Awakening Our Identity
I want to begin by asking a question that may seem strange in a post about spiritual warfare….
What determines your identity, who you truly are?
Now of course the Sunday School answer would be…. Jesus! (And you would be right)...
But at the same time, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we find our identity in a variety of places: family, relationships, money, our career, the list can seem endless. We often put ourselves into these roles first, with our faith mixed in.
But I submit to you that this perspective is backwards. Instead we ought to place our identity as a follower of Christ first and foremost, with all other roles becoming facets of the diamond that is our identity in Jesus. Now, obtaining and maintaining this mindset is where I think that most spiritual warfare is engaged.
Too often we have either completely neglected the reality of spiritual warfare, or relegated it to an occasional, intense fight when things get really tough. I think we have fallen into this complacency for two reasons. Firstly, because our concept of war is based on our nation's history, where intense warfare sporadically interrupts periods of relative peace. And secondly because we are ignorant to the spiritual reality described in the Bible…
When we come to the point of salvation in Christ, we find that we are no longer slaves to sin and darkness. We are made spiritually alive as new creations through the power of the Holy Spirit, the same power that resurrected Jesus from the dead. This means that we are no longer considered to be citizens of this finite and worldly system. Instead we are aliens and strangers, living in a spiritually dark world where we fight against the spiritual forces of evil that rule this present darkness. We still live here in order to be ambassadors for Jesus on an ongoing basis, bringing the hope of the Gospel in everything that we do. We are living in a spiritual war zone…. daily. And we are called to walk by faith, fighting in that war and denying our own desires. . (Ro 6:6, 2 Cor 5:17, Eph 2:1-10, 1 Cor 15:20-21, 1 Peter 2:11, Eph 6:12, 1 Cor 5:20, Luke 9:23)
Now what would happen if we lived with that reality, the true reality of our spiritual identity found in Jesus? What would change in our lives?
Would we approach our family, neighbors, coworkers, and friends differently? Would the spiritual reality of your life affect the way that you see your job, finances, recreation, and hobbies?
The answer is absolutely yes!
Now keeping this spiritual focus is not an easy thing to do. Which is why I contend that spiritual warfare is something that we need to enter daily, continually making our identity the one purchased by the blood of Christ. We need to recognize that spiritual war is won in the thousands of daily battles against temptations, laziness, our priorities and reactions. Not just the occasional massive battle. In order to be successful, we must equip ourselves every day for the fight against temptations, and to be ready to proclaim the hope of the Gospel to a dark, and sometimes hostile world.
The New Testament is full of references to this daily equipping, but perhaps none so clearly stated as that of the verses in Ephesians chapter 6:
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints". [Eph 6:10-18 ESV]
With this in mind, I am challenging myself to read, meditate upon, and pray through this passage in Ephesians for the next 7 days. Would you join me, and see what happens when we shift our focus from our earthly lives towards our heavenly calling?
If you do, I welcome you to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments here. It is my prayer that through this week the Holy Spirit would work in our lives so that our perspective consistently becomes: I am a follower of Christ, and I will live for him as I do... everything.