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Identity

I once sensed I was being led to study Genesis 1-5. This exasperated me because I felt I had studied that more than many other things in the Bible and thought I knew everything it had to teach me. So, I resisted it.

The Lord asked me a question, “When did Eve become Eve?”

My first response, of course, was to say that she was always named Eve but I re-read Genesis 2 and saw that her original name was not Eve. It was “Woman” or, literally, “Of Man”.

“And Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’” (Genesis 2:23)

Eve was originally identified with Adam who, at that time, drew his identity from God Himself.

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27)

In Genesis 3 we see that through their disobedience Adam (literally, Man) and Woman died spiritually through what we refer to as the Fall of Man.

God gave them garments made from the skin of an animal. This is the first blood sacrifice performed because of the sin of Man. God would much later BE the final blood sacrifice which will take away that sin.

Prior to this, though, Adam renames Woman and this is when she becomes known as Eve. While her first name reflected their spiritual sameness and mutual identity with God, her new name reflects something much different and it reflects a terrible new reality for humans.

This reality is that from then until after the Messiah comes (and, sadly, often past that time anyway) Man will draw his identity from the earth and the things of the earth and not from God, the supreme spiritual Being.

The name Eve comes from the Hebrew word “chavvâh” and it means “life giver”. Adam recognized that women would be the ones birthing babies and that men would not.

“And Adam called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” (Genesis 3:20)

Adam saw Eve in terms of their physical differences and not their spiritual similarity as spiritually dead people. Men and women ever since have had the tendency to do this.

In Genesis 3 we see that Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, the place of identity with God.

While they had once been identified with Him – their very image and likeness coming directly from Him, their identity with God was severely damaged because of their sin. This is what the Fall of Man is all about (along with losing nearness to God, His authority working through them, and spiritual life.)

“This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, HE MADE HIM (Adam) IN THE LIKENESS OF GOD. He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created. And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and BEGOT A SON IN HIS OWN LIKENESS, AFTER HIS IMAGE, and named him Seth.” (Genesis 5:1-3 – capitals are mine)

By the time Seth came along he was NOT in the image and likeness of God; rather, he was in the image and likeness of the fallen Adam. Seth inherited not only what Adam and Eve had….but also what they had lost.

This was devastating to mankind because instead of being identified with the Supreme spiritual Being, they became identified with the things of the earth…something God made instead of being identified with God Himself.

What a giant step backwards!

Time passed and eventually we come to Moses who is tasked by God to go to an earthly king and act as God’s ambassador, representing this Heavenly King.

“Then Moses said to God, ‘Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them?’ And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you'.’” (Exodus 3:13-14)

From God’s perspective, the issue of “identity” has to do with “being”; whereas, from our human perspective being identified with anything other than God often has to do with “doing” and “appearances”.

While we refer to ourselves as human beings we act as if we are human “doings”. We’re NOT human “doings”….we’re human “beings”!

We were originally designed by God to actively be!

He STILL craves for us to really live…to be.

Our doings were designed to merely reflect who we ARE and not determine who we are.

Since before the Fall of Man God had a plan to restore what would be lost in Eden in terms of our identity with Him.

“For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

(This means softening a hard heart – not “flesh” as we have seen “flesh”.)

"I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.” (Ezekiel 36:24-28 - italics mine)

Everything about that verse has to do with identity and ALL of it has to do with things God does to fix the deep losses of the Fall of Man through Jesus….not just things we do.

It all has to do with God BEING God in our lives and the effect that can have on lives yielded to Him.

In Isaiah 61, a prophetic passage referring to Jesus presents God’s plan in detail:

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations.” (Isaiah 61:1-4)

This verse is ALL ABOUT God restoring Mankind’s identity to identification with Him instead of with the things of the earth!

When I refer to our identity coming from the things of the earth I mean things like race, nationality, job titles, economic status, political party affiliation, liberal or conservative stances, level of intellect, accumulated education, initials before or after our names, titles, awards, affiliations, etc.

Think about it. If someone asks you who you ARE, how to you answer? Most of us answer with our gender, job, race, and on and on with physical indicators.

God wishes to restore Mankind’s identity to identification with Him instead of with the things of the earth

Jesus recaps this in a synagogue one day, giving His purpose statement:

“‘The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.’ Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’” (Luke 4:18-21)

The intention of Jesus was (and still IS) to accomplish what His Father said through Ezekiel and Isaiah would happen for us.

The question is did He fail or was He successful?

In John 19:30, Jesus is on the Cross: “He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”

The word “finished” is the Greek work “teleo” (tel-eh'-o). It means “completed, fully executed, accomplished, performed.”

As He died Jesus proclaimed that everything He was charged with doing had been done perfectly and completely. One very important thing He came to do was to restore the identity Mankind had with God which was squandered by Adam in the Garden named Eden.

Our identity with God HAS been restored in Christ; yet, we often say things like this:

I am stupid.”

I am nothing….a nobody.”

I am just a ________________ (something bad.)”

I am an alcoholic or drug addict.”

I am what I have done (thief, adulterer, cheat, etc.)”

I am white/black/Asian/Hispanic/male/female/uneducated/ graduate/degreed/conservative/liberal/Democrat/Republican/ Independent/ Libertarian and on and on.”

We see ourselves like Adam and Eve did after the Fall: often ONLY in terms of our physical differences.

The problem with this is that when we think we are something, we live according to a script that goes with that identity.

