Stephen Altrogge: You Are NOT Who You Think You Are
Take a long look at yourself in the mirror. If you look closely you will see all the labels that have been slapped on to you over the years. Some of these labels have been put on by others. Parents, schoolmates, coworkers, friends, pastors. Some of the labels have been self-administered.
FAILURE // ADDICT // CONDEMNED // LOSER // CUTTER // GLUTTON // ANGRY // LUSTFUL // ANOREXIC
In your mind, these labels define you. You have always been an angry person. You've always had an eating disorder. You've always been addicted to porn. You've always been an outcast. That's just the way it is, some things will never change. You feel like you can identify with the words of Jack Kelly (see Newsies) who said, "We was beaten when we was born."
You feel trapped by your labels. You don't want to be constantly angry. You don't want to be a slave to sexual sin. You don't want to constantly live under a cloud of gloom and condemnation. But you don't know how to escape. You've been this way for so long that you no longer have hope of change. You are convinced that you've always been this way and will always be this way. Yes you are a Christian, and yes you will always be this way. Right?
WRONG. DEAD WRONG. SATANICALLY WRONG.
One of Satan's greatest lies is that you will always be trapped by your sin. If he can convince you that you will never change, the odds are high that you never will change. You will believe all the labels that have been slapped on to you. You will believe you have no hope of changing. Your grandad was a lazy loser, your dad was a lazy loser, and now you're a lazy loser.
The good news of the gospel is that you are no longer defined by your past sins, by your biology, or by your family history. You are defined by one thing: your identity in Christ Jesus.
In Romans 6:6-8 Paul says:
We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
Your old self, the self that was enslaved to anger, lust, eating disorders, and laziness has died! Your old, sin-loving self was crucified with Jesus Christ and was buried with Jesus Christ. It cannot return and it cannot rule you. Your old self was defined by sin and biology and family history and wounds. Labels belong to the old you.
Your new self is defined by one thing: Jesus Christ. You belong to Jesus Christ, and he has set you free from sin. You died to sin and now you have the power of the living Christ coursing through you. Jesus is the great label destroyer. You are not an addict, you are in Christ. You are not defined by anger, you are defined by Christ. You are not a failure, you live in Christ and he lives in you.
It's time to stop letting yourself be defined by labels. Those labels belong to your old self, and that old self is long gone, buried with Christ. You may struggle with anorexia, but that sin will not rule you because Christ rules you. You may battle with lust but that sin will not define you because Christ defines you. You may feel like a loser but you are NOT a loser because Christ the victor dwells in you.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV)
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