Have You Discovered Your
Being “in Christ” Turns Us Into Someone
Utterly Different From Who We Think We Are
[Editor’s Note: Who are you really? What is your true identity? How we humans see ourselves is one of the most important issues we can face. Even more crucial is how Christians see themselves as those who are “in Christ.” The fact is that many believers struggle with an “identity crisis”—but it’s not the kind of crisis you think. Many of us have experienced “identity theft”—but not in the way others have. In this blog post, David Bryant helps you reverse this crisis and get back the “identity” stolen from you. He not only gives Jesus followers eight new ways to view themselves but also eight new reasons to celebrate who Jesus is today.]
Identity Crisis. Identity Theft.
Since 1938, when Superman appeared in the first Marvel Comic, a stable of superheroes have taken their place in the Marvel pantheon, now exported worldwide through the most successful movie franchise ever.
All of the Marvel-like characters—whether Batman, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman or Black Panther—share one trait: their true identity remains a secret to the world, hidden behind a façade that makes them look like normal human beings (Superman, for example, acts as a newspaper reporter).
UNTIL . . . a moment of crisis requires them to lay aside their charade and openly assume their real identity—and then live up to it, taking action to “save the day” and always to “save the world.”
Similarly, multitudes of Christians also have a “secret identity.” Unfortunately, it is a secret to themselves! That’s because no one has ever told them about it to start with.
We might say this ignorance of our true identity creates for us a genuine “identity crisis.” In addition, because Satan has deceived us about who the Bible says we really are, he has stolen from us the joy of seeing ourselves “in Christ”—causing us to experience a spiritual form of “identity theft.”
For that reason, Christians frequently fail to “live up to” our real and wonderful and true identity—the brand-new identity that became ours the very second we came into union with God’s Son.
The other great tragedy in all of this is that we miss out manifesting to the world the truth of who we really are because we are “in Christ”—and therefore fail to unleash Christ’s saving message and “superpower” and life and Kingdom to help rescue a fallen humanity on the verge of eternal destruction.
The “guardians of the universe” sympathize!
The Master Key
The reality is that our identity “in Christ” is the master key to every facet of Christian life and ministry. Paul alone uses the phrase “in Christ” at least 150 times—making this a dominant theme of the New Testament.
We believers are declared to be alive “in Christ.” We walk daily “in Christ.” We overcome all the forces of darkness “in Christ.” We currently are seen as reigning “in Christ.”
In other words, our fundamental identity before God’s throne as well as before the eyes of others should be defined by—actually should be consumed with—Christ himself and all he is right now.
Let me show you EIGHT WAYS your identity has been revolutionized and redefined because you belong to Christ. If you see these truths and embrace them, they will change the way you come at all of life from now on—guaranteed!
How Do People Gain
Their Original “Identity” in the First Place?
First, let’s consider at least eight factors that go into how all of us come to regard ourselves.
YOUR RACE. This is obvious. Are you black? White? Brown? Red? Yellow? Or a combination of those shades of color? Not only the color of your skin but many other physical characteristics are determined by your DNA.
Then there’s your ethnicity: Hispanic? Jewish? Middle Eastern? South Asian? Other ways you think about yourself are strongly based on ethnic influences. On and on it goes. Have you ever been the victim of racial or ethnic profiling? All of this helps determine who we think we are. For some it feels like privilege, for others like shame.
Now We Come to the Best Part
CONCLUSION: There may be other factors, but those eight are enough to help us to realize how we see ourselves and why we think of ourselves as we do.
But now, the good news I have for you can get you headed in a whole new direction.
If the Lord Jesus has become your Redeemer and King; if you have given yourself to him and by the Spirit of God have been united to him forever; if, in other words, you are what the New Testament teaches Christians have become “in Christ”—then guess what? Most likely you are not who you think you are!
You have become someone totally different. Totally better. Totally more wonderful (and wonder-filled) than you ever suspected. In fact, you have become totally glorious!
Let me illustrate below.
There Are Important Times to Play Dress Up
I did not have an especially happy childhood, due to emotional struggles in our family. So I would find comfort in pretending to be someone else.
One Halloween my mother made a Zorro (“Carves a ‘Z’ with his blade, A ‘Z’ that stands for Zorro!) costume for me. It included a black mask, a large black hat with a feather plume, a gold-painted wooden sword, and best of all, a big black cape that I loved to swish around pompously. When I wore that exquisite costume I felt invincible; I felt fearless—I felt proud!
Consequently, other times of the year when I needed to upgrade a sense of worth in my identity, I would play dress up—I would “act as if” I were Zorro once again.
Years later, I read in Galatians 3:27-28 that when we commit our lives to Jesus and are baptized to follow him we “put on Christ.” Again, in Romans 13, I was told: “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.”
