IDENTITY & SELF-IMAGE

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  • Definitions help you understand the topic from God’s perspective.
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WHO ARE YOU?

Do You Know Who You Really Are?

What is your real identity?
What is an identity?
Is your identity something you are born with?
Is it changeable or never able to change?

Ever since Adam made his choice to disobey God in the Garden of Eden, he and all his descendants have been identified with sin. His declaration of independence explains the rebellious nature we each inherited. Because we were born into the family of Adam, we all possess the natural bent to live self-centered lives. Yet with a heart of love, the heavenly Father has persistently sought to draw each person with His offer of adoption.

He desires to adopt us into His family and to give us a new nature... the same moral nature of His Son. When you become a true Christian by receiving Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you also receive a new identity. As a child of God, your old sin nature has been exchanged for a glorious new nature. The Bible reveals that you receive a new identity in Christ!

Most people experience confusion about who they really are because they lack a Biblical understanding of what determines their identity. Your behavior is an outgrowth of your identity. Our personal identity is determined by what “family” we are born into. Spiritually, everyone is a descendant of Adam—we were born into “Adam’s family.” No one in Adam’s family has the capacity to live as God designed us to live.

A new spiritual life is made possible in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. To embrace Him as your personal Lord and Savior is to inherit a new family and a new identity “in Christ.” With this new identity you will begin to develop Christlike character by choosing to rely on Him to deal with your daily problems.

 

What Is Your Identity?

If someone were to ask, “Who are you?” what would you say? Many of us describe ourselves by what we do, such as “I am a school teacher,” or “I am an accountant.” Others may have spent years studying genealogy charts tracing their roots to determine who they are through family lineage. But name tags will not be sufficient when a life or death situation forces you to look at the core of your being and find out who you really are in relation to the One who created you!

The identity of a person is based on the distinguishing characteristics of that person.

  • Your identity involves both your inner character and your outer conduct that distinguish you from everyone else.
  • The word identity comes from the Latin wordidem, which means “same.”
  • Your visible conduct should consistently reflect your inner character. This forms your identity. 

“As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.”

(Proverbs 27:19)

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

(Psalm 139:13)

What Is the Difference between Your Inner Identity and Your Outer Identity?

  • The Visible You
  • How you are known by others
    • Your personality
    • Your masks, pretenses, outer appearance
    • Your actions

“Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.” 

(Proverbs 20:11)

  • The Real You
  • How you are known by God
    • Your basic nature
    • Your character
    • Your value system

“All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.” 

(Proverbs 21:2)

 

What Is an Identity Crisis?

  • An identity crisis is a period of difficult transition, such as adolescence or midlife, when the visible you severely conflicts with the real you—causing pain, distress and a desire for change.
    • “Who am I?”
    • “What do I believe in?”
    • “What values should I live by?”
    • “What do I want to do with my life?”

"Folly delights a man who lacks judgment, but a man of understanding keeps a straight course.” 

(Proverbs 15:21)

  • An identity crisis is a period of severe disillusionment when your identity is based on a role or relationship that has been changed or removed.
    • The loss of a job - Identity was in your career (a role).
    • The loss of a spouse due to death or divorce
  • Identity was in your marriage partner (a relationship).
    • The “empty nest” - Identity was in being a parent (a role).
  • A move from a secure environment - Identity was in your friends and family (a relationship).
  • The onset of a disability - Identity was in your ability to perform (a role).
  • The loss of an intimate friendship Identity was in a cherished companion (a relationship).
  • A financial loss - Identity was in your social status (a role).

“Do I have any power to help myself, now that success has been driven from me?” 

(Job 6:13)

  • This identity crisis can be a severe form of identity confusion that results from childhood trauma or sexual abuse.
    • Bizarre dressing or cross-dressing (taking on a different identity, so as to feel significant)
    • Victim mentality (feeling powerless in relationships)
    • Dissociative disorders
      • Amnesia (temporary memory loss)
      • Fugue (starting life over with a new identity)
      • Multiple Personality Disorder (adopting two or more personalities as a way of coping with life)

What happens if you are caught in an identity crisis?

