identity in Christ

You can’t take that away from me.

There is a lyric from the old George Gershwin love song, “You Can’t Take That Away From Me” (circa 1937) that says “the way your change my life, no, no they can’t take that away from me.” The title of the song, coupled with that phrase, convey an encouraging spiritual truth. Love relationships are packed with power to change our lives. Just ask anyone who has walked down the aisle. And love, truly unconditional love, is transformative at a level that goes deeper than simply changing externals. That kind of love has the potential to establish our very identity and define who we are at the core of our being.

God’s love, expressed through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ, is the quintessential, gold standard of transforming love. He chose us while we were yet sinners and separated from Him and wooed us as a spiritual bride for His Son that we might become members of His eternal family. His love gives us a new identity as His sons and daughters, something no one or no thing can ever take away from us. That is the truth in which Paul is reveling in the verses of Romans 8:38-39. No matter what fortune, fate or foe may confront us, it will not “be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

When we realize that our identity is based on the high value God places upon us, independent from our accomplishments or lack thereof, and anyone else’s view of us, it is a game changer. God’s love literally changes the DNA of our lives. We take our place in a royal genealogy and thereby become heirs of an incorruptible inheritance. That gives us confidence in the face of fear and becomes an anchor for our soul in times of trouble.

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4 Ways to Overcome Temptation

I heard a great sermon in church last Sunday. The topic was almost as hot as the near record setting temperatures outside. It was on temptation. The message was a real eye opener for me and deeply convicting. But it wasn’t anything the preacher said. It happened that I was an audience of one listening to what the congregation was saying to me as I stood behind the pulpit. Through feedback from six interactive questions I gained some incredible insight into the insidious power of temptation and most effective ways to combat it. When Paul said that “no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man” he wasn’t just talking through his hat. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Nine out of ten people in the room told me that they are presently battling temptations in their lives. And eight out of ten admitted that it is a reoccurring temptation that they have not been able to resist. Seeing those polling results brought home the stark realization that at any given time, most godly people are locked in a spiritual battle against an enemy of their souls.

It really should not be a surprise when we consider that from the very beginning of time a colossal war been waged between the forces of good and evil, righteousness and sin, God and the devil. From Genesis chapter three onward the devil has been scheming up ways to tempt us to eat forbidden fruit and rob us of an intimate relationship with our creator.

But his insidious strategies are not limited only to the lure and captivity of sin. He also is a relentless “accuser of the brethren” who works with might and main to keep those who confess their sin imprisoned in guilt and shame. (Revelation 12:10)

Over half of our congregation this past Sunday said they were still battling guilt and shame for a sin they had confessed and been forgiven. That is a disquieting yet not surprising fact as well. All of us at one time or other has those same struggles and we are not alone. (For more on this see “Dealing with the Stain of Sin”)

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