Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Why It is Unhealthy to Tie Your Behavior to Your Identity, Part 1

Tying behavior to identity.. makes God's love seem utterly conditional
Conditional love is based either on the behavior of the one loved or the whims of the lover. God is consistent & trustworthy. He is FAITHFUL. Faithful means He is loyal to love you. "The Lord’s lovingkindnesses certainly never cease because His compassions never fail. His love, kindness, and compassion are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness O Lord" (Lamentations 3:22-23). So God doesn't love based on whims or moods. "His love endures forever" (1 Chronicles 16:34). Don't forget that His love is aimed at you. Many will agree that God is loving but they will also feel like they are the exception to His enduring love. Why? Because they think His love is conditional based on their behavior.

Tying behavior to identity makes you see your identity as conditional to your behavior, you are only good if you act good, etc. God does not see you this way. He has made a new you, an eternal you that is perfect as He is perfect. He has no reason to not love you. He has taken all of your sins away & has given you a perfect spirit. But His love is so much better than that, He didn't start loving you when you were reborn & perfected. "Christ died for the ungodly. He demonstrated His love for us by dying for us while we were still sinners" (Romans 5:6-8). Knowing the worst behavior of your life He still loved you enough to suffer & die for you. What room is there left to think that His love is now conditional depending upon your behavior? There is no room. His love doesn't depend on your behavior or your identity. His love is His choice & He loves you for you, not for what you've done or can do, not for what you have been, are, or will become. You cannot be separated from His love (Romans 8:33-39). That means you are already in & next to His love. "The love of Christ surrounds us & completely holds us" (2 Corinthians 5:14).

Tying behavior to identity.. sees righteousness, holiness, worthiness, etc. as things that come and go
“Righteousness from God comes through trust in Jesus Christ to all who trust. All are justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:22,24). “Righteousness is a gift” (Romans 5:17). "The gifts of God are irrevocable" (Romans 11:29). Righteousness is His gift to us. "It is God that justifies (makes people righteous)" not our own behavior (Romans 8:33). Identity comes from birth not from behavior. Ephesians 4:24 says, "When your new man (spirit) is born you are created in the likeness of God as truly righteous and truly holy."

Righteous means "right with God." The mindset that sees behavior tied to identity believes in & endorses paradigms not found in scripture such as, "You're only right with God when you confess your sins to Him," & "You are only right with God if you have repented of recent sins" & "You have to ask God for forgiveness to be right with Him." No such ideas or relative language appears in scripture. Those ideas are all based on false doctrines, twists of scripture, out of context scripture, & mistranslations that are centuries old. God does not revoke your standing with Him. He doesn't revoke His feelings of favor (grace) for you when you don't behave well. All of God's gifts are irrevocable because they are born into who you are when your spirit is reborn. In rebirth you have become one spirit with Him (1 Corinthians 6:17, Ephesians 4:4, 1 John 4:17). He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13) & you are now a part of Him. He isn't going to deny you of any of the gifts He has given you. His gifts are righteousness (justification), holiness, worthiness, & so much more. Sinful behavior cannot remove any of these things from you even for a moment. If you believe it can please stop believing that lie, it is destroying you & will continue to do so.

Tying behavior to identity.. limits how we see our righteousness
The number one thing I've heard from people against our spiritual identity being a reality is that our righteousness/justification is only "legal righteousness." Another way of saying this is that we are only "positionally righteous." This is a very harmful mindset. While legal righteousness is a part of our righteousness to have it stop there leaves room for us to make excuses to devalue ourselves based on our behavior. It does not recognize the beauty of what it means to be born again. People who see themselves as only legally righteous say things like, "We are righteous because God calls us righteous but for no other reason" & think "We aren't really righteous."

However most who believe in this still say, "When God sees us He sees Christ." Sadly limiting our righteousness as legal or positional makes that statement merely lip service because these people believe God sees sin in us. They believe we are sinners who sin & flesh is part of our identity. God does not see Christ as sinful or in sin. They may even go so far as to say "Christ is our identity" but in practice they hold no such belief. If you actually believe Christ is our new identity how then do you believe we can sin with that identity? How can you believe your identity is still a sinner? If God sees us as He sees Christ why should we see ourselves any different? Why should I not see myself with God's perfect eyes?

Those who hold to positional identity without recognizing spiritual identity ultimately believe, "God declared me righteous (justified me) but I'm not really righteous. God only loves me enough to pretend that I am righteous. I cannot be righteous unless I behave righteously all the time. God is lying to Himself & to me when He calls me righteous & holy." So for some positional identity/legal righteousness is a cop out just so you can say, "I believe the Bible" without actually having to change your mind about yourself or the bulk of how God sees you.

Tying behavior to identity.. centers life on sin instead of Christ & empowers sin
Actions of sin have been taught to be the deciding factor of whether or not you have right standing with God or fellowship with God. It is taught that your behavior can change how God feels about you, that you can lose favor with Him or even that He can love you less based on your actions. When you believe that you put the ball in sin's court & essentially say, "rule me sin." If you think sinful behavior can separate you from God's love, approval, forgiveness, blessings, etc you have had the white flag thrown up to sin nearly your whole life. You see sin as more powerful than the cross, the blood, the resurrection, the Spirit, & God Himself. There is no talking your way out of this because if you believe sin can separate you from God in any way you believe your behavior is more powerful than God Himself!! Nothing can separate you from God's love (Romans 8:33-39). God is love. If we cannot be separated from His love we cannot be separated from Him!!

Those who fear that sin is detrimental to God's view of them will end up focusing on sin most of the time. Instead of enjoying and sharing the love of Christ the goal of their life is to "sin less." Sin, flesh, & the law (which empowers sin) is the triune god of religion. They are focused on, preached on, prayed about. The mind keeps sin, confession, & repentance logs. Christ and all He has given us is ignored in practice. Is your thought life consumed with whether or not you sin or is it consumed with the love, peace, & joy of our Lord?

No comments:

Post a Comment