Religion: ‘My identity is built on being a good person.’
Gospel: ‘My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on Christ’s.’
A Christian’s root identity is in Christ. So we Christians are not sinners, we are saints, hidden in Christ. Our God is not angry with us, He’s thrilled and head over heels in love (Matthew 3:17). All righteous wrath has been exhausted in the body of Christ on the cross, once, for all (Hebrews 9:12, 25-28), and He remembers our sin no more (Hebrews 8:12-13). Our future is not lack and guilt but abundant grace, His righteousness, hope, in spite of trials and persecutions, blessing and reigning in life (Romans 5:17).
Speaking the truth in love to a person is not telling them their dysfunctions but calling out their true identity. “Hey, you don’t need to be doing this because this is who you really are.” Accountability is not watching each other’s sin patterns but calling each other on our gold, ensuring we “account” for our “abilities” – who heaven says we are and what heaven says we carry. We always overcome evil with good, the dark behaviour caused through lies, with the truth (light) that brings freedom.
Graham Cooke said this:
“Here’s the thing about God – whenever He connects with you He does so by how He sees you in the spirit, not by how we are behaving. He’s always speaking to your identity. He’s always speaking to who you really are. Once God tells you your persona, once he reveals this to you this is how you are known in heaven. That’s the way He speaks to you from that point on.”
The crowd saw Zacchaeus as a corrupt money-grabbing thief of Israel. They were livid when Jesus chose to have lunch with him. But Jesus saw him at the end of his race. The grace and kindness of Jesus punctured through his hard walls of rejection and greed, leading to Zacchaeus moving in earth-shattering repentance and generosity. Once Zacchaeus had repented Jesus further called him out: “Zacchaeus too is a [real spiritual] son of Abraham.” Heaven only knows whom Zacchaeus went on to become.
Gideon effectively called himself a powerless weed. God called him “a mighty man of [fearless] courage”. That’s what Gideon became. Once you are born again by repentance and faith you are a new creation, a saint, a royal priest. Receive who God says you are, day after day, and watch how you slowly become it. What we agree with, we empower. That’s how the spirit realm works.
Our healthy “do” always flows from our healthy “who”. The power of the heavenly-minded is that our hearts and our minds are always in sync with who God is for us and who we are to Him. Every single thing in our life is relational. I will say it again, every problem, every difficulty, it’s all about who God wants to be for us and who He says we are. Be a son first and then everything else will line up properly.