identity

©2022 michael martin | ask@lifefellowship.org

who am i?

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Where do I fit? What is my place? Where will I be accepted and loved and cared for?

These are natural questions with seemingly elusive answers. We all want to be accepted for who we are, and we all want to fit in. Yet, we also want to be individuals who are unique. We want to be known apart from other people, yet we want to fit in with other people. These two desires battle with each other.

All of these things add up to our desire for meaningful relationships.

Yet, in our desire to be identified as something special, we often end up dividing ourselves

making a name for ourselves?

Just about everyone wants to be approved of and admired in some way. That’s a natural human desire. If we’re well thought-of as a result of doing something worthy, that’s fine. But it becomes very easy to make the approval and admiration of others into our motive for the things we do. If our actions are simply done to gain admiration, we set ourselves up as idols for the people around us.

This was the problem in Genesis chapter 11, when the people of the world endeavored to build the Tower of Babel.

genesis 11:4 niv

Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth."

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The tower builders wanted to make a name for themselves, with the goal of being admired and remembered. In response, God defeated their efforts.

Oftentimes, we try to build our own "Towers of Babel" by building identities for ourselves that we hope will be admired and remembered.

defining ourselves by our accomplishments

A common desire of sinful humanity is the desire to be known for our successes and our accomplishments. We want others to be able to experience and appreciate the things we’ve accomplished in our lives, and we want to be admired for them.

This is motivated by our pride, which leads to our fall.

proverbs 16:18 niv

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

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One of the many instances where this proved to be true was when Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, took pride in his accomplishments. Babylon was the world’s great superpower at the time, and Nebuchadnezzar was proud of it. He forgot that it was God who had allowed him to prosper, and he ignored God’s warnings to renounce his wickedness.

daniel 4:28-32 niv

All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 he said, "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?"

31 The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, "This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes."

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Nebuchadnezzar wanted to be identified with his great accomplishments and splendor, and so God took that away for seven years. But the stakes are truly much higher. God is not impressed by anything we do or accomplish.

matthew 7:22-23 niv

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

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Here, Jesus warns that, apart from a relationship with Him, our accomplishments amount to nothing. In fact, Scripture later warns us to forget our past achievements.

philippians 3:13-14 niv

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of [becoming like Christ]. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

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The message is clear. Our identity is not comprised of what we accomplish. This is not only true of our successes, but also our failures.

defining ourselves by our failures

The apostle Paul had made quite a name for himself, but not in a good way. Paul was infamous for persecuting the early church, hunting down believers for imprisonment and giving approval of their deaths. This identity meant nothing to God, who transformed Paul into one of His greatest followers, as Paul writes about here:

1 timothy 1:15-16 niv

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

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The point is, no matter how badly you may have failed, those failures are not your identity.

psalms 73:26 niv

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

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In God’s sight, we are not defined by what we do, whether our successes or our failures.

defining ourselves by our life circumstances

Similar to defining ourselves by our successes and failures, many of us define ourselves by our life circumstances. We allow our station in life, our limitations, our circumstantial struggles to define who we are as people.

Our attitudes might be, "I behave this way because I’m… ," and we fill in the blank with whatever circumstances that fit us. When we define ourselves by our ethnicity, our health struggles, our financial condition, or our sin struggles, we limit ourselves. Moreover, we separate ourselves from others who don’t share our circumstances.

Scripture shows us that our circumstances are not unique:

1 corinthians 10:13 niv

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

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ecclesiastes 1:9 niv

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

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Our circumstances are not unique and can often change. This makes our circumstances a poor way to identify us. While our life circumstances might have an effect on how we live, and although they might be used to partially describe us, they do not define who we are.

wanting to be like others

While many of us desire to distinguish ourselves from other people, we also tend to want to fit in. We want to be accepted and even appreciated by other people by fitting in with them. This requires us to be like other people.

The people of Israel had this desire. Despite being God’s uniquely chosen people, accepted by God, they wanted to be like the nations around them.

1 samuel 8:19-20 niv

But the people refused to listen to Samuel. "No!" they said. "We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles."

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ezekiel 20:32 niv

"‘You say, "We want to be like the nations, like the peoples of the world, who serve wood and stone." But what you have in mind will never happen.

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i belong to…

It is tempting to identify ourselves by the things that make us feel accepted by others. We hope to find common ground or fellowship with others who share our interests and views, including sports teams, musical artists, political figures or movements, fandoms for movies, tv shows, or video games. When we advertise what we admire or follow, we find common ground and acceptance by others who share our likings, opinions, or affiliations.

