Saturday, October 22, 2011

An Inadequate, Inept, Incapable Loser

An inadequate, inept, incapable loser! That was me. I know, I know, there are those who might read that and think to themselves that using a present tense verb would be just as accurate of a statement. However, that is an incorrect assessment of who I am today. The person I used to be is no longer the person I am. I actually don't even resemble that loser anymore. Some who knew me then and know me today, might struggle with that last statement, but it is the absolute truth.

Many years ago, I died. No really, I died. The person I was had a real encounter with death. Yet, here I am alive today. However, the life I live today is not me anymore. What??? I must admit it can seem a bit confusing. Paul said it like this in Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

The cross of Jesus is a powerful thing. While dealing with my sin was an important thing, His crucifixion and the blood He shed did more than erase my sin. It erased me. That cross dealt with me, the sinner. Yes, my sin was nailed to that cross, but so was I. As a believer, many times we understand the concept that our sin was washed away by His shed blood but we fail to wrap our brain around the truth that the sin manufacturing plant that we were was crucified with Christ. When Jesus cried out "It is finished," He meant it. His death has once and for all dealt with our sin and us as sinners. He dealt with what we've done and who we are. Our identity was changed on that cross.

We often make statements like, "I'm just a sinner, saved by grace." While it sounds humble, that statement is not consistent with the new birth experience. If we were crucified with Christ, and according to Scripture we were, then the sinner we used to be is dead. We are new creatures according to II Corinthians 5:17. The new man we are is completely different than the old man we were. It is true that we still sin, but what we do does not define who we are. What God says about us is what determines our identity. Our Christian life is more about trusting what God says about us rather than striving to be something He already declares we are. We need to learn to trust God when He says the sinner we used to be no longer exists and the new person we now are is a son/daughter and a saint. It is not prideful or arrogant to declare what God says about us, but it is actually humility when we understand that who we are is completely the result of what He has done and has absolutely nothing to do with what we have done. When we insist on holding on to our old identity it is not an act of humility but it actually belittles the sacrifice He made for us.

When we look in the mirror it may be difficult to recognize the person that God declares we are. Our perception however doesn't change the truth. We may see an inadequate, inept, incapable loser. We may see a person bound by habits or sin they can't get victory over. We may see someone who is defeated and depressed. It's in those moments when we must determine to trust what God says about us. Striving to prove to ourselves or to others that what He says about us is true, is actually the result of not believing what He declares about us. When you know who you are, it is not necessary to prove anything to anyone. We see a great example of that truth in the life of Jesus. At His baptism, speaking of Jesus, God declares "You are my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased" (Luke 3:22). I find it interesting that when Jesus is in the wilderness and is tempted by satan, the very first thing satan tempts Him with is to doubt what God had said about Him. "If you are the Son of God, then turn this stone into bread" (Luke 4:3). If Jesus struggled to believe what God says about Him then He would have been tempted to prove who He was. Notice how Jesus, who is confident that what God says about Him is true, responds. "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word of God'" (Luke 4:4). It is abundantly clear that Jesus finds God's declaration at His baptism the only necessary proof the He is indeed the Son of God. It is therefore unnecessary to perform any miracle to prove to Himself, satan, or anyone else who He is. He is the Son of God because God declares it, and no other proof is needed to establish that truth.

In the same way, we too should learn to trust God's Word concerning us above all else. Above the opinions of others, above our own self-assessment, and above every other voice out there. As a believer, our identity is not rooted in what we do, or in what we or anyone else thinks about us, but in what God says about us. While the cross serves as a reminder of Christ's sacrificial death for us, we desperately need to understand that it also serves as a reminder of our death. It is only then that we can view the resurrection as a new birth and the creation of a new man/woman. Only when we understand that there was a death, can we comprehend that what now exists is someone entirely different.

Like Paul, I've come to the realization that I have indeed been crucified with Christ and that the life I now live is no longer I but Christ in me. So, if you happen to see someone that looks like me that appears to be an inadequate, inept, incapable loser, just know that he is nothing but an impostor. For that man died many years ago and the man I now am is no longer even related to that loser.

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