"Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom"
2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV
The restorative work of Christ does not end at forgiveness of sin, but it also returns to believers their place of authority. God’s original identity for mankind was to have dominion, not to be dominated by sin or become a victim of the enemy’s attacks. One of Satan’s greatest tactics is to convince believers to live below that place of authority. However, a healthy spiritual self-identity is part of God’s original plan for humankind. It is imperative for that lost identity to be restored in order to walk in the fullness of God.
After an encounter with God, Jacob’s name which meant “the trickster” was changed to Israel, which means “prince with God.” Abram’s name, “high father” was changed to Abraham, which means “father of a multitude.” Likewise, Sarai, “my princes,” was changed to Sarah, which means “mother of nations.” God loves changing people’s hearts and giving out new names (Genesis 32; 17).
In the Old Testament, when God gave a new name, it aligned with His vision for that person. Jacob would no longer see himself as a trickster, but now as a prince with God. Abraham and Sarah were to be the father and mother of a great multitude of nations. When believers have an encounter with God, a spiritual adjustment should take place that brings them into alignment with God’s original intent for them. God has an original intent for each of us that was disrupted because of the fall and sin.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).
Imagine how powerful the Church would be if every believer embraced and was transformed into God’s original vision for them! One of Satan’s greatest fears is that Christians will live up to the full potential of their identity in Christ. Romans 12:2 (NLT) encourages us,
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
God’s perfect will for every believer is wrapped up in identity.
People everywhere seem to be trying to “find themselves.” A simple solution could be, “Take your hands and place them on your head. There you are. Problem solved.” That is a facetious approach, of course, but the problem is not in the search for location, but for significance and purpose. “Who am I? Why am I here?” The answers to these questions begin at the place of identity. Sadly, all too often people identify themselves and others on the basis of physical appearance, relational roles, education, job, family … or failures, sins, or abuses.
Identity determines much about the way people respond to life. Those who identify as victims will respond to situations with a victim’s mentality, always living life on the defensive. Those who think they are superior to everyone may approach situations with overconfidence. Those who identify themselves as having little value may feel disqualified from much of what God has provided. However, when a person becomes born again, a new identity comes because all things are new.
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT).
A new life in Christ means no longer being a slave to the past, but becoming a son or daughter of God and an heir with Jesus Christ—a new life, a new identity!
The ability to make decisions and determine direction are influenced by a person’s perceived level of authority. In the same way a government official’s title (mayor, governor, president) represents delegated authority to lead, Christians possess delegated authority as part of their identity in Christ! Jesus told His disciples in Luke 10:19 (NLT),
“Look, I have given you authority over all of the power of the enemy.”
Today’s culture asserts that identity is unfixed and determined at the whim of any individual. This, however, is not true. Peers cannot decide identity; neither can culture nor its influence. God told the prophet Jerimiah,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you and before you were born I consecrated (had a special purpose) for you” (Jeremiah 1:5NASB).
Although believers are in this world’s system, Jesus said believers are not of the world (John 17:14). Individuals are not bound to any identity based on either affluence or lack. No one has the authority to use statements like “wrong part of town”, “from a bad family” or “poor people” to label another person.
What is created does not have the authority to identify itself. The Creator alone has the authority to identify what He has created. From the beginning, God has determined the sex, race, gifts, and purpose of His children. The scriptures identify believers as:
p>God has established the identity of believers and wants the church to walk in that identity!
No authority, no power. Acts 20:11-20 (ESV) is the account of seven sons of a Jewish high Priest named Sceva who tried to cast out one evil spirit by demanding the spirit to come out “by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” The outcome was not what was expected, as the evil spirit answered,
“Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?”
The evil spirit overpowered the seven sons and sent them home naked and wounded. No power, no anointing, because there was no relationship with Jesus. Spiritual authority comes only from the power given to believers by Jesus (Luke 10:19).
“For this purpose,” wrote Paul, “also I labor, striving according to His power (Christ’s power), which mightily works within me” (Colossians 1:29 NASB).
Adam was created and given dominion. However, when man sinned, that dominion was lost. Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead restored His children to a place of authority. He gave the church full authority over all the power of the enemy.
God’s intent is not to have children that are forgiven of sin but are still in bondage to enslaving habits and addictions, trapped in cycles of sickness and want, living below the identity Jesus restored. He wants believers to walk in full authority over the kingdom of darkness.
It Is Not About Feelings
There will be days when a child of God does not feel like “more than a conqueror” or “the head and not the tail.” Those times require living out of truth, by faith and not by feelings. God has empowered believers to rise above the attacks of the enemy (who has been defeated) by giving them authority to use the name of Jesus.
In preparation for the Freedom Encounter weekend, begin to exercise the authority given by Jesus Christ. Make a decision to no longer live in bondage and shame, and to step into the identity of a redeemed and empowered son or daughter of God!