30 Mar From Defense to Discipleship: Living Out Our Identity in Christ
Defensiveness is a common reaction in our daily lives. Whether it’s at work, in our relationships, or even in our spiritual lives, we can often find ourselves feeling the need to justify our actions or protect ourselves from criticism. It’s a natural human response to want to defend ourselves and our reputation, but as Christians, we are called to a higher standard.
When we look at defensiveness through the lens of the Gospel, we can see that our identity is not based on our performance or perfection, but on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. We are redeemed by His blood and filled with the Holy Spirit, giving us a sense of security and strength that is not dependent on the opinions or assessments of others.
In 1 Peter 2:9, we are reminded that we are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that [we] may proclaim the praises of Him who called [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light.” This verse highlights our identity as chosen, royal, and holy people of God. In Ephesians 1:4-5, we are also reminded that our identity as children of God was planned and chosen by God himself, and that we are holy and without fault in His eyes.
This truth frees us from the need to defend ourselves and our reputation. Instead, we can have a humble attitude and ask God to reveal any truth in what others are saying. We can actively work on mortifying sin through the study of God’s Word, prayer, and fellowship with other believers. We can seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in discerning when to speak up and when to remain silent.
In this blog post, we will explore three key sections that provide insights into the root causes of defensiveness and how we can overcome it through the power of the Gospel. By looking at the teachings of Scripture and the wisdom of past Christian leaders, we can gain a better understanding of how to navigate challenging situations with grace and humility.
Mortifying Sin through the Word and Prayer
In his book “The Mortification of Sin,” John Owen writes that believers must put to death, or “mortify” the sin that remains in them if they are to live a life pleasing to God. He writes that “Sin will be always acting, always rebelling, always combating; and therefore it is always to be mortified.” It’s not something to be managed or controlled, but something that must be put to death.
Sin has devastating effects on our lives, not only on ourselves but also on those around us. It’s a cancer that eats away at our souls, causing us to become numb to the things of God and blind to the ways in which we are hurting others. This is why we must actively engage in the battle against sin. We must be diligent in putting to death the desires of the flesh and striving toward holiness.
One of the key ways in which we can mortify sin is through the study of God’s Word. As we delve deeper into the Scriptures, we gain a greater understanding of God’s character and His desires for our lives. This understanding helps to shape our hearts and minds, leading us towards a life of obedience and righteousness.
We must also be in constant prayer, asking God to reveal the areas of our lives where we are struggling with sin and asking for His help in overcoming them. This is a battle that we must be actively engaged in every day. By staying connected to God and seeking his wisdom, we can navigate tricky situations with grace and wisdom. Ultimately, our goal should be to build healthy relationships and to bring honor to God in all that we do.
The Danger of Defensiveness and the Example of Christ
As we seek to mortify sin and grow in our relationship with Christ, we must also learn to respond to criticism and accusation in a way that honors God. When insults, accusations, and threats are hurled against us, we are called upon to follow in the steps of Jesus.
But how often do we do that? It’s easy to become defensive when someone criticizes or accuses us. Our first response is often to justify ourselves, to defend our honor or protect our reputation. However, this response is often rooted in pride, and it is not the way that Christ responded to accusations.
Pride is one of the most insidious sins, and it can quickly lead us down a path of destruction. Scripture warns us about the dangers of pride and the need for humility. Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” As we seek to overcome defensiveness and grow in our relationship with Christ, we must be mindful of our pride and seek to cultivate humility in our hearts.
As Christians, we are called to follow in the steps of Jesus. This means we must prioritize God’s means and purposes over seeking our own glory. When we are faced with adversity, we are called to turn to God as our defender and refuge the way Jesus did. By placing our trust in Him, we allow God to work on our behalf and provide the protection and guidance we need.
1 Peter 2:23 tells us that when Jesus was falsely accused, he did not respond with anger or defensiveness. Instead, he continued entrusting himself to God, who judges justly. Then, in the following verse, Peter writes, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”
One of the key ways that we can overcome defensiveness and grow in our relationship with Christ is by considering the high price Jesus paid for our sin. It cost him his very life! Therefore, it’s critical that we agree with God that our pride is sinful, seek His forgiveness, turn from it in repentance, and place ourselves once again under the mercies of Christ.
Walking in our Identity in Christ
Our identity in Christ is a foundational aspect of our faith. When the Holy Spirit moves in our hearts to accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are adopted into God’s family and become His children. This means that our identity is no longer based on our past mistakes or current struggles, but on who we are in Christ.
This truth is liberating and transformative. It means that we are no longer defined by our failures or the opinions of others. Instead, we are defined by the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus took names to the cross. If you are his, yours was one of them. The day you surrendered to Christ, you became a new creation with a new identity and a new purpose in life.
This is not to say that we are perfect or that we will never sin. We still struggle with sin and fall short of God’s standard. However, when we do sin, we can turn to Christ and find forgiveness and restoration.
Likewise, our identity in Christ means that we ought to have a sense of security and strength that is not dependent on the opinions or assessments of others. We don’t have to seek validation or approval from others because we know that we are loved and accepted by God. If the creator of the universe says you are holy and beloved (Colossians 3:12), who is anyone to say differently?
With that being said, we must also be careful not to let our identity in Christ become a source of pride or arrogance. As previously mentioned, the Bible has stern warnings over the dangers of pride. James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
Instead, as we walk in our identity in Christ, we must do so with humility and grace. We must recognize that our identity is a gift from God and not something that we have earned or deserved. We must also remember that we are part of a larger body of believers and that we need each other to grow and thrive in our faith.
