are saints by hard work. He clearly states that we are saints by calling. The tendency of the church is to believe that saints are people who have earned their lofty title by living a magnificent life or by achieving a certain level of maturity. In the Bible, believers are described as "saints," which means holy ones (e.g., Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2;2 Cor. 1:1; Phil. 1:1). 

Being a saint does not necessarily reflect any present measure of growth in character, but it does identify those who are rightly related to God. In the King James Version of the Bible, believers are called "saints," "holy ones' or "righteous ones" more than 240 times. In contrast, unbelievers are called "sinners” more than 330 times. Clearly, the term "saint" is used in Scripture to refer to the believer, and "sinner" is used in reference to the unbeliever. 

Although the New Testament provides plenty of evidence that the believer sins, it never clearly identifies the believer as a sinner. 

As believers, we are not trying to become saints; we are saints who are becoming like Christ. In no way does this deny the struggle with sin, but it does give the believer some hope for the future. Many Christians are dominated by the flesh and deceived by the devil. However, telling Christians they are sinners and then disciplining them if they don't act like saints seems counterproductive at best and inconsistent with the Bible at worst. 


What ls True of Christ ls True of You 

Because you are a saint in Christ by God's calling, you share in Christ's inheritance. "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:16,17). Every believer is identified with Christ: 

1. In His death (Romans 6:3,6; Galatians 2:20;Colossians 3:1-3) 

2. In His burial (Romans 6:4)

3. In His resurrection (Romans 6:5,8,11) 

4. In His ascension (Ephesians 2:6) 

5. In His life (Romans 6:10,11) 

6. In His power (Ephesians 1:19,20) 

7. In His inheritance (Romans 8:16,17, Ephesians 1:11,12)

 

Here's a list that itemizes in first-person language who you really are in Christ.

(See the Who We Are in Christ pdf at the 2nd to last item at https://www.ficm.org/ministry-materials/free-resources/)

These are some of the scriptural traits that reflect who you became at spiritual birth. You can't earn them or buy them …these traits are guaranteed to you by the Word of God simply because you were born into God's holy nation by faith in Christ. 

… you can do nothing to make them more true. You can, however, make these traits more meaningful in your life by simply choosing to believe what God has said about you. You will not be prideful if you do, but you may be defeated if you don't. 

One of the greatest ways to help yourself grow into maturity in Christ is to continually remind yourself who you are in Him. In [his] conferences [Neil has everyone read] the "who Am I?" list aloud together. 

So we are going to do this together right now. 

I suggest you go back and read it aloud to yourself [as soon as you get home]. Read the list once or twice a day for a week or two. Read it when you think Satan is trying to deceive you into believing you are a worthless failure. 

The more you reaffirm who you are in Christ, the more your behavior will begin to reflect your true identity. Commenting on Romans chapter 6, John Stott states that the “necessity of remembering who we are” is the way “Paul brings his high theology down to the level of practical everyday experience," and he continues his summary: 

So, in practice we should constantly be reminding ourselves who we are. We need to learn to talk to ourselves, and ask ourselves questions: Don't you know? Don't you know the meaning of your conversion and baptism? Don't you know that you have been united to Christ in His death and resurrection? Don't you know that you have been enslaved to God and have committed yourself to His obedience? Don't you know these things? Don't you know who you are?" We must go on pressing ourselves with such questions, until we reply to ourselves: "Yes, I do know who I am, a new person in Christ, and by the grace of God I shall live accordingly."' 

Amen

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