Are You Having An Identity Crisis?

By Francis Frangipane

As Christians our faith tells us that Christ died as payment for our sins.  We believe He actually rose from the grave as proof that He was, indeed, sent by God.  Yet, it is also our conviction that, upon this resurrection event, not only were the sins of  mankind atoned for but, through Christ, a second Genesis began. 

Paul explains, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit"  (1 Cor 15:45). The word Adam means "man" and is representative of  "mankind."  There are now two Adams or two species of man.  The first species of man is the descendant of sinful Adam. His life orbits around his carnal or "natural" desires.  He carries both the DNA of Adam"s nature and the consequences of Adam's sin.  This natural man is focused upon fulfilling the needs of his soul. He is, indeed, a "living soul," but he is controlled by fears, physical needs, intellect boundaries, cultural environment and sin. 

The second species or race of man is Spirit-centered.  His thoughts, dreams and experiences originate primarily from the Holy Spirit, who lives in union with him.  The highest aspiration of the Spirit-centered man is not on attaining natural successes, but upon attaining conformity to Christ.  While the first man lives to experience what the world around him can give him, the last species of man, the Christ-man, lives for what he can give to the world: He is a "life-giving spirit."  The first Adam engendered descendants with problems; the spiritual descendants of the last Adam, Christ, provide the world with answers. 

New Creatures
While men divide over many things - culture, skin color, language or social status - from God"s view mankind is only truly divided into two subsets: those controlled by their souls and those controlled by the Holy Spirit.  One race is dead in sin; the other is alive in Christ.  One species of man is destined to perish; the other will live forever.  Just as the first Adam passed sin, weakness and death to his children, so the second Adam, Christ, passes virtue, power and eternal life to the children of God.

"Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come" (2 Cor 5:17). 

"For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation" (Gal 6:15). 

We are not merely men of flesh temporarily acting spiritual, but we are spiritual beings temporarily living as men of flesh.  If you have received Christ into your life, you are part of the second Genesis.  You possess a new nature which, like Christ's, shall live forever.

Identity Crisis
Yet, too many of us suffer from an "identity crisis."  We are confused about who we really are.  We attend church, but internally we are still deeply identified with the traits and expectations of the first Adam.  Paul rebuked the church in Corinth, which suffered with fleshy attitudes, saying "are you not walking like mere men?  (1 Cor 3:3).  

Hear me well: If you have received Christ, you are no mere mortal.  The very same power that raised Christ from the dead, abides also in you. While you may experience many of the same trials that the descendants of the first Adam face, you are buoyed by God's Spirit as He faithfully works all things for good in your life.   On the other side of your trials is not death, but resurrection!

"But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you" (Rom 8:11).

We may look human, but abiding within us is a treasure more valuable the earth itself: resurrection power. 

"And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power" (Acts 2:24).  Just as it was impossible for death to hold Christ in the grave, so it is impossible for the substance of "death" still in us - our sins and failures - to hold Him as well.  Christ conquers death as readily as light drives out darkness. Indeed, in all things we are "more than conquerors through Him who loved us"  (Rom 8:37 NIV).

Seated With Christ
As I was engaged in a particular struggle, a friend asked me, "How are you doing under the circumstances?" I answered, "I'm not under the circumstances; I'm seated with Christ in heavenly places.  My Father is God.  There is no weapon formed against me that can prosper.  I'm born again from above, a new creation; I am a partaker of the Divine nature." 

Everything I answered came directly from God's word and represents the reality granted me by faith in God's promises.  Faith unlocks the power of God's promises.  So, beloved friend, you are not under circumstances or "the weather," or pressures or curses; you are alive together with Christ (Col 2), and positioned in the shelter of God's domain.  Yes, we face conflict, which God uses to perfect our character, but He also "always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place" (2 Cor 2:14).

Beloved, if you are not using God's word to define and shape your spiritual identity, you will, in fact, be under circumstances and clouded by the oppression that abides on the first Adam.  You may still be a Christian, but you will suffer from your identity crisis.  This is why Paul said, "put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth" (Eph 4: 24).  You must accept, believe, and then apply the word of God until you are fully established as a new creation. 

