Our identities are extremely important to us. Knowing who we are is comforting and reassuring, and helps us to relate to others and to God. With this in mind, imagine how frightening it would be if we forgot who we were. This happens when religion confuses us about God’s nature and our identity in Him; however, correctly interpreting His Word rescues us from spiritual amnesia.
Under the old covenant of the Law of Moses, man had to work hard to serve God and earn whatever blessings he could get. There was no opportunity to develop a relationship with Him. Under the new covenant of grace, we as born-again believers are holy, righteous, and redeemed. Our relationship with Jesus makes us God’s children; this is now our identity. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).
A proper understanding of how the old covenant differs from the new covenant frees us to know our true identity. In the Old Testament, God was a God of punishment and judgment; seeing Him through the lens of the law keeps us fearful of Him and prevents us from knowing Him as our heavenly Father. In the New Testament, He’s a God of mercy and love. Jesus, who perfectly modeled the Father’s nature, is the mirror image of God and demonstrates how He relates to us now. “…He who has seen Me has seen the Father…” (John 14:9, NKJV).
Our identities aren’t based on anything we do, but on what Jesus already did. He went to the cross so that mankind would no longer be separated from God the way he was under the old covenant of the law. Because of the blood Jesus shed, we can now stand in God’s presence as His holy and righteous children. When religion tells us we’re sinners, God tells us we’re saints. “Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness” (Psalm 30:4).
Previously, we sinned because we were sinners. Now that our old root of sin has been removed and we have the root of righteousness in us, no sinful act we commit has the power to make us sinners again. This is an important distinction we need to remember. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
We’ve been forgiven and redeemed. Our actions don’t define us; who we are is now defined by the finished works of Jesus Christ. Therefore, nothing we do can alter our identities. The Ten Commandments could never accomplish what He did. “Brothers, listen! We are here to proclaim that through this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. Everyone who believes in him is made right in God’s sight—something the law of Moses could never do” (Acts 13:38, 39, NLT).
Correctly analyzing the Word of grace reveals that our righteousness doesn’t come from our self-efforts. Our trust in Jesus, and who we are in Him, is the deciding factor. “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Philippians 3:9). We’re not what we do; we are who God says we are. This is something that can never be taken away from us.