For Christmas this year, I was given a new novel by John Grisham. He accompanies me each summer and helps to make my holiday complete! Interestingly, many of his more riveting books include stories of people trying to make a new start but invariably, in order to do this they must first change their identity.
Whilst Grisham is merely writing fiction, he touches on a sound principle that is found throughout the New Testament. A truly new start requires a truly new you.
But first, what do we do with our old identity? In my last blog “To be or not to be”, I dealt with the futility of battling with the so-called ‘old self’. I say ‘so-called’ because as Watchman Nee observes,
“Most of us can remember the day when we saw clearly that Christ died for us, and we ought to be equally clear as to the time when we saw that we died with Christ.”1
It’s very possible that the realisation that we have died with Christ is a slow and progressive one. Nonetheless, we can still know for sure the moment we died. We recall it each Easter. It was around 2000 years ago and though you were not yet born, it comes into effect at the moment of your spiritual birth.
So how do we do understand the stubborn presence of sin? You may well ask, “If the ‘old self’ is dead, why does sin persist?”
Just because an object experiences the pull of a magnet, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a magnet. Likewise, the pull of sin doesn’t mean you’re a sinner. Again, Watchman Nee makes a helpful observation,
“Our sins are dealt with by the blood, but we ourselves are dealt with by the cross. The blood procures our pardon for what we have done; the cross procures our deliverance from what we are.”1
So here’s a wonderful truth about the christian life and an equally compelling motivation for living it to the fullest.
14 “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
With the old identity dealt with, we are free now to adopt our new identity found in the person of Jesus Christ. He lives through us and everyday is an invitation to live out our new identity.
Every morning we do well to ensure that we are ‘signed in’ to our new identity. We can easily do that by taking a little time to commune with our Heavenly Father. Simply thank him for the gift of his Son, “that as Christ died, our old identity also died. As Christ came back to life, our new identity was born”.
Having signed in, we are ready to no longer live for ourselves, but for him!
This Christmas Day past, I had the privilege of once more unpacking the wonder of the incarnation for the folk at EBC. I finished with this thought of signing into to our new identity. Perhaps you’d like to take a fresh look below.
It’s what truly makes Christmas merry!
1“The Normal Christian Life” by Watchman Lee. (CLC Publications, Fort Washington, PA. 2014)