People are often trying to define themselves by something. They are trying to find validation in something. In many ways people are still trying to earn merit in society. After I graduated from college there was some time that I was looking for a job, and people would ask me, “What do you do?” It was as if my job defined who I was.
I want to straighten something out that will bring a more clear perspective into the Christian walk of faith, and into the Word of God about what exactly is the purpose of the spiritual walk, and how the Word of God separates who we are from what we do. From the Word of God we learn that God hates sin, but when Jesus came He showed that through the love of the Father, and to show His nature that He does not hate sinners, but sin.
Sin is what you do that is what God hates that is unpleasing to God, but a sinner what people were before they accepted Christ. Once we accept Christ, your identity, who you are, takes on the Spirit of God living inside of you. That makes you a child of God, and the righteousness of God in Christ. The Bible talks about sin quite a bit, but there is not a scripture verse that mentions directly what is the opposite of sin. Love is the only word I could think of that would be opposite to sin, and the Word of God says that “Love covers a multitude of sin.” There are two ways in every matter, there is God’s way, the way of light, the way of righteousness, and there is the way of darkness, the way of wickedness. There is obedience or there is disobedience. We are as it says in 1 John, either children of the Father, the LORD, YHWH, in whom Jesus abides, or we are children of the devil. The Bible makes that very clear. That in essence defines who we are.
Once we accept Christ we become heirs of Christ and are heirs of His kingdom, and His inheritance. Part of the problem is that when we don’t know who we are in Christ, the enemy will cause us to stumble in what we do, causing us to sin. This sin leads people down a path of darkness, but if we know who we are in Christ, then we can repent and be forgiven. We must be very careful what we listen to and what we hear and test every word given to us by the Spirit of God, which is the Holy Spirit that helps us walk in holiness and righteousness in Christ.
When David was writing the Psalms, he talked quite a bit about the righteous and the wicked. In that sense he was describing the identity of the people. He used the word ungodly, and evil, to also describe the wicked. That in essence was describing who they were, the concept was still the same then, people were either children of God, or children of the devil, but there was a separation and distance between God and man, and a veil that still had to be torn. He (David) still had to offer burnt sacrifices and offerings, and I think in one Psalm it even said, “let my burnt sacrifices and offerings be pleasing in Your sight.” When Jesus came He was looking for something else. He was looking for faith, and people to believe that He would be the one to be the Messiah, and the Redeemer of Israel, but He came in a way that they did not expect. This ungodly, evil, and wicked description were for people who were violent and constantly chasing after David and trying to provoke him with fear, anxiety, and worry, and sometimes he even got depressed as he was in Psalm 22, the prophetic Psalm, which Jesus quoted on the Cross, because they were always after him, and he knew His only strength was the LORD. David used the word righteous to describe himself and of the LORD, and for that word in Hebrew he still uses it to the end of Psalms. I haven’t done an in depth study of the Psalms to find out if when he sinned with Bathsheba, he was still calling himself righteous, or exactly how he repented in Psalms, but he maintained that belief in who he was because he knew he was favored by the LORD, and the LORD, had a promise for him, that from his seed the Messiah would come.
That was an example from the Old Testament, but in the New Testament, when Jesus came, He looked for people who had faith, and He accepted people for who they were. There was the adulteress woman, He accepted her, and even when it came to Peter, He knew who Peter was and forgave Him for what He did. He did not tell Peter, “Repent from your wickedness.” Why was that, when this whole time in the beginning of the Gospels, John the Baptist, and Jesus were saying, “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand?” This was because He wanted the hearts of the people to be turned toward Him, and away from sin, but He still accepted all the people who were sinners. He accepted the people, but He wanted them to turn to Him, so that they may receive a new identity. If they turned to Him, they would receive the identity and the inheritance, as of sons of God, in Christ, which is an inheritance of salvation and a promise to enter into His kingdom on Judgment Day.
The problem is that this whole thing about repentance, has been taken way out of proportion, and I guess I have to be careful to what kind of audience I am speaking to when I say this, but repentance is about a change of mind, thought, and attitude towards God to develop His character. It’s not about doing the right things, or doing the wrong things. It’s an attitude of the heart. If your mind is continuously focused on God, and you desire to please Him, and you don’t want to hurt or offend Him, then your one-third of the way there in the attitude of the heart. Then because you have reached that step, then the next step, which coincides and is related the one right after it, is to love your neighbor, and that is why Jesus’ example shows us forgiveness. The one right after it, which should come before it, is to love yourself. Loving your neighbor and loving yourself are intertwined. You cannot love your neighbor if you don’t love yourself. That’s when realizing who you are in Christ, comes into picture. If you know that you are the righteousness of God in Christ, and that you are the very image of God in Christ, and that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, then the next step will lead you to being able to love your neighbor with an unconditional love. Unconditional means without conditions or limitations. Ramson Mumba defined it best, “Loving the object of the affection despite the condition of the object”. That means even if the person never changes you still love them. Why? Because you love who they are. You can still be hurt or don’t like what they do, but you love who they are. A good testing of this is if someone has hurt you then you ask yourself, “Would I be happy if they got hurt the same way or a worse way than what I did?” This tests your forgiveness level. If you want to get back at someone that means that something in your attitude of the heart needs to change, and that is the very essence of repentance.
Blessings and Cursings in Deuteronomy were conditional. If someone followed something the way the LORD said to do it, they would get blessed, but when someone did something against the way the LORD said to do it, they would get cursed. Agape Love is unconditional love and not only unconditional, but it is a self-sacrificing God kind of love, that Jesus came to show and is the way that the LORD loves us. When Jesus said to bless your enemies, and those who persecute you, He was in essence taking the condition out of the blessing and putting Agape in it.
BLESSING – CONDITION + AGAPE= HOW TO TREAT YOUR ENEMIES
So that means no matter what anyone does to you, you still love who they are, but you can not agree with what they did. Now if you feel that someone has does something so bad that you cannot in any way love who they are, and you also cannot agree with the person to the point that you don’t even want to talk to them anymore, or see them anymore, or you actually wish evil upon them, then you may have an issue of the heart that you need to ask the Holy Spirit to deal with and work with you into removing those attitudes of the heart that are grievious to the Holy Spirit. When you accept Jesus Christ into your heart, you become His and when you begin to understand who you are in Christ, then you will realize that when it talks about being “wicked” you know that they are not talking about you because you are the righteousness of God in Christ.
A thought to meditate on: Once more Jesus addressed them. “I am the Light of the world,” He said; “the man who follows me shall certainly not walk in the dark, but shall have the light of Life.” Weymouth New Testament
I want to take a secular example in closing, to illustrate the point. In the Lion King, when Simba’s father, Mustafa, died, he had trouble finding his identity. He did not want to live up to his calling, but when his father, Mustafa, came in a vision, said “Remember who you are.”
In essence that’s what we have to do is to remember that we are sons (and daughters), of the king, and we have a rightful inheritance to the kingdom of God, and we have a calling, and we cannot let anyone be able to steal our calling away from us because in a moment of weakness we have forgotten who we are and may have not acted out of love.