Living Out Your New Identity In Christ
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scriptures: Titus 2:11-14, Romans 6:1-23
Sunday 18th September 2016
We continue the on-going series ‘The Sufficiency of Grace’ with today’s message titled ‘Living Out Your New Identity In Christ’.
Firstly, let’s read our foundation scripture for today, from Titus 2:11-14. ‘For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds (NLT).
The world is waiting to see Christians behave and conduct ourselves as we should – as the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. Sadly, the church is failing in this regard. The day we dedicated our lives to Christ was the day we ceased from identifying with the ideologies of the world. Since we are no longer of the world, our conduct should always reflect the lifestyle of Jesus. Here is Colossians 1:13-14, which reads: ‘For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins’ (NLT). Again, let me reiterate that you and I are righteous in Christ – It is vital that we are established in knowing this truth. The one attack that Satan relentlessly strikes against us as God’s children is our confidence in our God-given righteousness. The moment we begin to doubt our righteousness in Christ, the devil has unfortunately succeeded in denying us of all that Christ’s grace has made available to us in God.
As Christians, we ought to be established in God’s righteousness. Isaiah 54:14 reads: ‘In righteousness you shall be established; You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear. And from terror, for it shall not come near you’. The word ‘established’ connotes being steadfast, to be immovable, unchangeable, to be certain, to be fully convinced and persuaded. So whenever we announce our righteousness in Christ, we are declaring that we are justified, accepted, chosen, children of God, and redeemed. Furthermore, we are declaring that we are more than a conqueror and that we have the Holy Spirit to guide us. Every time we announce our victory, we are ensuring that the devil’s defeat is total.
Again, let me reiterate that if we shy away from making a clear distinction of who we are in Christ, we inevitably begin to lose our potency, and the privileges intricately linked to our identity in Christ. This is what the ten spies who visited the Promised Land failed to recognise. The moment they lost sight of their identity, they also lost the right to possessing the land. Our righteousness in Christ affords us these privileges: (i) Our right standing gives us confidence to approach God with boldness. (ii) Our right standing gives us assurance that God will come through for us no matter what. (iii) Our right standing help us to look beyond guilt and condemnation, and instead focusing on the love and mercy of God (iv) The knowledge of our right standing aid us in reigning in life.
St. Paul addresses this whole subject unreservedly in His writings, which we would look at shortly. As Christians, we have been encouraged not to engage in sinful habits, as this is against God’s desires for us. Yet, it would be naivety to assume that Christians do not struggle with some sinful habits. Many atimes, these habits have lingered for so long because we have not mastered how to break out from the clutches of sin. St. Paul addresses this by revealing in his epistles that our victory over sin is not as a result of our willpower but simply by acknowledging what Christ has already done for us on the cross.
Let’s read Romans 6. This chapter is a summary of Apostle Paul’s thoughts on this subject. ‘What shall we say, then? Should we continue to live in sin so that God's grace will increase? Certainly not! We have died to sin—how then can we go on living in it? For surely you know that when we were baptized into union with Christ Jesus, we were baptized into union with his death. By our baptism, then, we were buried with him and shared his death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from death by the glorious power of the Father, so also we might live a new life. For since we have become one with him in dying as he did, in the same way we shall be one with him by being raised to life as he was. And we know that our old being has been put to death with Christ on his cross, in order that the power of the sinful self might be destroyed, so that we should no longer be the slaves of sin. For when we die, we are set free from the power of sin. Since we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that Christ has been raised from death and will never die again—death will no longer rule over him. And so, because he died, sin has no power over him; and now he lives his life in fellowship with God. In the same way you are to think of yourselves as dead, so far as sin is concerned, but living in fellowship with God through Christ Jesus. Sin must no longer rule in your mortal bodies, so that you obey the desires of your natural self. Nor must you surrender any part of yourselves to sin to be used for wicked purposes. Instead, give yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life, and surrender your whole being to him to be used for righteous purposes. Sin must not be your master; for you do not live under law but under God's grace. (I use everyday language because of the weakness of your natural selves.) At one time you surrendered yourselves entirely as slaves to impurity and wickedness for wicked purposes. In the same way you must now surrender yourselves entirely as slaves of righteousness for holy purposes. When you were the slaves of sin, you were free from righteousness. What did you gain from doing the things that you are now ashamed of? The result of those things is death! But now you have been set free from sin and are the slaves of God. Your gain is a life fully dedicated to him, and the result is eternal life. For sin pays its wage—death; but God's free gift is eternal life in union with Christ Jesus our Lord’ (GNT). See also Romans 8:5-10.
Here are four things to do to live righteously:
(a) Live in the consciousness of your new identity in Christ: As Christians, we are the righteousness of God in Christ. Our knowledge of this identity informs our behaviour. Like the ten spies who saw themselves as losers, it invariably conditioned their minds and their behaviour. Joshua and Caleb however saw differently and behaved as conquerors.
(b) Recognise that in Christ, sin has no dominion over you: Sin lost its grip over us the moment we gave our lives to Jesus. It is from this viewpoint that we can live victoriously and confidently.
(c) Constantly submit yourself to the leading of the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit desires to lead us in the direction that God has ordained for each of us to go, ultimately fulfilling our destiny. The leading of the Holy Spirit will steer us away from sin and evil desires. Romans 8:13 reads: ‘For if you live according to your human nature, you are going to die; but if by the Spirit you put to death your sinful actions, you will live’ (GNT).
(d) Your old nature has no control over you: Since our old nature has been crucified with Christ, we are no longer subject to its desires. Romans 8:9 reads: ‘But you do not live as your human nature tells you to; instead, you live as the Spirit tells you to—if, in fact, God's Spirit lives in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him’.
As Christians, we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. Let’s live out our new identity in Christ!
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