Who Am I?
Study Guide, March 20, 2022
Pastor Clay Olsen
A Teacher once said to a little boy, “So, tell me about yourself.” And the boy said, “I don’t know myself!” Well, that was a surprising answer, for sure. At least the little guy was honest. It seems that many people go throughout life pretty confused about the whole thing of knowing themselves…or knowing ‘who they are’. We know that because one of the basic questions people ask about their life is “Who am I?”
But that is the wrong place to begin, for when you begin with yourself you will never know who you really are. That’s right…You have to begin with ‘who God is’ if you are ever going to know ‘who you are’. It’s like we saw in our last study that humans have their very origin in their Creator. Even after the Fall every human being still bears the ‘image of God’ in their soul, even though that image has been tainted and tarnished by their sin and their sin nature. Still, since their origin is connected to their Creator, how foolish to think that their identity can be found apart from their Creator.
Really, until we can accurately answer the question of ‘Who am I?’ that was asked by Someone that came before us, we will never have an accurate answer to nor a correct understanding of our own question of ‘Who am I?’ What do we mean? Let’s look. Matt 16:13-15 – “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” NASU
That is a question that every person on Earth must answer, because until you know who Jesus Christ is, you can never really know who you are. Or, until you know who your Creator and your God is, you can never accurately know who you are. Remember, one of the key things that happened in the Fall of man is that mankind became separated from God’s divine nature. Man’s nature became a sin-nature. And one of the key aspects of this fallen sin-nature of mankind is this ‘self-separation’ in life, especially in our ‘thinking’. God intended for His created children to live a ‘shared life’ with Him…even sharing in His divine nature. Of course, that ‘divine nature’ is what we saw was lost in the Fall of Man into sin in our last study. But in our redemption, in our salvation, we are reunited with God’s divine nature and once again are now able to forever experience this amazing ‘shared life’ with our Creator and our Savior. And this ‘shared-life’ is the key to the issue of ‘self-identity’.
So again, until a person knows who Jesus is, their Creator and their Savior, with whom, through being Born Again in their spirit, they can now share in His own eternal life and divine nature, they will never really know who they are, since their focus is on living out their ‘self-life’ instead of this ‘shared-life’ with Christ.
The greatest quest of Paul’s life was not to know ‘Paul’ better, but to know ‘Jesus’ better! Phil 3:10-11 – “…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” NASU The Apostle and Teacher of the New Testament has tried to spare us all a lot of unnecessary angst and misguided effort and wasted opportunity from our bad habit of gazing into the crystal ball of our ‘Self’ by instructing us to turn our eyes upon our Creator and Savior, Jesus! Again, the ‘carnal quest’ of our culture is focused on finding yourself and knowing yourself and nurturing yourself and so on. Certainly, we are to care for the body and soul…meaning mind, emotions, and will. God wants us to experience and enjoy whatever blessings and abilities that have been bestowed upon us. But still, for the follower of Christ, the most blessed mindset and attitude, the most angst freeing outlook, the most liberating way of experiencing our ‘new self’ that is united to Christ’s own nature and self is that of thinking and living according to a mind that is no longer fixed upon the ‘self-life’, but now fixed upon the ‘shared-life’…the life that you now share with your Creator and Savior. Heb 12:2 – “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” NIV
Note another way that Paul described this new mind-set: Gal 2:20- “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” NASU Paul was not talking about the elimination of his ‘self-life’, but the fact that he now shared in the very eternal life and divine nature of the One who created him and loved him and saved him. Paul’s new self-identity was a new ‘shared-identity’! He no longer thought or lived or acted independently from His Lord and Savior. Rather, he now thought and lived and acted dependently and co-operatively with His Lord and Savior.
How interesting that we see a reflection of this mind-set in God’s gift of marriage. The Scriptures basically instruct a husband and wife to move from thinking in terms of ‘Me’ to now thinking in terms of ‘We’! They are to think of themselves as one who now lives a life ‘shared’ by the one to whom God united them. No wonder Jesus referred to the Church as the ‘Bride of Christ’. As believers we are no longer bound to ourselves, we are now ‘bonded’ to Christ. Why, we even now share a body together – our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit!
So here’s the thing: If you will ever break free from the bondage of your ‘old conflicted self’ you will need to adjust your mindset about yourself and about Christ, that is, in your relation to Christ. You will need to no longer think of your Christian life in terms of ‘Me’, but to think of your Christian life in terms of ‘We’. The ‘new self-identity’ is a ‘shared self-identity’. You will have to practice thinking of yourself and of your life not as one that is separate from Christ, but as one that is ‘inseparable from Christ’.
Think about it: When we think and live and do life ‘apart’ from our new ‘shared self-identity’ we set our soul and spirit into inner conflicts, since we are thinking contrary to reality. Again, that’s just ‘stinking thinking!’ It’s just stinking up your mind! We are not thinking according to who we are ‘in Christ’ but we are still thinking like who we were apart from Christ. Paul said that if anyone is ‘in Christ’ he or she is a ‘new creature’! (2Cor. 5:17) So if we do not think like a new creature…or think like one who now shares their life with Christ’s Spirit and nature, well that causes mental, emotional, and even physical conflicts.
