Identity

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Who Am I?

People wrap their identities in where they came from, who their parents are, or even what sports team they pull for. Their primary characterization of themselves is all about something in this physical reality. But, for a Christian this is a real and spiritually fatal problem.

There are a couple of primary issues that come to mind when we as Christians consider who we are. One, of course, is the fact that we are supposed to be ONE in Christ. This is an issue that has been on God’s mind since before the creation. Just look at what Jesus says in John 17: 23-24:

I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”

God wants us to have unity in Him! He wants us to identify ourselves as a body of believers who hold Him up as our single point of honor, glory, and praise!

This unity has everything to do with identifying ourselves as His. God wants us completely. He wants us undividedly! This goes all the way back to Ex 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.”

God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) are the center of who we are.

This being said, we also have to understand WHY God is the center of who we are, not just as a body of believers, but as individuals.

For everything else that scripture tells us about who God is and who we are, the one most defining fact that stands out is that we are individually created in God’s image.

But, what does it mean to be created in God’s image?

While both humans and animals are referred to as “nephesh chayyah” (living souls), the Scriptures make it clear that God did something special in reference to man. Genesis 1:26-27 records: “And God said, Let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness. …And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” Nowhere does the Bible state or imply that animals are created in the image of God. This fact leaves us with the special distinction of a closeness to God that is lacking in the remainder of Creation. As God’s image-bearers, we have souls and spirits that allow us a privileged position within God’s created order. This understanding and ability to not only have dominion over the Creation, but understand it by way of observation and study, allows human beings the envied ability to see the universe for what it is; a physical manifestation of God’s awesome love for us all.

I use this illustration (Figure 1, God’s Image) to describe to the sixth grade Bible class I teach each year how God can be three, but one. As image bearers of God, we also possess three parts of a whole, (1 Thessalonians 5:23). This similarity agrees completely with the fact that we are created in God’s image. If God is three-in-one, then as beings who are modeled after Him, we should maintain the same properties. That is not to give the false impression that we are divine in any way, but to simply draw a parallel between the nature of human beings and a God who desired to make His pinnacle of Creation like Himself.

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Figure 1, God’s Image

In the end, we as individuals are three in one, Image Bearers of God! Our entire identity is wrapped up in Him and Who He is! We must never let this escape us, but live each day as people whose identities are indelibly conjoined to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The Sacrifice of God: How God Himself Was Torn Apart

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The Sacrifice of God: How God Himself Was Torn Apart

Covenant was the highest of all agreements in the Bible and remains so today. The act of making a covenant consisted not only of ceremony, but of blessings, curses, and blood. One of the most instrumental passages for explanatory power of God’s covenant is found in Jeremiah 34:17-20:

“Therefore, thus says the Lord: You have not obeyed me by proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother and to his neighbor; behold, I proclaim to you liberty to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine, declares the Lord. I will make you a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. And the men who transgressed my covenant and did not keep the terms of the covenant that they made before me, I will make them like the calf that they cut in two and passed between its parts— the officials of Judah, the officials of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf. And I will give them into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their lives. Their dead bodies shall be food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth.

In this passage, the curse of the covenant is highlighted. When the halves of the calf were divided, the people making the covenant would walk between the parts as a promise that if they broke the covenant, then they themselves should be torn in half as a curse for breaking it. They effectively walked a straight and narrow path in order to uphold the promise. This is seen in an elevated way in Genesis 15 when God Himself makes His eternal covenant with Abraham as a promise that ALL people would be blessed through him.

In verses 9-10, Abraham obeys God’s instructions to bring a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon. He then cuts each of these in half, but instead of passing between these himself, something else amazing and unheard of happens in vss 17-21.

When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”

God Himself passes between the parts! He makes a promise that if He does not fulfill this covenant, then God, the God of all creation, would be torn in two.

And that is exactly what happened.

