Grace tidings: Have you changed your identity card?

Second Corinthians 5:17

One of the most important revelations we can get from the Word of God is what happens to us the moment we receive Christ.

Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” The phrase “in Christ” is a terminology that is used over 300 times in the New Testament, always referring to a vital, union relationship with God. Once that takes place, you become a new creature. Some translations actually say “a new creation.”

This leads to a critical issue that I believe is imperative in understanding your new identity in Christ: It did not take place in the physical realm. It isn’t talking about your physical body, saying that it completely changes, that your looks change. If a person was fat before they were saved, they will still be fat afterward, unless they go on a diet. It also isn’t talking about your mental or emotional part—what most people consider to be the real “them.”

If you weren’t too smart before you were saved, you won’t be too smart after you’re saved, but you will still have a lot of the same memories and thoughts. Which part of you then is changed when you receive Christ if it is not your body nor your soul?

There is a third part, and according to this scripture, by process of elimination, it has to be the part of us that is changed, our spirit man. A scripture that verifies this is 1 Thessalonians 5:23 where Paul is praying for the Thessalonians, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray to God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

That passage shows that we have a spirit, soul, and body. The body part is very obvious. It’s the part of us that is seen, our outward persons. We all recognize that there is another part beyond that—our emotional, mental part—which Scripture calls the soul. We know that even though a person may not physically touch you, they can touch you by their words, either in a positive or negative way.

Most people are in tune with the physical and soulish parts, but according to Scripture, there is another part, which is the spirit. The spirit is the part of us that is changed and is new after salvation. It is actually the life giving part. James 2:26 says, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” That shows that it is the spirit that actually breathes life into our physical bodies. It is where our life comes from. In Genesis 2 when God created Adam and Eve, Adam’s body was complete, but then God breathed into him the breath of life. This word “breathe” in Old Testament Hebrew was the exact same word that we use for breath, and it is translated “spirit” in other places. God created the physical body and the soulish person of Adam, but then He breathed into him the breath of life and he became a living soul. The spirit is the part of us that gives life.

Prior to salvation, before a person made a total commitment of their life so that the Lord came into them, the spirit within them was dead. Ephesians 2:1 says, “And you has He quickened [made alive], who were dead in trespasses and sins” (brackets mine). We know we were alive before we were born again, but the word “dead” is speaking of spiritually. Death in the Bible doesn’t mean ceasing to exist, as some people today think of it. It literally means “separation.” When a person physically dies, they don’t cease to exist. The Bible teaches that they go immediately into the presence of God or into the presence of hell. The soul and spirit continue to live, but there is a separation from the physical body, which dies and decays. When Genesis 2:17 says “In the day that you eat you shall surely die,” it didn’t mean they would die physically but spiritually, that they would become separated from God. The spirit, the part that God breathes into us, which actually gives life and motivation, became separated from God’s supernatural life…His holy and complete life…what the Bible calls zoe life or “life in an absolute or abundant sense.”

Man then began to degenerate. He still functioned, but he was functioning independently, separately from God. That’s really what causes all the problems in our lives…all of our emotional stress. When a person comes to the Lord, they receive a new spirit and are born again, which is the terminology Jesus used in John 3:5. In the same way man is born physically with a spirit, soul, and body, when he is born again, he receives the Spirit of Christ. Galatians 4:6 says, “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”

God literally places His Spirit inside of us, and we now have a new quality of life, a new identity, and are a totally new person in our spirits. The rest of the Christian life is learning in your soulish, mental realm what has taken place in your spirit. The truth is, one-third of your salvation is over when you receive Jesus Christ as your Lord. Your spirit becomes completely changed. It is the exact same spirit you will have throughout eternity. It already has love, joy, peace, and is full of the presence of God.

There is no lack or inadequacy in your spirit, but you have to perceive that, which is the reason studying the Word of God is so vital to the Christian life. You are a totally brand-new person, but until you get knowledge, you won’t change. Victory in the Christian life comes when you are able to look into the Word, which is Spirit and life, see who you are, see what God has done, and begin to believe it.

When you understand your new identity in Christ, you’ll be a stronger and more stable Christian. Your faith will work for you better, your prayer life will be enhanced, and you’ll walk in a new level of authority.

Let me use a few scriptures which show the things that took place when a person received Jesus into their life. Ephesians 4:24 says, “Put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” When a person is born again, their spirit becomes righteous and truly holy. The Bible actually speaks of two types of righteousness. There is a righteousness you produce through your own actions, and you must maintain that type of righteousness in relationships with other people.

If you don’t live right and do right, your boss may fire you or your spouse may divorce you; so you need to have your own righteousness. God, however, doesn’t accept you based on your external righteousness. God literally gave you His righteousness. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 it says that God the Father made the Son to become sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. So there is a righteousness which goes far beyond our external righteousness and is based on what God did for us. We literally received the righteousness of God by faith in Christ. We were created in righteousness and true holiness. We aren’t growing into that righteousness; we are already righteous. A simple definition is that we are already in right standing with God.

God is pleased with us based on Christ, not on anything else. Our spirits are where the change took place. We are already created in righteousness and true holiness and are brand-new creatures. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” In our spirits, we are perfect and complete. There is no sin or inadequacy.

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