HIS GRACE, YOUR IDENTITY
Chosen, royal, holy, His — that’s who you are in Christ.
by ERIC GEIGER
P ERHAPS YOU have told your son, daughter, grandson, or granddaughter, “Remember who you are. Remember your last name.” The encouragement is common and wise. You are challenging someone you love to root actions in the family’s identity. The Lord does the same with His people. The commands given to us in Scripture are in response to who we are — He has declared us to be His children. Our actions are to be rooted in our new identity, and we have a new identity only because of His grace.
Many refer to Romans 8 as the greatest chapter in the entire Bible. All Scripture is God-breathed, so there is not one verse more holy or authoritative than another, but Romans 8 is filled with great news for us about what Christ has accomplished on our behalf.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. What the law could not do since it was weakened by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh as a sin offering, in order that the law’s requirement would be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1-4).
No condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus! Condemnation is a legal term that speaks to both the declaration of guilt and the punishment associated with the guilt. So, if you get condemned for speeding, your condemnation includes both being declared to be guilty and receiving the punishment of a ticket associated with going 68 in a 55.
While we deserve condemnation from God because we are sinners, there now exists no condemnation. Condemnation has ceased. All of God’s wrath and condemnation have been replaced with His love and mercy toward you. It is not as if His wrath is on you when you have a bad day. His wrath, His condemnation is no more. It has been replaced with His righteousness.
The legal term opposite of condemnation is justification. A judge either declares a person to be condemned or declares a person to be justified. There is no condemnation for those of us who are in Christ because Christ justified us. So, why is there no condemnation?
There is no condemnation for those of us in Christ because the Holy Spirit grabbed our hearts and changed us, setting us free from the law of sin and death. The phrase “the law of sin and death” refers to the general principle that sin has corrupted all of us and that our sin leads to death. We were trapped in prison to sin and death. But the Holy Spirit changed us and freed us.
The law God gave His people in the Old Testament could not change us. It was powerless to change us because of our sinfulness. The law is not bad. The law is good in that it shows us we are bad so that we will know we need Jesus. But the law could never save us, because if it could, then Christ died for nothing. So, the law was powerless to save, but God sent His own Son in the flesh to be a sin offering. Just as sacrifices in the Old Testament were offered to God so He would be merciful to the people, Christ is our sin offering. Our sin was condemned in His flesh. Instead of condemning you, God condemned sin in the flesh of Jesus. Your sin was removed from you and placed and punished in the flesh of Jesus. There is no condemnation for you because your sin was condemned in Christ. Christ died for you, in your place. The condemnation that should have been ours was instead placed on Jesus.
And there is more … because Jesus perfectly obeyed the law, His obedience is given to you in place of your sin. You have fulfilled the law’s requirements because Christ’s obedience is now yours.
Because of God’s grace, the Bible says incredible things about your new identity, about who you are. Look at this one passage from the apostle Peter, as an example: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).
This passage is incredibly rich.
Chosen race: Just as God chose Israel in the Old Testament to set His affection on, God has set His love and affection on you. You belong to Him because of His promise to you, not because of your goodness. As chosen people, we should rejoice that we belong to Him.
Royal priesthood: When God instituted the tabernacle system under Moses’ leadership, only the high priest was allowed to enter the inner room (the most holy place) in the tabernacle. In that special room, the priest would be in the presence of God. But now, we are royal priests. As Christ died, a new and living way was opened up for us. We are able to enter into His presence anytime, anywhere. As royal priests, we should pray and enjoy His presence.
Holy nation: God adopted and set Israel apart as His own. As Christians, God has formed us as a new people and declared us to be holy. Because He is holy and has declared us to be holy, we are to live holy lives.
People for His possession: We no longer belong to ourselves. We are His, which is far better than being slaves to our sin and slaves to ourselves.
You have been given this great identity so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. The reason God gave us a great identity is so we can proclaim His praises and advertise them to the world around us.
ERIC GEIGER serves as one of the vice presidents at LifeWay Christian Resources, leading the Resources Division. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. Eric authored or co-authored several books including Creature of the Word and the best-selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.
This article originally appeared in Mature Living magazine (July 2017). For more articles like this, subscribe to Mature Living.