I remember sitting in a room full of college students intently listening to the speaker talk about spiritual warfare. It was very interesting, but I had a burning question. At the end of the speaker's presentation my hand shot up - "What does spiritual warfare look like in the everyday?"
Though I was eager for an answer, my mind began to double task as I thought about all the junk I'd eaten that day and needed to go for a run. The words, "I'm fat" played in the background as I tried to tune into the answer.
"That's a great question. Sometimes the attacks of the enemy are subtle. He did come to steal, kill, and destroy. He is known in Revelation 12:10 as the Accuser. So when you are hearing things in your heart that sound accusing, like "You're stupid" or "You're ugly" or "You're alone" or "You're fat" . . .
The background hum of my thoughts stopped in their tracks.
Wait, "I'm fat" - that counts as warfare?
Here I was at a Christian function surrounded by friends who were excited about Jesus and His Kingdom and here I'm succumbing to the lies of the Enemy.
Right there I realized there was a war going on and there were so many tactics to produce misery even in a person who has tasted the goodness of the Gospel. The tactic I discovered that night was a subtle yet painfully deep attack on my identity.
Identity Crisis: Robbed
Our identity is who we are. Using the world's terms it's how we perceive ourselves, but using God's terms in His Word, it's who we actually are. For a person who is alive in Christ it's very important we believe who we actually are verses how we perceive ourselves. One is rooted in the authoritative truth of God, and the other is a slippery slope comprised of what we see in the mirror, magazines, social media "news" articles and posts, and worldly definitions.
That night I realized that every time I was willing to let myself believe "I'm fat" I was robbing myself of the joy of being in Christ. I was letting a worldly standard and feelings overtake what really mattered - what God thinks of me. The longer I ventured down the road of believing something I wasn't, Jesus became strangely dim. I willingly entered the boxing ring with the Enemy and held my hands behind my back. I might as well have hung a sign around my neck that said, "Free Punches."
Believing the phrase, "I'm fat" produced in me so much fear and bondage. I let that phrase define me and I began to lack the confidence to be me in my own skin. It was distracting and took away joy from my every day life. I became obsessive about what I ate and lived in total dread of the days I didn't get a chance to run. I needed help.
It was time to take a good look in the mirror - the ultimate truth telling mirror that would tell me everything I wanted to know about me - the real me.
God's Word really is the most trustworthy source we can go to when it comes to understanding our identity. It clearly states who we are and we can wear it like a badge of courage.
I think to truly grasp who we are according to God, we have to first look at who we are BEFORE Christ.
- Dead - we are dead in our transgressions - we are dead (Colossians 2:13)
- Hard Hearts - unable to embrace the truth of our depravity (Romans 1, Ephesians 4:18-19)
- Slaves to Sin - unable to say no to corruption and rebellion against God (Romans 6)
- Enemies of God - because of our evil behavior and hostility toward God (Colossians 1:21, Romans 8:7)
- Alienated - no access to God, far from him (Colossians 1:21)
- Self Centered - consumed with ourselves, can only think of ourselves (Romans 8:8)
This is incredibly eye-opening and completely humbling. When I truly believe who I am before Jesus' saving grace in my life, it gives such power and hope to who we are IN Christ. Our identity is really linked to death, corruptness, slavery - that is who we are without Christ and that is what we live out of every day. Minds are focused on earthly pleasures, souls are tormented by corruption, hearts are tossed back and forth by the fickleness of this world.
Now to look at who we are according to God's Word when Jesus redeems our lives.
- Alive - we are now alive with Christ with no fear of death (Ephesians 2:5)
- Free - to obey God, we can say no to sin (Romans 6:7,16)
- Free - from accusation, our sins are no longer held against us (Colossians 1:22)
- Forgiven - we are forgiven of every trespass and are now blameless before God (Ephesians 1:4,7)
- New Creation - the old way of life is done, we are made new (2 Corinthians 5:17)
- Members of a Body - connected to others, growing together in the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13)
- Heirs - children of God privileged to his inheritance (Romans 8:16-17)
When I read over that list what comes over me is relief, joy, and gladness. These are game changing truths - these are who we really are now and when we set our hearts on them as a foundation for our identity it truly will change the way we live each day.
The War and The Victory
There is war. Ephesians 6:12 says, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."
There is a war over our identity. The Enemy wants to steal from you the joy of being in Christ. He wants to destroy the hope that you have of being in Christ. So one way he will work is by attacking your identity - who you are - because if you don't believe you are free, alive, forgiven, he can rain down the misery making you ineffective and fruitless in your limited time on earth.
He wants you to instead live out of what he says about you - accusing words to bring you down. He wants you to believe what the world says - what CULTURE says - letting people's opinions and the next big "movement" identify you.
Know the war. Be familiar with the war. But live in the VICTORY.
There is a victory - Jesus Christ who disarmed the powers and authorities making a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross (Colossians 2:15). We need to look intently into the perfect law that gives freedom because Jesus won, Jesus is victorious and to submit to anything other than Him and His Words about us is utterly maddening. It's trading truth for lies. It's trading beauty for ugliness. It's trading victory for false defeat.
I'm Not Fat
I'm not fat. Actually, I'm a child of God. I'm not fat. Actually I now have access to the throne of grace to receive mercy when I'm struggling with self-image.
The message here is not about what we eat, not about weight gain, not about exercise and health or if it's ok to eat cheetos and sprite for dinner. This is about the war on identity and how Satan uses tactics to get our minds and hearts off the truth of being in Christ.
For me, the battle is in the phrase, "I'm fat." It will derail me in seconds. But armed with truth I am able to knock down brick by brick the strongholds that try and identify me. I'm done with that. After meditating on who I really am in Christ it is very difficult to want to live in the darkness of what I'm not.
May I add that this is not a one time meditation kind of deal. No no. You don't go to battle and swing the sword once. You keep swinging. So keep meditating. Keep the joy near of who you are in Christ.
You can be free too. It's time to stop living out of the perspective gleaned from Facebook posts and even, dare I say, accredited news sources like the Washington Post, and start looking at the authoritative Word of God. Only he gives victorious power over the warfare on your identity. He tells you who you really are and that will change the way you live every day of your life.