04-12-2015 message by Pastor Rich Doebler
Who are you?
The ancient Greeks had a saying: gnōthi seautón—“know thyself.” Nearly 2,500 years ago Plato and Socrates used it, but it was already an ancient saying when they quoted it.
What does it mean, to “know thyself”? People have taken it various ways…
It might mean: watch yourself—know your place; don’t presume too much. Or it could mean: know your limits—be disciplined; be careful. Or it could mean: know what you can be—find your potential.
So how do you see it? Who are you? Who do you want to be?
It’s a great question! But here’s an even better question: Who does GOD want you to be?
Have you ever heard someone say (or perhaps you’ve said it yourself): “I’m just not myself today”?
Or perhaps it comes out like: “I don’t know what came over me—that just isn’t me.”
We use expressions like these to admit we’re not living up to our own expectations. When we’re disappointed with our behavior or our attitude or our performance.
It’s a way of admitting that we fall short of our own goals or standards or expectations.
Most people—at least on occasion—wish they could be better than they are. Most of us at times wish we could act differently…or handle stress better…or be stronger in the face of life’s disappointments…or seize new opportunities with more confidence.
Many wish they could go back in time and try to do something over again—only this time to get it right.
If you’ve ever wished you could be better than you are, then you’re not alone.
That’s why we’re taking a few weeks to see how God remakes us—REDESIGN.
We know the cross of Christ can change a person: If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone [he’s not the same anymore], the new has come! (2 Cor 5:17)
But the complete change God wants to make in us requires a lifetime! When we receive new life in Christ, it’s only the beginning. It’s being born again, which suggests we start out like little babies.
After we are born again, like little babies, we eat, we grow, we mature—and we become spiritual toddlers. In time, we develop more. Maybe we become spiritual adolescents. Hopefully we grow stronger, we gain skills and knowledge—but we don’t become spiritual giants right off. We have to grow until we gradually develop a heart and an attitude like Jesus.
So the Bible tells us: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…” (Phil 2:5).
“being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory…” (2 Cor 3:18)
“be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Rom 12:2)
Philippians 1:6 (NLT) says: “I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
It’s a process that continues all our lives! BEGAN…CONTINUE…FINISHED…
Look around you. See all these people here? They’re all in process. We are all in process. None of us are complete. There’s still work to be done.
I like the way one version paraphrases that verse: “[God] will not stop in mid-design but will keep perfecting you…” (VOICE)
God is in the process of redesigning you! You are becoming something more. Something better.
There are many examples of the redesign process—remaking something into a better version of the original: it means changes and innovations—to improve, enhance performance, increase efficiency.
PICTURES: Transportation redesigns. Written communication. Writing tools. But redesigning can be more radical: caterpillar to butterfly; tadpole to frog.
Today we’re talking about God’s work of redesigning you and me. Why talk about a redesign? One of the big reasons we need a redesign is because…
1. The devil wants to steal your identity. He is working to sabotage God’s plans for your future.
- God works in us—but the devil wants to work us over.
- God calls us upward—but the devil wants to bring us down. To trip us up and make us fall.
- God has better plans for us—but the devil wants to ruin God’s plan and undermine our identity. He wants to steal, kill, and destroy.
So when you stumble in your Christian walk, the devil will try to beat you down, to accuse you (he is the “Accuser”), to steal your identity in Christ, kill your spiritual growth, and destroy your eternal soul.
Who are you? The devil—the identity thief—calls you loser, addict, liar, cheater, poor excuse for a father (mother, husband, wife, son, daughter)… but who are you really?
When you’re in Christ, God calls you child, son (daughter), redeemed, forgiven, beloved.
God tells us who we are—and he tells us who we are becoming.
“And we all…are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor 3:18)
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” (Rom 8:29)
Don’t let the devil steal your identity in Christ. Reclaim the design God has for you! Be remade into the image of Christ.
Another reason we need a redesign is because even on our own—even without the lies of the devil…
2. We can forget who we are. We don’t know ourselves or our potential—we forget the person God wants us to be.
Maybe we become confused about who we are. We think we are defined by our past. If we were born into a dysfunctional family, then maybe we carry that label with us. We assume we are dysfunctional.
Or if we made bad choices in the past, we may think those events still define who we are. We may think think of ourselves as being stuck with a label: once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic; once an cheater, always a cheater; once a rat, always a rat; once a whatever, then always a whatever.
Why do we get stuck there? Why do we forget that being born again starts us on a new life? We are not the same anymore. We’re not perfect—but we’re not what we used to be either.
