In my current role as a Residence Director I’m put into many weird and uncomfortable situations when I meet with students in my office. I’ve shaken my head at stupidity and laughed at silly rationales that I believed when I was also an 18 year-old freshman. I’m usually left trying to convince the student to tell me the truth or to be nice to their roommates. From time to time however, I am blessed with the opportunity to remind my residents of who they are in Christ. It would be easy for me to focus on what they did wrong, why they did it, and what the consequence will be, but that is not where life change happens. Life change happens when someone is asked to explain who they are in Christ despite the infringement they just committed. Because, in order to make good decisions for Christ, we need to know who we are in Christ.
How do you view yourself? How do you think God views you?
We no longer identify with the sinful people that we once were
because God sees Christ’s righteousness when He looks at us.
Too often I find myself with the mindset of someone who is trying to attain Christ’s righteousness. My own righteousness seems like a carrot that is dangled in front of me. Sometimes I think if I work hard enough today, I will be able to grab it. Other times I feel like a sinner who puts on Christ on as if He were the occasional ill-fitting clothes. I put Jesus on like a jacket to cover up who I am. Eventually I get uncomfortable and take off the jacket, but then guilt sets in as I realize who I am and that I can never do enough to earn God’s favor. This gets exhausting and isn’t how God intended it. The truth is, we aren’t sinners trying to put on Christ’s righteousness – we have been given a completely new identity! We no longer identify with the sinful people that we once were because God sees Christ’s righteousness when He looks at us. What a beautiful thing!
Do you believe that? Or do you think God sees you as someone who needs to do better, someone who has failed yet again at your morning devotionals, gossip, lust etc.? Yes, God wants our obedience and self-discipline, but when he looks at us He sees His Son’s perfection. Not because we put Him on really well that day, but because it becomes who we are.
It is true that without Christ we are desperate sinners, incapable of pleasing God. But once we have seen our sin in the light of God’s holiness, and with a heart humbly submitted to Christ, we are new creations (2 Cor. 5:17). Our self-seeking identity can be put to death and we can live in Christ’s righteousness. Therefore, the process of spiritual formation happens when we say no to the things that aren’t aligned with our new identity and yes to the things that reinforce it.
The process of spiritual formation happens
when we say no to the things that aren’t aligned with our new identity
and yes to the things that reinforce it.
Realizing this makes moral decision-making so much easier. You are not making decisions as a sinner trying to attain Christ’s perfection; rather, you’re making decisions as a person with the potential of perfection. You do this by taking off your flesh and walking in close relationship with Christ. We don’t have to use a rule-based filter, but rather one that asks, “Since Christ dwells in me, will this decision be beneficial to me or enslave me? Does this choice reflect Christ or my old self?” Understanding our true identity and acting from that is a much stronger motivator than guilt! I promise.
Who are you? How do you see yourself?