Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Identity Crisis


1 Peter 2:9-12
9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:
10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

The Church is Suffering an Identity Crisis
An identity crisis is a condition that is defined as a state of confusion resulting in a person not knowing who they are. It is a state of disorientation derived from not knowing one’s place or one’s position and one's true identity – it is role confusion and social confusion resulting from one forgetting who they are.  It is a state of not knowing who one is.  It is forgetting ones place, purpose, position, and character. 
Each of us have our own unique identity and this identity makes us known to others. People not only identify us by sight they identify us by our character.  People know loves as being temperamental, moody, emotional, easy-going, loving, impatient, and a variety of other defining characteristics. Negative or positive, people know us by the way we act and present ourselves to them.  When our behavior changes people will refer to us as going through an identity crisis.
          People derive their identity from a variety of different factors. Typically man derive their dignity from their job or their profession.  Up until recently, most women derived their identity from their husband and their children. Of course we are seeing this change today. I just want to add here for the record that there is nothing wrong with a lady being a mother and a wife.  I know this is not popular today but the Bible backs up this statement. Paul wrote to Titus and said, “Let the women be keepers at home”.  Ladies if you go somewhere and someone asked you what your profession is hold your head up high and tell them “I am a mother. I am a housewife.” You have nothing to be ashamed of by staying home and taking care of your family – this is the highest calling you could have.  One of my greatest experiences of life is coming home from school each day and calling out, “Mama” and hearing my mom replied, “Honey I’m here”.   I am glad that I was not raised by babysitter. I am glad I was not raised by day care. I was raised by my mother.
The Church derives its identity from Christ.  When we become separated from Jesus then we lose our identity.  As long as we are attached to the head then we maintain our unique identity. The moment that connection to the head is severed then we lose what it means to be the spiritual body of Christ. This connection to Christ must be maintained at all cost.  Look at Paul’s words to the people at Athens, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28)”.  Our being is derived from Christ.  Without our connection to the Head then we will lose our way and cease to be the Body of Christ.
Romans 12:4-5
4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
          Galatians 2:20
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 

The Jewish Identity
God made the Jewish people an identity unlike any one else. The people of Israel were so unlike every other nation.  This enabled them to maintain their identity.  Their Religion was different (Monotheism), their dress was different, their diet was different, their customs were different, and so on.  No matter where they went everyone knew who the Jews were. 

Deuteronomy 14:2

For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.
Israel suffered an Identity crisis many different times during their history.  During these times they quit identifying with Jehovah and started identifying with idols.  It was when Israel began to worship Moloch, Baal, and Ashtaroth that they got in trouble. This is when they lost their identity.
          Many of the leaders experienced identity crises.   Samson had and identity crisis, he forgot that he was a Jew, and began to act like a Philistine!  He began to associate with the very ones that God raised him up to defeat. David lost his way when he forgot his place was on the battlefield.  There are many others that time will not allow us to speak of.

False Identity
Many so-called Christians have taken on a false identity.  Instead of identifying with Christ, they identify with some religion, denomination, or man made organization.  Ask them if they are a Christian, and they respond with; “I am a Baptist, Methodist, UPC, A/G, or Catholic...”  This is their identity.  This is not the identity of the Church!  It is an alias!  A false identity!  God never intended for us to derive our identity from denominationalism.
The dictionary defines alias as an assumed name or a false or is hidden identity. If you go down to the post office you will see wanted posters of those that have broken the law. Sometimes on these posters you will see the initials a.k.a. – this means “Also Known As”. They may be named Joe Smith but they may also be known as “Bubba”, “Gator”, “Rebel”, or “Spike”.  Have you ever wondered where these rappers come up with these weird names? For many of them this is their gangster names.
Some people have two identities. They are one thing in the church and one thing in the world.  The Bible tells us that a double minded man is unstable all his ways (James 1:8).

New Identity
When we were Born Again we received a New Identity!  We stopped identifying with the world and we started identifying with Christ!  When we were in the world identity may have been “drunkard”, “alcoholic”, “womanizer”, “brawler”, or many other derogatory descriptions. Once we met Christ we were given a brand-new identity.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
We have a New Identity!  This is what the Bible tells us about our new identity:
We are New Creatures (1 Cor 5:17)
We have put on the New Man.
We have a New Name.
We have been given a New Spirit & a New Heart.
We are governed by a New Covenant.
We live because the New Tomb is empty!
We sing a New Song.
We drink New Wine.
We will live in New Jerusalem, in a New Heavens & a New Earth!
David knew his identity when he faced Goliath.  You will not be able to face a giant if you do not know who you are.  David could face this giant because he knew he is identity. When you go out to face your giant there must be no hesitation. You must be confident. Only a man who knows who he is can do this.
The three Hebrew Children knew their identity when they faced the fiery furnace.  If you do not know who you are then you will burn.
Saul traded his old identity for a new identity, and became Paul the Apostle.
Jacob wrestled with the Lord, until He gave him a new identity and a new name.

