Unleashing Your Identity
By Apostle Bank Akinmola
World Outreach Church for All Nations, Georgia, USA
Foundation Scripture: Philemon 1:6, Luke 15:11-27
Sunday 6th November 2016
In starting this message, let me read from Philemon 1:6; ‘that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus’. The Webster’s dictionary defines the word ‘unleash’ this way: ‘To allow; to cause something to happen suddenly’, ‘To remove restraint so that an animal can run freely’. My prayers as I teach is that God will unfold to us the revelation of our identity.
Our identity allows each of us to access or gain admission to certain places. Conversely, the wrong identity or non-identity deters us from accessing certain places too – so words like ‘non entrance to unauthorized persons’ come to mind. However, since we’ve been created in the likeness of God, and the scriptures remind us in Psalm 115:16 that: ‘The heavens belong to the LORD, but he has given the earth to all humanity’ (NLT). Since God has given the earth to us, I declare that the systems of this world will henceforth begin to respond to the nature of God in us in Jesus name.
1 Corinthians 15:45 reads: ‘And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit’. Adam and Eve lived below the plans God had in mind for humanity, and the fullness of life that we have in Christ is a whole lot better than what the first Adam enjoyed. If we truly understand who and whose we are, we would appreciate better the life that we enjoy in Christ!
Genesis 1: 11-12 reads: ‘Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good’. God created all plants and animals to produce after their own kind. Orange trees will always produce orange fruits – and never a mango fruit. Watermelons trees will never produce an apple fruit. Genesis 1:26-27 reads: ‘Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them’. God’s intent, right from the beginning was to create man in His own image.
The story changed in Genesis 3, when the devil deceived Eve and later on Adam, into believing that once the fruit of the tree of ‘knowledge of good and evil’ was eaten, they would become like God. They were enticed with the lie that God was holding back on them. Satan was simply setting them up to help themselves to become like God. Since then, the devil’s strategy has remained the same – using every device to entice humankind to become independent of God. We must beware of every attempt to play religion – ‘Do it yourself religion’.
We cannot help ourselves – only God can. Here is the reason why when God was creating the first woman, He put Adam to sleep. Every time man interferes with what God is doing, he sadly messes things up. God also put Abraham to sleep when He was enacting the Abrahamic covenant. The devil is constantly telling humankind and especially Christians to do something in order to be something that God has already done. We have to be vigilant and be deliberate in ignoring him.
In Matthew 3, we read the story of Jesus baptism. ‘When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” It must be noted that at this time, Jesus had not preached a message, healed the sick or raised the dead – yet God was pleased with Him. Again, we must beware of any teaching or ideologies that elevate the need for us to do something in order to please God. What pleases God is not our performance, but our pedigree. Besides, there is nothing we can do that would lead to God’s displeasure or our rejection by Him. It is simply because God is not looking at our actions, but He is focused on the perfect life and sacrifice that Christ has already done on our behalf. When God made that declaration in Matthew 3, Jesus, John the Baptist and the congregation around the river heard His voice. And so did the devil.
Shortly after this, Jesus was led into the wilderness where He was tempted by the devil. Two of the three temptations were directly related to His identity. ‘“If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down’ (Matthew 4:3, 6). In order words, Satan was tempting Jesus to do something to prove who He was. This is the same kind of temptation that Adam and Eve faced, and which we all face daily – an attempt to question our identity – ‘Who are you?’ ‘Whose are you?’ These are the decisions we are faced with consciously or unconsciously.
Many of us have seen adverts about weight loss, and seen those pictures depicting ‘before and after’ moments. In the same way, God has a ‘before and after’ depiction of our lives in scriptures for us to choose from. Ephesians 5:8 reads: ‘For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light’. The prodigal son’s story as revealed in Luke 15 reminds us of the importance of making a choice, regardless of the circumstances.
Let’s read some verses in Luke 15. ‘Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!’ We all need to come to ourselves. Jesus also had to grow in knowledge and statue, increasing in favour with God and men (Luke 2:52). In order words, Jesus came to a point, where he grew to fully understand the importance of His Sonship. Yet, the devil tempted him like he tempts each of us today. Hebrews 4:15 put it this way: ‘For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin’. How was Jesus tempted like we are? Doubt is the common denominator to all temptations. The enemy always presents an opportunity to doubt what God is saying about us.
Going back to the story in Luke 15, we must realise that sonship has privileges – the prodigal son realised that there was no need languishing in poverty when there was more than enough at home. In the same way, Christ has gone to prepare a place for each of us, so that where he is we may have a place there (John 14:2). While, we await Christ physical second coming, we must realise that presently, God has prepared and given us access to His presence at any time of the day and as such we can approach Him with confidence. Even though the prodigal son returned home, thinking he would live as a servant, his ideology about his identity was soon proved wrong. His Father received him back as a son. According to that story and the premise of the bible, we must understand that as God’s children – once a son, always a son.
A servant earns their keep based on their performance, but a son enjoys privileges because of a relationship with the Father. As God’s children, we must unleash our identity, not our service. In serving as God’s children, we must know who we are; serving with delight and pleasure – not out of duty or obligation.
The elder son in the story of Luke 15 was trying to gain the Father’s pleasure, not knowing that all the belongings that his father owned were already his. ‘So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat that I might make merry with my friends. “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours’. (Luke 15:29,31).
We must come to a place where we rest in the finished work of God. When Jesus made the pronouncement in John 19:30, ‘It is finished’, he really meant it. Now, we must begin to live from that realm, and enjoy the security of that status. Ephesians 1 and 2 reminds us about our position as heirs with Christ. We are also seated in a place of authority with Him. I declare that from today, you will begin to live from the realization of this revelation – you belong in the throne room of God, and not at the outer court. Our mistakes and shortcomings do not define us; hence we must move forward and embrace the great thing that Christ has already done for us. It’s time to unleash our God-given identity!
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