Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Overcoming the Christian Identity Crisis

9Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  11And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

The letter we call 1 Corinthians was written by Paul to correct some major problems affecting the congregation in the Greek city of Corinth.  Every problem was rooted in the fact that the believers in Corinth had no idea who or what they were.  Paul wanted them to be mature (see 3:1-2) and to this end he needed them to know who they were.
There are two types of people in the Scripture: the unrighteous (or the ‘wicked’)- those who live by the principles of the world to the exclusion of the Living God; and the righteous- those who seek to walk by faith in the way of Christ. 

In the above passage, Paul makes it plain that the wicked have no inheritance in God’s Kingdom, and then he details nine behaviors that are readily practiced by those outside of God’s way.

The key verse however is that which follows this list: and such were some of you…but

The Corinthian Christians had been practitioners of these behaviors.  They were drunkards, sexually immoral and deviant, greedy, etc.  But now, through Christ, they are no longer consumed or controlled by the passions and principles of the world.  They have been “washed”, “sanctified” and “justified” by the atoning work of Christ and the real power of the Holy Spirit.  As such, they are not to live by worldly standards any longer; nor are they to think of themselves in these terms.  They are no longer ‘sinners’, but redeemed saints of God.

Christians continue to struggle with an identity crisis, and a subsequent inferiority complex.  Like the Corinthians, we all were once counted among the unrighteous, living by “the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3).  But, like the Corinthians, we are such no longer!

A born again believer in Jesus is a child of God- no longer under the controlling influence of sin.  Surely each Christian faces temptation to stick our toe into the pool of sin; and sometimes we do fail to live out our Christian commitment, but that does not alter our true identity. 

Christians falsely label themselves: ‘worm’, ‘beggar’, ‘sinner’.  These terms do an injustice to the sacrifice of Christ Who died and rose again to make us, as Israel of old, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession” (1 Peter 2:9).  Through Jesus we are “beloved” (Jude 1) and “called to be saints” (1 Corinthians 1:2).

Dear friends, for Jesus’ sake, may we see ourselves as He sees us: “washed”- cleansed from sin by His blood; “sanctified”- made holy by the Spirit of God and proclaimed through the waters of baptism; “justified”- right with God by our faith in Jesus’ perfect faithfulness.

True we are not yet what we are intended fully to be (see 1 John 3:2), but equally as true, we are no longer what we once were!  So by His Word you can lose the inferiority complex as you overcome the identity crisis.  You are His beloved saint! 

I pray we may all come to rejoice in this truth as we await the soon and certain Coming of our Lord to make us finally and fully what we know we already are.