Marvelous IDENTITY VS. Mere ACTIVITY
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a 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 were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10)
Bought with a price… Redeemed… New Creature… Adopted… Child of God. At the very center of the Good News of Jesus Christ lies the key to Gospel Living: Identity. Identity can be defined culturally in many ways. Family, friends, vocation, language, skin color, cultural nuances, and religion are just a few of the many ways we define one another in the flesh. Where is the Good News in Identity? We find the answer in two terms: Decree and Delight.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
As Jesus Christ hung on Golgotha’s cross, carrying the weight and curse of sin, becoming the curse, taking on the very identity of sin; He made a decree. The Creator of all things, the sustainer of life, the One who holds all things together by the power of His word made a decree. He decreed, “It is finished.” Done, completed, paid. The Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is found in these words. In these words we find rest, we find hope. In these words we find identity, because in these words we find definition.
As believers in Jesus Christ we stand under a decree from Christ that defines us with a new identity. This identity is wrapped up in the redemptive activity of Christ. The Bible uses definitive words like bought and redeemed to demonstrate what Christ has done for us. There is great security in knowing that ALL of the work of redemption is completed, decreed as DONE by our Savior. The promise of this Good News remains the same for believers today. The Gospel by which we have been saved is also the Gospel in which we stand (1 Corinthians 15:1). We were not decreed to be His so that we can now try to earn something that is already secured. What a beautiful reality that we are His possession, His people. But, as His people, we not only are Identified by our Savior’s Decree, we are also Identified by a new Delight.
We are a new people for a reason. That reason is proclamation. We have Good News to proclaim. And it should be our Delight. Peter tells us that we are Identified as a new people to proclaim His excellencies. Excellencies don’t sound like drudgery and duty. Excellencies don’t carry with them the idea of burden. Excellencies sound, well… in the words of Bill and Ted… excellent. We have been called out of darkness, by His decree and power, into MARVELOUS light. Excellent and Marvelous… sounds delightful.
I think my wife is excellent and marvelous. She is the best part of my life. She is the one who is used the most in my life to sanctify me, to grow me, to challenge me. But she is no burden. Imagine if I were to constantly walk through my marriage never proclaiming the marvelous excellencies of my wife. If, being confronted with her beauty, I was never wowed. If, in the mercy of her love, I was never overwhelmed by the fact that she is truly marvelous. She is my wife and I am her husband. We are identified together, not simply because my father “decreed” it “by the power vested in me by the state of Missouri,” but, now more than ever because of the delight we find in one another UNDER that decree.
As new creatures in Christ, we have a new Identity based on the decree of Jesus Christ, driving us to delight in the marvelous excellencies of His mercy, power, and person. But I fear that many churchgoers have traded in their delight in the excellencies of Christ for something much cheaper… a delight in the duty of the activity of Christendom. While activity is not wrong, it is worthless without the marvelous mercy of the Identity of Christ.
Tomorrow… the Danger of Mere Activity… Activity outside the delight in the decreed Identity as a child of God… In the meantime, meditate on the danger of invoking the name of Christ for mere activity…
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)