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|Publisher:||Baker Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)|
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Who I Am in Christ
By Neil T. Anderson
RegalCopyright © 2001 Neil T. Anderson
All right reserved.
I Am Accepted
"Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God."
Rejection is one of the most painful experiences known to humanity. Years ago, I was having a devotional time with my children when I raised the question, "What is rejection?" My daughter, Heidi, gave a nice answer, but my son, Karl, followed by nailing the issue right on the heart. He said, "I know, rejection is when Johnny won't play with me anymore and I have to play with Heidi." Unconditional love and acceptance is one of the most basic needs of all humanity.
Striving for Acceptance
Notice the children around you. From earliest childhood, you can see them striving for acceptance and the approval of "significant others" in their lives. "Do you like my picture, Mommy?" "Did I play well, Daddy?" The social system in which most of us were raised gave us the impression that if we appeared good, performed well or had a certain amount of social status, we would finally be somebody. But try as we might to gain approval, we always come up short. Whatever pinnacle of self-identity we are able to achieve eventually crumbles under the pressure of rejection or the criticism of self-condemnation.
We cannot do anything to qualify for unconditional and voluntary love. We laborunder the false assumption that if we live perfectly everybody will accept us, while there was One who lived His life perfectly, and everybody rejected Him.
I regularly meet mature adults who still struggle for the approval of their parents or others. Ultimately, they compromise their spiritual integrity to avoid the rejection of man, as the following letter illustrates:
I came from a Christian family, and though there was a lot of bickering and hostility between my parents, I think I had an average childhood.
Everyone always said I looked like my dad, but unfortunately, my mother was often angry at my dad and resented his family. Many times, when I displeased my mother, she would say I was just like my father's sister, the one she often criticized.
My parents provided for our needs well and intellectually I knew I was loved, but the feeling and assurance of being totally accepted and okay always seemed to escape me. Even after 35 years of marriage and several grandchildren of my own, I was still subconsciously trying to earn my mother's approval and prove my love to her, resulting in many arguments between my husband and myself.
I first realized unconditional love at the age of 14 when I understood Christ's invitation in Revelation 3:20 and began a personal walk with Him. I was overwhelmed by His love, devoured Scripture and witnessed to all of my friends. I have never consciously chosen to leave that precious relationship, but as I look back on my life I see how Satan has attacked me in my most vulnerable area, the need to know total love and acceptance.
During our years of marriage and a lifetime of ministry, I have been on some rabbit trails because I did not realize who I am in Christ. I have listened to negative thoughts against myself, thinking they were my own. I did not realize that Satan can use our past experiences and put thoughts in our minds to condemn and defeat us.
Neil, what blessed news to hear your teaching on our identity in Christ. I am no longer a product of my past, I am a product of the work of Christ on the cross. I know who I am now. I'm a child of God, and the basis for my acceptance is in Him, not in man. I got the chills when we sang the words of the theme song of your conference, "Resolving Personal and Spiritual Conflicts":
"In the Beloved" accepted am I, Risen, ascended, and seated on high; Saved from all sin thro' His infinite grace, With the redeemed ones accorded a place.
"In the Beloved," God's marvelous grace Calls me to dwell in this wonderful place; God sees my Savior and then He sees me "In the Beloved" accepted and free.
Relating to Others
Understanding and receiving God's unconditional love is foundational for all future growth. We don't have to do things so God will someday accept us. We are accepted by God completely as we are. Our actions and works should be in response to God's love for us, not an attempt to earn His favor.
Finding our acceptance in Christ serves as a basis for our relationship with other people as well. Paul writes in Romans 15,7, "Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God."
Our need for acceptance and belonging are legitimate needs; they are God-given. But if we attempt to meet them independent of God, we are doomed to reap the dissatisfaction the self-life brings.
Peter admonishes us to lay aside the relentless pursuit of the approval of man. "Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, the living Stone-rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him-you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood" (1 Pet. 215). Malice is wicked behavior that is often born out of our own sense of inadequacy when we look to others who have something we desperately need in order to be fulfilled.