Tying it all together
When we face criticism or accusation from others, we can have a humble attitude and ask God to reveal any truth in what they are saying. We don’t need to be defensive because our identity is not based on our performance or perfection, but on our relationship with Christ. We can have a quiet confidence in our identity in Christ and entrust ourselves to God, who judges justly.
However, this doesn’t mean that there is never a time to speak up or to take action. Ecclesiastes 3:7 tells us, “There is a time to be silent and a time to speak.” Sometimes, it’s better to listen and understand the other person’s perspective before jumping in with our own opinions. Other times, speaking up is necessary to bring clarity or to address an issue that could potentially harm the relationship.
In all situations, we must seek guidance from the Holy Spirit to develop the discernment necessary to know when to speak and when to be silent. By staying connected to God and seeking His wisdom, we can navigate tricky situations with grace and wisdom. Ultimately, our goal should be to build healthy relationships and to bring honor to God in all that we do.
Learning to control our tongues and respond in humility can be a difficult process, but it is an essential part of our growth as Christians. By putting to death the desires of the flesh and striving towards holiness, we can honor God and bring glory to His name. We can take inspiration from Jesus, who exhibited quiet confidence in His identity as the Christ, and strive to walk in that same confidence in our identity in Christ. As we seek God through prayer and the study of His Word, we can gain a greater understanding of His character and His desires for our lives, which can help shape our hearts and minds toward a life of obedience and righteousness.
Finally, as we surround ourselves with other believers who will support us in our journey, we can find healing and victory over sin. May we all strive to put these principles into practice, for the glory of God, the building up of His Kingdom, and FOR OUR JOY!
Sermon & Sandwiches
Talking about a sermon afterward allows for deeper reflection on the message, application of the teachings to personal life, and connection with others in the community. It can reinforce and solidify the lessons learned, as well as encourage growth and transformation in your life. Here are some ideas to get the conversation started.
- “How do you think we can work together to overcome defensiveness in our relationship and better support each other’s spiritual growth?”
- “What are some ways we can remind ourselves of our identity in Christ when we face criticism or feel defensive?”
- “In what areas of our lives do you think we could practice more humility and openness to constructive criticism?”
- “What can we learn from Jesus’ example in handling criticism and accusations, and how can we apply it to our own lives?”
- “How has our identity in Christ impacted our relationship, and how can we keep that perspective at the forefront when dealing with conflicts or criticism?”
The Daily Devotion
Read and reflect on 1 Peter 2:9 and Ephesians 1:4-5. Write down three ways in which these verses help you understand your identity in Christ. Pray for God’s guidance to live according to this identity.
Read and meditate on 1 Peter 2:24, focusing on the concept of dying to sin and living for righteousness. Reflect on the areas of your life where you struggle with sin, and write down three specific steps you can take to “mortify” or put to death those sinful habits. Pray for God’s help in overcoming these sins and living a life that honors Him.
Read and meditate on Proverbs 16:18 and James 4:6. Write down three practical steps you can take to cultivate humility and guard against pride. Pray for a humble heart and ask God to reveal areas in your life where pride may be a hindrance.
Study the example of Jesus in 1 Peter 2:23. Reflect on how Jesus responded to criticism and false accusations. Write down two situations from your life where you can apply His example. Pray for wisdom and strength to follow in His footsteps.
Read Colossians 3:12 and meditate on your identity as holy and beloved by God. Write a prayer of thanksgiving for this identity and ask God to help you walk in humility and grace. Reach out to a fellow believer to encourage them in their identity in Christ and share what you’ve learned throughout the week.
Teaching your kids about the lessons you’re learning is important because it helps them build a strong foundation of faith and understand the Gospel’s impact. Open communication and leading by example encourage them to grow in their relationship with Christ. Sharing experiences also promotes critical thinking and strengthens family bonds through meaningful, gospel-centered discussions.
This discussion guide is designed to help parents share these essential truths with their children in an age-appropriate and engaging way.
Objective: Help children understand their identity in Christ, the importance of humility, and how to rely on God when faced with criticism or challenges.
Part 1: Our Identity in Christ
Discussion: Explain to your children that when we believe in Jesus and follow Him, we become part of God’s family. Our identity is no longer based on what we do or what others think about us, but on who we are in Jesus. Share 1 Peter 2:9 and Ephesians 1:4-5 in simple terms, emphasizing that we are special, chosen, and loved by God.
- How does it feel to know that you are special and loved by God?
- Can you think of a time when you felt really proud to be part of God’s family?
Activity: Have your children create a drawing or collage that represents their identity in Christ, using symbols, images, or words that remind them of God’s love and the qualities they possess as His children.
Part 2: Humility and Responding to Criticism
Discussion: Talk to your children about humility and why it’s important for Christians. Share that Jesus showed us how to be humble and respond to criticism by trusting God, even when people said mean things about Him (1 Peter 2:23).
- Can you think of a time when someone said something mean or untrue about you? How did it make you feel?
- What could you do differently next time to show humility and trust in God when facing criticism?
Activity: Roleplay scenarios where your children might face criticism or teasing. Guide them through responses that demonstrate humility and trust in God.
Part 3: Living Out Our Identity
Discussion: Encourage your children to remember their identity in Christ when they face challenges. Explain that relying on God and trusting in their identity as His children will help them make wise decisions and respond with love and grace.
- How can remembering our identity in Christ help us make good choices?
- What is one way you can show love and grace to someone who is mean or critical?
Activity: Together as a family, create a list of practical steps to remind each other of your identity in Christ daily. This can include prayer, Bible verses, or encouraging notes placed in visible areas around your home.
Conclusion: Remind your children that understanding and living out their identity in Christ is a lifelong journey, and that you are there to support and guide them every step of the way. Encourage them to ask questions and share their thoughts and feelings as they grow in their relationship with God.