Today I want to briefly discuss how important it is for us to understand our new identity in Christ and the importance of living from His life within. Three important characteristics are needed to live as an overcomer and to be an effective ambassador for Jesus.
We must 1) Renew our Perspective 2) Release our Past and 3) Remember our Purpose.
Paul understood these truths. He lived and wrote about them in his epistles to the early churches. Foremost, Paul’s success in ministry was his complete identification with Christ.
Spiritually, we are no longer alive, but Christ is alive in us. We cannot die because we have already died with Him. We have no reputation to protect, no life to preserve, only Christ in us, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27)!
Several years ago, I ministered in the Baja of Mexico with Dick Joyce. He asked me to travel with him to teach and minister in a local church on healing and deliverance ministry. It was quite an honor, as for 50 years Dick ministered in Mexico, and the US, as a missionary, evangelist, and prophetic voice. Dick passed away a few years ago, but I will never forget what he shared with me during the trip.
After we taught and ministered in the church through the weekend, he asked me to lead a Sunday night healing meeting. I shared this message, about our union with Christ, and afterward gave several words of knowledge about various conditions God wanted to heal. As Dick and I prayed for the people, we observed the Lord healing many. In fact, Dick said, “I estimate that about 50% of the people in attendance who needed healing received healing.” He went on to say, “I’ve never seen this many people in one meeting receive healing—this was a great night!” Indeed, it was a wonderful night, because Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever!
One of the keys to our success that night was understanding our spiritual union with Christ through His death, burial, and resurrection. When we learn to operate from our new life and union with Jesus through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, an expectation builds for God’s power to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think!
Paul wrote to the Ephesians,
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins… But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ… and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus… For by grace you have been saved through faith…it is the gift of God… For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works…” Eph. 2:1-10 NKJV
Paul was reflecting on past human failures and God’s present redemption. He insisted that God not only raised Jesus up and sat Him in heavenly places above all authority, but He did the same for all of us. Notice in these verses how:
- Jesus brought us to life (made us alive in Him)
- God united us with Jesus, and
- Our union in Christ has seated us together with Him in His ascension
- It is by God’s grace that we are saved and elevated in Christ
The truth is, we all have a past, but God’s redemption through Christ gives us a future. His present redemption, or simply grace, is so encompassing, that it covers our past, present, and future sins. In Christ, we are presently made right and sanctified in God, and are being sanctified. We are presently becoming more like Jesus through the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit.
However, we must also understand and identify with Christ in His life, death, resurrection, and ascension (Romans 6:4-5). This was the secret to Paul’s success in ministry, his complete identification with Christ. Notice Paul’s declaration to the Galatians,
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Gal 2:20 NKJV
Spiritually, we are no longer alive, but Christ is alive in us. We cannot die because we have already died with Him. We have no reputation to protect, no life to preserve, only Christ in us, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27)! The very life of Christ has been put within us and we are united to His life. His life is perfect and eternal.
Understanding the completeness of our union with Jesus empowers us to be transformed in His likeness and operate in His authority and power.
Peter would write of this spiritual union,
Through his honor and glory he has given us his precious and wonderful promises, that you may share the divine nature and escape from the world’s immorality that sinful craving produces.” 2 Pet. 1:4 CEB
God’s promises and power enable us to escape the sinful desires of the flesh and to become partakers of His divine nature. We are intertwined through new birth with the very nature of God. Paul also writes that our very bodies have become the temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19).
Early church fathers Irenaeus and Athanasius stated an important point regarding both Christ and humanity’s relationship to God’s divine nature, “God became human, in order that humans might become God.”
Our new nature partakes of the fullness of God’s divine, Trinitarian nature. As new creations in Christ, we share His life and nature through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit—two natures in one person!
Do you remember the story in Mark 4 of Jesus asleep in the back of the boat while on the storm-tossed sea of Galilee? The disciples are fearful, including Peter. But Jesus awakens to calm the sea. But after the resurrection, Peter, now empowered by the Holy Spirit, writes about how we share in God’s divine nature. We could surmise that Peter also now understood God’s power over fear and the storms we face in life!
Being Christian means, you and I are not merely human beings. As I wrote in my book, Receive Your Miracle Now,
We now participate in God’s divine nature by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and live a Spirit-filled life that is not of this earthly realm, which is not understood by those who are not redeemed” (pg. 181).
It is by the “indwelling of the Holy Spirit” which is granted to every believer that we are “recreated into the image of God.” It is by this that we carry His nature and “are not merely human beings—we are supernatural beings, living with Christ in us the hope of Glory” (pg. 182). We are strengthened in confidence as we remember that God is with us, as He was with Jesus, and therefore the outworking of God’s divine power is also through us just as it was through Jesus (pg. 187).