"Those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren" (Rom 8:29).

This quest to walk in your new nature is the crux of your primary battles in life.  This is not just a war between your virtue and your vices. No, it is a war between your identity after the flesh and your true identity as a new creature in Christ.  "Faith," John tells us, "is the victory that overcomes the world" (1 John 5:4). You are a citizen of a new realm. As such, you must learn the customs and understand the language. In the kingdom of God, everyone believes what God says about them. When God speaks, His words create realities. Our faith accepts the grace and truth of God's word and, in so doing, our lives are transformed.

Yes, we will still fail, but Christ is greater than our failings.  True, we will still err, but in all things God works good.  Indeed, we pass through hard experiences that God uses to conform us to the character of His Son (see Phil 3:10), yet He also brings us through such things so we can possess the power of Christ's resurrection!   

Consider Paul's analysis of his personal journey:

"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me" (Gal 2:20).

Again, he wrote:

"Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day" (2 Cor 4:16).

Let us ask ourselves, is our spiritual consciousness focused upon what is inwardly "decaying" or are our hearts lifted to that which is "being renewed day by day"?  Are we living as mere men or as new creatures fashioned after the likeness of Christ?  Would you agree that it is time to get over your identity crisis?

Lord, forgive me for dwelling in the basement of my old nature rather than the penthouse of Your love and promises.  You have chosen me to reveal Your life, You've given me Your Holy Spirit and spoken to me through Your word.  I am Your child, born from above and destined to inherit Your glory.  I worship You, my Lord and King. 

If We Do Not Lose Heart

By Francis Frangipane

"He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time." Daniel 7:25

The prophet Daniel warns of a time when Satan, through the Antichrist, will seek to wear down the strength of God's saints. How this occurs in the final hours of the age remains to be seen, but on one level this battle already is going on today: Satan seeks to wear us out through delays ("alterations in times") and in compromise of God's Word ("alterations in law").

The final effect of what seems like never-ending delays is that believers are worn out. Do you know anyone who is weary with his or her battle? Are you yourself weary? I know many who seem trapped in situations that should have been remedied months and even years ago but the battle continues against them. Situations and people, often empowered by demonic resistance, stand in opposition to the forward progress of God's people. As a result of satanic spiritual resistance, many Christians incrementally accept this resistance until a quiet, but weighty, oppression rests on their souls.

This battle to wear out the saints may be rooted in conflicts with children or spouses; perhaps it is some unresolved issue or division within their churches. It may be a work conflict or health battle, yet on and on it goes. Like a skilled and masterful thief, the enemy daily steals the joy, strength and passion of Christians, and many do not even realize what they have lost or how much.

The scale is actually larger than our personal struggles. Consider the various conflicts in the world. Some have continued for generations. We can understand why, even in the midst of great worship and praise by the redeemed, there is a place under the altar in heaven where the saints continue to ask, "How long, O Lord?" (Revelation 6:10). Fifty-eight times in the Bible, from beginning to end, the phrase how long is echoed by those who grew weary with waiting.

Sometimes the delays are God-ordained to perfect faith; as we seek Him He helps us grow. On the other hand, there is a vicious attack against us to oppose and delay the fulfillment of God's plans for us until we grow weary and quit. Satan is the dragon whose goal is to "drag-on" the battle with draining, wearying delays. He persists until we wear out, give up and quit praying.

Additionally, as situations stretch beyond reasonably expected conclusions, weariness of soul can also exacerbate the original situation, leading to fleshly reactions or just overreactions, which also need resolution. We lose patience, eventually seeking relief rather than victory. This compromises the standards of God and conscience.

Perseverance
There is a reason the book of Revelation mentions the word perseverance seven times. Over and over again we see those who persevered and overcame. It is one thing to have vision, another to have godly motives, but neither will carry us to our objectives by itself. We must also persevere.

The root of the word persevere is the word severe. We must face the fact that en route to victory our trials may get severe. Likewise, it is with severe faith - severe or extreme steadfastness - that we inherit the promises of God (see Hebrews 10:36). James tells us: "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4).

