Our behavior does not change our identity, our identity changes our behavior

behavior

For the first 25 years of my life, I heard all about how I was supposed to live. It seemed like everyone had an opinion about my behavior, and they were constantly trying to direct it into this bulls eye of perfection. Well meaning parents, teachers, friends, relatives, etc. were constantly trying to mold me into their idea of what a “good, successful person” looks like. After a long road of trying to live up to everyone’s expectations and failing, I pretty much gave up. I figured that it was pretty much impossible to measure up, so why try? That was the beginning of a long, dark road that I don’t have enough time to go into.

The point is that none of these people were trying to drive me into a bad situation. In fact, they were doing just the opposite. They loved me and cared about me, and, for the most part, they were telling me the right things. They were trying to bring about behavior that was in line with what God desired for my life. They just weren’t necessarily going about it the right way. They were trying to modify my behavior to change my identity, while it was actually my perceived identity that was causing my behavior.

When I had an encounter with Jesus Christ, and decided to give my life to Him, God began to teach me who I truly was. He began to instill my true identity. That is when my behavior started to look more like the type of behavior those individuals were trying to achieve. I read things like Romans 8, where God tells us that we are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” and “there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus,” and addictions that I had been battling for years just began to fade away. I read things like Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'” Then I began to work harder and more diligently, because I had hope knowing that God had plans for my life.

The problem is that so many of us, myself included, still try and fight the behavior rather than the identity. I have heard this referred to as fighting the fruit and not the root. For anyone who has ever weeded before, you know that if you simply cut a weed it will just grow back. If you want it to stay away for good, then you have to destroy the roots. When God speaks to truth to us, and we accept and believe it, He is addressing the root of the problem. God is changing reshaping our identity, and aligning it with that of His Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 8: 29). God knows that as our identity begins to align with who we are in Christ, our behavior will start to look more like that of Christ.

Think about that one thing in your life that you are struggling with most today, and ask God what He would say about that situation. My guess is that He is not going to sit there and lecture you about how you should change. He will more likely tell you something about yourself that, if you truly believe it, will bring you victory over that struggle.

Written by Brian Maisch

I have a heart for setting people free from spiritual bondage and world oppression. I believe that the radical love of God manifested through his people can transform the world, and I believe that journey begins with us on our knees in a place of humble submission to God’s will.

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