Life is all about knowing who you are. It’s a very important principle, because if you don’t know who you are, you’ll never be who you’re supposed to be, and you'll never do what you’ve been called to do. 2 Peter 1:8-9 explains this principle well.
"For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins."
What Peter proposes is that there are people who really do know the Lord, but whose lives are ineffective and unfruitful. They're saved, but their lives aren't producing the full range of the expected harvest of the fruit of faith.
Maybe there's anger where there shouldn't be. Maybe you're in deep debt. Maybe there's a tremendous amount of conflict that surrounds you. Maybe there are personal struggles of sin that you've never been able to defeat. In some way, your life isn't producing what you would expect to be in the life of a believer.
When you see that, you ought to ask why. Why would a person be ineffective and unfruitful where they live every day? Peter tells us in verse nine: "For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins" (emphasis mine).
The Issue Is Identity
Here's the principle: When I forget who I am in Christ, I quit pursuing what belongs to me in Christ.
Peter is saying that there's an endemic identity amnesia in the body of Christ. We forget who we are. We forget what we've been given in Christ, and identity amnesia always leads to identity replacement. If I'm not getting my identity vertically, then I'm going to get it horizontally.
I'm going to turn my job into a means of identity. I'm going to turn my marriage into a means of identity. I’m going to turn parenting into a means of identity. I'm going to turn my possessions into a means of identity.
The problem is those things were never meant to give me identity. And when I look to them for my basic sense of identity - for my meaning and purpose - they'll always fail me. You can't turn your marriage into your own personal messiah. You can't turn your job into your own personal messiah. You can't turn your children or your parenting into your own personal messiah. You can't turn your possessions into your own personal messiah. Those things are experiences - they are gifts from God - but they’re never meant to be my identity. And when they become my identity, they always leave me empty.
Tomorrow I'll return to 2 Peter and discuss what identity from Christ looks like. But for now, it's good to confess. We need to confess that sometimes we do forget Christ. We need to confess that sometimes we are unfruitful. We need to confess that sometimes we seek our identity horizontally. But don't be discouraged, because God's mercies are new every morning. He will never call us to a task without giving us grace for every step along the way.