One of the biggest issues that many Christians face is not understanding who they are in Jesus Christ. Understanding our new identity can help us be a better servant.
We have to understand that if we, as Christians, are to be of any worth to God, we must understand who we are as the new man and identify ourselves as such. If we do not understand this new identity, we will not progress within the Kingdom or be able to properly promote the Good News of Jesus Christ, the salvation that He brings, or do any of the works, partakes in any of the promises that are given to us by God above.
We are a three-part being, body, soul, and spirit. After being born again, our flash becomes dead and we become a spiritual being.
“There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
John 3:1-6 NKJV
The soul is not the spirit, and the word of God is the only way that we can see and understand our spirit man.
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
Hebrews 4:12-13 NKJV
Let’s look at four passages for the sake of comparison to see how the different identities are viewed through two of the Apostles.
Comparative scriptures with regard to Saul/Paul’s character:
“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have cheated no one.”
II Corinthians 7:1-2 NKJV
“Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.”
Acts 8:1-3 NKJV
How was Paul able to say these things found in the first passage when he did these things in the second passage if it were not for the fact that he identified himself as a new creation.
Now, let’s look at seemingly contradictory scriptures from the apostle John:
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”
I John 1:8-10 NKJV
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. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.”
I John 3:8-9 NKJV
The apostle John was referring to two states, the state of our flash in the state of our redeemed spirit through Jesus Christ. They are not contradictory as they are looking at different parts of our being.
New Man Scriptures
Christians must understand that the phrase “New Man” means that upon our confession of faith, we are made in the image of Jesus Christ. Think of it like this; all God sees in us is “little Jesus” walking around this Earth. We have a piece of Jesus Christ as our “New Man,” our new identity, and we should identify as such. To understand our new identity, we must first see the new man by reading scripture.
“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
Ephesians 4:17-19, 21-24 NKJV
The new man, the redeemed spirit, is sealed with the Holy Spirit and living within us.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”
Ephesians 1:3-14 NKJV
Our spirit man, for which we need to identify as is perfect.
“to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.”
Hebrews 12:23-24 NKJV
“To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”
Colossians 1:27-28 NKJV
“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. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.”
I John 3:8-9 NKJV
The book of Galatians speaks very plainly with regard to character traits of the old man and the new man:
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
Galatians 5:16-18 NKJV
When we are born again, we are already placed on the path of walking in the Spirit – we don’t choose to do so, that is, at the very beginning. It’s only when we WILLINGLY turn off of the Spirit path that we walk in the flesh (carnal thinking/acting.)
The characteristics of the flesh, as found in Galatians:
“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Galatians 5:19-21 NKJV
The characteristics of the Spirit (the New Man), as found in Galatians:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
Galatians 5:22-25 NKJV
God sees us (Christians), after we have been born again in Christ Jesus, as a spiritual being. He sees in spirit primarily as stated in Genesis
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. ~Genesis 2:7 NKJV
After that, we disobeyed God’s Instructions, and our new being died, thus the carnal nature came into existence.
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
Genesis 2:7, 17 KJV
When we compare the two passages found in Genesis, we might see a contradiction, but God sees what is truly there, the spirit world, which is more real than the natural, and sees that our living soul died through disobedience, but the flash did not die, as observation can plainly see.
“So Samuel did what the LORD said, and went to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons, and invited them to the sacrifice. So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, “Surely the LORD’s anointed is before Him!” But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.””
I Samuel 16:4-7 NKJV
The entirety of Romans 7 so as to understand the duel-nature every Christian lives with.
Paul lays out, very systematically, the problem that each one of us, as Christians face, that we are at war with our flesh and our soul. The spirit man has dominance over both, but only if we allow him.
Freed from the law
“Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.”
Romans 7:1-6 NKJV
Sins advantage in the law
“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.”
Romans 7:7-12 NKJV
The law cannot save me from sin
“Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” Romans 7:13-25 NKJV
Now, one could read into this from a carnal mindset and say, “well, I didn’t sin, the Devil made me do it,” and such, but they would be wrong. We still need to go to God and ask for forgiveness.
If we are to stir up the gifts of the spirit as well as bring the spiritual fire alive and roaring within us, we must take it upon ourselves to be put in situations and to adopt habits that invoke growth and change.