In Matthew 26:26-27, see what Jesus says about this same covenant promise made in Genesis 15:

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

When Jesus tore the bread in half and said, “This is my body.” He was saying, I am about to be torn in two for you. But, He wasn’t being torn in half for us because of anything He had done. We know this from 2 Cor 5: 21 “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” God Himself was about to take the curse for us all. In Mark 15:33-34, we see God Himself being torn in two:

And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

In that three hour period for the first and only time in human history and for eternity, God Himself was torn apart. The Father turned away from His Son because of the sin of all mankind, for our sin! God Himself tore Himself apart like the calf in Jeremiah and the animals in Genesis 15. He tore Himself and between Heaven and Earth, a straight and narrow path of the New Covenant Jesus instituted in His blood (Matt26:27) was made for you and me and His Spirit walked the path between (Gal 4:6) as the Spirit of God in the form of the fire pot did in Gen 15. And now Jesus says, “Take up your cross and follow me!” Matt 16:24.

We tear ourselves from this world and die to ourselves to follow this path and in doing so, we are joined to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit forever!

Soulbook: Psychological Disorders and the Soul – Is Mental Illness Something That Can Be Healed? Is it Like Demon Possession? @Enwrightened

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This is the thirty-third excerpt from Soulbook. Order Soulbook from Enwrightened Publications or Amazon.  Soulbook: Psychological Disorders and the Soul – Is Mental Illness Something That Can Be Healed? Is it Like Demon Possession?

In the first century, demon possession was still somewhat prevalent. Here are a few instances that might ring a bell: A mute demon in Luke 11:14. A little girl possessed by an impure spirit, Mark 7:25-29. A man possessed by “Legion”, Luke 8:27-37. In every case of possession, there was a separate “spirit” inhabiting the body of the affected person. There is no indication that the person was suffering from a chemical imbalance or childhood trauma. The demon possession was something of supernatural origins. Therefore, mental illness, while the symptoms may seem similar in some cases to demon possession, is not the same as possession. Mental illness is characterized by physiological or environmental interruptions that lead to a neurological/emotional condition. But, can someone with mental illness be treated? Can they be healed? I would say that the answer to both of these questions is “yes”. But the questions are very different. Treatment through pharmaceuticals and therapy can help, but healing comes through the completion of the person. How does someone become complete? Of course, we talked about the complete Christian in the previous chapters. It’s really a spiritual matter that, given time and work, can bring completion to a human existence.

Soulbook: Psychological Disorders and the Soul – Do People With More Than One Personality Have More Than One Soul? @Enwrightened

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This is the thirty-third excerpt from Soulbook. Order Soulbook from Enwrightened Publications or Amazon.

Soulbook: Psychological Disorders and the Soul – Do People With More Than One Personality Have More Than One Soul?

Again, people are heart, soul, mind, and spirit. In cases of DID, people who have been through extremely traumatic experiences. “Most people diagnosed with MPD were either physically or sexually abused as children. Many times when a young child is severely abused, he or she becomes so detached from reality that what is happening may seem more like a movie or television show than real life. This self-hypnotic state, called disassociation, is a defense mechanism that protects the child from feeling overwhelmingly intense emotions. Disassociation blocks off these thoughts and emotions so that the child is unaware of them. In effect, they become secrets, even from the child. According to the American Psychiatric Association, many MPD patients cannot remember much of their childhoods.” In the instance of DID/MPD, people are affected in what we would call the “heart – emotional part of a person” and “mind – intellectual part”. While these two parts of a person do affect the well-being of one’s soul, they are not the soul. Therefore, the soul remains singular while the broken emotions and intellect of a person reflect separate, hidden pieces of the affected person’s life. People are also universally referred to as having a singular soul in the Bible. “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matt 10:28, for example. We have one soul and only one.

Soulbook: Psychological Disorders and the Soul – Are People With Mental Illness Sinning? @Enwrightened

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This is the thirty-second excerpt from Soulbook. Order Soulbook from Enwrightened Publications or Amazon.

Soulbook: Psychological Disorders and the Soul – Are People With Mental Illness Sinning?

