Part 3 of GRIT
1 Peter 2:4-10
The Cornerstone Church, October 14, 2018
AM I LIVING IN THE LIE?
The devil has a plan to derail your faith. His strategy is to defeat you by getting you to believe lies about yourself, about your identity in Christ. How can we know if his plan is working in our lives? Take a moment and work through this diagnostic tool:
I desperately need the approval of others.
Shame from my past hinders my relationships in the present.
I do not believe God loves me, or likes me, or wants to bless my life.
I I don't have friends because I tend to push people away.
I often feel disappointed, or discouraged, or depressed.
I feel worthless and rejected.
I'm an angry person but I'm not sure why.
I believe God is cruel and he wants to hurt me.
I need to have a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife in order to feel whole.
I frequently experience debilitating fear or anxiety.
If you answered yes to any of these, Satan's plan is working and you are likely a very discouraged believer. You don't like yourself and you don't believe that God loves you and wants to bless your life.
BUT ... There is good news! The truth will set you free. Satan doesn't have to win. When you know who you are in Christ, you can experience the abundant life Jesus promised us. This morning, I'm going to show you how to claim your true identity in Christ ...
1. I TAKE BACK MY MIND
The battle is won and lost in the mind. The way we think controls the way we live. Lies lead to bondage and truth leads to freedom.
Here's how to take back your mind: Take responsibility for every thought you think. Refuse the lies. Receive the truth. Trust God's Word more than your feelings. Feelings are misleading and unreliable. Focus on telling yourself the truth.
Peter helps us with this. In chapter one, he layered one glorious truth-statement on top of another to counter Satan's lies:
You feel like rejects, but God has chosen you.
You feel abandoned, but God has made covenant with you.
You feel like you're worthless, but God has an inheritance for you.
You feel you're in bondage, but God has set you free by the blood of his Son.
In verse 22, Peter wrote: "Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth ..." This is so important. It was the obeying/believing the truth about Jesus that freed us from our past sins and Satan's lies and made us acceptable to God.
God has given us all these wonderful truths in the Bible. Our job is to find them and use them to replace the lies that control our thinking. For example: God does not reject believers when we make mistakes. But if we believe he does, then we'll live in fear and discouragement. We'll feel bad about ourselves and we'll keep God distant.
So, the first step to experiencing all God has for us in Christ, is to take responsibility for our thinking. This isn't once and done. This is a daily discipline of renewing our minds to bring our thinking into line with God's word - no matter what our feelings tell us.
2. I RENEW MY MIND WITH WHO I AM IN CHRIST
Who I think I am controls every part of my life. If I believe lies about my identity in Christ, it's going to have a negative impact on my emotions, relationships, and decisions: For example: If I believe my identity comes from what people say about me, I'll be a people-pleaser, always trying to earn their approval. That twists every relationship. It also makes it really hard to believe that God accepts me and loves me even on my worst day.
To get free, we have to saturate our minds with the truth of who we are in Christ. Peter helps us with this in chapter two. The big picture is:
In verses 4-5, he tells us that we are accepted by God - like bricks in the temple.
In verses 6-8, he tells us that Jesus was rejected by people, but accepted by God, so we should base our identity on what God says about us, not what people say.
In verses 9-10, he reveals our true identity in Christ. He says we're like ancient Israel - a nation on the run, in the desert, without a land, rejected by people - but very special to God:
We are chosen by God. The point: We are accepted. God wants us. Just as God put his special love on Israel and sealed it with a covenant, now he is putting that love on the church and on each of us personally.
We are a royal priesthood. The point: We are connected. God is with us. Priests have constant access to God's presence, which means we are always helped and protected by his supernatural power. We are never alone, never rejected, never abandoned by God.
We are a holy nation. The point: We are adopted - set apart by God for God. We are always wanted, loved and cherished. God is for us, not against us. He does not count our sins - past, present, future - against us. He will never reject us. God's mercy/grace have cleansed our shame and removed our guilt so nothing can separate us from God's love.
That's the truth about our identity in Christ. Memorize it. Tattoo it on your heart.
In the past, God reached out to one nation - Israel - and made it the special focus of his saving love. Now, God has reached out to all of us in Christ and he has made us his loved, rescued, covenant people. We belong to God. Peter quotes from or is reflecting on several passages in the Old Testament:
Cornerstone - Psalm 118:22.
Chosen people - Isaiah 43:20.
Royal priesthood - Exodus 19:6; Isaiah 61:6.
Holy nation - Exodus 19:6; 23:22.
People belonging to God - Malachi 3:17; Isaiah 43:20-21.
Mercy - Hosea 2:23
See Appendix A for more on our identity in Christ.
Learning all these truths is a great way to start, but there is one more action we must take ...
3. I OPEN MY MIND TO ACCEPT WHO I AM IN CHRIST
Knowing the truth is not the same as believing or receiving it. We can know the truth intellectually, but never activate it in our lives.
I can know the truth and hate it and refuse it in my life. You and I can grow comfortable with the lies that shape our lives. For example: Feeling worthless and sorry for myself gets me lots of attention. My boss loves my workaholic lifestyle. My anger gets me what I want from my family.
I can know the truth and believe it is for everyone except me. I am the one exception. God loves you, but he can't possibly love me.
I can know the truth and think its too late to change. Can't teach an old dog new tricks. Here's the good news: you may be old, but you're not a dog.
So, what does it take to receive the truth so it can set you free? In my experience, three factors have to come into play:
I ask the Spirit to move in power. (James 4:8) "Come near to God and he will come near to you." (4:10) "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." Paul wrote: (Philippians 2:13) "God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him." (NLT) Honestly, this is the crucial piece. Unless the Spirit moves in power internally, we're going to be stuck in lies that have dug down deep into our minds. It takes the jackhammer of the Holy Spirit to dislodge them. Pray: "Holy Spirit open my heart and mind to receive the truth of who I am in Christ."
I find a friend to stand by me. The process is possible on your own, but it is much easier with a friend. James wrote some wise advice: (5:16) Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." Ask a trusted friend to pray with you.
I submit my life to God's truth. James wrote this to a church: (4:7) "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Schedule a time to sit down and journal the lies you believe about yourself. Then, deny the lie. Put your faith in God's Word, rather than what Satan and the world tell you.