I AM SECURE
Who Am I? Seeing Your True Identity Through God’s Eyes ❧ Part 7
Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world looming over 29,000 feet. Many have lost their lives trying to reach its breathtaking summit (290 was the last count I saw). Scientists say the deadliest aspect of scaling Everest is altitude sickness; the deprivation of oxygen climbers’ experience as they ascend its dizzying heights. One article said that at base camp (17,600 feet) there is only half as much oxygen in the air as there is at sea level. Near the summit (29,020’) there is only 1/3 as much oxygen. Even at rest your heart is pounding because you can’t get enough oxygen ([Michael J. Cooper, Identity Crisis, p.8] www.nydailynews.com/life-style/dying-climb-mount-everst-read-article-1.2652388). The point is – no oxygen, no life. What oxygen is to climbing Everest, our identity in Christ is to living out the Christian life. Without it, you never reach the summit.
We’ve been working our way through a series of messages that addresses our identity in Christ. Up to this point, we’ve looked at a number of life-changing truths of how God sees His own children. For starters, and as unbelievable as it seems, when God made you, He made you in His own image. The same God who created universe to display His unrivaled glory, created man in His own image. God made us to share in His divine life (Gen. 2:7). Nothing in all the wonder of God’s creation shares this same distinct honor. Who are you? Well, believe it or not, you were uniquely created in the image of God. Nothing else in all the majesty of God’s creation comes close. And it only gets better from here!
The Bible says when you trusted Christ you became a brand-new person. God didn’t keep the old parts of you that were good and throw away the bad ones. You’re not a mixture of old and new. Your completely new!
As a new creation, you are God’s child (Gal. 3:26). Many long to know who their real parents are. They feel incomplete, empty, like they don’t quite fit in. Only God can satisfy the longing to know who you are and Whose you are. Only God can fill that emptiness. The truth is, God has loved you your whole life and has been looking for you. He longs to be your Father.
Next, we saw that God says you’re a saint. You may have been told you are a dirty no-good rotten sinner saved by grace. But that’s not what God says. Satan, the world, your past doesn’t want you to see your true identity in God’s eyes. There are many who have sat through years of church services listening, read their Bibles from cover to cover, and have never grasped what this means. One of the reasons we don’t see ourselves as God’s children is we we’re hesitant to believe it. Becoming a new person means you’re a saint. Yes, you sometimes sin, but your true identity is a saint. You became a saint by virtue of your belief in Christ and His saving work on the cross. All this is true of who you are as a believer, and more!
Why am I taking the time to review? For one simple reason, what oxygen is to climbing Everest, our identity in Christ is to effectively living out the Christian life. Without it, you never reach the summit. After years of helping thousands of Christians resolve their problems, Dr. Neil Anderson says the number one common denominator they all had in common was the did not know who they were in Christ, nor did they understand what it means to be a child of God (Anderson & Mylander, Setting Your Church Free, p.17). There is no doubt the single most important belief you can possess is a true knowledge of who God is. The second most important belief is knowing and living out what it means to be a child of God.
This morning we’re going to look at the seventh message in our identity in Christ: I Am Secure. David wrote in Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? (Psalm 27:1). Notice David does not say the Lord gives him light or the Lord gives him strength. Rather, the Lord Himself IS his light, IS his strength. (This Psalm is well worth your time to meditate on in its entirety). David recognized what Paul echoes in the New Testament, that God dwells in us as believers (1 Cor. 3:16). Both David and Paul recognize the source of our security is God in us. If God is in you, you don’t not need live in insecurity. I want us to look at four promises God gives us why we are secure. Like the four legs of a chair, they give us stability for life. Four Promises God Gives Us to Be Secure.
I. I know God has fully accepted me. Too often we base God’s love and acceptance of us on our performance. We stumble, mess up, do the wrong thing and we wonder if and how God can still love us. You need to know God unconditionally loves and accepts you even when you feel like you’re not very loveable. Let’s face it, sometimes we’re not very lovable! The Bible says God is love (1 Jn. 4:8). In other words, it is God’s nature to love us irrespective of whether you’re lovable or not.