Questions often arise when studying the soul concerning mental illnesses, especially that of multiple personalities or Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). Here are some to consider: Are people with mental illness sinning? Do people with more than one personality have more than one soul? Is mental illness something that can be healed? Is it like demon possession? How does the Soul connect with mental illness? How should Christians view the Soul with mental illness? As souls, we must consider our minds and how they are affected through mental illness and other difficulties with the brain, mind, emotions, and other inherited and external stimuli. In this chapter, we will take the questions above and explore how our souls relate to mental illness.

This is a difficult question to answer, since the range of mental disorders is very wide. Some illnesses, like Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are fairly benign, while Paranoid Schizophrenia might lead to murder. However, at each level of mental illness, there are opportunities for people to make right and wrong decisions. This is also a very highly emotionally charged subject, as many people who have mental disorders or have family with mental illness often insist that the person with the illness is unable to control his or her actions. And it is very important to understand that people with mental illness are ill. They have a sickness that needs to be healed. In some cases, the illness is brought on due to actions of the person with the illness, but increasingly, mental illness is being passed along through mentally ill parents, through heredity, or environment. Either way, it is necessary to look at the whole person in order to understand where the illness lies and how it relates to the soul of that person.

For example, as we have already studied, people in general are made up of heart, soul, mind, and strength. Therefore, there is a division between the soul and the other parts of the person. Mental illness, while it affects the soul, may or may not be a disease of the soul. From a Biblical perspective, however, it is important to see how sin manifests itself in a person: “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death,” James 1:13-15. “All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death,” 1 John 5:17. “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness,” I John 3:4. Thus, sin is breaking God’s law and all of us sin. The height and depth of the sin are not the issue. Sin is the issue. So, yes, people with mental illness sin. They, perhaps, have less self-control concerning sin, but they sin, nevertheless, just as someone who is mentally healthy sins; and they can have forgiveness in the same way.

Soulbook: The Whole Christian Soul and the Incomplete – The Complete Christian @Enwrightened

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This is the thirty-first excerpt from Soulbook. Order Soulbook from Enwrightened Publications or Amazon.

Soulbook: The Whole Christian Soul and the Incomplete – The Complete Christian

What does this mean for us today? When you look back over the torrent and flood of sin that had built up higher than the deluge of Noah, you begin to see just how helpless, how devoid of hope, we all were. Today, people are still in this condition, but the difference now is, there’s hope! As Christians, we have been restored to God through Jesus! There is no flood, only the ark of Christ that bears us up.

Hebrews 11:39-40: “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us, so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” We have been made “very good” again! We have been “made perfect” through the blood of Jesus. Hebrews 4:16: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet He did not sin. Let us, then, approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” We can approach God ourselves through Christ, (I Peter 2:4-9). We are a royal priesthood under Jesus. As Christians, we can go into the Most Holy Place and have our sins forgiven forever.

II Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake, He made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” God has taken our sin and shame away! We don’t have the sin and shame that Adam and Eve had after they fell. That shame is gone and we can walk with God in His garden once more. John 1:1,14: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” God once more walks among His people. He has not only come and been with us, He is still here. We need only accept Him in His death, burial, and resurrection in order to walk with Him! We can enter the Most Holy Place, (Heb 10:19, Mark 15:38), and climb the mountain of God, (Heb 12:20-22). Where, in the Old Testament, the Israelites were very restricted in their contact with God, we are now completely unrestricted through Jesus. When Moses went up on Mount Sinai, God told him that no person or animal could touch the mountain or it would die. Also, if anyone other than the high priest tried to enter the Most Holy Place, he would die. But, in Christ, not only can we enter these places and be with God, we are commanded to go see God and be with Him.

God will give us “hidden manna,” (Revelation 2:17), referring to the manna in the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 16:33). This “hidden manna” refers to the bread of life or Jesus, Who sustains us in our lives and throughout eternity. Through Jesus, we can virtually look into the mysterious ark of the Covenant that was only permitted for the high priest and see the mysteries of Jesus that are no longer hidden to us. II Corinthians 3:12-18 says the veil has been removed and we see God’s glory clearly. Where Moses had to wear a veil for the Israelites and be hidden in the cleft, so as not to die in God’s presence, we can see the fullness of God through Jesus.

