Posted by: Rina | July 31, 2009

False Identity and the Works of the Flesh

The following is a section of the book Who Do You Think You Are? Discovering the Power of the Kingdom Identity. We will be posting several sections each week. To read the book by chapter, please click on the chapter links to the right of the screen.

Paul writes, “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies. Envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like, of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in times past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:17-19).

After the fall of our first parents (more on this later), humanity inherited a naturally sinful and selfish nature. This is evidenced by Adam blaming God and Eve for his sin, and Eve blaming the serpent for hers. Consequently, all of humanity has inherited the selfish slant. Additionally, what we believe about ourselves, feeds into the carnal nature. Apart from God and godly influences, people tend to adopt certain ideas about themselves that aren’t necessarily true. This makes for a false identity. To use a previous example, a woman who develops the belief that she is overweight starts to become fearful of being “fat,” and feels good about herself only when she doesn’t feel “fat”. As long as there is doubt regarding this, she will have internal restlessness. This originated on the false belief that she was overweight when in fact, she was not. Now, she has developed an identity about herself that is not true but she believes it to be. Thus, being fat has become part of her identity and brings about feelings of restlessness and discontent. The lie was believed and it became her identity. By default, this false identity brings about feelings of failure, inadequacy, hopelessness, powerlessness, insignificance, and contributes to a low sense of self worth and esteem. She may begin to feel jealous or envious of other women who are thin. She may become angry with her husband, feeling that he doesn’t find her attractive any longer (regardless of whether or not this is actually true.) These are all “works of the flesh” that manifest themselves due to the woman’s false sense of identity and the carnal nature. This is how a false identity can produce the works of the flesh.

Oftentimes, the deeds of the flesh will provide a false sense of fulfillment. They can provide a temporary relief of low self-esteem and self worth, but they require repeated or “practiced” actions. Paul wrote about people who “practice” such things. The works of the flesh require repetition in order to maintain the sense of fulfillment that they provide. For instance, a person who has a low self esteem feels empowered when doing drugs and alcohol. They are more social, outgoing, and generally like the person they are when they are under the influence better than the person they are when sober. Consequently, the person begins to enjoy the use of these substances. They begin a cycle of using and planning to use as a lifestyle. Addiction and dependency develop and the person feels lost and unfulfilled without the substance. Anything that prevents the person from using becomes the enemy. Self craves control as outbursts of wrath, fury, envy, jealousy, dissensions, and many other deeds of the flesh manifest in an attempt to control their surroundings to keep using.

A restless soul is a stronghold waiting to happen. It seeks fulfillment apart from God. The basis of sin is gratification of the flesh in a futile attempt at self-fulfillment. Neil T. Anderson writes, “The flesh is self-reliant rather than God-dependent; it is self-centered rather than Christ-centered. Such is the state of fallen humankind: sinful by nature and spiritually dead (ie: separated from God). In addition, the heart, which is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick (Jeremiah 17-9)…Fallen humankind live their lives in the flesh” (1).

In discussing why people engage in the deeds of the flesh, many would say that they lack will power. They would contend that those under this influence are making poor choices and all they need to do is make a different choice, ie: choose not to sin. The reality is that this these individuals are powerless over their own carnal nature. The real problem is fulfillment. Sin is largely due to our own need for fulfillment, and only Jesus Christ can provide the Godly fulfillment necessary to stop the sin. It’s not about will power, it is about fulfillment. Heaven is the ultimate place of fulfillment. Jesus died to get us into heaven and, more importantly, to get heaven into us. Only when fulfillment comes from God does our sense of identity and the bent toward selfishness begin to change.

It is important to note that identity doesn’t automatically change with fulfillment. Many Christians are fulfilled by God and no longer manifest the deeds of the flesh; however, they continue to hold onto old beliefs about themselves that are unbiblical. Again Anderson writes, “If you are a new creation in Christ, have you ever wondered why you still think and feel at times the same way you did before? Because everything you learned before you knew Christ is still programmed into your memory, there is no mental delete button” (2). It is the purpose of this work to de-bunk the false identity.

The following are lies about ourselves that come from a false-identity.

– I’m stupid (James 1:5)

– I’m a bad person (1 John 4:17)

– God doesn’t listen to me and God doesn’t care (Prov 15:8)

– God isn’t concerned about my little issues (Mat 10:30)

– God has condemned me(Romans 8:17)

– I’m not saved anymore (2 Cor 1:21-22, Romans 8:37-39)

– God is angry with me (Romans 5:1)

– I‘ve messed everything up (Romans 8:28)

– God only answers my prayers if I’m good enough (Romans 8:31-34)

– I’m useless to God (Eph 2:10)

– God won’t help me because _____ (Romans 8:31-34)

– I’m inadequate (Col 2:10)

– I’ll never have enough ____ (Mat 6:25)

– God doesn‘t talk to me (Psalm 32:8)

– God can’t forgive me (Psalm 103:3)

– I’m unworthy (2 Cor 5:21)

– I’ll never be free from _____ (Romans 8:15)

– I can’t stop sinning (1 Cor 10:13)

– I’ll never amount to anything (Jeremiah 29:11-14)

Endnotes

1. Anderson, Neil T., Victory Over the Darkness, Regal books, Ventura CA, 1995, page 74.

2. Ibid, page 79.

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