Wednesday, January 08, 2014

"Sinner" - Identity Problems and Accountability

I am a liar.  Whether it’s to make my life less uncomfortable, to spare someone’s feelings, or to make others like me more, I bend and twist the truth.  Pinocchio’s got nothing on me.

When my wireless network stops functioning I have a panic attack, launching into what I consider a logical diatribe about poor service and the company wasting my money.  I will waste hours watching certain TV shows and get frustrated if a phone call interrupts my progress.  I get headaches if I don’t drink coffee at least once a day.  I am an addict.

I am lazy.  Most of the time I label it “unsure of myself” but in reality, that's just sugar coating.  I will do the bare minimum to get by instead of doing my absolute best. 

I am mediocre.  Tied into the laziness, I will not put in the time it takes to become the best at something, whether it’s playing my guitar, writing, or work. 

I have a problem with identity.  And I’m not the only one.  In spite of constantly encouraging us to avoid labeling others our entire culture has taken the things we struggle with, the things we enjoy, the things we are passionate about, the things we are tempted by and have used them to label themselves and others.  For some reason they (really, I should stop using the term “they” and shift to “we” because I’m no innocent) are unable to separate desire from identity and this throws a huge wrench into our perception of ourselves and others and therefore complicates our already complicated relationships.

This leads to a whole slew of problems.  For me, one of the biggest is discouragement.  I know the inner workings of my mind, the lies that slip out, the laziness that slows my feet, and I berate myself.  Why can’t I have self-control?  Why can’t I stop making these mistakes?  How can I demand honesty and hard work from others when I can’t provide the same things?  How can God put up with me?

Another problem is that that we are not able to hold one another accountable for our failures.  I’m not talking about self-righteously bullying someone for making a mistake; I’m talking about humbly and lovingly confronting our friends and family with wrong actions (in Christianese that would be “sins”).  When we link our actions or passions or desires irrevocably to our identity, being confronted can no longer be a loving action, but instead is labeled as self-righteous bullying and judgement.  This confusion robs us of being able to encourage each other to strive for holiness, a command that comes straight from scripture (Hebrews 10:23-25). 

There is one solution and one solution alone for this problem and that’s to get our identity straight.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”  Sin is deeply ingrained into our nature; in fact, it killed us in the garden, robbing us of our relationship with the source of life, our Creator.  But out of His great love for us (John 3:16) and devotion to His own holiness and justice (2 Corinthians 5:21) He chose to save us.  By judging sin in Christ and then raising Him from the dead, the Lord declared us sons rather than sinners (Romans 8:17).  This is our new identity, Sons, Saints, and while sin remains part of us (Romans 7) it no longer defines us, can no longer be our identity.  My prayer is that I will move this knowledge from my head to my heart, that I will stop calling myself “liar” and “lazy” and “addict” and instead remind myself that I am a “Son”.  This is the only way I will ever be able to defeat sin, the only way I will ever be sanctified.  It will always be a struggle, but as I’ve said before that makes me long for heaven, to be in the presence of my Father.


Anonymous said...

Amen! I think I read on Facebook something that Keller had wrote that said we are saints and sinners. I really disagree. I do not see the Bible defining Christians as sinners. It clearly states that we sin but it also states that. Wg are united and bound up in Christ and our identity comes from Him and His identity with the Father. That is who I am by grace. Not because I am all of a sudden such a saint by my works but because of who Christ is and his,work .

Courtney Lott said...

Absolutely! I am so thankfully for the work of Christ. I think I'd alter that Keller's statement to that "we are saints who sin".