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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.