It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I realized that I did not truly believe the many promises and truths of who I am in Christ. Sure, I heard many of them growing up, “God loves you,” “You are precious,” “You are God’s child.” But it was nothing more than knowledge retained in my head; it never connected with my heart, and I had no clue what it meant for my life or how to put it into practice.
Instead, there was a deeper voice, offering constant commentary: “You’re selfish,” “You’re lazy,” “You need to do more…be more,” “You should be ashamed of yourself.” These phrases were so much a part of me that I didn’t even hear the words anymore; they were me. I spent much of my life trying to appease this inner critic by doing more and more for God and others, by keeping quiet and out of the way, by never thinking about my own needs, by never asking for help, and by reminding myself that I didn’t deserve anything good anyway.
Why did my inner critic hold so much more power over me than the word of God? Looking back, I think that the sermons I heard on this subject weren’t very convincing. More time was spent talking about who I was before Christ, “dead in your transgressions and sins,” and “objects of wrath,” with very little explanation or application of what it means to be “alive in Christ” now. It seemed there was a fear that if we forgot our sinful nature, believing in our identity in Christ would make us prideful. But I didn’t need to be reminded of who I was; I still deeply resonated with this person, and it only made my inner critic condemn me all the more. More emphasis ought to focus on what we tend to forget: who we are now. We forget these truths because they are much less believable than our inner critic.
Another barrier to truly accepting and believing my identity in Christ was the subtle language preachers used to keep it just out of reach. “You are a sinner, but because of Christ’s work on the cross, God chooses to see you as a saint.” In other words, you’re just as much a sinner as ever; God’s just using Jesus as a pair of rose-colored glasses to pretend you’re all good.
These messages have robbed us of the power of God’s words—what he says is true about us. Our identity in Christ is freely given—no strings attached. We are loved, we are holy, we are wonderful. Remember who you are. Believe who you are. Let that inner critic die, for it belongs in the past.