“When I discover who I am, then I’ll be free” – Ralph Ellison
In 1952 Ralph Ellison published a Novel titled, “Invisible Man” – this was an account narrated by a young black man who leaves the racist south for New York City in search for his true identity. Being that the culture of the south was dead set giving him a presumed identity based on his race, gender, class and distinction he decides that a change of geographical location would give him a fresh start and a fresh perspective, but he soon finds his experiences in New York, although different, mirror that of his southern experiences of feeling invisible to his surroundings. The man then retreats to living underground for a time to write about his invisibility and search for his identity.
While this novel specifically deals with many social, racial and political issues of the time as it relates to identity, Ralph Ellison’s quote sums of the truth of not mere physical identity, but the truth of our identity in Christ… When we discover and know who we are, we find freedom!
Why is identity so important?
Identity is a funny thing… I grew up in MN and I have a pretty prevalent northern accent. In fact, when we take family road trips down south people immediately know where we’re from because my Minnesotan accent is undeniable when I’m hollering at our children in public. When I open my mouth, my roots show. This is how it is in the spirit as well; our roots should reveal the Kingdom we belong to.
Our identity determines the trajectory of our days. The days we are given are numbered and knowing our identity helps us to interpret our lives well.
Who are you?
This may be the most important question you ever get asked and give answer to.
If you were asked to introduce yourself to a group of people and name two or three things that are significant about who you are, what would you share? Would you share your marital status? How many children you have? Sports or hobbies that you enjoy? Perhaps you’d share the gifts and talents you have as a musician, coach, artist, mechanic, or teacher? If you really wanted to get spiritual would you maybe share your passions as a pastor, prophet, evangelist, apostle, or bible scholar? This information would indeed tell people about the qualities in your life that make you unique; it would tell a story about how your life has impacted the world around you and the roles you steward, however, although the roles we steward are essential to our quality of purpose, they don’t reveal a true foundation of who we are; our identity at the core.
The danger of allowing these things to actually define who you are is this, when the roles we play in life become our identity, they gain the power to make us or break us.
“When our identity is anchored in the tangible we must move when it moves, how it moves, and to the extent that it moves”
For example: If I find my true identity in my role as a parent, then the external circumstances with my kids will affect the way I perceive my internal value and worth as, not only a parent, but also as a human being. The same could be said if I found my true identity in my profession; if my work life is going well, I may perceive myself with value and worth, but if I happen to lose my job, or there is dysfunction at the workplace then it could cause me to perceive myself or my life with little to no value and create hopelessness, fear and despair.
“Whatever we anchor our identity in, will ultimately have the power to create or destroy our hope, peace and confidence.”
Click on the link to listen to the entire episode of “The Last Adam” on the Occupy Freedom Podcast
To understand you are a 3-part being is crucial in understanding your spiritual DNA, and a vital key to occupying freedom through deliverance and healing.
We understand from scripture that God is three-part: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We also understand from Genesis 1:27 that God said, “let US make man in OUR image” – One incredible way He created us uniquely in His image was by making us a three-part being: spirit, soul and body. Man is 3 parts, just as the Godhead is 3 in 1.
Paul makes mention of this in his letter to the Thessalonians: “Now may the God of peace sanctify you ENTIRELY; and may your spirt, soul, and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“You are a spirit; you have a soul, and you live in a body”
Spirit = Pneuma = Breathe/Spirit of God
– 1 Corinthians 6:17 “He who joins himself with the Lord, is one spirit with Him”
– Reborn – Holy Spirit seal of promise – core identity, who you are.
Soul = Psuche = (English Psyche) heart/mind
– Expression of your mind, will, emotions. Must yield to the spirit.
– Influenced by spiritual and physical – Uses influence to determine how to express.
– Renewed – Rom. 12:2 “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” – Eph. 4:23 “be renewed in the spirit of your mind”
– Other names: old man, flesh – It’s all about what you allow to influence your soul
Body = Soma = body, slave – (from Sozo = save, deliver, make whole)
– Temporary address, vehicle for the kingdom, hands and feet of Christ.
– 1 Corinthians 6:19 “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, therefore glorify God…”
– Manifested – 3 John 1:2 “walk in good health and prosper, even as your soul prospers”
We understand that our identity is rooted in the spirit and Paul tells us repeatedly in his letters to the Church that we must be led by the Spirit if we are true sons and daughters of God. Our spirit is one with the Spirit of Christ and when we are led by that place, we walk in truth… but we have a roommate issue.
Here’s what Paul has to say about the tumultuous relationship of soul and spirit…
“I’m a mystery to myself, for I want to do what is right, but end up doing what my moral instincts condemn. And if my behavior is not in line with my desire, my conscience still confirms the excellence of the law. And now I realize that it is no longer my true self doing it, but the unwelcome intruder of sin in my humanity. For I know that nothing good lives within the flesh of my fallen humanity. The longings to do what is right are within me, but willpower is not enough to accomplish it.” (Romans 7:15-18 TPT)
Paul describes this war between his true self (spirit/Last Adam) and the flesh of his fallen humanity (soul/first Adam). This is what we call the roommate war.
Have you ever experienced this?
Paul goes on to say that willpower alone is not enough and then in verse 24 & 25 he says, “wretched man that I am! Who will set me free form the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
The spirit and soul are roommates and need to be surrendered to Christ in order to function properly. No amount of striving, will-power, or 10-step programs are enough to wrestle the flesh into submission, it is a complete work of the Holy Spirit through our obedience to Christ and takes discernment and cooperation on our behalf.
Q – How do we discern between spirit and soul?
In order to rightly divide truth from falsehood, and freedom from bondage, we must have discernment with our thoughts, attitudes, desires and behaviors.
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
The soul and spirit meet so closely together in relationship that the word of God – written, spoken and Living – has to sort them out.
Q – How does understanding my identity effect my quality of life?
Your identity (spirit) is the key to deliverance and freedom. It answers every question about you and for you.
– You will rightly discern freedom from bondage; truth from lies
– Your identity will determine how you discern and respond to the influence of culture
Magazines, Social media, Commercials, movies and music want to influence the perception of who we are, and if we do not know who we are and command that space by walking in the Spirit, these outside elements will shape our attitudes, beliefs and behaviors.
“To know Him is to know yourself, and to know yourself is to make Him known”
Click on the link to listen to the entire episode, “The Roommate War” on the Occupy Freedom Podcast.