That feels good. A fan of the Denver Broncos can wear his Broncos shirt and find an instant sense of acceptance by other Broncos fans. They can talk about their favorite Broncos players, their hopes for a winning season, and even their shared hatred for the arch-rival Raiders!

But that’s where the trouble begins. The same things that we hope will gain us acceptance by some people will divide us from other people. Coke vs Pepsi. Apple vs Android. Democrat vs. Republican.

There are many examples of this in Scripture, including Jew vs. Gentile, Pharisee vs. Sadducee, Samaritan vs. Jew, and followers of Paul vs. Apollos vs. Cephas, etc…

i’m a follower of…

1 corinthians 1:10-13 niv

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas’"; still another, "I follow Christ."

13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?

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1 corinthians 3:3-7 niv

You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? 4 For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere men?

5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe–as the Lord has assigned to each his task.6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

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In our attempt to be accepted and to belong with one people group, we divide ourselves from others. We divide ourselves by gender, race, political leanings, and even sexual preferences.

All of these divisions that come from our attempts to self-identify are missing the point, as Paul points out above. And as we try to identify ourselves by means of our flawed human understanding, the society in which we live is also trying to identify us by those some flawed standards.

who does society say i am?

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The people around us will try to identify us in whatever way is most convenient for their thinking. Often, this means identifying you based upon the most obvious trait about you that sets you apart from those around you. These will be your easily observable traits, such as your height, skin color or other attributes of your appearance, or perhaps your employment or observable preferences.

These, in turn, often lead to judgements about who a person is. In our sinful hearts, this can easily give rise to prejudice.

prejudice

The dictionary defines prejudice as "preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience." It is made up of the prefix "pre," meaning "before," and the root word "judice," which means "judgment." Prejudice, then, is a pre-judgment made in the absence of sufficient information.

Prejudice causes us to view people as caricatures and stereotypes based upon a few very basic observations. One segment of society might look at another segment and assume that those people are of a certain character. This leads to inflammatory blanket assumptions about people and causes division and strife among us. For example, what are some stereotypes you think of for the following people groups?:

what do i assume when i see...

white people

black people

latino people

asian people

italian people

arab people

republicans

democrats

rich people

homeless people

Did any of these examples bring a stereotype to your mind? See how easy it is for us to make assumptions about people based solely on the most rudimentary observations?

Yet, none of them are based upon the truth of who we really are. Instead of making the effort to truly know a person, we take the shortcut of pre-judging people based on minimal information.

To be sure, this kind of prejudice existed in the Bible, always with divisive results.

biblical examples

luke 18:9-14 niv

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13 "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

14 "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

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titus 1:10-14 niv

For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. 11 They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach–and that for the sake of dishonest gain. 12 Even one of their own prophets has said, "Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons." 13 This testimony is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith 14 and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of those who reject the truth.

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john 1:45-46 niv

Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote–Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."

46 "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked.

"Come and see," said Philip.

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john 4:4-10 niv

Now [Jesus] had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans. )

10 Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."

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further examples of prejudice

Women were thought to be less than men

Lepers were outcasts

The disabled were often ignored

Racial division, etc.

what is my true identity?

So far, all of the labels and identities we’ve explored have been subjective. The identities that we (or society) give to ourselves are based more upon our ever-changing feelings about ourselves or other people rather than on the actual truth of who we are.

To be sure, we each have a unique set of characteristics, and while those characteristics can be used to partly describe us, they should not be used to define us. We are, each one of us, more than our human characteristics.

To understand who we really are at the core, we need to consult someone who is outside of ourselves, who is objective and authoritative, who is not swayed by appearances or bias, and who truly knows us for who we really are.

Happily, we know someone like that…

who is God?

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For the truth about who you are, you need an objective and authoritative view. Only God can provide a truthful, authoritative assessment of who you really are.

God not only knows who you truly are, He can change who you truly are!

Since we’re going to spend the rest of this study exploring who God says you are, it is important to first examine who God Himself is in the first place.

"I AM

The fact is, regardless of what we believe, God is who He is. In fact, that’s how He identified Himself to Moses, when Moses asked His Name:

exodus 3:13-14 niv

Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?"

14 God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’"

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God’s Name, "I AM" is very interesting. Usually, when we use the term "I am," it is followed by a name or a characteristic used to differentiate ourselves from other people. But God doesn’t need to differentiate Himself, because there are none like Him.

isaiah 45:5a niv

I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.