Alcoholics Anonymous has helped alcoholics so much, but I have one small issue with their methodology. To get people to admit their weakness and own up to it, AA instructs them to use a label that stays all their lives: Hi. My name is Rich… and I’m an alcoholic.
It’s good to acknowledge our weakness, but I prefer the way Celebrate Recovery puts it: Hi. My name is Rich… and I’m a believer.
Acknowledge the past, sure—but let’s leave it there. There’s something inspiring about seeing the possibilities of what God can do when we put our trust and faith in him—when we become believers.
Sometimes we say: “I’m a sinner, saved by grace.” But that leaves something to be desired, because the Bible calls us “saints” even though we’re not exactly “saintly.” Not yet.
Maybe it would be better to say: “I’m a saint who occasionally sins.” Do you see the difference? The label you own helps define who you are—and who you are becoming.
Way back in the first century, some early believers needed to learn that. So the apostle Paul reminded them: Don’t fool yourselves. You can’t get into the kingdom if you’re immoral, if you’re an idolater, if you’re an adulterer, if you’re a male prostitute or a homosexual offender… You can’t get into the kingdom if you’re a thief, if you’re greedy, if you’re a drunkard, if you’re a slanderer, or if you’re a swindler.
But he didn’t leave it at that. He went on to say: That is what some of you were! But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.. (1 Cor 6:9-11)
What was he saying? He was saying that the past does not need to define who you are. You were something different before, but now you’re on a new path. You’ve been washed, sanctified, justified. Yet another reason for a redesign is…
3. To see what we do is less important than who we are.
We try to act important and do important things because we think that’s what makes us important. Maybe we pretend to be something we’re not because we want to impress others.
Last month I attended my son’s graduation from Officers’ Training School in Alabama to see him commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Air National Guard. He told me that’s the lowest rung you can be as an officer. In other words, don’t get too full of yourself.
I heard about one young army lieutenant just getting settled into his new office. He felt pretty important and wanted to impress the lowly private who just walked in. So he grabbed his desk phone and said, “Yes sir, General! You can count on me!” He hung up the phone, received the private’s salute, and asked, “What do you want?” And the private said, “I’m here to hook up your phone, sir.”
The most important thing we do in life is not as important as who we are or what we become in life.
God is more interested in you than what you do. He’s more interested in who you become than what you accomplish.
Great success, achievements, accomplishments, personal happiness—none of those things will satisfy your inner, unspoken desire to become what God has designed for you.
Imagine becoming a better you. Imagine becoming the person God wants you to be. Or even imagine being the person God says you are right now.
“…no longer a slave, but God’s child…” (Gal 4:7)
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph 2:10)
“9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Pet 2:9-10)
A final reason for a redesign is…
4. To recapture God’s original design.
God had a plan, which was lost when humankind chose to go its way instead of God’s way.
We got off track. We wandered away from God, away from his purpose.
What was God’s original purpose?
“26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness… 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Gen 1:26-27)
Humans wandered away from God, but they could not escape the fact that they were created in God’s image. The image of God was stamped into their DNA.
That’s why there is an inner desire within the human heart—a deep longing for something better. Whenever we think or act in a way that is inconsistent with the image of God, we are frustrated. In those moments, we live on a different level than the level God intended for us to live on.
Whenever we live beneath God’s original intentions, God calls us higher. He wants to develop his new design in us.
So many believers have sold themselves short of God’s image. Their identity in Christ has been stolen. They’re like butterflies who act like they’re still caterpillars. They keep walking around on the ground because that’s what they know. That’s the way they were before. They have a caterpillar past. They have these God-given wings to soar, but they keep struggling to be better caterpillars. God wants them to take off—to soar…and to become better butterflies.
You have God’s image stamped into your DNA—on your heart and in your life. Living in this less-than-perfect world, though, that image gets worn down by mishandling and hard knocks.
It’s like an old coin in your pocket: with enough wear and dirt and grime, the image on the coin can become pretty thin.
Life will do that to you. You get knocked around a bit. You experience a few setbacks and disappointments, and pretty soon, the image of God that he stamped into your soul gets tarnished—covered up. But God wants to mint a new coin with a fresh image of himself on it.
Jesus wants to melt you down and recast you with his image stamped stronger than ever. Jesus sees all the possibilities that we can’t. He sees how you can become a new you, closer to God’s original idea.
He sees you REDESIGNed with his image stamped on your heart.