Liars lie. Thieves steal. Drug addicts use drugs. Cheaters cheat.

People who see themselves in terms of political or philosophical differences begin to divide the world up into separate camps. They instinctively see the world in terms of “us” and “them”.

I’ve seen church leaders refer to brothers and sisters in Christ as “those people” just because they physically honored and worshipped their mutual King (Jesus) differently than they did. So, in their eyes “those people” were “them” and not “us” even though Jesus said all Christians were one in Him (John 17:11, 21, 22).

In the Garden there were just two people and satan was not only successful in dividing them but he also set in place a style of thinking (physical first and foremost) that divides all humanity to this day. There are an estimated 7.4 billion people on the earth and almost all of them operate as if the only thing that matters is their physical differences.

Satan’s original investment is still yielding prejudice, strife, meanness, and division.

Lost people have no true basis for seeing themselves identified with God, Who is a Spiritual Being, because being able to do so can only come through being born again into Christ.

Christians, though, DO have a right to see themselves through their identity with God. How did that come to be?

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)

John said that when people received Jesus they would have the right to become God’s children and children have the right to and automatically do draw their very identities from their parents.

In Christ we ARE who we ARE because of Who the I AM is and our behavior must flow out of who we are in Him if we are to satisfy His intentions for our lives.

However, looking into our own hearts and looking around at our brothers and sisters in Christ, we can see that most of our behavior and how we assess ourselves and others we have to admit that we tend to NOT live and operate though an identification with our holy, pure, spiritually alive Father. We turn to the much inferior things of the earth for that.

We must repent about this. Our true, eternal identity has come through relationship with our Father God and, in order to fully populate God’s intentions for us, His children, we must see ourselves in terms of Him first.

Our identity and our behavior can either come from heaven or from the earth:

  1. When our true identity comes from the earth (in other words, when we are lost) if our behavior also comes from earth we are being honest. We walk IN the flesh and what we yield are dead works. Even if they are good things to do there is no spiritual, lasting life in them.

  2. When our true identity comes from the earth (in other words, when we are lost) if we act as if we are Christians and do things that look “spiritual” we are being fake. When we do that we walk IN the flesh and, although we appear to be righteous, what we yield are dead works. Even if they are good things to do there is no spiritual, lasting life in them.

  3. When our true identity comes from heaven (in other words, when we are saved and are eternally spiritually alive in Christ) if we still see ourselves in terms of earthly things and if our behavior still comes from the earth we are being deceived. We walk AFTER the flesh and what we yield will still be dead works. Even if they are good things to do there will be no spiritual, lasting life in them. We waste the Holy Spirit in our lives, routinely and habitually quenching Him (1 Thessalonians 5:19).

  4. However, when our true identity comes from heaven (since we have been saved and are truly spiritually alive in Christ) if we see ourselves in terms of heavenly things being played out in our life on the earth, our behavior comes from our recognition of who we eternally are as children of the Most High God. We walk IN the Spirit and what we routinely and habitually yield are works that resonate with LIFE (“zoe” life emanating from the Throne in Heaven). We ARE Holy Spirit-led. The things we do are spiritual things brimming with lasting life in them. Our lives will be ones of active worship of God as we live like Jesus did in His time on the earth.

True HEALTH is when our identities and our behavior match. When we see ourselves primarily in terms of Christ in us, Jesus-like behavior becomes our new normal.

The Apostle Paul tells us what happened, identity-wise, when we were saved:

“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if (since) indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” (Romans 8:15-17)

Paul reiterates it here:

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” (Gal 4:4-7)

We are heirs and what we inherited was life, authority and identity – all from the Father!

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1a)

Reading and receiving verses like these and many more like them will help us receive our new identity in Christ.

Let’s resolve to ask the Lord to introduce us to…..ourselves in Christ. Then let’s ask Him to teach us to see ourselves and our brothers and sisters in Christ with new eyes – in terms of Christ alone.

“Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:16-17)

Join me in a prayer about this:

“Father God, thank You for restoring the identity with You that was lost in the Garden of Eden. I receive that. Free me from the trap of viewing myself in terms of things, my performance, the opinions of others and other worldly things. Teach me how to walk identifying myself with You in my daily life, in my relationships and in the world seeing myself only in terms of You. Amen.”

Imagine how this might affect the Church Jesus built. As more and more of us adopt this identity Jesus died to restore, the fragmented Body of Christ will stop functioning as a paranoid schizophrenic.

As millions of non-cooperative, often isolated subsets begin to allow God to re-integrate them into the ONE Body He always intended us to be, we can anticipate harmony among our brothers and sisters. Our behavior as ONE in Christ will match our true identity with the Bridegroom and the Church will be a healthy body for the first time since 300 A.D.

Perhaps, then, we will see the numbers of those being saved that the first century Church saw. Perhaps then we will see greater numbers of people being healed, as directed by God. Perhaps we will see people being raised from the dead again, when God directs us to do so. Perhaps miracles and wonders will become the norm again, to the glory of God and not to build a reputation on the earth for any man.

It all starts simply with each one of us resolving to draw our identity from Jesus and not from our temporary things of this earth.

Let’s do that, shall we?

Pastor Mike McInerney

Mike McInerney Ministries, Inc.

Decatur, Texas

© November 11, 2016

(For use with permission)

©2018 by Mike McInerney Ministries