Wednesday, 16 May 2018 09:12

Safeguarding Your Identity

Written by  Sam Whatley
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Someone has estimated that 15.4 million Americans were the victims of identity theft and fraud in 2016. Put at risk were financial accounts, credit health, job prospects, personal reputations, and even medical records. Using someone else’s personal information can allow thieves to take out loans, file tax returns, and pick up prescription drugs.


But, as Christians, we face an even greater identity threat, the threat of forgetting who we are in Christ. We are tempted to believe that our sins can outweigh God’s forgiveness, that having been adopted into God’s family, we can somehow slip out of His hand. Nothing could be further from the truth. And nothing can do more to rob us of our Christian joy, our witness, and our effectiveness in modeling the grace and forgiveness of God.


In the Bible, the apostle John writes, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God,” (John 1:12-13) NIV.


He repeats this idea in his letter called 1 John, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And this is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him,” (1 John 3:1-2) NIV.


This is usually called being born again. We associate that term with being saved from an eternity of punishment and isolation from God. And that is true, but being adopted into God’s family, becoming the children of God, is so much more than that. Eternal life with God begins now.


Part of that process is that we no longer identify ourselves as the people we were. It’s not just that we no longer do the things we once did, but we are not that person any more. We have been adopted out of a life of blindness and hopelessness.


It has been said that a man is a thief because he steals. That would be the world’s definition. But actually, a man steals because he is a thief in his heart. Once he has believed on Christ and received the grace of our Lord, he is no longer a thief. He will not steal. It is true that he will be tempted, but the Lord will provide a way out of that temptation. Even if he falls for the temptation, the Holy Spirit will convict his conscience until he repents and turns again to the Lord.


Those of us who have been Christians for some years have memories of times when we fell into temptation. Even after we have repented and turned again to the Lord, the shame of that denial of Christ haunts us. And that is where identity theft can come in. We can be deluded into believing that we are no longer worthy of God’s love, that we are no longer His children. That lie is from Satan.


Jesus saw that coming. He said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one,” (John 10:27-30) NIV.


The internet is loaded with suggestions on how you can avoid the theft of what this world calls your identity. You can use stronger passwords, limit what you share online, shred documents, and check on or freeze your credit reports. There are many other ways.  But how do you protect your identity in Christ?


Just come clean with God. Confess everything that needs confessing. Stand on His promises. Then count on Him to love you and keep you safe. He knew you when you were His enemy. He knows you now. You can never belong to another.


You are a child of God. God has seated you with Christ in heavenly places. Your identity is safe. Rejoice and set that burden aside.


**Sam Whatley’s latest book, Ponder Anew, is now available at the Frazer Bookstore located inside Frazer Memorial UMC.




Last modified on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 09:19
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