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The whole of God’s identity, along with His many other characteristics and descriptive names, is beyond the scope of this study. For now, let’s examine who God is in relation to you.

your Creator

job 33:4 niv

The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

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psalm 139:13 niv

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

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Who could know you better than the One who created you? As your Creator, God has a unique understanding of who you are. Moreover, Jesus was the instrument through Whom God created you:.

colossians 1:16-17 niv

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

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ephesians 2:10 niv

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

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Clearly, God is your Creator, having created you in Christ Jesus. This is important in understanding that God knows you.

the God who knows you

God knows you, but you may still wonder, "amid all the details and challenges of life, and among billions of other souls, just how well can God really know me?" Rest assured. God knows you better than anyone.

He knows the stars…

At best guess, current science estimates that there are approximately 200 billion trillion stars in the known universe. We can scarcely comprehend that number itself. Yet, God not only knows the exact number of stars, He knows the individual names of each one of them.

psalms 147:4 niv

He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.

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isaiah 40:26 niv

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

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If God can know these things about the vast number of stars He created, it’s not hard to accept that He knows each of us individually too.

He knows the number of hairs on your head…

On average, it is believed that most humans have about 100,000 hairs on their head. Of course, this number changes daily, and it is impossible to know at any given moment the exact number of hairs on our heads.

But God does know this, and not only the number of hairs, but the number of each individual hair.

matthew 10:29-31 niv

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny ? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

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luke 12:6-7 niv

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies ? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

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Here, Jesus made it clear that each of us has enough worth in His sight that He keeps track even of the individual hairs on our heads.

Think of the person you love most in this world. Do you know this much about them? If you were even capable, would you care about such a minute detail about this person? But God can, and does, know you this well.

He knows your name…

You’re not just a number to God. You are an individual whom God knows personally, and by name.

john 10:2-3 niv

The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3 The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

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luke 10:20 niv

However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."

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He knows your heart…

God not only sees and knows the outward person you present to other people, He knows the real you. He knows your heart, including all your secrets and struggles, and He loves you anyway!

psalms 44:20-21 niv

If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god,

21 would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart?

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1 kings 8:37-39 niv

"When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when an enemy besieges them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, 38 and when a prayer or plea is made by any of your people Israel–each one aware of the afflictions of his own heart, and spreading out his hands toward this temple– 39 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with each man according to all he does, since you know his heart (for you alone know the hearts of all men),

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proverbs 15:11 niv

Death and Destruction lie open before the LORD– how much more the hearts of men!

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jeremiah 12:3a niv

Yet you know me, O LORD; you see me and test my thoughts about you.

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jeremiah 17:10 niv

"I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind,

to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve."

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He knows your struggles…

Knowing your heart, God also understands your personal struggles and sorrows. And, having lived as a man, Jesus personally experienced the frailties and sorrows of being human in a fallen world. So God can not only know your sorrows, He can empathize.

psalms 56:8 nlt

You keep track of all my sorrows.

You have collected all my tears in your bottle.

You have recorded each one in your book.

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hebrews 4:14-15 niv

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.

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He knows you like no one else does…

God not only distinguishes us as individuals from among all others, He numbers the hairs on our heads. But, for the definitive understanding of how well God knows you, there is Psalm 139…

psalms 139:1-17 niv

LORD, you have searched me and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.

5 You hem me in–behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,"

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

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With all of this in mind, let’s take stock of what God knows about you:

what God knows about me

My name (John 10:2-3)

The individual numbers of each hair on my head (Lk 12:6-7)

When I sit and when I rise (Psalm 139:2)

All my thoughts (Psalm 139:2)

My going out and laying down (Psalm 139:3)

All my ways (Psalm 139:3)

All my words, before I speak them (Psalm 139:4)

My inmost being (Psalm 139:13)

My frame as He made me (Psalm 139:15)

My unformed body before it came to be (Psalm 139:16)

The quantity and events of all my days (Psalm 139:16)

The secrets of my heart (Psalm 44:21)

My struggles and tears (Psalm 56:8)

As you consider this list of things that God knows about you, ask yourself, "does anyone else in the universe know me this way?" Even in our closest human relationships, we cannot know each other as God knows us.

Does God know you? Without question! And so, with this truth firmly established, let’s examine who God, who knows you best, says you are.

who does God say i am?

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Now that we’ve discussed the human labels that we (or society) give ourselves, and now that we’ve touched upon who God is and what He knows about us, let’s examine how God sees us.

