Who Are We?

Who are we? Before we can properly answer the question of whether we should “be who we are,” we need to answer the question of who we are in the first place. As we saw last week, by nature we are sinners. Sin comes naturally to us, so if a temptation feels natural to us, that does not mean it’s right. It simply means that by nature, we are sinners, as the Bible tells us. The only way to truly deal with this problem of sin is to turn to Christ and accept Him as Savior, realizing and trusting that He has paid the penalty for us which we could never pay.
But after we accept Christ as Savior, who are we? 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” When we turn to Christ, God makes us into something new. We are a new creation, and we should live according to that new creation. We have a new nature.
But does that mean that we can now live by what feels “natural” to us? Does our new nature ensure that every feeling or desire we have will be pure and right? No, it does not, because we are still influenced by our old nature. Paul detailed this great struggle in Romans 6-7 as a conflict between our new nature and our old nature, often called the flesh. Romans 6:11-12 says, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.” As Christians, we are told to consider ourselves dead to sin. We should treat our old nature as dead and not let sin reign over us. Instead, we should pursue what God has said is right. This pursuit of right is not in order to save us from sin; only Christ can save us. But because Christ has saved us and given us a new nature (if we accept Him as Savior), we should pursue right things.
But if we have a new nature, why do we struggle with our old nature? The reality is that the stench of our old dead nature still clings to us and allures us. When I was in high school, I remember a day when had PE class at the soccer field of our school. The soccer field had a scoreboard with a storage shed under it, and a skunk had gone under the shed and died. Me and a few friends went over to see what happened. The skunk was dead; it couldn’t spray me and give me the normal bad smell that a skunk can. In fact, I didn’t even touch the skunk. But the stench of its dead body still soaked in, and I didn’t smell very good the rest of the day. The skunk was dead, but the bad effects of it still clung to me and affected me.
The same is true of our old nature. The old man is dead, and God has given us a new nature. But the stench of that old nature still clings to us, and it often pulls us toward sin, even making the sin feel “natural” to us. The flesh still tempts us to sin, making sin feel “natural” to us.
But we must live according to the new nature that God has given to us. That is why it is so important to identify who we are. We are saved sinners who have been given a new nature, but who also still struggle with the effects of temptation and sin in our lives. So we must not live according to the old nature, but according to the new nature. We must live according to who God has made us to be. In that sense, we must “be who we are,” because we are forgiven sinners who have been given a new nature. That is why the exhortation in Scripture is often to live according to this new nature. Ephesians 4:22-24 sums this up well when it tells us, “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” We need to put off the conversation (a word for lifestyle, not just speech) of the old man. The old man is dead, but the allurement is still there. So we must put off that lifestyle and put on the new lifestyle for which God has created us. Then, and only then, can we apply Ephesians 2:10, which says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” We are Christ’s workmanship, and we must live according to what He has made us to be. We must not live according to who we were, but according to who God has made us to be.
–Pastor Tim



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