A New Identity
By Bob Coker

A person has no identity apart from a relationship with someone or something else. That is why we latch onto practically anything in our desperate need to discover who we are. We determine our identity through our appearance, occupation, abilities, family relationships, friends, denominational affiliation-the list is endless. Identity, however, is a spiritual need. Who we truly are is determined by our relationship to Jesus Christ. When we are identified with Him, we have an identity that cannot be shaken or taken away. It's an identity that is more wonderful than we could ever imagine. Unfortunately, the tragedy of modern-day Christianity is our utter ignorance of who we are in Christ. As a result, many Christians struggle, wondering if God loves them. The believer's identity in Christ is not a side issue; it is central to experiencing the real Christian life.

Key Verse: 1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

  1. From God’s point of view, there are only two kinds of people in this world.
Their identities are determined by who they are identified with. What two people does the verse say we can be identified with?

  1. What phrase does Paul use to show that people are either identified with Adam or identified with Christ?
  1. To be "in Adam" or "in Christ" is strange language to us. Biblically, to be in someone means that person is our family head. As such, he has left us his name, his nature, an inheritance, and a destiny. What is the destiny for those who are "in Adam"?
  1. What is the destiny for those who are "in Christ"?

Every human being is born into this world "in Adam." That means we are born with the same nature, inheritance, and destiny that Adam possessed after his fall. Let's take a closer look at the inheritance left to us by Adam.

For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners. . . (Romans 5:19)

1.  What were we made through the disobedience of the one man?
2.  Who was this one man?
3.  Therefore, what is our identity in Adam?

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned (Romans 5:12).

How did sin enter the world?
  1. Who was this one man?
  2. What entered the world through sin?
  3. As a result, what came to all men?
  4. Why?
  5. Therefore, what did Adam pass on to you and me?

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath(Ephesians 2:1-3).

  1. According to this passage, what were we in our transgressions and sins?
  2. What ways did we follow when we lived in our transgressions and sins?
  3. When we were dead in our sins, what did we seek to gratify?
  4. What type of nature and lifestyle did Adam pass on to us as our family head?
  5. What destiny did Adam hand down to us?

All of us are born into this world as sinners. We each were born dead in our sins and totally controlled by our sinful nature. As a result, we were by nature objects of wrath. This is the identity Adam passed on to us an identity we received through birth. For this identity to change requires a new birth.

In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."... Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit" (John 3:3,5,6).

1.  What did Jesus say must happen to a person for that person to see the kingdom of God?

2.  What did Jesus say must happen to a person for that person to enter the kingdom of God?

3.  John describes being born of water as "flesh gives birth to flesh." This is a picture of our physical birth. What kind of birth is Jesus referring to when He says, "You must be born again"?

4.  Physically, we are born "in Adam" and he is our family head. When we are born again of the Spirit of God, who becomes our family head?

5.  Therefore, who does a person's identity come from once he has been born again?

When Nicodemus heard Jesus say you must be born again, Nicodemus asked, "How can this be?" This is a very natural question. How can you be born again? Jesus gives the answer in John 3:16.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life(John 3:16).

1.  What motivated God to give His one and only Son?
2.  Why did God give us His Son?
3.  What does this verse say we must do to inherit eternal life?
4.  Then, how are we born again?

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God ~ children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God(John 1:12,13).

1.  What happens to those who receive Jesus Christ?
2.  How does John say we receive Jesus Christ?
3.  A child of God is born of whom?
4.  Why do you think John shows the contrast between being born of natural descent and being born of God?
5.  If you believe in Jesus Christ and are born again, what is your new identity?

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if in deed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory (Romans 8:15-17).

1.  When you were born again of the Spirit of God, what Spirit does Paul say you received?
2.  What kind of spirit does Paul contrast the Spirit of sonship to?
3.  In Ephesians 2:3, we learned that "in Adam" we were all by nature objects of wrath and our natural response to God is one of fear. In light of this, how important is it to understand that when we are born again, we do not receive a spirit that makes us a slave to fear?
4.  Because we have received the Spirit of sonship, what do we cry out to God?
5.  What does the Spirit of God testify to our human spirits?

A person's identity is determined by who he is identified with. From God's vantage point, a person is either identified with Adam or with Jesus Christ. If you are identified with Adam, you are a sinner and your destiny is eternal separation from God death. If you are identified with Jesus Christ, you are a child of God and your destiny is eternal life.

Your identity can change through a new birth. If you are "in Adam," are you willing to receive Jesus Christ by believing in His name and experiencing new birth in Christ? You can do so by simply asking Jesus to come into your heart. The following is a suggested prayer:

Lord Jesus, I need You. I recognize that I was born into this world a sinner, dead and in need of life. Thank You for dying for the forgiveness of my sins and then for being raised from the dead so You could come and give me life. I now receive You into my heart. Take control of my life and teach me about Your love and the inheritance I now have as a child of God. Thank You for coming into my heart and for giving me eternal life.

If you prayed to receive Christ, you are now a child of God. You have a new identity, a new nature, and a new destiny. Throughout the rest of the book, we will take a closer look at just what it means to be a child of God and the marvelous inheritance we have as His children.

Law & Grace
The Free Gift