Silhouette of Jesus teaching a disciple with the text "The Gospel-Centered Life" and "Embracing Our True Identity in Christ."

Embracing Our True Identity in Christ

In our previous post, we dove into the complexities of our spiritual journey, particularly highlighting how often we, knowingly or unknowingly, diminish the profound significance of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, a concept we’ve referred to as “shrinking the cross.” Through these explorations, we uncovered the subtle ways in which our hearts and minds drift towards pretense and performance, inadvertently sidelining the gospel’s transformative power.

However, as we navigate our walk with the Lord, it’s essential to remember that while it’s crucial to recognize our shortcomings, it’s equally vital to move beyond them. Our spiritual progression shouldn’t solely be about identifying what we’re doing wrong. Instead, the gospel invites us to shift our gaze, from merely focusing on the negatives to actively embracing the abundant remedies it offers.

This post serves as a beacon, guiding us towards those remedies and the unparalleled freedom they bring. Through the gospel, we are offered not just a diagnosis of our spiritual ailments but a potent cure, rooted in Christ’s unyielding love and sacrifice. Let’s embark on this journey of rediscovery, understanding the ways in which the gospel shields us from our own vulnerabilities and shows us the path to true and lasting transformation.

Understanding the Human Condition

At the core of our being, deep within the recesses of our souls, lies an innate struggle—one that is both universal and deeply personal. It’s a struggle for righteousness and identity. Every human heart carries an intrinsic yearning, an unquenchable thirst for acceptance, approval, security, and significance. These desires are not random whims or mere outcomes of societal pressures; they are embedded in our spiritual DNA. Why? Because we were crafted in the image of God, designed to find our utmost fulfillment, purpose, and identity in Him.

However, the harmony of this design was disrupted. Sin, with its insidious allure, created a chasm—a vast divide that separated us from God. This spiritual alienation birthed in us a profound sense of estrangement, a feeling of not being ‘enough’. And from this void emerged our ceaseless efforts to bridge the gap, to reach that elusive sense of completeness. Like the Jewish people of Apostle Paul’s time, many of us remain oblivious to the righteousness that emanates from God. In our ignorance or defiance, we endeavor to establish our own righteousness. It’s like using a broken compass, hoping it will guide us home.

Both pretending to be something we aren’t and performing acts to win favor are symptomatic of this deeper issue. When we pretend, we paint a facade, curating a version of ourselves that seems more ‘righteous’ than our true selves. In performing, we tread the endless hamster wheel of deeds, hoping our actions will earn us God’s favor, or at least the admiration of others.

But in these attempts, we’re only constructing sandcastles before an incoming tide. Our makeshift righteousness, no matter how intricate or impressive, cannot stand before the mighty waves of God’s holiness. It’s a sobering reality, but also a beckoning invitation—to turn our gaze away from our feeble constructs and toward the unshakeable foundation the gospel offers.

Embracing Passive Righteousness

As we examine the human condition, we recognize the unyielding battle to find righteousness on our terms. But therein lies the heart of the issue; genuine righteousness cannot be self-imposed. The biblical antidote to this self-reliant approach is the doctrine of passive righteousness.

At its core, passive righteousness is the gracious act of God where He doesn’t just forgive our sins, but also credits us with the unblemished righteousness of Jesus. It’s not a righteousness that we chase, fight for, or construct, but one that we simply receive. Romans 3:21–22 puts it this way: “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”

When we drift from this passive righteousness, we’re left with no recourse but to cling to our self-fashioned works. We must fervently immerse ourselves in this gospel truth, ensuring that our hearts never mistake our passive, Christ-given righteousness for the fallible righteousness of our own doing.

This shifts our spiritual paradigm. If our righteousness is passively received through Christ, it implies a liberating truth: God’s pleasure in us is not dependent on our fluctuating spiritual performances or our imperfect attempts at piety. He is pleased with us solely because of Jesus. When this revelation sinks deep into our souls, it frees us from the exhausting treadmill of perpetual self-improvement. We no longer find our identity in how good we are, but in how good Jesus is, and always has been, on our behalf. This is the heart of the gospel—not that we earn God’s favor, but that Jesus secured it for us, once and for all.

Adoption: Our New Identity as Sons and Daughters

From the very essence of passive righteousness emerges another pivotal gospel truth: adoption. While passive righteousness imputes to us a righteousness we could never achieve on our own, adoption transforms our very status in God’s family. The notion of being merely God’s creation shifts; we are now welcomed into His fold as sons and daughters.

The scriptures overflow with this profound concept of adoption. But it’s not just a legal or transactional idea; it speaks of an intimate, familial relationship with God, the kind that transforms every facet of our lives. Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, beautifully captures this, stating: “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Rom. 8:15–16). This isn’t just an external label; it’s an internal reality. Our adoption isn’t merely about rights and privileges; it’s about belonging, love, and identity.

