Episode 1. A New Identity By Grace
Listen to the radio broadcast
Download audio file
Life is something of a spiritual battlefield and when we’re in the thick of things, it’s so important for us to know what side we’re on. Each one of us has a new identity in Christ, but how …
Life is something of a spiritual battlefield and when we’re in the thick of things, it’s so important for us to know what side we’re on. Each one of us has a new identity in Christ, but how many of us know that deep in our hearts, in the heat of the spiritual battle we call life?
Spiritual victory is something of an odd concept, we live life, we go through all the stuff we go through, we know somehow there’s a spiritual dimension to it all but for most of us, particularly westerners like me, the spiritual dimension of life can feel somewhat distant, irrelevant even in the cut and thrust of daily life. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.
The battles we fight often appear to be battles against circumstances, adversity, and other people – especially other people. Our daily battles appear confined to the here and now when all along there’s a spiritual battle raging for your soul in the heavenly places. This is what the Apostle Paul writes, Ephesians chapter 6, verses 10 to 13:
Finally (he says) be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armour of God so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil for our struggle isn’t against enemies of blood and flesh but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God so that you may be able to withstand on that day of evil and having done everything to stand firm.
So today we’re kicking off a brand new series of messages called Your Road To Spiritual Victory because Jesus didn’t come and die for you and rise again so that you could spend the rest of your life being defeated by your circumstances or by people or by satan or by your sin. Gods plan for your life is victory – spiritual victory. 1 John chapter 5, verses 4 and 5.
For whatever is born of God conquers the world and this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world? That the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
And that’s why today and over the next couple of weeks we’re going to focus on spiritual victory, your spiritual victory to be precise. Often when I start talking about this to people I get a response that goes something like this, ‘Yeah I hear you but I’m not good enough, I’m such a weak person, I don’t think I will ever experience the victory that you’re talking about.’
This is way more common than you think. Perhaps you’ve been thinking along similar lines as we’ve been chatting about this whole ‘spiritual victory’ thing today. Well my job is to open God’s Word with you and show you that that’s a whole bunch of baloney.
Let’s go back to Paul’s words about the spiritual battle and putting on the whole armour of God. The whole purpose of that, he says is quote, ‘So we may be able to withstand on that evil day and having done everything to stand firm.’ In other words ‘to win the battle‘.
‘But I’m not good enough,’ I hear you say. No, you’re not good enough, that’s the truth and nor am I for that matter, we’re all in the same boat. None of us is good enough or strong enough or pure enough or holy enough or smart enough to win the spiritual battle, that’s the whole point, that’s why we need Jesus, that’s why we need the Holy Spirit.
And the starting point for the transaction of spiritual victory can be summed up in one word – grace. And that’s something that your God and mine, has available in bucket loads for you and me. Again listen to how the Apostle Paul puts it, Ephesians chapter 2, verses 4 and 5.
But God who is rich in mercy out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, has made us alive together in Christ.
There are times in our lives when we know that we’ve blown it, I mean completely blown it. There is nothing worse than waking up the morning after the night before and remembering that you hurt someone you loved and damaged a relationship that was so terribly important to you. How could I have been so stupid? How could I have said that? How could I have done that? Yeah I know, you’ve been there right? So have I.
I remember one time when I was in that place when the person I had hurt reached out to me and without berating me, without showing anger, without judging me simply forgave me and opened the door to healing our relationship. I’ll never forget it. That person was Jesus. What He did is called mercy and here’s the thing, mercy is only mercy when it’s undeserved. If we deserved it, it wouldn’t be mercy, would it?
The Bible tells us that God is rich in mercy, ain’t that the truth.
For by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not of your own doing, it’s a gift from God, not the result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians chapter 2, verses 8 and 9)
See mercy and grace are two sides of the one coin. Mercy is when God takes away the punishment that we so richly deserve for rebelling against Him and grace is when He gives us instead untold blessings that we simply don’t deserve. You and I have rebelled against God and the wages of sin, as we’re told in the Bible, is death and yet because He loves you so much He heaps the death that you deserve on the shoulders of Jesus on that cross. Jesus suffered and died on your behalf – that’s mercy.
And then instead of the death we so richly deserve, He gives us a rich abundant life here and now, a life that we’ll spend with Him for the rest of eternity, that’s grace.
Some days we look in the mirror and we see just what we’ve done wrong. We see how unworthy we really are. We realise that there’s simply no hope and that’s the whole point, that’s why He sent Jesus, for you. He loves you so much, mercy and grace through Jesus Christ.
And so no matter how low the base that you’re coming off is in this spiritual game that we call life, God’s mercy will trump everything. In fact so much so that He’ll wipe away all of your past misdeeds, also known as sin. He’ll make your past completely irrelevant to you, to your life and to your relationship with Him. That’s how rich God is in His mercy and grace. Psalm 103, verses 11 to 14.