First, we must acknowledge that all of the labels and identities that we assign as humans can only be based upon the limited things we can observe. All human labels are superficial, because we are unable to ever see the whole of a person.

As humans, we assign whole identities to people based solely upon skin color, gender, political leanings, and even upon sexual preferences. By doing so, we completely miss knowing or understanding the whole of the person, instead shoehorning people into boxes based upon superficial categories.

God has no such limits.

When God tasked the prophet Samuel with anointing the next king for Israel, Samuel saw the tall, handsome Eliab and assumed he should be the next king. But God answered him this way:

1 samuel 16:7 niv

But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

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Here, God perfectly explained the difference between man’s understanding and His own. Unlike humans, who can only know people by the outwardly visible or outwardly expressed characteristics, God knows the whole person.

Yet, for all that God knows about you, the manner in which He identifies you hinges on a single factor:

Who you are depends upon your relationship with Jesus.

who does God say i am apart from Jesus?

First, the bad news. Apart from Jesus, we’re all a mess. Let’s take a few moments to understand who God says we are apart from Jesus:

a sinner

For our part, God identifies us based upon the presence or absence of sin in our lives. But alas, we’ve all sinned.

romans 3:23 niv

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

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psalms 14:2-3 niv

The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.

3 All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

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psalms 53:1-3 niv

The fool says in his heart,"There is no God."

They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good.

2 God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.

3 Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

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With all this sin in our lives, we are just as God has described in the above verses. We fall short of God’s glory. We are corrupt, and our ways are vile. Moreover, we are separated from God by our sin:

isaiah 59:1-2 niv

Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.

2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

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Because of the natural sinfulness of every human heart, each one of us is, by default, separated from God. Although He loves us, the truth of who we are is dictated by the sin in our lives, which carries several consequences.

unable to please God

romans 8:7-8 niv

the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

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As sinners, we are hostile to God. We are unable to please God in this state, and even if we were to try, our sinfulness renders even our attempts at righteousness filthy.

isaiah 64:6-7 niv

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

7 No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins.

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deceitful and wicked at the core

As we’ve already seen, God knows us at the core, and He knows what’s really in our hearts.

jeremiah 17:9 niv

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

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a slave to sin

Our default sinfulness permeates from our very core, making us slaves to sin.

john 8:34 niv

Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.

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romans 7:14 niv

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.

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God’s assessment of us, apart from Christ, is not flattering. A look at the world around us with the foolishness, the hatred, and the evil of humanity confirm what God tells us. We’re all, at heart, selfish, wicked, evil sinners.

Worse still, there is only one payment for sin…

romans 6:23a niv

For the wages of sin is death, but…

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But…

romans 6:23b niv

…the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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There is a solution for sin. Although our sin is repulsive to God, He still loves us enough to provide payment for sin on our behalf, and at the greatest personal cost to Himself.

the ‘Jesus’ factor

For all that you are, and for everything that God intimately knows about you, including the stark reality of your sinfulness, He has provided precisely the solution that He knows you need. And His wonderful solution can change everything about the reality of who you are.

To understand why, let’s look at who Jesus is

God the Son

Throughout the Old Testament, we see a well-established history of human sin and failure. Yet, all those who trusted in God and accepted His yet-to-be-revealed Promise to save them were indeed saved through His Promise.

When the Promise of God’s salvation was revealed to be Jesus in the New Testament, faith in Jesus became the exclusive path for salvation. That’s because Jesus wasn’t merely another prophet; a sinful human chosen to speak and act on God’s behalf. No, Jesus came to earth from an eternal existence in heaven where He, along with the Holy Spirit and God, His Father, have always existed, both as individual entities and jointly together as the One True God.

Jesus was, is, and will always be, God the Son.

His purpose on earth as a man was to be the sinless sacrifice for the sin of all the world. Jesus was uniquely able to do this because He is One with the Father, as He says here:

john 10:30 niv

I and the Father are one."

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Moreover, Jesus identified Himself as God by using the "I AM" statement on multiple occasions.

john 8:58-59 niv

"Very truly I tell you," Jesus answered [the Jews who were questioning Him], "before Abraham was born, I am!" 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

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The Jews whom Jesus was addressing recognized that Jesus was claiming to be God, wanting to kill Him for what they believed to be blasphemy. But Jesus repeatedly demonstrated that His claims to be God were not mere talk, and He repeated His "I AM" statement several times, each time explaining a different facet of His significance to us.

