The Gospel and Personal Identity

As a society, we are suffering an identity crisis. Not only do many people struggle to know their place in the world, but more fundamentally, we’ve lost sight of how we are to discover our identity in the first place.

In our post-modern, individualistic culture, we’ve come to think that a person doesn’t just accept his identity imposed from without, or even discover it hidden within, but he must create his own identity. Thus, I have the sovereign right to decide who I am, and others must accept it. Perhaps the most extreme manifestation of this radical self-determination is gender identity. Even if I am born a biological male, I may determine that I am actually a female (or neither). To deny me this right is to attack my very personhood.

This idea of the right to create one’s own identity appears to be the very apex of human freedom. But this notion of self-determination has brought us great confusion, conflict, and despair.

One of the great blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that by faith in Christ, we can truly come to know ourselves.

To know yourself truly begins by allowing Scripture – that is, the voice of God speaking through his Word – to answer this question: “Who am I?” The Bible gives us two answers – who you are in Adam, and who you are in Christ.

As a human being, you are a descendant of Adam and thus what was true of him is true of you. First, you are created by God (Genesis 1:27). As your sovereign Maker, God alone has the right to determine you identity.

Second, you are created in God’s image. This means you possess an intrinsic significance and value simply because you are a human being. At the core of my identity is this, I bear the image of God who is infinite in value and worth. If our society embraced this biblical truth alone, what good what come of it!

And third, you are created male or female. A person’s gender is given to him or her by the Creator and is evident from birth. Gender dysphoria – that is, not feeling like your biological gender – is no doubt a genuinely painful experience. But truly compassionate counsel doesn’t affirm someone in his confusion, but seeks to help him accept the gender with which he was born.

So in Adam you are created by God, made in his image, and created male or female. This is part of the personal identity of every human being. But there’s more to being in Adam than that. Due to his sin, we are also morally and spiritually corrupt. By nature our hearts are inclined to do wrong. In Adam we are sinners in need of redemption.

This is where the second answer of the Scriptures to the question, “Who am I?”, is such good news. For those who believe in Jesus, that answer is: you are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Your sins are forgiven because you have died with Christ. You have new life because you have been raised up with Christ. In Christ you have received a new identity:

You are no longer a child of wrath, but you are a child of God.

You are no longer a condemned sinner, but you are a forgiven sinner.

You are no longer in the domain of darkness, but you are in the Kingdom of God’s beloved Son.

You are no longer spiritually impoverished, but you are an heir to all the blessings of God.

You are no longer bound for destruction, but you are bound for glory.

To find your identity in Christ is to find freedom and joy. You are not defined by your successes or failures, nor your past sin, nor what others think of you. You are defined by the grace of God: the object of a divine and eternal love.

And the way you grow in your identity in Christ – or to put it in today’s language, the way you become more authentically “you” – is to fix your gaze upon the face of Christ, who reveals the glory of in the invisible God. As you do, the Spirit transforms you more and more into the image of Christ. Almost paradoxically, the more Christ is formed in you, the more you become the unique person God created you to be.

”And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18).

You learn who you truly are, only as you become more like Jesus.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Pastor Scott