“Has it happened to you?” this is how Pastor Phyl opened his sermon. We’ve all been there (unless we’ve been very unlucky). We’re in a shop, looking to buy something that requires us to be over a specific age, and the shop assistant has asked us that question, “Can I please see some proof of age?”
We live in a world where the concept of identification is common place. In the circumstance outlined above, most of us would simply get out our driving licence and that would be the end of the matter. We are so used to the concept of identity that we don’t really think about it, but in our society, identity theft is also something that is common place. We often hear on the news about the theft of someone’s identity, but this is nothing new. It happens in this century and it happened in the last century too. It even happened in scripture when Jacob stole his brother’s identity and as a result, the blessing due to him from his father (Genesis 27).
Identity theft doesn’t just take place in your life, but it can take place in your heart, too. Reading from John 8:21-47, we see how Jesus attempts to reveal the truth to the people, and yet, they are enmeshed in half-truths, unable to see that their true identity has been stolen from them.
The truth is a great thing. It allows us to see the current reality that we’re in. It helps us to define our reality. The enemy and the world seeks to destroy all that is in us so that we don’t become aware of the truth, but in this passage of scripture, we see Jesus coming to challenge their mindset.
It says in scripture, “Know the truth and the truth will set you free” John 8:32. This is fact. The enemy knows that and tries to distract us so that we are lost in his lies, and kept bound to the untruths that he sows in our hearts. The scripture tells us that Jesus is coming, and is trying to tell us who we are in Him.
Pastor Phyl then went on to explain the three things that the enemy does in order to try and take our identity.
This is shown clearly in verse 33, where the Pharisees ancestry is brought into question. They fail to understand that Jesus is the Son of God. They get stuck on the fact that they are descended from Abraham. They don’t like that Jesus is telling them that they must change their way of living, and live a life for God that is different to their view of following the law in order to honour God.
Pastor Phyl makes reference to the testimony of Christine Caine, which can be found online, where she talks of finding out that she was adopted, and the shockwaves that resulted from that, where she lost all sense of who she was. This is the ultimate identity theft. The truth is that we are children of God. We are “who you say [I] am”. We are His children, and we are precious in His sight. If we are to overcome this attack from the enemy, we must go on a journey of self discovery to find out who we are in God.
The enemy seeks to kill our identity, giving us labels, too numerous to count. Throughout our lives, we grab at all kinds of identities that the enemy pushes towards us, labelling ourselves, but we are not defined by what people and circumstances say we are, we are defined by who God says we are.
God’s love is so powerful. There is nothing we can do to make Him love us any more or any less. He doesn’t care about labels, seeing only us, as we truly are and loving us anyway. The enemy piles labels on us to try and kill our God given identity. In scripture, the Pharisees were defining themselves by labels, but in doing this, they were living a half-truth, which is exactly what the enemy wants.
Pastor Phyl encouraged us to think about what labels have been put on us, and challenged us to take them off and throw them away, because they mean nothing. We are more than what is written in a medical report, or a school paper, or a work review. We are who He says we are.
The enemy will seek to destroy our truth, if we let him, but when we truly know who God has designed us to be, we can step out into that place of truth and the enemy will have no hold on us because God’s hand is on us.
The question is,
Do we want the truth?
Can we handle the truth?
Pastor Phyl encouraged us “You do you. You be you”, because that is exactly who we are supposed to be. That is exactly what God wants us to do because He created us, exactly as we are, and now is the time for us to truly take off all of the labels put on us by the world and the enemy, and step out in faith, trusting that we are who God says we are, and that that is enough.
In closing Pastor Phyl implored us to not become polarised, and said that we can handle the truth. We just have to trust God.
Scriptures: Genesis 27, John 8:21-47, John 8:32,John 8:33