Sometimes we’re hit with a double whammy though. Not only do we feel unlovable, but to make matters worse, everything is falling apart around us. Life is not going well, and we wonder if we’ve done something to really tick God off. God says, I want you to know My love for you doesn’t change even when you’re going through difficult trials. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor nay any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35,37-39). Nothing, absolutely nothing can threaten God’s love and acceptance of you. If you’re allowing your circumstances to be a gauge of God’s love and acceptance it means you’re depending on your security to come from your circumstances and not God who is greater than your circumstances. Neither your character nor your circumstances determine God’s love and acceptance. You cannot do anything to merit God’s unconditional and uninvited love. Here’s what God is saying, “Step out in faith, put your ultimate security in Me, take Me at My Word. It’s that simple. If you base your sense of security on anything other, you’re setting yourself up for a rollercoaster ride of insecurity and doubt. Choosing to believe and act on the truth that God fully loves and accepts you is the foundation to living a secure life. God’s unconditional acceptance of us is the first leg of security He wants us to have.
II. I know God will never give up on me. Similar to God’s love and acceptance is knowing He will never, never, never give up on you. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6). The work God begins in your life, He completes. Like His love, His determination to never give up on you is not based on you, but Him. Turn back the pages of time in the Bible and we see God exercised this same kind of unconditional commitment in the lives of some people that may really surprise us. Take Abraham, the father of the Jews for instance. More than once he lost his battle with fear, doubt, and uncertainty. Out of fear he lied to save his own bacon. When struggling with doubt, he took matters into his own hands trying to “make” God’s promise a reality. In uncertainty he failed to follow God completely. Yet in each of his shortcomings, God never gave up on him. Abraham’s grandson proved to be even worse. He was the epitome of a serial schemer, a conniver of connivers. He was constantly looking for an angle to get the upper hand. Yet, God never gave up on him. Or, take king David, an adulterer, murderer, polygamist, liar. But God never gave up on him. The point is God never gives up on His own. The one thing Abraham, Jacob, David had in common was they were people who dared to take God at His word. God made a promise to each of them that He would never give up on them even though they blew it time after time. Yet, they dared to believe despite their failures, God would never give up on them. God makes the very same promise to you, “I will never give up on you, period.” God’s unconditional commitment is the second leg of security He want us to have. The third leg of stability is freeing us from living in fear.
III. I know God has freed me from living in fear. Let’s face it, there are a lot of frightening things in our world! It is safe to say that fear, whether real or imaginary, is the number one culprit of much of our stress. We fear the future, we fear failure, we fear rejection, we fear pain, we fear illness, we fear loss, we fear death, and on and on the list goes. There is a seemingly unending number of phobias people wrestle with. The Bible tells us the first disturbing emotion to enter the human experience was when Adam and Eve rebelled against God. Fear as a destructive emotion originated with the fall. Since that time, anxiety, panic, dread have held countless peoples lives in a concentration camp of fear. Listen to this promise God give us in His Word, For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline (2 Timothy 1:7). The word for timidity is δειλία meaning a state of fear due to lack of courage or moral strength. I find Anderson helpful to us here. He rightly points out that in order for fear to be legitimate it requires to attributes: It must be present (imminent) and powerful (potent). To remove the fear in your life, you must remove the presence or the power of the object of fear (Anderson & Miller, Freedom from Fear, p. 14). Using his own fear of snakes as an example, Anderson says while he’s setting at his desk writing about snakes, he has no fear, because there are no snakes present. But if you were to throw one at his feet, his fear index would shoot from 0 to 10 immediately! The snake would be both present and potent. But what if the snake were dead, he asks? Anderson says if he was SURE it was dead, he wouldn’t feel any fear simply because one of the attributes of fear has been removed; the snake is not powerful because it is dead. In order to remove a fear in your life, you must remove the presence or the power of the object of fear.