Let’s take a quick look at who Jesus says He is in our lives.

the Bread of Life

john 6:35 niv

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

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the Light of the World

john 8:12 niv

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

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the Gate

john 10:7-9 niv

Therefore Jesus said again, "Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.

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the Good Shepherd

john 10:14-15 niv

"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father —and I lay down my life for the sheep.

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the Resurrection and the Life

john 11:25-26 niv

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

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the Way, the Truth and the Life

john 14:6 niv

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

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the true vine

john 15:5-6 (and enclosing passage) niv

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

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God’s authority and Jesus’ impact on who you are

God is who he is, and Jesus is who he is. this remains true regardless of whatever we believe about it. Yet, our realization and acceptance of this truth can change everything for us.

Jesus makes all the difference concerning who we are. We can enter into a relationship with Jesus and have our sin, which separates us from God, simply taken away. Because Jesus paid the death-debt for our sin, we have a choice. We don’t have to remain in the sin that separates us from God. We can change our core identity because of the love, grace, and power of God. We can begin a new life as new people in Jesus Christ,

So now, let’s examine who God says we are in Christ.

who does God say i am with Jesus?

a child of God

This is huge, and it warrants an explanation.

As the Creator of all things, God is Father to everyone, simply by virtue of having created and sustained us.

Yet, in our sinful spirits, we are all estranged and separated from God. We don’t have that "Father-child" relationship. That is, unless we choose to enter into that relationship.

When you give your life to Jesus, making Him your Lord and Savior, you become a child of God. This is not a figurative or symbolic statement. You are actually, literally, a reborn child of God!

1 john 3:1-2 niv

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

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john 1:12-13 niv

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God– 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

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romans 8:12-15 niv

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."

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romans 8:20-21 niv

For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

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ephesians 5:1-2 niv

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

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galatians 3:26-28 niv

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

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Since God’s Word emphatically states that those who have given themselves to Him are children of God, it is important to understand what that means. If you’re a child of God, this is your true identity. This is what defines you.

Being a child of God means entering into a personal, growing, and committed relationship with God, who Himself is committed to you.

This amazing relationship and identity carries with it numerous privileges and responsibilities. This is worth taking some time to explore. Do you want to know who you are? If you’re a child of God, He says you’re also many other things.

crossed over from death to life

As Romans 6:23 showed us earlier, Jesus makes the difference for us between death and life. Making this even more clear, John reiterates the point for us here.

john 5:24 niv

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.

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If you’re a child of God, it will be evident in your love for others. As a child of God, He will give you a love for other people. This, in turn, will further confirm that you have, in fact, passed from death to life.

1 john 3:14 niv

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.

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a new, reborn creation

If you’re a child of God, you have not only crossed over from death to life, you’ve been re-created in Spirit. This is not a symbolic statement. In Christ Jesus, God has literally done away with your old, sinful spirit and replaced it with a new spirit, born of God!

2 corinthians 5:17 niv

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

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john 1:12-13 niv

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God– 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

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ezekiel 36:26 niv

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

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romans 6:3-4 niv

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

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galatians 6:14-16 niv

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. 16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.

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revelation 21:3-4 niv

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

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washed, sanctified, and justified

Everyone who comes to Jesus brings baggage with them. We all bring sin and shame into the relationship. But at the moment we cross the threshold with Jesus, He relieves us of that baggage and washes it all away. This is not to say that the earthly consequences of our previous sin won’t persist, but the sin itself has been washed away by Jesus Himself, who gladly welcomes us into His Kingdom without reservation.

Consider the laundry list of sins found in First Corinthians chapter six:

1 corinthians 6:9-11 niv

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

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While this passage is by no means a complete list of sins, every one of us is guilty of some, if not most of them. Any sin, whether on this list or not, disqualifies us from the Kingdom. But whatever sins make up your own laundry list, if you belong to Christ, verse 11 is for you.

Whatever you once were, you’ve been washed, sanctified, and justified because of Jesus.

The Apostle Paul came to this stunning realization himself. Paul, who had imprisoned followers of Jesus and overseen the murder of Stephen, while on his way to Damascus, was stopped dead in his tracks by Jesus Himself.

The encounter transformed Paul into a relentless preacher of the gospel of Jesus. In Jerusalem, having been arrested for his preaching, Paul took this moment to tell an angry crowd how Jesus had washed him…

acts 22:14-16 nlt

"Then [Ananias] told me, ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and hear him speak. 15 For you are to be his witness, telling everyone what you have seen and heard. 16 What are you waiting for? Get up and be baptized. Have your sins washed away by calling on the name of the Lord.

