Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Who do you think you are?

The Father's testimony

"If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid. There is another who testifies in my favour, and I know that his testimony about me is valid. You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved." John 5:31-34

"As soon as Jesus was baptised, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'" Matthew 3:16,17

Jesus lived from the Father's testimony about him. Even Jesus did not depend on his own testimony about himself, nor the testimony of godly men concerning him. The only testimony that he considered valid was the testimony of the Father concerning him. Jesus, therefore, lived by faith in the testimony of the Father. After his baptism, Jesus was led into the desert to be tempted. The devil challenged the testimony Jesus had from the Father saying, "If you are the Son of God..." (Matthew 4:1-11). Jesus, however, trusted in the Father's testimony about him.

A new identity

The apostle Paul lived by faith in his new identity in Christ. He regarded his old identity that was based on his education, his heritage, his intellect, his zeal, and his self-righteousness as "rubbish" compared to knowing Christ and finding his identity in Him (Philippians 3:4-11). Paul lived from the reality of his new identity in Christ saying, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).

Key motivation

Just as Paul lived from the spiritual reality of his new identity in Christ, so he appealed to the Church to live their lives according to the testimony from heaven and the spiritual truth of their new identity in Christ. Paul understood that the believers' key motivation to live godly lives was to believe and live according to their new identity in Christ.

In his letter to the saints in Colosse, Paul writes,

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with hm in glory." Colossians 3:1-4

Paul appeals to the truth of what Christ has done, is doing and will do. He reminds the Church that they have been raised with Christ (past), that they live with Him in God (present) and that they will be found in Him when He returns (future). Consequently, Paul exhorts the Church to put off her old identity and behaviour and to live in her new identity as "God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved" (Colossians 3:12).

Over and over again in his letters to the Church, Paul reminds the believers about their new identity in Christ in order to move them to live godly lives. He reminds the believers that they are not their own anymore and that they are the temple of the Holy Spirit as the key motivation to avoid sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 8:12-16; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1). He explains how believers belong to one another as the Body of Christ as the key motivation to serve one another (Romans 12:4,5). Paul reminds the believers that they are no longer darkness but light in the Lord and so should live as children of light because that is their new identity in Christ (Ephesians 5:8-14).

Life of faith

We see, therefore, that the life of faith is about living in the truth of what God says about us - the Father's testimony about us - because of what Christ has done, is doing and will do. Those who live in the truth of their new identity in Christ will put off the old and put on the new. They will live as God's people who belong to Him and to one another because they know that they are sons of God and that they are the Body of Christ. 

Living according to identity

What attitude or behaviour needs to change in your life if you truly believe the following testimony about your new identity in Christ?
  • You are a new creation in Christ, created in Him to do good works. 2 Cor 5:17; Eph 2:10
  • Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor 6:19,20
  • You are a member of the Body of Christ. 1 Cor 12:27
  • You are holy. Col 3:12
  • You are light. Eph 5:8-12
  • You are a citizen of heaven. Phil 3:20
These are just a few of the wonderful truths that apply to the believer. Faith in the truth of who we are in Christ should motivate us to live according to our new lives in Christ.  

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1