Tag Archives: apostle paul

Identity in Christ and An Encouraging New Blog

I’m preaching on Philippians 3 this weekend, am thinking about this character known as the apostle Paul (yes, he would be a little ‘a’ apostle), and am pondering what it means to have an identity wholly found in Christ (no, I don’t know for sure what’s going on in the picture, but am thinking it was possibly taken in San Francisco).

Paul’s conversion experience was a frightening, dramatic thing. I’ve spoken several times before about how he saw the world differently when the scales fell from his eyes. He no longer saw the people of the world as he once did – he no longer saw Christians as he once did. His view of God changed, his values changed, his mission in life changed, and his motives for action changed (from being self-centered to being Christ-centered).

In addition to seeing all those things in a different light, he also saw himself differently. His view of self underwent a complete overhaul after Jesus was revealed to him.

 In fact, according to Paul, a Jesus follower should only worry with self enough to crucify it with Jesus. He taught that those who commit to following Jesus make a conscious decision to die to their old way of life and to allowing Christ to live through them by imitating Him. Paul modeled what these teachings looked like by applying them in his own life.

When Paul decided to follow Jesus, his core identity – the markers that defined who he was as a person – completely changed. No longer was he the same man!

His reason for existence changed, and that change occurred because his view of Jesus changed. No longer was Jesus a backwoods, simpleton heretic in Paul’s mind. He was the Lord of the Universe and the Savior of Mankind! When Paul came to grips with that reality, he was never the same again, and God used him to turn the world upside down.

Philippians 3 highlights what Paul thought about Jesus after his conversion, and how his view of Christ played into shaping his new identity.

Much in Paul’s life story parallels my own. Before my conversion, I can honestly say that my identity was found in things other than Christ (and most of those things were in opposition to Christ), but after … well, things changed.

They didn’t change all at once. I continued to struggle with sin, and I still sometimes struggle with worrying what other people think more than I ought to (rather than simply worrying about what Jesus thinks without considering the rest), but I can honestly say my life looks a lot different now than it did before I decided to follow Jesus. That’s because, in addition to seeing the world differently, I see myself a lot differently now too.

I’ve come to realize that I’m not the most important thing in the universe, and have even come to understand that the world doesn’t revolve around my selfish wants and desires (shocking, yes). When a person is living in a sinful state, it is natural to put self at the center of all.

But seeing things through the spectacles of Christ changes everything. The message of Philippians 3 is one that I grasp because its one that I closely relate to.

What about you? Any conversion stories you’d like to share? Ever pondered what it means to truly find your identity in Christ?

—-

While we’re on the topic of conversion, my dad (a.k.a. Jim Woodell) referred me to a new blog you need to check out.

The author of that new blog is Falesha – a recently baptized believer who is blogging about her new life in Christ. Check out her inagural post, and add this blog to your reading list: I once was lost … through Christ I’m found!

That’s a great example of a healthy identity change right there!

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He’s doing WHAT with his step-mom?!?! 1 Corinthians 5

We had some fun working out way through 1 Corinthians 5 at Lake Merced tonight.

This Corinthians study is good stuff – I’m really being blessed in putting it together. Chapter 5 touches on some big issues: church discipline, fellowship, judging … really important stuff.

Speaking of judging, have you ever been accused of being judgmental when you spoke up about someone’s behavior or attitude being wrong?

How common is it in our culture for someone to say something like, “Don’t judge me!” when someone else calls them out on their bad behavior.

Normally, when a person in our culture says, “Don’t judge me,” what they mean is, “Who do you think you are telling me what’s right or wrong!”

Did you know that nearly all of the passages that speak on judging or judgment in the New Testament are totally misunderstood and taken out of context by most people? Did you know that Christians are called to use their brains to discern between good and evil (i.e. did you know we are called to be judgmental as most people understand it)?

This comes up in 1 Corinthians, and I deal with it.

Give the lesson a listen if you’d like, and if you have anything to add I’d love to hear from you.

Anyway, here’s the audio (click to listen):

 

Here’s the Scripture:

1 Corinthians 5:1-13
1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife.
2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?
3 Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present.
4 When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present,
5 hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.
6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?
7 Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast– as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.
9 I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people–
10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.
11 But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.
12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?
13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”
(NIV)

Learn anything?

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