We must take it upon ourselves to stir up the gifts.
“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”
II Timothy 1:6 NKJV
Put yourself into situations where the gifts of the spirit must be invoked.
“So Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother, and came to the vineyards of Timnah. Now to his surprise, a young lion came roaring against him. And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done.”
Judges 14:5-6 NKJV
Sampson was put into a dangerous situation and the spirit for which God had given him, the spirit of strength, A gift that we, as Christians, now have (II Timothy 1:7), “activated”
The Spiritual Gifts
The New Testament contains several lists of spiritual gifts, most authored by Paul. While each list is unique, there is overlap.
Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 1 Corinthians 12:28, Ephesians 4:11-13, 1 Peter 4:11
- Word of wisdom
- Word of knowledge
- Gifts of healings
- Distinguishing between spirits
- Interpretation of tongues
Spiritual gifts are not discovered but received. They are distributed by the Spirit to those who desire them and ask God for them. They are often imparted publicly by the laying on of hands of apostles and church elders (1 Corinthians 12:14:1; 1 Timothy 4:14).
But what about the whole Paul thing, how are they distributed? Do I have access to all gifts or just one?
What we have to remember about any and all of the books of the Bible is to keep things in context as well as understand who/whom the authors were talking to. Much of the whole “you get this gift and you don’t” is centered around the entirety of 1 Corinthians 12. We must understand the whole letter was written to the body of Christ (a church), so Paul’s words were meant to be utilized within that setting. Paul was not speaking about a Christian or a pair of Christians going out and telling the Good News outside of the church. Keeping this mindset, that Paul was speaking to the body of believers and not to the individual, we can surmise two things about Spiritual Gifts:
- Within a church setting (body of Christ), gifts are given to certain people to serve the body. Some might have specific gifts while others might not, but all are (or should be) manifested (see the list above) to serve a purpose within a church.
- When you are out on your own or with a group, the Holy Spirit might dispense a gift(s) to help serve, establish authority, etc., among the lost. Those gifts might be taken away once the Christian is back within the body, as it is no longer needed because it is given to another member serving a function, but might re-appear when he/she is out again in the world.
So instead of trying to “discover” the gifts (which is what we would do with natural talents and gifts), we identify them by how they work in us, what they do through us, and the after-effects they have on us (how we feel after ministering). Here are some ways that may help you identify your spiritual gifts:
- What works easily and effortlessly? I know that many when ministering screw up their faces as though they are in anguish. Simply lay your hand on the sick person and wait for the healing power to flow through it. What works for you is best. But if you are prepared to wait for the gift you will conserve your strength and be able to pray for longer periods of time, and you won’t be exhausted after the meeting.
- What doesn’t cause you stress while ministering? I could teach all day and would be so refreshed by the Spirit that at the end of the day I would feel able to continue if necessary. Stress comes from trying to minister a gift you don’t have. It’s good to know your gift and to do what comes naturally.
- What do others see in you and say about you? What do they believe your gift is? What has God promised you through credible prophecies?
- What things activate the gift? A lion roared at Samson and he tore it to pieces! The Philistines shouted at him and he took to them with the jawbone of a dead donkey! What activates your gift is the thing that challenges it: the twisted body of an arthritic; the helpless condition of a fever-stricken child. It rouses the ire of your spirit and surfaces the gift that opposes it. The word that best describes how you feel is indignant!
- What brings results, consistently? Rain, hail or shine. In season and out of season. Whether you feel 10 feet tall and bulletproof or you are battling the latest flu bug around, the gift just works regardless.
- What attracts unwarranted criticism from those who see how God uses you and are envious? We all make mistakes, but we don’t deserve the flak that comes our way at times.
- What do you pray about most, study most in the Bible, talk about most, preach on most, listen to most on your iPod, view on your iPad, and download to your phone?
I hope this list will help point you to the gift that God has given you. Spiritual gifts work when we put ourselves at risk; that is, when we ‘step over the line’ that separates us from our comfortable position to confront challenges with the audacity of faith that God gives!
“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”
Romans 12:6-8 NKJV
“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”
I Corinthians 12:4-11 NKJV
“Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.”
I Corinthians 12:27-31 NKJV
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;”
Ephesians 4:11-13 NKJV
“If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
I Peter 4:11 NKJV