In other words, Christians are invited to play “dress up.” We are to take on a new identity by pretending—to “act as if”—we are Jesus.
More than that, God actually wants us to see ourselves so fully united to God’s Son that everything that is true about him becomes true about us!
When we come to Christ, the Bible says that instantly we become “new creations” because everything about who we once were (including all of our sin) is put away; and everything received because we are now fully identified with Christ is unequivocally who we ourselves have become for now and eternity (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). That’s how God sees us because now we are “in Christ.”
Moreover, we get to play a Spirit-driven “dress up” game forever! Isn’t this part of what Jesus meant that the Kingdom of God belongs to “little children”—in terms of the childlike freedom we have in Christ?
But we must come to fully know that this approach to the Christian life is NOT a game. This is reality, and we need to realize it and walk in the power of this truth every day.
The ramifications of our calling to “wear Christ” are huge. I have rows of books in my library that focus alone on this one supreme theme. Thus, all I can do here is give you a taste of what has happened to you.
I want to talk to you about your “secret identity”—which hopefully will not be a secret for you anymore! In these remaining paragraphs, let me go back to the EIGHT WAYS our original identity was formed and show how “in Christ” our identity is radically “re-formed.”
The fact is, fellow believers, many of you are about to discover that you are not the person you thought you were!
EIGHT WAYS Your Identity Changes
When You’re Clothed With Christ
YOU RECEIVE A NEW NAME “in Christ.” In fact, Jesus promised Christians in the church at Philadelphia: “I will write on you my new name” (Revelation 3). To those in Pergamum he asserts: “I will give you a stone with your new name written on it” (Revelation 2). Furthermore, he promised the Sardis believers that their names would remain in the book of life (Revelation 3)—the highest honor possible!
Therefore, he told the disciples, “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10). And of course, we all bear the name “Christian,” which in its original Greek means literally “member of the Christ gang.” That’s your name, too. Finally, Jesus tells us that when we pray, we can use his name as if it were our name as we make our requests (John 16).
That’s for starters. This truth is expressed all through the Bible.
Your new NAME is part of your true identity “in Christ”! Is that how you see yourself?
YOU HAVE A NEW FAMILY “in Christ.” Ephesians 1 tells us that from the beginning the Father preplanned for our “adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” “Behold, what manner of love is this, that we should be called ‘children of God’, and such we are,” writes John in 1 John. Jesus allows us to call the living God our “Father” just as he does. In Hebrews 2, he declares: “Here am I and the children God has given me!”
We are as welcomed and as wanted by the triune God as Jesus himself ever was or will be! We’re invited into the inner “circle of love” of the Trinity that’s existed from all eternity; it is now expanded to include all who have been redeemed by Jesus.
We don’t become “God”—absolutely not! However, we do become “family” with the Father just as the Son to whom we are united is “family.” In fact, every day we’re led by the “Spirit of adoption” (Romans 8).
This new FAMILY is another part of your true identity “in Christ”! Is that how you see yourself?
YOU BELONG TO A NEW RACE “in Christ.” When you came to Christ, you were transferred from the old “Adam” race into the new “Christ” race (see Romans 5). As Jesus said, we are “born again” (John 3). As a result, Galatians 3 reminds all who are clothed with Christ that “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Or again, speaking of us as “new creations,” Paul sums it up like this in Colossians 3: “Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and is in all.” In other words, all races have equal beauty and status when we are all consumed with Christ together.
This new RACE forms more of your true identity “in Christ.” Is that how you see yourself?
YOU MOVE TO A NEW LOCATION “in Christ.” Where do you think you live right now? Surprise!—Jesus said in John 12, “Where I am there will my servant also be.” In other words, when Jesus calls us to “Come and follow me,” that means for the rest of eternity our “address” is ultimately marked “Jesus Christ”—that is, wherever he resides. That is why the Bible teaches that today all believers have been “seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2). Think of it! With Jesus on his throne!
One day our location will be in the new heaven and earth, in the “New Jerusalem,” where we’ll see and serve King Jesus forever (Revelation 21-22). But even now Hebrews 12 alerts us: “[Y]ou have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant.” What a great neighborhood!
Therefore, we’re all urged: “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3, emphasis added).
This new LOCATION helps redefine your true identity “in Christ. Is this how you see yourself?
YOU GET A NEW OCCUPATION “in Christ.” What do you think is the best job in the world—the most important, the most honorable, the most productive? More than once Jesus observed: “The greatest among you is the servant of all.” He takes it a step further in Matthew 25 when he claims that when we do serve others, especially fellow believers—feeding them, clothing them, comforting them in sickness, standing with them when persecuted—we actually are doing it all to HIM.
Those who belong to Jesus will never be “unemployed,” as Scripture teaches in Ephesians 2: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”—full employment planned for us from eternity. WOW! In fact, Revelation 22 tells us that serving Jesus will be our chief job in the consummation of the ages. Revelation 5 describes our occupation by revealing that in Christ we have become “kings” and “priests.”
