Our Identity In Christ
In the Kingdom of God, our identity is that of co-heirs in Christ (Read Romans 8). The Kingdom of God is not a new order that we have to fight for or wait patiently to see it happen. Jesus won the battle and the Kingdom of God is available to us now.
We have the Spirit in us as believers, and this gives us a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). If we go through life in fear and anger, feeling fretful and lost, that’s a sign that we’ve lost sight of our identity and we’re not operating out of the Spirit that Christ died to give us access to.
We don’t have to fight to win the race of life or to accomplish the Kingdom. We’ve already won! We are more than conquerors because Christ has already conquered in our name. Life isn’t always going to be a piece of cake. Our physical circumstances may be tough, but we don’t have to worry because we know that no matter what happens, we will spend eternity with him and that as long as we devote our lives to loving Him and everyone around us, God is pleased with us.
That devotion and love doesn’t come naturally for us at first. It’s a second, new nature that Christ died to give us access to, but it’s only through conviction and dedication that we can bury our old, dead nature and step into new, abundant life.
Where Is My Conviction?
I frequently pray that when I am bumped, as a glass of water might get bumped, I will spill out the love of Christ on the people who bump me. This is a common analogy from Christian culture, but its concept is Biblical. The Bible refers to this in terms of fruit.
(16) By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? (17) Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. (18) A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
So, I can pray and ask The Spirit for help, but if I’m constantly rooting myself in things other than God, is it any wonder that my fruit is not Godly fruit? If I want to spill out Christ’s love on people who bump me, I need to fill myself with Christ’s love.
(6) So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, (7) rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
There are some key words in that verse: continue, rooted, built up, and strengthened. These words all could describe the training of an athlete or a soldier. They don’t just train once. They continue to train. They root themselves in their profession, dedicating themselves to what they are doing. They build themselves up physically and mentally. They strengthen themselves as they condition their bodies and prepare for what is ahead of them.
Training The Body
(12) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (13) Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
If I want to make use of the Armor of God, ready to attack and defend against the powers of darkness, then I need to put on the Armor of God every day. I need to get in the habit of wearing it.
I wear glasses most of the time, but recently I stepped on the pair of glasses that I wear all day, every day. I’m fortunate that my vision is good enough that I can function without glasses. It’s just a nuisance.
My glasses were damaged just to the extent that I couldn’t wear them, but since the lenses were intact and I just needed to have the frames repaired, I decided that I would tough it out until I could make it to the optical shop.
My glasses frequently slip down the bridge of my nose, but despite the fact that I wasn’t wearing glasses, I regularly reached with one finger to push them back up. I was in such a habit of pushing up my glasses that my brain bypassed the fact that the eyeglasses were not actually on my face. My eyes just registered that the lenses weren’t in position and sent a reflexive message to my arm and hand to move.
I also have a bracelet that I wear every day. It’s a special bracelet that my father-in-law made for me out of parachute chord. I wear it because it reminds me of him and how much he means to me. I also just like how it looks.
When I don’t happen to wear it, I have noticed a funny thing that I do without even thinking of it. Whenever I go to wash my hands, I always push the bracelet up my forearm as far as it will go so that I don’t get it wet. I do this so frequently that I still try to push the bracelet up when I’m not wearing it.
Both of these reflexes, the pushing up the glasses and the bracelet, have developed out of thousands of repetitions of these motions.
If I want to reflexively react out of the Spirit, and out of my faith in God, I need to build up my faith and my reliance on the Spirit. How can a man be an effective soldier if he doesn’t go through training and conditioning? If the shield of faith feels heavy and awkward because I don’t regularly lift it, how can it block and extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one? Even if I manage to lift it, the act will feel like a real struggle rather than a reflex.
If I’m not in the habit of picking up the sword of the Spirit before I leave the house every morning, I will regularly forget to “take it with me”, so to speak. Obviously, the Spirit is always with us, but if we don’t have an ongoing, conversational relationship with Him, it will be easy for the enemy to make us feel like we’re alone and defenseless, or for us to lash out in anger instead of spreading God’s love.
More Than Conquerors
The enemy knows that he is done for, but until he is dealt with in the end, he wants to make everyone suffer. He has come to steal, kill, and destroy, but he can’t condemn. Only Christ has the right to judge.
The enemy can only lie to us and only has the power that we give him in our lives. This is where the difficult part of the Christian walk comes in. We have the victory, but God wants us to have the victory and to live victorious lives all along the way.
The enemy would like us to live lives filled with misery and completely devoid of fruit. He might think of that as his consolation prize. He wants us to be miserable because he knows that it hurts God to see us that way. This is why we have to train.
We have to exercise our faith and wake up to the reality of our spiritual lives so that we can be ready when the enemy attacks. We also have to be ready to go on the offensive by blessing others and walking in love. That’s victorious living. That’s the kind of abundant life that Satan would love to steal from us. It’s also the kind of life that will attract future believers.