Endurance. Perseverance. Steadfastness. These are the qualities that breed character, that transform the doctrine of Christlikeness into a way of life. "Let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect." The key to perfection, to a life "lacking in nothing" is perseverance.

Weariness of the Mind
Have you grown weary? You are not alone. Part of the weariness we feel comes from faulty thinking. If we had known the battle was going to take as long as it has, we would have prepared for it more realistically. Every building plan will probably take twice as long as we assume; every virtue will take a year, not a weekend, to be truly worked in us. It may take a generation for some of our loved ones to be saved. If things happen sooner, we can rejoice. But we must guard ourselves lest we prepare only for the easiest of breakthroughs; some things will not manifest without time and tears.

You may think that it sounds like unbelief to expect difficulties. I don't think so. I think it is wisdom. Wisdom is not the enemy of faith. I have found that if I don't trust God and relax, I become anxious, fretful and distracted. I have also found that the Holy Spirit will not descend and rest in power upon a man who is fearful and controlled by his external circumstances. Jesus" spirit stayed in abiding peace, yet still He accommodated delays as part of life's package. He was often delayed by the huge crowds or urgent needs of the people around Him. People died waiting for Jesus to show up. Did He become anxious? No, He stayed focused on the Father and without losing His trust in God, simply raised the dead.

At some point we must come to the conclusion that God knows when we are growing weary in battle - be it praying for the salvation of a loved one or one more frustrating delay in reaching our vision. We must trust that He knows our battle and that He has a miracle conclusion waiting us. I know a dear pastor who labored long and hard with a new building project, but it was constantly being delayed. It was first scheduled for completion in September, then rescheduled for December, then January and then February. Finally, with weariness in his voice, he called and asked if I could join him for their dedication. It was set for the first week of March.

"When exactly do you need me?" I asked.

He answered, "March fourth."

Suddenly the Holy Spirit illuminated my heart. I told him that God had chosen this date prophetically. The Lord wanted that church, as an army, to "march forth" into their destiny. In a flash, the weariness weighing upon him was gone; joy and a sense of destiny swept his soul. The delay wore him out, but the delay in the hands of God became inspirational.

Dear ones, let us persevere. We just do not know what the victory will look like when we finally break through. Consider Joseph. Betrayed, enslaved, slandered and forgotten, he had to endure to reach his destiny. But the time finally arrived, and never in his wildest dreams could he have imagined that the outcome would be so wonderful.

What we become is more important to God than what we do for Him. Our struggle, though we may have been delayed time and again, deepens our character. Maintaining our standards when pressed, finding grace when stretched, makes us true men and women of God. The Almighty One is in control. He knows how to take what was meant for evil and transform it into something good, even using the devil's own devices to bring him down. God has something marvelous in store for us otherwise the enemy would not be fighting so intensely. Indeed, Scripture tells us that Satan rages worst when he knows his time is short (see Revelation 12:12).

Character Before Breakthrough
We mentioned Daniel earlier as a prophet who warned about Satan's ploy to wear down the saints. God gave him a vision of the end of the age. Here is what he wrote: "I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them" (Daniel 7:21). This is the nature of the battle. There are times we feel war storming against our souls, overpowering us. But the prophet said the sense of overpowering continued only "until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom" (Daniel 7:22).

There is a principle here that, once understood, will lead to victory in our battles. There will be a time, inevitably, when we feel overpowered. Yet if we endure, if we climb higher into God, if we refuse to lose our trust in God, a time will come when the Ancient of Days enters our circumstances. Looking at our newly developed character, which has grown strong through perseverance, He will pass judgment in favor of our cause. God looks at our character, forged in the fire of overpowering delays and battle, and says, "Good, this is what I was waiting for."

Whatever your battle, whether you are praying for your country or standing for your children, whether your cry is for the lost or for the end of some local or personal conflict, remember the words of Paul: "Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary" (Galatians 6:9).

Master, I ask that You work in me the character that perseveres until the end. Forgive me for being such a wimp. Help me to grow up, to stand up until the harvest I have sown spiritually bears fruit. Thank You for not giving up on me! In Jesus" name, Amen.