New Identity

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

What’s in a name?  Parents often spend a lot of time discussing potential names for their newborn baby.  They remember the love or strength of a family member and consider naming their child after them.  Or a parent might avoid a particular name because it brings to mind unpleasant memories of someone they knew with that name.  Names carry meaning and definition.  Our names not only identify us as a label but represent our character and convictions.  They are a window into our identity. For example, the names Adolf Hitler and Mother Theresa represent quite different convictions. 

When Jesus called the first disciples in Matthew 4, he said, “Come, follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.”  One of these disciples was Peter, and he left his boat and everything else to follow Jesus.  Jesus promised to change these men.  They would no longer be known as fishermen, but fishers of men.  Later, Jesus told Peter in Matthew 16:18, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”  Peter is now identified with his confession of Jesus, the Son of God.  Peter’s time with Jesus changed his identity. 

After Jesus ascended to the throne of Heaven, the church grew under the leadership of Peter and the other disciples.  Saul stood staunchly against the rise of this movement.  His aim was to arrest and even kill those who believed in Jesus, the Son of God, until he met Jesus himself.  Jesus confronted Saul as he was traveling to another city to imprison disciples of Jesus and called Saul to share the Gospel with the world.  Soon after, Saul was no longer identified with the persecution but with his devotion to the cause of Christ.  Saul’s name even changed to Paul.

Jesus has a way with changing one’s identity. 

In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, the Bible describes humanity’s identity problem.  We are unrighteous meaning that we don’t get it right.  We are known as sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers.  None of these will inherit the kingdom of God because they are not aligned with the holiness and righteousness of God.  Many in the Corinthian church identified in these ways, but when they met Jesus, everything changed.  They were washed of their unrighteousness, forgiven their sin.  They were justified, or declared righteous, before God.  Their identities changed. They were sanctified meaning that their lives will continue to become more like Jesus.  No longer are they identified with brokenness, but now their identity is in the name of Jesus.  His righteous character defines who they are. 

Today in the midst of identity confusion and crisis, Jesus still invites all of us to follow Him in a new life under a new name. 
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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