When I was a little girl, my family attended church regularly and I loved it! I felt God near me, learned the Bible and was embraced by our community of faith. I participated in children’s programs, went to kids camps and was involved in Youth for Christ.
Seeds of God’s love were planted, ready to take root and blossom. I felt secure in my faith and knew my identity in Christ. At this stage of my life, the questions, “who am I” and “what is identity in Christ” where not part of my thoughts or conversations.
What is Identity in Christ? My Period of Questioning
The longing to understand who I was and what I was going to do with my life began to develop after I became a teenager, as it does for most, and I began to test what I believed and what an identity in Christ meant. I questioned, how did everything apply to my life?
It should have been simple, because the answers to my questions about an identity in Christ were right in front of me and modeled by many people in my church.
I cannot pinpoint when or why, but I started to feel dissatisfied with my life and felt I was missing something. I started looking in the wrong places and listening to the wrong voices.
The assuring voice of God and His quiet whispers in my heart became background to the blaring sights and sounds begging for my attention.
Although I understood that I was born with a unique identity, a one of a kind finger print, I searched for deeper meaning to the lingering question ‘who am I?’. I tried to sort the conflicting messages I was receiving about what an identity in Christ looked like.
It was not one impulsive decision but a slow decay of convictions that led me to start favoring counterfeits over God. Along the way, my true identity in Christ got foggy as I followed paths and people that looked promising but led to disappointment.
For 10 years I sampled the world my way and found career success, some good friends and a lot of fun, but also a lot of pain. In my wanderings, the deep ache in my soul was always present.
My decisions led to confusion and hurt as the distractions around me fell flat. I started to feel as if I was spinning around searching everywhere for my identity and never feeling satisfied.
One day I found myself empty and alone and searching for the God of my childhood to find relief.
In my search for relevance, I had lost sight of my true identity in Christ and found the counterfeits lacking.
What does the Bible say about Identity in Christ?
When I faced my identity crisis, I reached out to a friend who I admired and knew had a strong faith. He invited me to a Bible Study that was held every week in his home.
In my despair, despite feeling nervous and awkward, I walked into his house, and it changed my life.
Julio and his wife, Sherry, taught the life-giving message that Jesus loves us just the way we are. No need to change a thing, just ask him to be a part of your life.
Although I had heard of Jesus and his love for me, this message of complete acceptance grabbed hold of the longing and doubts and began to open my heart to the whispers of God.
I searched for the answers to ‘who am I’ and ‘what is identity in Christ’ with a new focus and determination, and began to understand how God saw me.
God says we are:
It does not matter what we have done in our lives; all can soak in the forgiveness that Christ offers. I tried to attach my identity to various things and people, with disappointing results. But God’s forgiveness and acceptance is all encompassing with no restrictions.
Jesus doesn’t have to evaluate us and our choices. The price was already paid when He died on an old wooden cross in Jerusalem. Forgiveness is waiting for us to accept it.
“For this is how God loved the world; He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16 NLT
It can be difficult to believe in God’s unconditional love for us when it is compared to the conditional love that is so frequently offered.
God’s love for us is recorded throughout scripture, and I have seen it demonstrated. Jesus loves us unconditionally and demonstrated it by laying down His life.
“Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.”
Psalm 36:5 NLT
God calls us to embrace our identity in Christ and walk in love, righteousness and purpose. The rewards are unending; not the type of reward that brings temporary satisfaction but a deep soul satisfaction.
I am convinced of this because I have tried to find purpose in many ways. The disappointing results have cemented my assurance that to walk in God’s purpose is far superior than to try to walk alone.
What is Spiritual Identity and How do I find it?
Once I truly grasped the sweet promise that Jesus offered, the path to find my identity in Christ became apparent. In my bedroom, one night in April of 1993, I made the decision to let Jesus be the boss of me.
I decided to trust Him completely with my life. At that moment I acknowledged Jesus as king over my heart, mind and soul and believed He embraced every part of me.
I have never looked back.
