Who Am I?
1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen…. people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light… once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
In Alcoholics Anonymous, the alcoholic is encouraged to identify himself or herself as an alcoholic. Many outside of AA chafe at this (many in AA do as well) as they feel that identifying oneself by one’s defects is self-defeating. If you insist you are an alcoholic, you will drink. Of course, most of us engaged in destructive behaviors long before we ever admitted we had a problem. Admitting the problem does not necessarily fix it, but it is not the cause of the problem.
Conversely, many well meaning Christians have insisted that since we are born again into a new life, we should identify ourselves, not by our past failures, but by that new life. Therefore, I should not say that I am still defective. Rather, I should identify myself by my new life. My name is Scott and I am now perfect…
I do not think that we purposely teach this, but we all love the story, I once was a sinner, but then I found God and now I am fixed… This of course is only a half-truth. It is true that in my spiritual rebirth, because of Jesus death, I have been made righteous before God. The other part of the story however, is that I still live in the flesh and I still struggle. I am saved but I am saved from something and that something is me.
I have been called out of darkness into his marvelous light… once I had not received mercy, but now I have received mercy. I am overwhelmingly grateful that I now live in God’s marvelous light, and in my spirit life, I am clean. I still require mercy however, as I still fail in my flesh life. Jesus commanded that I am to take up my cross daily (Luke 9:23) to crucify the old in me. If I were made perfect in my flesh, Jesus and Paul would not have commanded me to continually crucify the old life.
It is necessary, therefore, for me to remind myself of my struggles in life so that I can keep working on them. Sticking my head in the sand and insisting that I am perfect in my flesh life (as I am in my spirit life) is not helpful and is, in fact, destructive. Ignoring that I have a flesh life does not make it go away, it just makes me more susceptible to its failure. It is by acknowledging both my flesh reality (I do have an addiction problem) and my spirit reality (God has saved me) that I appropriately understand my condition.
I know who I am. I am a sinner saved by God. I am not yet perfect in this flesh life, so I will daily continue to acknowledge my imperfections and keep my eyes on God.