For as the heavens are high above the earth so great is his steadfast love towards those who fear him, as far as the east is from the west so far he removes our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him for he knows how we’re made, he remembers that we’re just dust.
As far as the east is from the west – I recently had to fly from Sydney in Australia, it’s on the eastern seaboard up to Singapore and it takes about seven and a half odd hours to make that flight. Four and a half of those hours, over half of the trip, is involved just in flying from east to west to get out of Australia.
So as I made that flight I looked down on the red dusty land below me and I think ‘the distance between east and west is enormous’. So far has God removed our transgressions from us – as far as the east is from the west. Your slate is wiped completely clean and your past becomes completely irrelevant. 2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 17.
So if anyone is in Christ there is a new creation. Everything old has passed away and see everything has become new.
Your past is gone, it’s irrelevant. You want spiritual victory in your life then you need to know the truth so that the truth can set you free and the truth is this, it’s what I just shared with you from God’s Word today, the truth is that you are forgiven, completely and utterly, the truth is that as far as the east is from the west so far have your transgressions been removed from you.
That’s the truth and that’s the starting point of spiritual victory in your life – the truth.
Living our lives in spiritual victory over the devil, over sin and evil, over circumstances and adversity isn’t just some theoretical pipe dream, no it’s God’s plan for our lives. Let me be even more direct than that, it’s God’s plan for your life, Romans chapter 8, verses 35 and 37.
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Don’t you love that? Not just conquerors but more than conquerors, not just victory but more than victory. There’s a reason for that and the reason is that God is a God of abundant blessing, abundant mercy, abundant grace, abundant power, abundant love. He’s an over the top kind of God and He wants you to live in this abundant life that Jesus came to give you.
And to make that happen for you, all this abundance, God gives you a new identity the moment you believe in Jesus. Instead of being the sinner you once were in God’s eyes, completely deserving of His wrath and His punishment, He transforms you through your faith in Jesus, it’s the beginning of victory.
And just as a soldier on a battlefield needs to know who he is and who he’s fighting for in order to win the battle, so you and I need to know to understand and to accept our new identity in Christ. Have a listen to this, 2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 21.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
In other words, God transferred all our sin onto Jesus shoulders so that now, when you and I stand before God, through our faith we look a whole lot like Jesus to Him. Jesus took your sin, He paid the price, He died for you so that you might become the very righteousness of God. That’s now your new identity if you believe in Jesus – a complete right standing with God no matter what horrible things you may have done in the past.
And not only in the past, in the present and what is to come in the future as well because God has given you a new standing, a standing in fact as a member of His family. Romans chapter 8, verses 14 to 17.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are in fact children of God. For you didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry ‘Abba’, Father it’s that very spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are in fact children of God and if children then heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ if in fact we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
When the going gets tough as it invariably does out there on the spiritual battlefield that we call life, it’s so easy for us to imagine that God has abandoned us. There’s nothing worse than that feeling of abandonment because you and I we’re created to belong – families, societies, sporting teams, clubs even countries – they’re all about belonging, we need to belong, that’s how God has created us.
And when the going gets tough that sense of isolation, that sense of abandonment is devastating but our feelings are quite fickle, they aren’t always able to witness the truth into our hearts. In fact quite to the contrary because you and I are frail human beings the devil often uses our feelings to speak lies into us in order to rob us of the truth.
Listen up, God will never abandon you no matter how ferocious the spiritual battle becomes, no matter how heavily you may stumble and fall some days, if you believe in Jesus, yeah some day’s you’ll be called to suffering just like Jesus but that doesn’t change the fact that you are His child, that He loves you beyond measure. He will never abandon you. That’s Gods honest truth because He has given you a completely new identity.
You have become the righteousness of God through your faith in Jesus Christ. You have become a member of His family through Jesus. And there’s something else you need to know about how God sees you, have a listen to this truth from His Word, this is God speaking to you about how He sees you and what He thinks of you and what He’s going to do for you right now, Isaiah chapter 43, verses 3 to 5.
For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your saviour. You are precious in my sight and honoured and I love you. Do not fear for I am with you.
How we see ourselves – you and I – has a huge impact on the quality and the effectiveness of the lives that we lead and this life of yours, hey it ain’t no dress rehearsal, it slips away a minute at a time, a day at a time. And one day it’s going to be over, one day the end of this life will come.
What a tragedy it would be to have missed out on all that God has to offer you simply because you believed what the world said about you and as a result you lived out your life through your own inadequacies and insecurities rather than believing what God has to say about you.
