Identity Theft

 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? I Cor. 3:16

It is an interesting fact worth noting that everything in the realm of the natural is an expression of what is going on in the Church, that is, if you have ears to hear.  There is no better example of this than the fears surrounding identity theft.  Christians, like everyone else, are very concerned with guarding their identity from hackers and thieves.  The irony of all this fear and caution is that, as far as Christians are concerned, the enemy has already hijacked, stolen and defrauded most of God’s people of their true identity in Christ.  Much attention is paid to the financial havoc created by someone stealing your social security number or ATM card while the real crime of spiritual identity theft goes undetected.

What do I mean by spiritual identity theft?  Our spiritual journey can be seen as a progressive unfolding revelation of who He is in us and who we are in Him.  This involves the forging of our spiritual identification with Christ.  The forging process starts with the knowledge and understanding of His eternal plan and the part we play in that plan.  The identification is made a reality through His purifying fire that we gladly submit to because we have a vision of what is at stake.  What the enemy seeks to do is to derail this process by locking us into the realm of spiritual ignorance and a carnal mindset that results in the loss of our spiritual identity and our full inheritance in Christ.

Over one hundred years ago the great British man of God, Andrew Jukes, lamented the spiritual ignorance of his generation of Christians.  What was true then is even truer in our generation.  Despite all the TV mega-ministries and worldwide evangelistic crusades, there is an appalling lack of spiritual understanding among God’s people of who they are and what this is all about.

The spiritual identity theft that we see today has its roots in the early Church.  We can see an example of this in the judaizing spirit that was taking hold of the Galatians.  In this church, Gentile Christians were beginning to see the simple gospel of grace that Paul had preached to them as somehow inadequate and looked to the Jewish law and religious rituals for their right standing with God. The enemy was skillfully undermining the work Paul had done to create in these new believers a spiritual understanding of God’s eternal plan and their part in it.

In the Corinthian church, the situation Paul encountered was quite different and yet the underlying problem was the same.  It was a fellowship that was spiritually gifted but riddled with carnality, immaturity and divisiveness.  Here, as in Galatia, the people of God were suffering from a loss of identity.  In Corinth, however, the result was a lack of moral discipline and a loss of sanctifying faith rather than the legalism and works orientation that was threatening Galatia.

Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.  I Cor. 10:11

And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  II Cor. 6:16

In the scriptures above we see Paul’s remedy for the identity loss in Corinth and Galatia: a reminder that not only were Gentile believers equal with the children of Israel and as such, subject to the same severe disciplinary measures that Israel had to suffer in the wilderness, but that everything that happened to Israel in the Old Testament was for their benefit.  It is the New Testament Church (Jew and Gentile, without distinction) “upon whom the ends (goal or point aimed at) of the world are come”.  Paul is saying (then and now): don’t let the enemy rob you of the awareness of who you are and your high calling in Christ.  Furthermore, do not let your carnality keep you from walking in your true identity in Him and from fulfilling that high calling.

Today we see both symptoms of identity theft on full display in the Church: the legalism and obsessive focus on natural Israel that threatened the church in Galatia and all the carnality, worldliness and immaturity that characterized Corinth.  We also see another interesting phenomenon.  In order to restore our stolen spiritual identity, the Father is raising up voices proclaiming the message of the Kingdom and the empowering revelation that God is truly in us.  At the same time, however, the enemy is also raising up voices proclaiming a pseudo-kingdom message.  These voices cater to the flesh of millions of Christians with a simplistic and superficial “kingdom” message that is little more than a feel-good band-aid to cover up the real need God’s people have to understand who they are in Him.  The enemy always promotes the cheap and easy way (the broad way) rather than the costly and hard way (the narrow way) that the preaching and teaching of the truth points us to.

I believe that it is this teaching and preaching that will educate, motivate and empower God’s people to pay whatever price is required to be molded into the image of Christ as we discover our identity in Him.