After making that life changing decision, the path to finding my identity in Christ became clear and illuminated. I began to look through the Bible with renewed interest and desire.
I asked questions from people who exuded joy, love, humility and peace. I found a church that could walk beside me where I could serve and grow.
My transformation began that long-ago night and has continued throughout my life. What God says about my Identity has become more important than any other voice trying to gain attention–Jesus came to deliver us from a confused identity and be the source in our search to find out who we are.
Resting in the confidence of my Identity in Christ has brought true revelation of who I am and why I was created.
What does it Mean when my True Identity is in Christ?
As I have grown to understand what it means to live out my true identity in Christ the benefits have been overwhelming.
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT
As the scripture states a new life began for me. Not in the physical sense, but in a new place of belonging and purpose which brought an internal freedom that I had never experienced before. A secure identify also promises that:
- We are part of His family
Knowing I am part of a greater mission and walk beside a family of other transformed people brings great joy and comfort
- We can call out to Him in Prayer
God is always available to communicate with us whether in adoration, praise, or cries for help in our darkest hours.
“When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.” Jeremiah 29:12 MSG
- We are surrounded by a community of believers who provide love and support
As humans, unconditional love toward others is almost impossible—until we factor in our relationship with Christ and how His transformative power causes His love to shine through us.
- We can live peacefully in community and experience a different level of relationship
Who in the Bible Struggled with Identity?
The Bible is built on the narrative of people whose contributions both positive and negative, provide the foundation of the Christian faith. The journey and struggles with their identity are documented in scripture.
Three heroes of the Bible, Moses, Paul and Peter struggled with their identity. Understanding their human conflicts and how they were still loved and used by God, can provide the support and comfort we sometimes need for our questions and faltering faith.
The life of the prophet Moses is familiar through scripture, movies and books; he is responsible for the rescue of the Jewish people from slavery, leading them to the promised land and delivering the Ten Commandments.
Moses’ mother saved this future ambassador and prophet by placing him in a basket in the Nile during a period in history where the Egyptian Pharaoh ordered all Hebrew babies killed.
Moses is raised as the Pharaoh’s grandson which helps him acquire needed life skills to prepare him for his future calling. I imagine he was a confident, perhaps cocky child who was given much power and control.
But before he could use the wisdom and strength acquired in the Pharaoh’s family and become the leader he is destined to be, he questioned his identity.
One day He stands up for injustice against the Hebrews, but in his anger kills an Egyptian. When questioned by a fellow Egyptian, “who do you think you are, telling us what to do?” He panics and flees Egypt.
Maybe he acted out of impulse or frustration; perhaps Moses always struggled feeling like a fraud. His identity took a detour for many years after he fled his home until he was approached by God to get back on track…he had a job to do despite his setback and flaws.
He once again questions his identity when God calls him to return to Egypt to rescue the enslaved Hebrews,
“But why me? What makes you think that I could ever go to Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
When we wonder who in the Bible struggles with their identity, Moses gives us examples where he questions who he is and what he is being asked to do, but proceeds anyway. Despite his recorded struggles with his identity, he is a man who finally embraces his identity and impacts many in his imperfect human way.
Paul the Apostle, another well-known Biblical character who struggled with his identity, is considered by many scholars to be one of the most influential leaders in the early Christian church. He was a well-documented missionary, spreading the gospel of Jesus to Jews and Gentiles alike and wrote half of the New Testament.
He was the son of a Jewish Pharisee and at birth given the name Saul. He began his work as a dynamic, zealous crusader against Christians. His identity struggles probably began at a young age and he continued for years to raise dangerous havoc for believers.
He probably walked around with an emboldened confidence as a representative of the Jewish high priests, causing pain, destruction and death to followers of Christ. Among the many atrocities attributed to Saul and his followers was the instigation and approval of the stoning of Stephen considered the first Christian martyr.
But his identification with cruelty and hate was soon challenged when He was called to become a leader, writer and speaker of the truth. Paul, who wore many masks as a defiant, came face to face with God who questioned him about his identity.
