What does it mean to find our identity in Christ? How do we live our daily lives with the knowledge that our identity is to be found in Christ? It is a deep question with an answer that must be biblical for it to be truthfully and fully complete. Jerry Bridges, in his book, Who Am I, Identity in Christ , states
“We must remind ourselves that God loves us, not because we are lovable, but because we are in Christ, and the love which the Father has for his Son flows over to us because we are in him.”
Bridges raises two important points here. First, we are “in Christ”, which describes our union with him through his death, burial, and resurrection. We will look at this later in more depth. Secondly, the Father’s love for us comes to us through his son. This is another important point to understand. We have done nothing to earn God’s love. Just as faith is provided to His elect to believe (Eph. 2:8-9), we cannot earn anything from God.
Our acceptance by God comes to us because of Christ’s sacrifice. We have a good description of this in I Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” All of humanity is “in Adam” because of the Fall. And, with Christ’s sacrifice, those whom God chooses, are “in Christ”. All humans, in God’s eyes, are found in one of the two Adams.
Again, in the same chapter, Paul adds to this thought,
“Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”
Those who are “in Christ” find themselves the recipients of Christ’s life giving spirit. Remember the quote above, “…not because we are lovable, but because we are in Christ.”
This being true, how was it accomplished? Once again, Paul describes how we are “in Christ” in Romans 6:5-11
For if we have been united with him in death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
The word used for “united” in these verses means that we were “born together with”, or have “a joint origin”. This is how the Bible describes our union with Christ, both in His life and death. In his Romans commentary, John Murray makes an important statement regarding this verse
The death of Christ was not a process and neither is our conformity to his death a process. We are in the condition of having become conformed to his death.
As we see in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me…”. Justification of our life in Christ is immediate, while sanctification is an ongoing, daily relationship with Christ, through His Spirit. It is our continuing in the Spirit, via our union with Christ, that both provides us with our new identity, and confirms our salvation. We have been delivered from who we were, in Adam, to who we are now and forever, in Christ.
Much more can and has been said on this topic, but this is a simple answer to a very important question. Who am I?