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Here again, we see that calling on the name of the Lord will wash away our sins. The baptism mentioned here is merely a washing with water to symbolize the actual washing away of our sins that comes only by calling on the name of the Lord.

Clearly, anyone who becomes a child of God through Jesus is washed, sanctified, and justified.

free

As we saw earlier, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. But in Christ Jesus, as children of God, we are no longer slaves to sin, but are instead bond servants to Christ.

1 corinthians 7:22 niv

For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave.

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We all serve a master. Apart from Jesus, we are slaves to sin, a cruel master who hates us and wants to destroy us. But if we belong to Christ, He is our Master; a loving Master who treats us as children and heirs. Jesus Himself made this clear when answering a crowd of self-righteous Jews.

john 8:34-36 niv

Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

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Will we still struggle with sin if we belong to Jesus? Yes, but we won’t be slaves to it. If our relationship with Jesus is genuine, we won’t live in our old sin any longer, because Jesus has freed us from our slavery to sin. We must continuously choose to behave as Christ’s servants, because He has freed us from our slavery to sin. You’re no longer mastered by sin. And if the Son has set you free, you are free indeed.

near to God

Have you ever felt far away from God? You don’t have to. God is not a distant, faraway Father. If you belong to Jesus as a child of God, you have been brought near to God!

ephesians 2:13 niv

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

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philippians 4:4-5 niv

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

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part of the body of Christ

As we’ve seen, if you’re a child of God, you’re near to God. How near? You’re part of the body of Christ.

1 corinthians 12:27 niv

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

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What does it mean to be part of the body of Christ? Unity! Both with God, and with others who belong to Christ.

1 corinthians 12:12-14 niv

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.

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colossians 3:11 niv

Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

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As part of the body of Christ, you’re still uniquely you, but you’re no longer divided by the things that make you different. Instead, continuing to be the person whom God created you to be, you’re united with God and with other believers, all working together through our struggles for even greater unity and peace.

colossians 3:15 niv

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

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ephesians 4:11-13 niv

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

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qualified

If you’re a child of God, you are qualified, because He has qualified you! He has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints, and He has qualified you to serve Him.

colossians 1:9-12 niv

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

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acts 4:13 niv

When [the Sanhedrin] saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

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As you can see here, whatever your earthly credentials may be, if you belong to Christ, He has qualified you to do whatever He calls you to do.

empowered and strengthened

If you’re a child of God, you’re being continuously empowered and strengthened. Despite all your weakness and despite all your failings, if you belong to Christ, you have received power in the form of the Holy Spirit.

acts 1:8 niv

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

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The power of the Holy Spirit comes upon all who believe in Jesus. If you belong to Him, this power has come upon you as well, and it gives you the strength to do anything and everything that God wants you to do!

philippians 4:12-13 niv

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

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ephesians 3:16 niv

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being

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colossians 1:9-12 niv

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

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1 timothy 1:12 niv

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.

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worthy in Christ

If you’re a child of God, He counts you worthy of His Kingdom. While none of us are actually worthy of Christ, the children of God are worthy in Christ. The worthiness of Jesus is counted on behalf of those who are His so that they may be reckoned as worthy because of Him.

2 thessalonians 1:3-11 niv

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. 4 Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.

5 All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

11 With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.

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chosen

If you belong to Jesus, it is because God has chosen you. He chose you to hear His good news and He knew you would respond to it to become His child.

acts 22:14-16 niv

"Then he said: ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. 15 You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.

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1 thessalonians 1:4-5 niv

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.

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1 peter 1:1-2 niv

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood:

Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

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1 peter 2:9 niv

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

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Imagine it! If you belong to Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who created and who sustains all things, chose you! You’re really His child! That fact can offer you a tremendous sense of belonging.

This choosing by God carries many privileges and responsibilities. Let’s take a look at some of them.

ephesians 1:4-12 niv

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment–to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

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luke 18:6-8 niv

And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

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Being chosen by God, with all its privileges, does carry some difficulty. The world will hate you, because it hates Jesus.

john 15:18-19 niv

"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

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Truly, if you’re committed to living as one chosen by God, your life will show it. And although a life lived for Christ means sacrificially loving God and loving other people in truth, some in the world will still hate you for it. That may seem discouraging, but take heart. You’re not justified by the world, but by the very God and Father who has chosen you.

romans 8:31-33 niv

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.