God says He has not given us a spirit of fear. In fact, God tells us He has disarmed our fears through Christ. There are really four objects of fear in our lives, fear of man, fear of death, fear of Satan and fear of God. The only legitimate and healthy fear of the four is the fear of God. God alone is both omnipresent (all-present) and omnipotent (all-powerful).
Because of our security in Christ, we do not need to live in fear of man or death anymore. Jesus commands us in Matthew 10, Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28). What’s He saying? Man is not a legitimate object of fear. His power is only what God allows him to have. God, on the other hand is worthy of our fear (reverence) because He has ultimate power over both our bodies and our souls. Before Jesus was crucified Pilate asked Jesus if He knew he had the power to put Him to death. Jesus calmly responded Pilate had no authority over Him unless it was given from above (John 19:11). Jesus was not afraid of man or of death. Hebrews tells us Jesus delivered us from both the power and the fear of death, as well as the fear of Satan (Heb. 2:14,15). Paul writes, Death is swallowed up in victory. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? (1 Cor. 15:54-55). Jesus Christ has freed us from living in the fear. The only object of legitimate fear is God Himself, and that is a reverent fear not a dreadful fear. When we fear God rightly, know who He is and put our full trust in Him and His Word all other objects of fear melt away.
In his book: Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back, Charles Swindoll tells of a time his sister was traveling as a filed representative for her college. Nearing her destination, she noticed a man was following her. She tried to ditch him, but he kept following. Fear seized her as she imagined him trying to force her off of the road. Since it was about dusk, she decided to take refuge behind the locked door of a hotel room. While registering for the room, she noticed the man parked a block away watching. Blinded by panic and sick with fear, she hurried to her room and bolt-locked the door and snapped the chain into the slot. Tears of horror filled her eyes as she heard his car pull up outside her room. She decided right then to admit her vulnerability to God, to declare her fear, commit her fear to God, and stand firm in her faith. She forced herself to carry on. But the thought of the man trying to break in robbed her of any semblance of inner peace. Just as she was at a crossroads of faith and fear, she glanced at the top of the dresser. To her amazement, someone had written these words and slipped them under the glass on top: Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Signed: Jesus.
An incredible surge of strength swept through her. The immediate dread was gone. Christ-confidence replaced panic. She slept like a baby the whole night through. Wrestling with fear? It’s not from God. He wants you to be free from it. Admit your fear to God. Give it to Him. Let it go. Stand firm in God’s promised security. Christ came to free you from living in fear.
IV. I know God is working all things toward my good. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). This verse is not saying all things are good, nor does it promise to make a bad thing good.
Nor does it say God will keep us from bad things. It makes an even greater promise. God will bring good out of all things.
I don’t understand how God can and will bring good out of all things for those who love Him, but my doubt doesn’t make His promise any less certain. The truth is, we don’t always know what is good for us. I’m reminded of an old Chinese proverb that tells of a young man who was raised in a peasant home with meager material possessions. One day, a stranger rode by his home leading seer horses. He called out, “If there is a young man in the household, I would like to give him a horse.” So the young man received the most incredible gift someone in his economic status could possibly receive. What a great thing to have his own horse!
The next day as he was riding, he fell off the horse and broke his leg. Well, maybe owning a horse was not a good thing after all; maybe it was a bad thing. However, the following day some warlords came out of the hills and insisted the young man ride with them into war. The boy could not go, because he had a broken leg. Suddenly, having a broken leg was a good thing!
The proverb continues on and on, altering between what appeared to be a good thing one day, turning out bad the next day (Anderson, Who I Am in Christ, p.118). The point is we don’t always know what is good for us, but God does. In His sovereignty and great love for us He uses all things for our good. His chief concern is not our circumstances, but our character. He is busy making us like His Son Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29; Phil. 2:13).
God wants us to live secure lives in Him. But the experience of that security is largely dependent on knowing the truth of Who God is and the truth of who we are in Christ. You will never be able to ascend the heights the Christian experience God’s security until you known and live out your true identity in Christ.