Peer pressure is so powerful and the pursuit of man's approval so prevalent that people will compromise even their most basic moral principles to gain the acceptance of others. Lacking this, they begin to scheme and manipulate people or present a false image to gain approval. When this fails, they envy those who seem to have what they don't have, and then the natural consequence is to slander them to bring them down to their own level. So strong and devious is man's inner craving for significance apart from Christ!
No Need to Compete
But when you know who you are in Christ, you no longer need to be threatened by people or compete with them, because you are already secure and loved.
The Christian is to be like a newborn baby who knows nothing about guile, hypocrisy and envy. In reality we are like babies; we are newborn in Christ, and we are to long for the pure milk of the Word, because it is there we discover our true identity. Sure, we will sometimes experience the rejection of man, but we will never be cast away by our heavenly Father. He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.
Let me encourage you as a newborn babe in Christ to long for the pure milk of the Word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, tasting the kindness, love and acceptance of the Lord. Take a moment to express your gratefulness to the Lord in prayer:
* * *
Dear heavenly Father, I pray that You would open my eyes so I may know and personally receive Your unconditional love and acceptance. I renounce the lies of Satan that question Your love and insist I must earn Your love and approval. I choose to believe that I am accepted in Christ. I ask for Your grace to sustain me as I face the rejection of mankind, and may You enable me to stand against the peer pressure that tempts me to compromise. In Jesus' precious name I pray. Amen.
I Am God's Child
"Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God."
The most important belief about ourselves is that we are children of God and that being His child is a right given to us by God Himself.
Let me use my family heritage as an illustration of some important truths about our spiritual heritage. If my father had never been born, would I have been born? If my grandfather had never existed, would my father have existed? Obviously, the answer is no. That my father and grandfather did exist is the basis for my being here. If you continue with this logic, you can see that we are all related, or "in Adam." Between descendants, there exists a blood relationship, born of the flesh and the will of mankind.
Would I Still Be a Son?
Once I was born, was there anything I could have done to undo my relationship with my dad? What if he kicked me out of the home? Would I still be his son? If he attempted to disown me, would I still be his child? Yes, I would, because we are blood related.
But was there something I could have done that would cause me to no longer live in harmony with my father? Sure, and I probably discovered almost every way by the time I was five. But that had nothing to do with the blood relationship. Living in harmony with my father hinged on one issue: my obedience. If I obeyed my father, we got along fine; if I didn't, we had problems. My father was a taskmaster, and I learned from my earliest days that if he told me to run and get a wrench, he meant "run." I suppose that I, like Christ, learned obedience from the things I suffered (see Heb. 5:8). Today, I am eternally grateful God gave me a father who taught me to obey.
My relationship with my dad was born out of natural descent, based on the human decision of my parents. Years later, I was privileged to enter a new relationship, to be born of God. The decision to enter into that relationship was not of my mother, nor of my father. The only one who had a volitional choice was me. I alone could choose to believe and receive Christ. Now that I am God's child, is there anything I could do that would cause me to lose that relatedness? Personally, I don't think so. Why? Because I am blood related. "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect" (1 Pet. 1:18,19).
Will God Leave Me?
The issue isn't really whether or not I choose to, or am able to, hang on to this relationship with God. The issue is whether or not God will ever leave me or forsake me, which He promised He would never do. By choice, I could disobey and no longer live in harmony with my heavenly Father, but that would not affect the blood relationship, and as long as I obey God, I will live in harmony with Him.
Making these distinctions is critical. If I thought it was my obedience that determined whether or not I would stay related to God, I would be subjecting myself again to legalism. And if I did, I would logically conclude that I was related to God by my obedience, so if I disobeyed I would lose my relationship with Him. But that's not true; we are saved by grace, through faith, not by works.
On the other hand, there are those who glibly say, "I know God will never leave me," but they fail to live a happy, victorious life because they don't obey Him. But Jesus says, "'If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching'" (John 14:23). And that is not only for His sake but for ours. I like the simple truth of the classic old song:
Trust and obey, For there's no other way To be happy in Jesus, But to trust and obey.
We are not saved by how we behave; we are saved by how we believe. When we enter into a relationship with God by faith, we can exclaim with John, "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! ... 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. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure" (1 John 3:1-3).
