Faithlife Sermons

Identity Crisis

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There is a Christian satirical website called The Babylon Bee. It is called this because the Bible calls the fallen world system we live in “Babylon” and like a bee, they feel called to use the truth to sting both the church and the world from their spiritual slumber.
This week two of their Twits were particularly painful stings. Here is the first:
Left Vows To Topple Patriarchy By Allowing Biological Males To Dominate Women's Sports
And Here is the second:
Man Identifying as 6-Year-Old Crushes Game-Winning Homer In Tee-Ball Championship
These Twits would be funny if they were not so painfully true.
In a society obsessed with “Identity Politics,” we have forgotten who we are! We are told today each person is free to choose their own “identity,” but such freedom only enslaves us within the prison of our own mind.
There is a better freedom—a true freedom—that allows us to discover our true identity and it is found in our Scripture text I just read from this morning.
2 Corinthians 3:17–18 ESV
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
From this text I want to look at what the Bible says about our Identity. There are three aspects of Identity I want to look at:
True Identity
False Identity
New Identity

True Identity

Many who support the idea that someone can legitimately identify themselves as transgender or gay do so by claiming, “God made me this way.”
Without question, this is the message the world is telling us, but this is not the message God’s Word tells us. You only have to read the first chapter in the Bible to learn how God made us and what our true identity is.
Genesis 1:27 ESV
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism has a beautiful summary of what the Bible teaches us concerning our True Identity:
Q & A 10: How did God create man? God created man male and female, after His own image, in knowledge, righteousness and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.
This is our True Identity and as Christians we must do everything we can to remind ourselves and others of this truth.
This is not an easy task, because the world, our sin natures and the Devil are working overtime to give us a False Identity.

False Identity

Theologians speak of the effects of the Fall as Total Depravity.
Total Depravity does not mean that we are as bad as we possibly can be. Total Depravity means that our entire being has been affected by the Fall. In verses 14 and 15 of our Scripture reading, we read this about the fallen human mind.
2 Corinthians 3:14–16 ESV
But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.
Separated from Christ and the Holy Spirit, Paul says the human mind is “hardened.” Because of this hardening, the unregenerate human mind is not able to perceive the glory of Christ. In Romans 1 we find a frightening picture of how the “hardening” effect of sin causes us to progressively lose touch with reality.
Paul uses the two tables of the Law to illustrate how fallen humanity has lost touch with reality. First, he uses the first table of the Law.
Romans 1:18–23 ESV
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
The image the Paul paints with words is as ridiculous as the pictures I showed earlier from the Babylonian Bee; imagine bowing down to an image of a man or animal and calling that your god! Neither Paul, the Babylonian Bee nor I am trying to be cruel here. The truth of our fallen depravity is ugly, very ugly! We have lost touch with reality!
Then Paul moves on to the second table of the Law.
Romans 1:24–27 ESV
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
Paul is not picking on homosexuals: he is using them as an example because their sin is so obviously “contrary to nature.” The fact that our broader society no longer sees nor acknowledges this, is not evidence of how sophisticated and educated they are, rather it is evidence of how powerfully sin had hardened their minds and blinded their eyes! Those pictures we saw from the Babylonian Bee should not make us laugh, but cry, because they are under the power of sin and Satan. This is what Paul says about them.
2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
In fact, we too were once in bondage to a False Identity:
Ephesians 2:1–3 ESV
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Thankfully, God in His mercy can make us alive (Eph 2:4-9) and by the power of the Holy Spirit give us a New Identity in Christ.

New Identity

The reason we celebrate Pentecost today is because of the Holy Spirit’s power to clear our sin clouded minds so that we can see Christ’s glory and be transformed into His image.
Let me read our key text once again.
2 Corinthians 3:17–18 ESV
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
This vision of the glory of Christ is the only thing that will open our eyes to who we are called to be.
The False Identity sin tries to feed us is bankrupt. It promises happiness, power and glory, but in the end only delivers death. James describes the progressive nature of sin this way:
James 1:14–15 ESV
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
The desires James speaks of here are our sinful desires that come from our fallen nature. When he speaks of desire giving birth to sin, he is not suggesting that we are moving from a state of innocence to sin, but from a state of inactive, hidden sin to a state of active, observable sin.
This is why it is so dangerous to label ourselves by our sinful desires. To say things like, “I am a hot-head” or “I am gay” or “I am worthless”, is to give up in our fight against sin and if we do this, the end result is death!
Romans 8:13 ESV
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
We underestimate sin and its dangers. Right now, each of us is in a fight to the death. Commenting on this passage, the Puritan theologian John Owen wrote,
“Always be at the work of [killing sin]…do not take a day off; always be killing sin or it will be killing you!”
We can not win on our own. Paul is very careful to say we put sin to death by the Holy Spirit.
What happens to the professing Christian who chose to identify themselves with their sinful desires? They give up the fight. They throw in the towel! However, this is not gentleman’s fight. There is no referee to hold back your opponent. When you give up the fight, sin will fall upon you and deliver the deathblow!
Why give up the fight? You have the Holy Spirit on your side; victory is yours for the taking. As each round of the fight goes on you are will be transformed from one degree of glory to the next!
This is a lifelong fight; Christ will not raise your hand in victory until you meet Him in glory, but if you will stay in the fight the victor’s crown is yours!
James 1:12 ESV
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
On this Pentecost Sunday, reclaim your True Identity by the power of the Holy Spirit!
Let us pray.
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