'I am who you say I am' by Owen Lynch - February 17th 2019

What does it mean to follow Jesus and have a changed identity? This is an abridged version of a talk given at Vineyard's 2019 National Leadership Conference by Putty Putman, author of "Live Like Jesus".

0:00 Introduction

One of our church priorities this year is to dig deep into our identity and authority in Jesus. This can change the way we see ourselves and the world around us.

2:35 We are who God says we are

We think we know ourselves better than we really do, as we can see when we realise new things about ourselves. God knows the full truth about us. So we are not fully who we think we are, but who God says we are.

Identity is a key question to our whole generation. God reveals who we are in a way that brings life to our beings.

4:48 Becoming empowered

Knowing our identity also empowers us in what we do. If we are trying to do what Jesus did in our own strength, powered by our self-identity, we miss out on the empowerment we could have if we fully embraced the identity God has given us. Doing what Jesus did then becomes an overflow of who we are. We are on a journey with this as a church.

5:55 Who does God say we are?

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26, NIV)

This contains

  • an identity for us - we carry God's likeness

  • a destiny for us - to steward God's creation, under God's authority

7:30 Life in God's image

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Most of us have never met the Queen, but we would recognise her because we know her image.

Humans, made in God's image, are able to image God, recognising him in people.

"For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form" (Colossians 2:9, NIV)

In Jesus, this human capacity to reveal God was fully demonstrated.

We too are made in God's image. We are like a divinely shaped glove that God fills, revealing himself by filling us.

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11:55 Disagreeing with parts of our identity

Sometimes we wish we were different - not so emotional, for example. But wanting to change this is like wanting to chop a finger off the glove. God is also emotional and wanting express himself through us to other people. Every aspect of our lives can be a vehicle for God to use in this expression.

How is God expressing himself in that part of your being that you don’t like? It’s part of who you are. We are designed as this glorious, beautiful container that has the capability to image God.

14:55 What happens when things go wrong?

The story of Adam and Eve introduced "the fall". Satan swiped authority which God had delegated to people, and sin led to a relational breakdown between people and God. Sin also became part of human identity, corrupting what it means to be human and giving people the capability to image sin as well as God.

When the Bible refers to a "sinner", this refers to someone's identity rather than just activity. Paul wrote that the whole human race became sinners after Adam and Eve. We weren't even born yet - "sinner" was not what we had done, but who we would be. So as well as giving us a "doing" problem when we do wrong things and hurt other people, sin gives us a "being" problem.

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If you drop your toothbrush into the toilet, it has a "being" problem too - it becomes violated, it has stopped being clean and useful, and there is no way you will ever put it back in your mouth. The only solution is to throw it away and buy a new one.

In the same way, sin has violated us and changed our being. In our permissive culture, we may not feel guilt about things we do wrong, but we may still have a sense of something wrong with us which needs to be fixed.

21:15 What Jesus does

Jesus revealed God's original design for humanity. He said, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father." Jesus was not only the picture of God's standard, but of humanity as it was meant to be. He is everything we need to know about God and humanity.

Jesus doesn't just show us the "being" problem we have, but solves it.

"For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been set free from sin." (Romans 6:5-7)

Image Jesus on the cross in your mind’s eye. Now put yourself in Jesus’ place. Imagine yourself dying on that cross. That is what Paul is saying here.

When we look at Jesus on the cross, we see ourselves there too. Jesus solved the toothbrush problem by throwing it in the bin - not fixing us, but killing us!

"Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him." (Romans 6:8)

We are joined with Jesus not just in death but in resurrection - born again, a new creation.

"For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God." (Romans 6:9-10)

Sin is dealt with and settled. Death is beaten and no longer has power over Jesus or us.

"In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus." (Romans 6:11)

Paul instructed followers of Jesus to regard themselves as dead to sin. We have moved past it, as much as Jesus has.

27:20 The struggle we still feel

We might still say that we are only "a bit" dead to sin, not really free from it. We will cover why we still sin over the coming weeks, but as Paul writes in the Bible that we are dead to sin, we are dead to sin.

If you are saying that you are not fully dead to sin, then you are saying that Jesus did not fully die.

We have nothing if Jesus didn't die - no forgiveness, Kingdom of God, overthrow of Satan, new creation, nothing - it all depends on Jesus' death and resurrection.

But if we believe in Jesus' death and resurrection, and we have put our trust in Jesus, we have to believe that sin is dealt with in us too.

We have a new identity in Christ - I am a new creation. We are no longer sinners. We are free. Our identity has been changed.

We might do sin, but that is not our identity.

30:16 We are righteous

Because of our new identity in Christ, we are right in being - a toothbrush that hasn't fallen in the toilet! From this identity, we move into a life of righteousness.

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21)

This is not just a future reality but a present reality. It means we can let go of lies in our heads which make us think of ourselves as losers, failures, disappointments or any other kind of broken. That is who we were before the cross, but not any more.

You are free to disagree with God if you want, but you are out of the game before it even starts. Or you can say ‘OK God, I don’t understand how I am not a failure, but I am not going to say that you are wrong.

Our "being" problem was dealt with on the cross. We are a new creation, and image bearers of God to people around us.

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