This important passage drives home again how critical it is to know who we are as children of God, because that serves as the basis for how we live our lives. No person can consistently behave in a way that is inconsistent with how he perceives himself.
The Child of a Heavenly Father
When Jesus instructed the disciples to pray, how did He start? He started with "Our Father." Through the Freedom in Christ seminars and ministry, we lead people through seven "Steps to Freedom," which are a central part of the bondage-breaking process. (Steps to Freedom are available separately.)
The prayers in the Steps to Freedom begin with "Dear heavenly Father." One lady was unable to pray those words during the first two prayers, but at the third step, the step on forgiveness, she chose to forgive her father for sexually abusing her as a small child. Then she renounced the lie Satan had been telling her-that God, her heavenly Father, is like her earthly father. At the next prayer, a joyous smile broke out on her face as she prayed, "Dear heavenly Father."
That is the most important inward, personal thing we can say as we address God. And if He is our Father, then we must be His children. Do you have this assurance? If not, why not settle it right now? The devil may come along and say, "What right do you have to call yourself God's child?" Renounce that as a lie, because the truth is, God has given to you that right. It's not a right you have earned; John 1:12 says He gave it to you.
If you have never made certain of your relationship with God, let me encourage you to pray this way:
* * *
Dear heavenly Father, thank You for dying on the cross, taking my place and taking my sin upon Yourself. I realize that I could not have any relationship with You on the basis of my works. But I thank You that in Christ I am forgiven, and right now, if I have never done so before, I receive You into my life. I believe that Jesus died for my sin, was raised on the third day and I confess now with my mouth that Jesus is Lord.
I come to You as Your child. I thank You for giving me eternal life. I renounce any lie of Satan that I have no right to be called Your child, and I thank You that you have given me that right. I no longer put any confidence in myself; my confidence is in You and the fact that I am saved, not by what I have done, but by what You have done through Christ on the cross. I now accept myself as a child of God because of the free gift You have given to me. I gladly receive it and accept it for all of eternity. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Excerpted from Who I Am in Christ by Neil T. Anderson Copyright © 2001 by Neil T. Anderson
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Table of Contents
Part 1 Our Acceptance in Christ
1 I Am Accepted 19
2 I Am God's Child 25
3 I Am Christ's Friend 31
4 I Have Been Justified 39
5 I Am United with the Lord and One with Him in Spirit 45
6 I Have Been Bought with a Price; 1 Belong to God 53
7 I Am a Member of Christ's Body 61
8 I Am a Saint 67
9 I Have Been Adopted as God's Child 75
10 I Have Direct Access to God Through the Holy Spirit 81
11 I Have Been Redeemed and Forgiven of All My Sins 89
12 I Am Complete 95
Part 2 Our Security in Christ
13 I Am Secure 103
14 I Am Free Forever from Condemnation 109
15 I Am Assured that All Things Work Together for Good 117
16 I Am Free from Any Condemning Charges Against Me 123
17 I Cannot Be Separated from the Love of God 131
18 I Have Been Established, Anointed and Sealed by God 137
19 I Am Hidden with Christ in God 143
20 I Am Confident that the Good Work God Has Begun in Me Will Be Perfected 149
21 I Am a Citizen of Heaven 155
22 I Have Not Been Given a Spirit of Fear, but of Power, Love and a Sound Mind 161
23 I Can Find Grace and Mercy in Time of Need 167
24 I Am Born of God and the Evil One Cannot Touch Me 175
Part 3 Our Significance in Christ
25 I Am Significant 185
26 I Am the Salt and Light of the Earth 191
27 I Am a Branch of the True Vine, a Channel of His Life 199
28 I Have Been Chosen and Appointed to Bear Fruit 207
29 I Am a Personal Witness of Christ's 213
30 I Am God's Temple 221
31 I Am a Minister of Reconciliation 229
32 I Am God's Coworker 237
33 I Am Seated with Christ in the Heavenly Realm 247
34 I Am God's Workmanship 253
35 I May Approach God with Freedom and Confidence 261
36 I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me 269
Scripture List: Your Significance in Christ 278