The Identity of Babel & Babylon
The identity of this worldly religious system will try to swallow you up if you let it.  Daniel, Shadrac, Meshac, and Abed-Nego all maintained their identity in Babylon.  Regardless of what others may say it is possible to live in this world and maintain our distinct identity. The Bible tells us to not be “conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind”.  Daniel may have been in Babylon but he never let Babylon get in him.  Don’t tell me that you cannot live holy in this world!  Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego all lived holy lives while living in Babylon – they maintained their distinct identity.
The Ecumenical Movement wants to lead us all into a False Unity.  This is the Great Whore of Revelation who is drunk on the blood of the Saints.  A common language is a basis for identity.  At the tower of Babel they shared a common language and a common identity.  This enabled them to pursue a dream.  Have you ever wondered why God shut down the tower of Babel?  Because the Antichrist was rising before his time. Today the tower of Babel is being built all around us with technology. The language is computer code in this language knows no borders.  Computers are bringing the whole world together. The Tower of Babel is rising before us and the Antichrist intends to climb to the top.
We heard so much during the Clinton Administration of the “Global Village.”  This is the One World Government of the Antichrist.  It, along with the One World Religion of the False Prophet, will bring all together in a false unity that will oppose God. 
World Council of Churches (WCC) was formally constituted on Aug. 23, 1948, at Amsterdam by an assembly representing 147 churches from 44 countries, mostly Protestant liberals. In 1973, member churches numbered 263 from 90 countries—from the Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox and Old Catholic Confessions.  Their motto is “ONE WORLD-ONE CHURCH”.  My friend, the Pentecostal church must maintain our distinct identity and reject our inclusion in this antichrist order.
     There was a time when you would have never heard of the Pentecostal church being a part of the ecumenical movement. Now many major Pentecostal denominations have signed up with the world Council of churches.

Identity Theft
One of the bigger problems that the world is facing today is identity theft.  Recently I was called for jury duty for just such a case.  Identity theft is when someone steals personal information and uses it to masquerade as another person.  They use the personal information to present themselves as someone that they are not. They are able to purchase items with someone else’s credit history and make financial decisions in their name. 
The charismatic religious movement is trying to steal the identity of the Pentecostal church.  This false movement never experienced the persecution that the early Pentecostal movement had to endure – they never had to spend hours in prayer seeking for the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. Yet today they try to act in our name and with this they try to secure spiritual blessings that are only reserved for a holy and separated people.  We must protect our identity.  Jude warned us that we must “earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered unto the saints”. 

Four Facts Concerning Our Identity

          Our text reveals four facts about the ability of the church.
(1) We are Special: “Ye are a chosen generation...” God chose us!  We have been chosen by the Lord, and we are special to him.  We must make one thing clear before we go any further: God did not choose us because we were special but it was God’s choosing that made a special.  God loved us enough to give us His only begotten Son (John 3:16).
(2) We are Royal: “Ye are...a royal priesthood...” God has adopted us into His royal family.  We are children of the King!  We are now a part of the family of God.
(3) We are Holy: “Ye holy nation...” God has re-created us in His image, and now we are holy!  His righteousness is now our righteousness, and our righteousness is now His righteousness.  Do you know why people that claim to be filled with the Holy Ghost can dress so worldly?  Because they have lost their identity.  There was a time when you would have never found a spirit filled person dressed immodestly. Today many in the church have lost their identity and this can easily be found.  I was with a church member one day and we visited a flea market. There was a man there that this member introduced me to. I stuck my hand out to shake his but he did not stick his hand out to shake mine.  He asked me, “Do you preach that “holiness junk” down at your church?” I replied, “If you mean coming out of the world and being separate, and if you mean living like Jesus, then the answer is yes.” He never did shake my hand.  No being holy is not junk!  It is our birthright!  We get to be like Jesus!  We are told God, “Be ye holy for I am holy”.  What is wrong with being holy? This is our identity.
(4) We are Unique: “Ye are...a peculiar people.”  We are unlike any other creature there is.  God has made us different, peculiar, and unique!  Why would we ever want to be like the world?

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