Hey, do you believe in Jesus? If you do this is what God has to say about you, you are precious to Him, you are honoured by Him and He loves you. That’s who you are, that’s your identity, that’s what God thinks about you. It’s your passport through life. So who are you going to believe, the world or God? Hmm?
When the devil comes against you on the battlefield and whispers lies into your ears, ‘oh you’re not good enough and what’s more you never will be, you can never win, give up, throw in the towel’ all that stuff who are you going to believe? The devil, the father of lies or God?
God never lies and as one whom He has transformed into His very own righteousness, as one whom He’s adopted into His family and is called a child of God. There is something else that you have, something else which is already yours, have a listen to this, 1 Peter chapter 1, verses 3 to 5.
By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading being kept in heaven for you who are being protected by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Around where I live real estate prices have become so prohibitively expensive there’s a whole generation of young people who will have to wait for their parents to die before they can purchase a home using their inheritance. In most families children can rely on the fact that they’ll receive the lion’s share of their parent’s estate so why is it then that so many Christians are uncertain about their inheritance from God? Will I make it to heaven or won’t I? Will it be everything I expect? Will God keep my inheritance for me?
The future can be scary some days even more so as we approach that final hurdle out of this life into the next. So in case you’re wondering the truth is this, God has an inheritance waiting for you in heaven that is quote, “Imperishable, undefiled and unfading.” And not only that, it’s an inheritance that He has actively protecting through His power. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Do you see how your new identity completely transforms your own view of who you are? Seeing yourself through God’s eyes changes everything because as we look at ourselves through His eyes, through His truth, all of a sudden we realise that by His grace and His mercy we are a completely new creation.
So when the enemy comes against you out there on the spiritual battlefield of life, you can declare with boldness, ‘I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. I am a child of the living God and He has an inheritance waiting for me.
Full stop – end of story.
ALL POWER TO YOU
Power is so important in living a life of spiritual victory. We’re going to talk a whole lot more about power next week on the programme, but in the few minutes that we have left together today, let me give you a taste of the power that God has already given you. Ephesians 1:17-20, Paul writes:
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know Him, so that with the eyes of your heart enlightened you may know what is the immeasurable greatness of His power for us who believe. God put this power to work in Christ and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.
It took me a long while (and maybe I’m a slow learner), but eventually I came to the conclusion that I cannot overcome my own sin in my own power. In fact, the harder I worked at it, the more I would fail, and the more condemnation I would feel. As far as I can see, working harder at becoming a better Christian is a recipe for guilt, condemnation and failure. What you and I really need is some power. I mean, serious power: Power to overcome our sin, and not surprisingly, God already has that figured out. Through the apostle Paul in Ephesians 1 (that passage we just read), God tells us that we already have available to us the same immeasurably great power that raised Jesus from the dead to give us a new life. The literal meaning of that verse, if I take the original Greek words (which is something I don’t often do on the programme) and I kind of transliterate them into English, it reads like this: Hyper ballistic, mega phonic, dynamic power.
See, this same incredible resurrection-power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to overcome your sin. It’s available to you and me here, now, today, through Jesus, so listen up. Stop praying for power, and start praying with power ‘cos you actually already have this power. Paul’s saying: ‘I wish, I pray, that you would through a spirit of revelation and wisdom come to know the immeasurable greatness of His power that’s already available to you.’
Stop praying for power, and start praying with power, but listen up. Prayer isn’t just a one-sided transaction. It’s not a one-sided conversation. I hope this is going to shock you (shocked me too, I have to tell you), but prayer is more, so much more than just rattling off our shopping-list to God.
Now don’t get me wrong; I absolutely believe in asking God for His blessing because without that, nothing I do is going to amount to very much at all, but if our prayer is a monologue rather than a dialog, then it’s not much of a relationship, is it? If our prayer is a one-sided conversation, us talking at God, then just imagine what we’re missing out on. Just imagine how God feels about that. Hearing the voice of God, hearing God speak back to us, that’s what the Holy Spirit is ready, willing and able to do, and there is such power when God speaks to us. Have a listen to what Jesus had to say on hearing His voice. John 10:1-4:
Very truly I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, the sheep hear his voice, he calls his own sheep by name and he leads them out. When he has brought out all of his own, he goes ahead of them and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.
Do you know His voice? Have you heard that sweet quiet powerful whisper in your heart? If not, be still. Just wait on Him. He will speak. Absolutely, He will. Take this whole communication thing, this whole prayer thing, seriously and you’ll be amazed at the victory that the Lord brings to pass in your life: Real victory, make no mistake. I’ve already said it, but let me say it again: You have the power to live your life in spiritual victory. It’s already been given to you. That’s the God-honest truth, and it’s that truth that will set you free to live your life in victory over the devil, over sin, over every obstacle that this world throws your way
May the Lord truly bless you as you receive His Word into your heart today.