This new OCCUPATION also helps enhance your true identity “in Christ.” Is this how you see yourself?
YOU RECEIVE AMAZING NEW ABILITIES “in Christ.” Do you feel under-gifted, unqualified, clumsy, useless, too plain and ordinary? Well, once you are “in Christ,” the Spirit of God will equip you in whole new ways to make a difference in God’s kingdom with gifts you never knew you had (see 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12, for starters). Jesus promises to all who “abide in me as I abide in them” that we will “bear much fruit, the fruit that remains” (John 15).
Even in those times when we feel weak and disqualified, because we are living in union with God’s Son in the fullness of his supremacy, the Christian can say: “[Jesus’] power is made perfect in my weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12). Or put more simply: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4). All things!! You and I have been “endowed” with the abilities of the King of Glory by the Spirit of power (Acts 1:8).
These new spiritual ABILITIES add to your true identity “in Christ.” Is that how you see yourself?
YOU RECEIVE A NEW HISTORY “in Christ.” When Scripture says of all Jesus followers that “the old has passed away; behold everything has become new” (2 Corinthians 5) that includes your entire past. Your past is no longer a prologue to your future. Once you landed “in Christ Jesus,” all condemnation over your life history ended forever (Romans 8:1). On the cross, Jesus bore every ounce of sin and shame from your past (Isaiah 53).
Furthermore, all the good stuff from your past—including all your righteous deeds, even if you had an excellent reputation before others—all of that is gone as well. It happened because “in Christ” you were crucified with Christ, buried with Christ, and raised from the dead with Christ (Romans 6). Now and forever, your “story” has become totally wrapped up in “his story” (“history”)—wrapped up in who he is, where he is headed, what he is doing, and how he gets exalted and blessed.
This new unfolding HISTORY now marks your true identity “in Christ.” Is that how you see yourself?
YOU BEGIN A NEW DESTINY “in Christ.” In lots of ways, this is implied in the other seven above. It all points to what lies ahead. Christ himself is your “hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27)—the assurance that there are wonders ready to be fulfilled for you in him that you will discover to be “exceedingly above and beyond all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3).
The Holy Spirit has “sealed” us in Christ (2 Corinthians 1) to “guarantee” for us that the magnificent future the Father has for all who belong to his Son will never be forfeited. That future is as bright as the promises of God.
Colossians 3 says “when Christ who is our life appears we will appear with him in glory.” For sure, there’s a day coming when we will be “forever with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4). No wonder Paul exclaims, even sitting in prison awaiting trial for his witness to the gospel: “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” In the end, our new destiny is not a place or a blessing or an event. It is a PERSON!
Right now, your new DESTINY also marks your true identity “in Christ.” Is that how you see yourself?
Let the Son Get in Your Eyes
So then, here’s a start at looking at who you REALLY are if you have given your life to the Savior of the nations—this is who you are in God’s eyes.
This is how the Father regards you when he looks at you: He sees your new name, your new family, your new race, your new location, your new occupation, your new abilities, your new history, your new destiny—because he sees it all “in Christ Jesus.”
Therefore, he sees you, loves you, embraces you, works with you AS IF you actually were Christ Jesus because he will never look at you without first seeing Christ Jesus.
To the Father, “in Christ” means you have become utterly glorious—so much so that he says you already have been “glorified.” Listen: “those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified” (Romans 8:30, emphasis added). Notice: It does not say you WILL BE glorified but that you already ARE glorified.
When the Father looks at you, one might say: “He lets the Son get in his eyes.”
Years ago, a popular country Western song was titled “Don’t Let the Sun Get in Your Eyes.” Its point? The guy was about to jilt his girlfriend, and he didn’t want a crying scene. So he asks her for no tears—as often happens when direct sun makes our eyes water.
However, I end with the opposite request: PLEASE DO LET THE SON GET IN YOUR EYES!
As you look at God in worship, let the SON get in your eyes. As you look at yourself in the mirror, let the SON get in your eyes. As you look at fellow believers, even those and especially those that may be hard to get along with, let the SON get in your eyes.
As you look at all your non-Christian friends still outside of life in Christ, try to see them for the person they could become—instantly!—the moment they surrender to trust Christ for eternal salvation. Try to imagine them “in Christ.” As you walk with them, let the SON get in your eyes.
As we close, for yourself, let me challenge you to join Paul’s pursuit of the fullness of his new identity in Christ now—an identity no longer a secret to him or anyone else:
that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ . . . I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me . . . I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (from Philippians 3, emphasis added).
Always remember, beloved, YOU ARE IN CHRIST! Live and walk and breathe in your NEW—in your REAL—identity in him!
About the Author
Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and to Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com.