One day God called to him on the road to Damascus,
“Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me?”. At that moment Saul asked, “Lord what do you want me to do?”
From the moment of that encounter Saul changed direction, was transformed and began to embrace his true identity with a new name, Paul. Instead of being defined by evil he began to be defined by God.
His work and writings now classify him as a true Biblical hero with an identity firmly planted in Jesus who went on to lead the growth in Christianity.
Peter was an uneducated, fisherman when he encountered Jesus and was called to follow Him. After he became a disciple of Christ, his identity as a fisherman was not changed, but redefined as a catcher of souls instead of fish.
The gospels record many instances of a growing relationship between Jesus and Peter including the witnessing of the transfiguration where Jesus’ true divinity is revealed, and his walking on water to go meet Jesus.
In the Bible, Peter is strong in his convictions and identity and leads the other apostles during the ministry of Christ and after his death. He is a strong influencer in the spread of Christianity and is called to be the rock of the church.
But the most memorable story about Peter is when he struggles the most with his identity. He loses sight of his greatest calling, when he, as predicted, rebukes and denies Jesus 3 times.
“Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed.
Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he went away, weeping bitterly.”
Matthew 26:74-75 NLT
Peter’s identity is shaken many times throughout scripture but his commitment to his calling and its impact on Christianity and the early church stand strong. He also authored two books in the New Testament, 1-2 Peter, which were instrumental in the growth of the early church.
When we reflect on who in the Bible struggled with their identity, it is amazing to me that the list includes Moses, Paul and Peter. God continued to use them for great feats– just as He uses us after weaknesses are revealed in our ability to stay true to our identity in Christ.
Bible Verses about Identity in Christ
There are many Bible verses to help us understand and stay rooted in our identity in Christ. Here are a few to help you get started:
Psalm 139 is a beautiful passage which reveals the beauty of human creation:
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Psalm 139:13-14 NLT
Ephesians 2 speaks of the beauty of our new identity as Christ followers:
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
Ephesians 2:10 NLT
Romans 6 tells us we walk in a newness of life when we turn to Christ:
“We have therefore been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory and power of the Father, we too might walk habitually in newness of life [abandoning our old ways].”
Romans 6:4 AMP
More Bible Verses on our Identity in Christ, our purpose and how much God loves us:
1 John 3:1
Song of Songs 2:4
1 Chronicles 16:34
2 Timothy 2:8-10
1 Corinthians 1:26-29
What is My Identity in Jesus Christ?
Just as the Bible characters struggled with their identity, I walk out my identity day by day. I have doubts, failures and disappointments, but never waver on being defined as a child of God.
When I feel disillusioned, I turn to what Jesus said as He walked through the trials of His life. He faced pain to the point of death but never changed His purpose and His love for others.
This knowledge empowers, encourages and affirms my identity in Christ because I know I am defined by God and not my circumstances. I find a certain confidence, freedom and peace leaning not on my own understanding but on the promises of God.
The most miraculous thing is– Jesus still uses me to impact others despite my shortcomings.
Bible Studies and Books about Identity in Christ
If you would like to dig deeper into the study of your identity, here is a list of books that explore identity in Christ:
Priscilla Shirer: Defined
CS Lewis: Mere Christianity
Mark Driscoll: Who do you think you are?
TD Jakes: Identity: Discover who you are and live a life of purpose
Jerry Bridges: Who am I?
I have been so intrigued by the quest for understanding my Identity in Christ that I developed an Identity in Christ Bible Study that explores the topic further.
Before you go…..
How about you? I would love to hear about your journey and how you discovered your Identity in Christ!
Mary Rooney Armand loves to write about inspiring faith based stories. She focuses on helping others grow in their intimacy with Christ and thrive in their personal relationships. Mary lives in New Orleans with her husband Cory and four children. Besides writing, she teaches Bible Studies and leads small groups. In 2020 she developed ButterflyLiving and a Bible Study titled “Identity” which is available on Amazon. To learn more visit maryarmand.com.