In order to break free from those inner conflicts, from those things which are interfering with both the growth of the fruit of the Spirit in your life and interfering with the bearing of fruit through your life, you will have to stop thinking, deciding, planning, and doing life apart from your real identity, which is that your new self-identity is a ‘shared self-identity’. You share your identity WITH Christ…not apart from Christ.
It’s similar to one of the key principles in Premarital Counseling, where each one is instructed to share not only their home, but also their lives. Meaning – they now look to their spouse to share in any planning, decision making, problem solving, and just in their day-to-day activities. Where they once did life independently, they now do life dependently, co-operatively, looking to, learning from, and living life together.
We often say that God wants to do life together with us. But in order for that to happen, we have to want to and then focus on doing life together with our God…even sharing our life with our God, especially since we now share His very nature and His eternal life! In order to have a healthy self-identity we have to look to our Savior to share in any planning, decision making, problem solving, and just in doing our day-to-day activities of life together. Remember, our very life is now a life that is ‘In-Christ’. Therefore, again, to plan, decide, solve, or go about our day-to-day activities apart from including Christ is just opening up ourselves to both inner and outer conflicts, as well as a lot of confusion in our life.
Now then, to show just how benevolent and kind our great God and Savior is, not only do we now have a ‘shared identity’ with our Lord, but He even expands our understanding of what our true identity really entails, or ‘who’ we really are. We could look at many examples, but we’ll just consider a few of these encouraging offerings. After Joshua died, several Judges were raised up in order to guide the people and to help deliver them from their enemies. One such Judge was Gideon. But first, God had to make an adjustment to Gideon’s identity. Notice: Judg 6:12;14-16- “The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.” …The Lord looked at him and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” He said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” But the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.” NASU
The Lord calls Gideon “O valiant warrior!” And Gideon says, “Who, me? I think you’ve got the wrong guy, Lord. Besides, my family is the least in the bunch of families, and I’m even the youngest of the bunch in my family.” But that was just a bunch of baloney…because remember something very important: You are not who you say you are, and you are not who others say you are…no, you are who God says you are! And if God says you are a valiant warrior…then that’s who you are!
What do you say? How about trying that on for size? To yourself, say your name, and then add ‘Valiant Warrior’! How does that feel? Well, you should get used to it, because that’s who you are. Paul said we are ‘soldiers’ of the Cross. And God sees His soldiers, His warriors, as valiant warriors. So when you think about your identity, about who you really are, include that! Since God is with you, you are a ‘valiant warrior’ in this world that is at war with God.
But wait…there’s more! Look at what God calls us in 1 John 5:4-6- “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” NASU So not only are you a ‘Valiant Warrior’ in this life that you share with Christ, but you are also an ‘Overcomer’! That means that though the world, the flesh, and the devil will try to drag you down in trials and troubles, since you are an Overcomer in Christ, you can now anticipate and know that you will overcome them all in some measure and in some way, but for sure.
But wait…there’s more! How about that passage we read in our Responsive Reading? Rom 8:37- “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” NASU So not only are we Valiant Warriors in Christ, and Overcomers in Christ, but we are also Conquerors through Christ! So who are you? You are a Valiant Warrior, an Overcomer, and a Conqueror through Christ. And God intends for His identities of us to help give us and help us live with confidence before this world of people who do not know who they are, because they do not know who Jesus is, nor have they received Him as their Lord and Savior.
But wait…there’s more! Not only will these aspects of your identity give you confidence before this world, but these aspects of your identity will give you confidence before your God. Remember, who you really are is who God says you are. So fasten your head to that…and then fasten your heart to this: 1 Peter 2:9-10- “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.” NASU
Remember, in the Fall the spiritual relationship was lost. But because of God’s great mercy and love, Jesus took the fall…took the penalty of sin for us. So now God comes to the Orphanage of Earth and says to you, “I choose you to be My Child, and you can live in My home with Me forever.” So part of your forever identity is that you are a royal son or daughter of God’s! When you think, ‘Who am I?’, you can answer that with, “I am a royal child of God!”
Plus, since you are a royal child of God that means you are a forever member of God’s family, you are redeemed and forgiven, you are secure in your relationship with God, you are a citizen of Heaven, you are branch of the Vine of Jesus, you are an ambassador for Jesus, you are a co-heir of the Kingdom, and you are precious in the sight of your Heavenly Father! And this is just to name a few of the things you are as one who has been Born Again and now shares in the very divine nature and life of God.
All of this is who God says you are. And who God says you are – is who you really are! And the more that you dwell on who God says you really are the more caught up you will be with Who God really is. And the more caught up you are with Who God is, the better everything in your life will be, as you share not only your life together with God, but also share your very identity with Him. And as you share your life with Jesus, Jesus will share His life with you, and then you will know ‘who you are’. And then you will be whole and will be at peace. Remember, God reserves His peace for those who look for their peace in Jesus and in living a ‘shared life’ with Him!