In some ways, you would be like an amnesiac—you don’t know who you are—you can’t find your own way home. What a fearful situation! If your heart is heavy with fear, if you don’t seem to know yourself or know what to do with yourself, just know that God knows. He not only holds all the answers, and He also waits for you to seek Him for the right answers.

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”

(Psalm 34:4)

Inner Emotional Conflicts

Emotional conflicts within those who are struggling to establish a personal identity are common to every age group. These feelings are related as much to external events as they are related to inner thoughts and preoccupations.

  • Anxiety—“I don’t know who I really am.”
  • Depression—“I have no hope for the future.”
    • Self-doubt—“I am so inadequate.”
    • Self-consciousness—“I am unacceptable and unloved.”
    • Low self-worth—“I am not good enough.”

    "How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?”

    (Psalm 13:2)

 

Outer Evidence of Conflict

Inner emotional struggles with identity usually result in the following patterns of inconsistent behavior:

  • Oppositional attitude and actions
  • Difficulty in making a positive spiritual commitment
  • Unhealthy friendships
  • Inability to make decisions or impulsive decision making
  • Rejection of family values or blind acceptance of values of others
  • Struggles with sexual immorality
  • Difficulty in establishing intimacy
  • Excessive difficulty in choosing a career
  • Inability to set long-term goals

“He is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”

(James 1:8)

What Causes the Struggle with Identity?

Most people experience confusion about who they really are because they lack a biblical understanding of what determines their identity. Your behavior is an outgrowth of your identity. Our personal identity is determined by what “family” we are born into. Spiritually, everyone is a descendant of Adam—we were born into “Adam’s family.” No one in Adam’s family has the capacity to live as God designed us to live.

A new spiritual life is made possible in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. To embrace Him as your personal Lord and Savior is to inherit a new family and a new identity “in Christ.” With this new identity you will begin to develop Christlike character by choosing to rely on Him to deal with your daily problems.

“For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” 

(1 Corinthians 15:22)

Replace False Belief Systems from Your Past

Are you like the little eaglet, accepting lies and untruths from your past? Make time alone with your heavenly Father, and search out the false beliefs that keep you from soaring like the eagle.

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.”

(Ephesians 1:18)

Your New Identity Inheritance

(Ephesians 5:8–17)

• You have moved from darkness to light.  - verse 8

• You reflect God’s goodness, righteousness and truth.  - verse 9

• You desire to please God. - verse 10

• You expose evil and ungodliness. - verse 11

• You are blessed with wisdom.  - verse 15

• You make the most of opportunities.  - verse 16

• You seek to know God’s will.  - verse 17

 

In the Image of God

If the real you has “Christ in you,” then the visible you will reflect the character of Christ through you.

“And we pray this … that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.… In whom [Christ] we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” 

(Colossians 1:10–16)

 

The Bible says, “He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God.”  (Colossians 1:15)

Therefore, with Jesus living in you, He will enable you to reflect the image of God. This is your true identity!

 

Key Verse to Learn

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

(Galatians 2:20)

 

Key Passage To Read and Reread

Ephesians 5:8–17

Adam made the choice not to obey God. Therefore, all his descendants inherited a nature that is independent of God and seeks to please itself. Because God has made it possible for us to be His children … we are given a new nature that is submissive to God and seeks to please Him.

 

LIVE IN VICTORY!

100+ BIBLICALLY BASED RESOURCE TOPICS

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God desires to give you hope as you face life challenges, problems and difficult trials. The good news for us, God specializes in redemption and transformation. He takes that which was lost and restores it. He takes that which was dead and gives it life. He takes that which had no hope and rewrites its story. This is our God! As you pray today, ask God boldly to transform the thing inside you that you want to see changed forever!

Thank you for your interest and support in Women of Faith. We pray God will encourage, equip, and empower you with His life-changing truth.

RELATED TOPICS

Abuse Recovery

Codependency

Conflict Resolution

Confrontation

Critical Spirit

Forgiveness

Guilt

Manipulation

Perfectionism

Pride & Humility

Purpose in Life

Reconciliation

Rejection & Abandonment

Self-Worth

Verbal & Emotional Abuse

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