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As we’ve seen, if you’ve given yourself to Jesus, He has chosen you. He chose you to hear His message, to respond to His grace, and to be saved out of this world. And, He also chose you to be counted alongside of Himself as a target of the world’s hatred, but defended and justified by God Himself.

And how should we respond to this?

colossians 3:12 niv

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

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Put aside whatever worldly identity you might have which divides you from others. You’ve been chosen to be part of God’s Kingdom. Live in that truth!

a saint

Did you know that, if you’ve given your life to Christ, you’re a saint? God’s Word tells us this truth. Being a saint doesn’t mean that you’re perfect, or sinless, or elevated above other people. It simply means that you’ve placed your trust and obedience in God.

This was true even in the Old Testament, when people placed their trust in God and in His Promise of coming salvation, even before the Name of Jesus was revealed. They were called saints.

psalms 30:2-4 niv

O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.

3 O LORD, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit.

4 Sing to the LORD, you saints of his; praise his holy name.

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psalms 31:23 niv

Love the LORD, all his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful, but the proud he pays back in full.

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daniel 7:18 niv

But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever–yes, for ever and ever.’

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In the New Testament (and in modern times), being a saint is tied to belief in Jesus, who is the salvation that God promised His people in the Old Testament, now revealed by Name.

romans 1:5-7 niv

Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. 6 And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

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philippians 1:1-2 niv

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:

2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

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philippians 4:21-23 niv

Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send greetings. 22 All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.

23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

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revelation 14:11-12 niv

And the smoke of their [those who worship the beast] torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name." 12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.

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Many times in Scripture, beyond what we’ve included here, the followers of Jesus are called saints. If you belong to Jesus, as a child of God, this includes you. Whatever you once were, and whatever you may think of yourself, God says you’re a saint because of Jesus.

God’s masterpiece

Do you ever feel like you’re a mess? Well, the truth is, you’re God’s masterpiece. His Word assures us of this…

ephesians 2:10 niv

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

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ephesians 2:10 nlt

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

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You’re God’s masterpiece, created just as you are for a very specific reason. God has laid out good things He wants you to do—things that you can do in the strength of Jesus—if you put your trust in Him. If you’re a child of God, you can live out His purpose for you, beginning to realize His masterful work in your life.

isaiah 29:23 niv

[The Lord says,] "When they see among them their children, the work of my hands, they will keep my name holy; they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel."

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isaiah 43:5-7 niv

Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.

6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth–

7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made."

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provided for

A good father provides for the needs of his children. God, of course, is the best of Fathers, and He abundantly provides for His children faithfully. This is not only a truth about God, it is HIS identity. One of the many Names of God is Jehovah-Jireh. This Name means "The Lord Provides."

God never fails to provide for His children all that they need. That’s not to say that He provides all that we might want or wish for, but He knows what we need most, whether it is comfortable for us or not, and He always provides for what we need.

As a child of God, you are provided for!

matthew 6:25-34 niv

(Also in Luke 12:22-31)

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

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2 corinthians 9:8 niv

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

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matthew 7:11 niv

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

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philippians 4:19 niv

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

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protected

If you’re a child of God, you are protected by God Himself. Any good father will protect his children, so it stands to reason that since God is the best Father, His protection will also be the best that you could ever hope for!

2 thessalonians 3:3 niv

But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

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deuteronomy 31:6 niv

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."

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psalms 5:11 niv

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.

Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

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psalms 46:1 niv

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

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john 10:27-30 niv

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one."

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psalm 23:1-6 niv

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

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romans 8:35-39 niv

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

"For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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disciplined

A good father disciplines his children for their benefit. God, being the very best Father, therefore disciplines His children. Discipline shouldn’t be thought of simply as punishment for wrongdoing, although punishment is certainly a facet of discipline. In its larger context, discipline is the training and developing of good habits and the breaking of bad ones. Like pruning the dead branches from a tree so that the whole tree may thrive and flourish, God disciplines His children for their benefit.

As a child of God, you will be disciplined, and while it may not seem pleasant, God’s discipline in your life will provide you the opportunity to grow stronger and closer to God. His discipline upon you is a clear indication of His love for you.

proverbs 3:11-12 niv

My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke,

12 because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

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hebrews 12:4-11 niv

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

"My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,

and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,

6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,

and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son."

7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline —then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

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an heir to His inheritance

If you’re a child of God, you’re also a heir to your Father’s inheritance. Think of it! As the dictionary defines it, an heir is actually entitled to possess that which belongs to the Father.

