Who am I? (Part 2 of 2)
For over three years Peter walked with Jesus, but did not yet know his own identity. Just a day before the crucifixion of Christ we have Peter lopping of the ear of the servant of the high priest. During the last supper we have Peter assuring Jesus he would never deny him, he would die before ever doing such a thing. Yet, Peter fails miserably in his devotion. Why? Because his understanding of his own strength was in his ability to do things for God. When he failed, it is no surprise to see a crisis of identity unfold. Peter abandons his call and his apostleship and goes back to fishing. That’s what he was good at. That’s what he knew. The rest of the story is extremely powerful and encouraging as Jesus seeks out Peter in particular (Mark 16:7) to finish the work of revelation that began in Matthew 16. After a resurrection meal of fish, including talk of love and calling and destiny, along with 40 more days of interaction with the Lord, followed by the outpouring of the Spirit in Acts 2, and suddenly we see Peter as the man Christ knew, and drew forth. Broken, but bold. Redeemed. Shed of the illusion of self, for the reality of Christ within. Peter had come to the proper understanding that the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world was living through him. Peter no longer based his accepted on his performance, but on the performance of another, Jesus Himself.
Peter’s battle for identity is ours. It is the key battle in the Christian Life. In Hebrews 4 it says that Jesus was our great High Priest, tempted in all ways like unto us. In the past I thought Jesus was tempted to lie, cheat, steal, lust and every other temptation that I had succumbed to in one fashion or another in my life. Recently I came to realize this is not the case at all! I misunderstood what the Holy Spirit wanted to communicate about Jesus our High Priest. How was He tempted? In Matthew 4 we read that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness and tempted by the devil. Each temptation He faced came with these words from Satan, “If you be the Son of God.” If you be, then do. Prove it. Make these stones bread, cast yourself down, etc. Satan was trying to get Jesus to prove his identity by doing something! This was the same temptation the first Adam was led astray by in the Garden of Eden. Satan came to Adam and Eve and said if they would eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil they would be like God. Yet God had already told Adam and Eve He made them in His very image. If Satan can get us to question our identity and get us caught in a dreadful cycle of proving our identity (to ourself, others, God), then he has shifted us from the foundation of the Cross of Christ and placed us back under religion—under performance and law. The moment this happens, faith is nullified, because where the law controls us, faith is void.
The implications of your identity are vast, both in this life and for all eternity. Attempting to solve this question apart from Christ is precisely the root of our current narcissism and despair, as it will be in every age. For us to advance the kingdom, we must ask the question as God asked it. First, who Am I...who is Christ? It starts there, not with you. But God is more than generous, and He loves to answer the question of your own place and purpose once Christ has been established in your heart. In Ephesians chapter 3 it states that we were sealed with the Holy Spirit. When we were born again our spirit became one with His Spirit and it was sealed in righteousness, holiness, purity and all that Christ is. The Father defines us by our position in Christ—nothing else! Never again are we to define ourselves by our condition, achievements, inner drive, wealth, beauty, intensity of devotion or good works. When Christ looks at us He sees us as righteous because His Son is righteous within us, period. When you get this, you will gladly say with the apostle Paul, “I am the righteousness of God in Christ.”
Does sin matter? Of course. It brings shame and fear. It robs us of confidence, but never position! Sin reveals the gaps in our 1) faith, 2) maturity and 3) reliance on the Holy Spirit to answer this fundamental question of identity. Every time we sin, it is because we have crafted a human answer to the divine question. Likewise, each time we demonstrate holiness and resist sin, it is only because we have drawn on the virtue of Christ, at last relying on the divine answer to the divine question. Without exception, this is the process of maturity for all disciples.
Let’s take time to ask the Lord to reveal His Son in us and to reveal to us who we are in Christ so our identity is never shaken by the many voices of shame, guilt, condemnation and unbelief! Instead, with unveiled faces, we now behold the Lord as in a mirror and in so doing, we are changed from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18).