A few years ago, I read a book by Jerry Bridges titled Who Am I: Identity in Christ. Since I found the book to be very insightful, I decided to take copious notes so I could internalize the truths the book conveyed. In my next several blogs, I will share those notes with you (The notes are exact statements from the book). I find myself returning to these truths over and over.
To secure a Christ-centered identity, the first important point to remember is not to forget that you and I are human, which means we have limitations, and we desperately NEED God, a truth often overlooked in our human-centered culture. It is easy to indulge in the delusion that we are superhuman.
As a little boy, my parents taught me that I could be anything body I wanted to be. While well-meaning, this was not true. For instance, I couldn’t ever be a rocket scientist or brain surgeon. I had limitations.
However, the limitations to my humanness lie not just in my limited natural abilities, but it extends to other aspects of life. Below you will find out how to root your identity in the truth that you are only human.
I Am Human
When we begin to answer the question, “Who am I?”, we need to start with the most basic truth about us: we are created beings. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). While being made in God’s image puts us on an entirely different plane from any of the animals, we are still creatures. This makes us both dependent upon God and accountable to God.
A. Utterly Dependent
One of the most basic truths about all creatures is that we are dependent on God. Psalms 145:15-16 says, “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.” This passage refers primarily to the animal kingdom, but the principle of dependency applies to human beings as well
- Food – Our needs from the material world are not met from just hard work or business acumen. Deut. 8:17-18 says, “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth. You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
- Life and breath – We have a need more basic than food; we are dependent on God for our very life, even our breath. Acts 17:25 says, “nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” Every breath we breathe is a gift from God. And every day of life is also a gift from him. As David said, “My times are in your hands” (Psalms 31:15)
- Plans – We are dependent on God for the execution of our plans. Everyone makes plans. In fact, life would be rather chaotic without plans. And we assume that we will usually carry out those plans. But James said this is not so. Rather he says, Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”– yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13
- Abilities – We are dependent upon God for our abilities, our spiritual gifts, and our talents. The apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:7, “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?”
B. Fragile and Spiritually Vulnerable
- Physical Fragile – As dependent creatures, we are physically fragile—subject to accidents and diseases and all kinds of things.
- Spiritually Vulnerable – As dependent creatures, we are also spiritually vulnerable. We have three enemies: the world, the devil and our own sinful flesh.
C. Morally accountable
- Human beings are also different from other creatures in that God created us in his image. Central among all the things that may be included in that truth is the fact that we possess a moral dimension; we have the ability to know right from wrong, and the ability to obey or disobey God. This means that as moral creatures we are accountable to God.
What application should we make of the truth that we are dependent, fragile, vulnerable, and accountable?
- Humility. First, this realization should produce humility. Recognizing that I am absolutely dependent on God for every breath and every morsel of food; seeing that I am accountable to God for every thought, every word, and every action; and realizing how often I fail to honor God in these ways—these should produce a deep and abiding sense of humility.
- Gratitude. Second, it should produce profound gratitude. Everything good in me or around me, whether spiritual or material,