1 corinthians 3:21-23 niv

So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future —all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

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galatians 3:29 niv

If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

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galatians 4:6-7 niv

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

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Imagine inheriting all that is God’s! Yet, the true inheritance of the children of God is not a matter of mere possessions, but of privilege. The true and greatest inheritance is God Himself!

romans 8:17 niv

Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

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dearly loved

john 3:16 niv

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

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Although God loves everyone, the benefits of God’s love are only fully enjoyed by His children. A gift is only beneficial to the one who accepts it. Only those who endeavor to know God and to walk with Him as His children will reap the full benefits of God’s amazing love. And as a child of God, you can be sure that you are truly, deeply, dearly loved by God.

ephesians 5:1-2 niv

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

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colossians 3:12 niv

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

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His witness

As we’ve seen, anyone whom God identifies as His children is also all of these other wonderful things. With that in mind, if you are a child of God, you’ll want others to join His family too. For this reason, God appointed His children to also be His witnesses.

acts 22:14-16 niv

"Then he said: ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. 15 You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’

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acts 1:8 niv

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

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acts 26:16 niv

‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you.

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mark 16:15 niv

He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.

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matthew 28:19-20 niv

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

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the contrast…

Who does God say you are? It all depends upon whether you’re His child, having entered into a saving relationship with Jesus. Christ makes all the difference in terms of who God says you are. Consider the contrast:

who God says i am apart from Jesus

A sinner

Unable to please God

Deceitful and wicked at the core

A slave to sin

Doomed to eternal death

who God says i am in Christ

Child of God

Crossed over from death to life

A new, reborn creation

Washed, sanctified, and justified

Free

Near to God

Part of the Body of Christ

Qualified

Empowered and strengthened

Worthy in Christ

Chosen by God

A saint

God’s masterpiece

Provided for

Protected

Disciplined in love

Dearly loved

An heir to His inheritance

His witness

What makes the difference between these two starkly different identities? The difference is who Jesus is, but not just who He actually is… the difference in your life depends entirely upon who Jesus is to you.

who do i say Jesus is?

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john 14:6 niv

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

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As we’ve previously discussed, the truth of who God is, and of who Jesus is, remains true regardless of what we believe. Yet, who Jesus is to you is pivotal to your identity.

Jesus asked Peter this same question.

matthew 16:13-19 niv

pp Mk 8:27-30, Lk 9:18-21

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"

14 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

15 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"

16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

17 Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.

18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

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Peter’s belief and acknowledgment that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, and the Son of God transformed him, even to the extent that Jesus chose to build His church upon Peter.

This belief and trust in Jesus changes everything.

believing that Jesus is God the son…

genesis 15:6 niv

Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

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Abram did not know the a name of Jesus, but when he trusted in God and His promised Reward, that reward was Jesus. Abram’s trust and belief in God’s unnamed promise was trust and belief in Jesus.

Abram was credited for being righteous, not because he was without sin or because he was better than other people, but because He believed God. This belief and trust is transformative, not only for Abram, but for anyone who believes.

john 1:11-13 niv

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God– 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

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john 3:16-18 niv

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

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Look at the words used in these passages of Scripture. "To all who received Him…" "whoever believes in Him…". You don’t have to be something special. You just have to be you, and you just have to believe that Jesus is who He is.

john 6:27-29 niv

Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval."

28 Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?"

29 Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."

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john 11:38-43 niv

Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 "Take away the stone," he said.

"But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days."

40 Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me."

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!"

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john 16:26-28 niv

In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father."

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john 20:28-29 niv

Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"

29 Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

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who am i?

So here we are, concluding with the same question with which we started. Who am I? Where do I fit? What is my place? Where will I be accepted and loved and cared for?

If you belong to Jesus, these answers are clear.

And regardless of how society might identify you based upon superficial criteria, God knows who you really are. At the end of the day, who you are is inseparably tied to Jesus.

In God’s eyes, you’re either a mocker who has rejected Jesus, unable to please God and doomed to eternal death, or you’re His child, belonging to His family.

If you belong to Jesus, your belief and your trust in Him make you alive, reborn, sanctified, qualified, empowered, chosen, and dearly loved. You are a child of God, and God takes care of His children. And so, in conclusion, I’ll leave you with the observations of the Apostle Paul. If you’re a child of God, this, dear one, is the glorious truth of who you are.

romans 8:28-39 niv

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

"For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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