One of the most important questions of life is: Who am I? We all wonder who we are at the core of our being. So much hinges on how we answer this questions: our sense of self, our identity, our being, all inform how we behave, which in turns forms who we are becoming.


In this passage from Philippians, Paul is going to take us back to the basics of our identity.   There are three basic identity formation strategies we can employ to attempt to gain a sense of self, and Paul is going to walk us through each of them:


  1. Affirmation—Looking to Others: In this paradigm, we find our sense of self in the approval of others. This approach results in number problems, such as anxiety, exhaustion, and instability. Paul speaks to a better approach: your identity and joyous life is found, not in the approval of anyone else, in Christ alone.
  2. Achievement—Looking to Self: In this paradigm, we find our sense of self in succeeding on our own terms. This approach also has a number of problems, like fragility, inflated self-esteem, and crushing pressure. Another fallacy with self-expressed identity, common to the modern church, is that we try to find our sense of self in being true to ourselves. The result is often insecurity, instability, and dissatisfaction.
  3. Abiding—Looking to Christ: In this final paradigm, our identity and joyous life is found—not in looking to others or to ourselves—in looking at to Christ alone. For Paul, he’s no longer resting on his own righteousness, his own standing, his own identity, because Christ’s identity has become Paul’s own past, present, and future reality. On the cross, Jesus exchanged identities with us; He took our sinful identity and gave us His own righteous identity in exchange. The result? We can now be affirmed and approved by the ONE person in all the universe whose opinion matters most!


Takeaway: Is your identity durable? Is it solid, unshakable, lasting, glorious, everlasting?


C.S. Lewis – Mere Christianity


Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His)…It will come when you are looking for Him. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes, every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being and you will find eternal life.


Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in that long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else…


Philippians 3:1-11


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