Life, through Christ, has been made perfect again. This is not to say there is no evil or suffering, but it does mean that Christ has made us whole and reconciled us to Himself, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the complete Christian is made up of more parts than just heart, soul, strength and mind and soul, spirit, and body. We also have Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! We are ten-fold people! Of course, we are not God, but as I Corinthians 3:16 says “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” God is a part of us as Christians who have been made complete. But, this also means that we have a whole world full of incomplete people. Now, we have to go do something about that!

In the beginning, all was very good and perfect. God had a face-to-face relationship with His people. There was no sin to get in the way or to cause immediate death in God’s presence. There was only perfection and love and a choice. Adam and Eve sinned and we lost the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as part of ourselves. We were reduced as humankind from ten part people to seven part people. As incomplete people, mankind slogged on through history for thousands of years without hope. The Patriarchs were given a promise, but were still seven part people, without God and without hope. God gave His promise to them without salvation, but indicated that the promise would bring that salvation in time.
Under Moses, the Law atoned for sins, but still left people incomplete. While the relationship between God and mankind still didn’t exist, the figure of the plan of salvation was being explained and learned, although it would take thousands of years for it to be finally understood. Finally, Jesus returned us to ten part people again, but many are still incomplete, seven part people in our world. Our souls are at the center of all of these parts because they are who we are and relate to every part of us all at once. Think about the richness and depth of yourself as a person with ten, very important parts, three of whom are the rejoined Godhead with you through Jesus. Now consider how poor the rest of mankind is without these Three. The Gift is here. Let’s take it to the world!

Soulbook: The Whole Christian Soul and the Incomplete – After the Fall: The Law @Enwrightened

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This is the thirtieth excerpt from Soulbook. Order Soulbook from Enwrightened Publications or Amazon.

Soulbook: The Whole Christian Soul and the Incomplete – After the Fall: The Law

As mentioned above, the Law was given to Moses, who acted as a mediator between God and the people of Israel. As the mediator, Moses was able to speak to God and take His messages back to the Israelites in order to establish a law that would allow them to be set apart from the rest of humanity as God’s people. The only person allowed contact with God was Moses himself, (Ex 19:20-24). Clearly, God’s presence was extremely limited to the Israelites. While He considered them to be His people, He still could not have a close relationship with them due to the perpetuation of mankind’s sin. This is evident in all of the rites and ceremonies God set up as a way to bring the people closer to a right standing with Him. But, even through these various laws, God was still not a part of mankind.

The same limits applied to the tabernacle and temple, (Leviticus 16:1-10). God only allowed the high priest to approach Him and to sacrifice the lamb for His people. Only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place before Him in order to sprinkle the blood on the Mercy Seat upon the Ark of the Covenant. Only this person could speak to God on their behalf and God did not return the favor. He still only spoke to Moses during this time and the rest of the people could not have the kind of contact Moses did, nor could the priests. God was their God, but He was too Holy for public consumption. He was the purity that was unattainable and unknowable, even by Moses himself.

We see that Moses could not look at God like Adam and Eve once did. His own sin did not allow him to see God in His purity and might. God Himself said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” There was a definite separation, even for Moses. Obviously, there was still something not right with human beings and this incompleteness prohibited them from seeing Him and having a relationship with Him.
Even with the sacrifices the High Priest made, Heb 10:1-4 tells us that these sacrifices merely put off the sins for another year. They were never forgiven under the Law. The people of Israel suffered under the weight of their sin, year after year. The sin was like a bank debt that you postpone until it finally has to be paid. Of course, by then the debt has built up so much with interest that you can’t pay it even if you had a thousand lifetimes. Ultimately, under the Law, the Israelite people were not reconciled to God, nor were the Gentiles. Mankind was just as lost as that day in the Garden when Adam and Even took the fruit and ate it. The sin of mankind kept building up and up and up, until it was an overwhelming mass of filth. The sin and death that man was resigned to did not relent, no matter how many animals were sacrificed and no matter how many prayers were uttered. All of humanity was incomplete and lost. They all still were missing a piece of themselves; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.