What must we do to experience the same kind of authority Paul and Peter had in Christ?
1) Renew your Perspective
Allow God’s Word and the Holy Spirit to transform your mind to the reality of your position, identification, and imparted authority in Christ. God releases healing and miracles through us as a result of our union with Christ (His divine nature) and our renewed mind believing that God will use us.
Ministry begins from our union with Christ, God’s Spirit, His divine nature within us, and empowers us to proclaim the gospel and heal the sick—not our humanity. It is Christ in us who heals, and He is perfect love. His perfect love is free of fear.
We must have our minds transformed to the reality and superiority of God’s unseen kingdom realm around us. Jesus brought a spiritual revolution, to free man from the power of darkness and sin. In Christ, we are to continue His ministry. John would write:
He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8 NKJV
Jesus revealed the Father, His heart, compassion, and nature. He also revealed the superiority of the kingdom of God over the kingdom of darkness.
Faith flows from the unseen realm toward what is seen. Faith is anchored in the invisible realm that is superior to the natural. It’s in the born-again heart, which has been renewed by the Spirit of God, that one truly begins to understand God’s kingdom at work. Our born-again experience empowers us to see with renewed perspective.
We have each been given a measure of faith; it is up to us to develop this faith into one that “sees” clearly in God’s unseen kingdom realm.
Faith lives within the revealed will of God. If I have misconceptions about who God is, what He is like, my faith is restricted by these. For example, if I believe that God allows sickness in order to build character, I’ll not have confidence when praying for healing. Unbelief is faith in an inferior realm—the world around us. What we can see, touch, understand with our minds, etc. Sense-knowledge faith is inferior to faith that comes from God.
2.) Release your Past
Paul said in Phil. 3:13 NKJV, “Forgetting those things that are behind, and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,” There are two aspects to releasing your past.
First, you must see yourself in your new life in Christ, and dead to your old nature and past. The past will hinder our view of the future we have in Christ. There is now (presently) no condemnation to those who are in Christ, so don’t allow the enemy, others, or your own mind to condemn you of your past. That said, conviction is from the Holy Spirit to lead us to repentance for wrong behavior, attitude, and sin. But condemnation is the enemy’s attempt to keep you imprisoned and not free in Christ.
Secondly, you must also see that to live in new life, you participate with the Holy Spirit to release the pain and wrong thinking of the past. Past hurts, situations, and resulting unforgiveness can hinder us. Must release the past and associated people to move on victoriously in life. Sometimes we need others to help minister to us to receive healing and release from the past.
Theologian Henri Nouwen wrote in his book, Wounded Healer, that “Nobody escapes being wounded.” Jesus said it was “impossible for offenses not to occur.” Said another way, it is impossible in this life for wounds not to occur. We live in a fallen world, and we all experience some level of wounding and or trauma along the way. Nouwen wrote, “Jesus is God’s wounded healer: through His wounds we are healed.”
The good news is that Jesus carried our wounds and trauma on the cross, so that we could walk in His healing and freedom from the past!
Part of releasing our past is receiving inner healing and deliverance. Pablo Bottari, in his book Free in Christ, estimates that 90-95% who received deliverance during large evangelistic crusade meetings in Argentina are Christian. New believers often need ministry to help them get rid of the things of the past that prevent them from growing. You cannot move forward in life if you are tied to the past! Allow others to help minister to your blind spots and brokenness.
3.) Remember your Purpose
Paul writes that we “… are ambassadors for Christ…” (2 Cor. 5:20 NKJV). You are a kingdom ambassador, a minister of reconciliation; you are destined to impact others with God’s love and power. His very nature within you influences and impacts others.
Part of our assignment as Christians is to bring others into an encounter with God. Yes, we are first to love God with all our hearts, but then we are to love others as we love ourselves. We are to proclaim the good news of Jesus and to heal the sick—this is normal Christianity!
As we come into agreement with this and joyfully embrace heaven’s assignment, our life begins to take on purpose, adventure, and joyous living. If we refuse to embrace our purpose, we tend to become self-absorbed and worldly-focused. This brings a “measure” of happiness, but not the true joy God intended for us. Sad, discouraged, depressed? Consider helping someone else.
We have been made alive together in Christ! His divine nature, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, empowers us to be changed into His image and character, to be bold witnesses for Him, and to pray for others to experience His love, saving grace, and power to heal.
Be His ambassador today—you won’t regret it!
For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message “Renewed Purpose”