“Self-deprecation is not humility.”
I stopped to think about it for a brief moment. Could this be the answer that I had been waiting for? I knew who I was: a sinner saved by God’s grace through faith in His son Jesus Christ. I had become a child of God, not because of anything that I had done but because of His great mercy. Through Him alone, I was able to escape the futility of my mind and the deceitfulness of sin.
“God, I am not being self-deprecating… I am being honest. I am a sinner saved by grace through faith. Now please, help me fight sin.”
I had no time to waste. Sin and I were in the ring and I was about to lose this round. Why wasn’t God helping me? Next thing I knew, I was on the ground. Again.
“Let’s talk about your identity”, I heard God say.
Emmm…. Sure. A little help would have been nice but whatever. Bruises heal… I guess. Discouraged and annoyed, I did my best to crawl to Him. It didn’t take long for my attitude to disappear. As He spoke, I was in awe. Again.
The process of unlearning and relearning my identity has transformed my walk with God. Although I knew that I was His child and that I had victory over sin through Christ, I still thought of myself as a sinner. It made sense: I still sinned…therefore I must have been a sinner. Well, I was wrong.
Salvation begins in the spiritual. When I was dead in my trespasses, I wasn’t physically dead: I was spiritually dead. I went about my business day after day without knowing that my spirit, which is my eternal self, was dead. This doesn’t mean that my spirit wasn’t “reacting” but that my spirit belonged to the kingdom of death, ruled by none other than satan. My body, in which sin was trapped, also belonged to the kingdom of death. Despite my so-called good deeds, there was no escaping sin. It was my physical and spiritual nature: I was a sinner.
Then God offered me a gift that I couldn’t even dream of: salvation. Through Jesus Christ, my eternal spirit was transferred from satan’s kingdom to God’s kingdom, which is the kingdom of life. In other words, I spiritually died to the kingdom of death and became alive to the kingdom of life through Jesus Christ. Being hidden in Christ, I became a child of God just as Christ is a child of God. As if this wasn’t enough, God generously gave me what I, meaning my spirit, desperately needed: His Spirit. I still lived in a body of sin, but by His Spirit, I could overcome this body.
When I identified as a sinner, I was setting my mind on something that was earthly and temporary: my body. I was not setting my mind on my eternal, regenerated spiritual reality. I was identifying with a defeated kingdom to which my spirit no longer belonged, and clinging to my old nature. A nature that Christ had died to free me from.
So, no. I am not a sinner. I have a new nature even though I still live in a body of sin. A body through which I am continually tempted and tested. A body that God will one day put away in exchange for a glorious, imperishable one.
But I am not a sinner. I am who God says I am: A chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, called out of darkness to his wonderful light to proclaim His excellencies. I am his child. Do I deserve it? Absolutely not. But that is God’s overwhelming grace.
The bell rang.
Sin, thinking that I was ready to perish again, smirked. But God had given me understanding. I knew who I was. I was set to witness the miracle that God continually displays through my very existence: The Holy Spirit in me overcoming my body, just as the Kingdom of Life triumphs over the kingdom of death.
Self-deprecation is not humility. I guess God was right. Again.