Integral to this adoption is the Holy Spirit’s role. As the third person of the Trinity, He doesn’t just hover over us as an external entity. He dwells within us, continually affirming our newfound identity. Every time doubt creeps in, every time the world or our own thoughts tell us we don’t belong, the Spirit counters with a resounding affirmation: “You are God’s child!”

However, this reality often meets an internal adversary: our orphan-like mentality. Despite being declared sons and daughters, our souls often revert to old patterns, feeling abandoned, striving for approval, and trying to earn what’s already freely given. Instead of resting in the embrace of our heavenly Father, we sometimes find ourselves scrambling to find our place, our value, our worth. This “orphan” mindset isn’t just an emotional or psychological struggle; it’s a spiritual battle that detracts from the gospel’s fullness. When we forget our status as God’s beloved children, we fall prey to the lie that we must do more, be more, or achieve more to gain God’s favor.

But the gospel counters this lie with the unchanging truth: in Christ, we are already favored, loved, and accepted. Our task is not to earn this love but to bask in it, not to achieve our sonship or daughtership, but to live it out. This, in essence, is the glorious news of the gospel: In spite of who we once were, because of Jesus, we are now forever a part of God’s family.

Final Reflections

As we wrap up this lesson, it’s clear that our walk with Christ isn’t a one-time event. It’s a daily decision to remember who we are in Him and let that truth shape our actions, decisions, and perspectives. Each day is an opportunity to embrace the gospel’s simplicity and power, leaning on its truths as we navigate life’s challenges.

Being a follower of Christ means consistently reminding ourselves of the sacrifice Jesus made, the love God has for us, and the identity we’ve been gifted. The gospel isn’t just a Sunday sermon; it’s the daily bread feeding our souls, guiding our steps, and bringing us closer to the heart of God. As we move ahead, let’s strive to live in this truth, anchoring ourselves in the gospel’s promises and letting its message influence every aspect of our lives.

Sermon and Sandwiches

Taking the time to discuss a sermon after hearing it can help reinforce its teachings and allow us to reflect on how it applies to our own lives. Conversations about the message can provide clarity, perspective, and deeper understanding as we seek to grow in our faith. Here are some conversation starters to dive into meaningful discussions after the sermon:

  • What was the main takeaway you got from today’s sermon? How did it speak to you personally?
  • Was there a particular scripture or point that stood out to you? Why do you think it resonated with you so much?
  • How did the sermon challenge your current understanding or beliefs?
  • Can you think of any practical ways we can apply the message from the sermon in our daily lives this week?
  • Did the sermon remind you of any personal experiences or stories? How so?
  • How did today’s message deepen your understanding of the gospel and God’s grace?
  • Were there any questions or uncertainties the sermon left you with?
  • In what ways did the sermon draw you closer to the truth of Christ’s work on the cross?
  • How can we encourage each other to respond to the truths we’ve learned today?
  • What’s one way we can pray for each other based on what we’ve discussed?

Whether you’re sharing a meal with a spouse, friend, or family member, taking a moment to engage in these conversations can be a beautiful way to journey together in faith and understanding.

The Daily Devotion

Monday: Understanding the Human Condition

  • Reading: Romans 10:3.
  • Reflection: Spend some time pondering our intrinsic desire for acceptance, approval, security, and significance. In your journal, write down areas in your life where you’ve sought these feelings apart from God. End with a prayer, asking God to fill these voids with the truth of the Gospel.

Tuesday: Embracing Passive Righteousness

  • Reading: Romans 3:21-22.
  • Reflection: Consider the concept of passive righteousness — how God credits us with Jesus’ righteousness through faith. Reflect on the freedom this brings from striving for our own righteousness. Write a prayer of gratitude, thanking God for this gift and asking for a daily reminder to live in the freedom it brings.

Wednesday: Adoption: Our Identity as Sons and Daughters

  • Reading: Romans 8:15-16.
  • Reflection: Reflect on the incredible reality that, through Christ, we are adopted into God’s family. What does it mean to you personally to be called a child of God? Write down any feelings of unworthiness or doubt you may struggle with and pray over them, asking God to solidify your identity in Him.

Thursday: Tackling the Root of Visible Sins

  • Reading: Romans 4:4-8.
  • Reflection: Every visible sin has an invisible root. Reflect on a recent struggle or sin in your life. Instead of focusing on the act itself, try to discern its root. Is it a struggle for identity? Righteousness? Bring it to God in prayer, asking Him to replace these struggles with the truths of the Gospel.

Friday: Drawing Closer to the Gospel Truth

  • Reading: Galatians 4:7.
  • Reflection: Spend time meditating on the assurance and promise of our identity in Christ. In your journal, write down the ways this Gospel truth frees you from the burdens and expectations of the world. Conclude by writing a personal commitment to live in this freedom and a prayer for the Holy Spirit to remind you of this identity daily.

Engaging with these daily devotions will help steer your heart and mind toward a gospel-centered perspective, grounding you in the truths of Christ’s work and love for you.