Christian women are a needy bunch. We are hurting, struggling, being broken, weighed down, and discouraged. Because this is so common among us (and we all know somehow that it shouldn’t be), there is much done to try to encourage, to lift up, to come alongside, to point out that our weakness is the perfect stage for his strength.
“Our problems need the death of Christ, and they need our death in him.”
We have real problems, and in the midst of trying to deal with them we find questions we can’t answer. Who are you? How do you know? Do you matter? Is your situation stifling you? These are real questions, real problems that many women are facing. And so, in this conversation about our troublesome needs and problems, we have often heard the great Christian comfort of identity in Christ.
Why is it, then, with so much talk about Christian identity — about how we are loved and accepted, about how we belong to God — that the women of our faith seem no stronger? No less needy? We still talk of all our struggles in the present tense. We exchange brokenness like it was good news, and comfort each other with still more brokenness. We want to declare each other “enough.” We have treated Christian identity like it was the great afghan of coziness underneath which all of humanity ought to be settling in for a long nap.
But what if our identity in Christ is not a blanket?
At War with Blankets
What if, instead of a cozy place to hibernate, what we are being handed in Christ is actually cold steel, intended for a completely different purpose? Your identity in Christ is a weapon, one that will put to death the old man that lives within you (Romans 8:13). We have been baptized in his death, in order to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).
If we are not equipped through Christ to fight the sin nature in all of us, it does not matter how thick or cozy the comfort blanket is. Underneath it, the cold hands of sin are still around our necks. That fight cannot be comforted away. We cannot soothe each other into relief from our problems.
“Jesus loves you, which is why he would kill that part of you that loves sin.”
Our problems need the death of Christ, and they need our death in him (Galatians 2:20). We must believe in the love of God, absolutely. We must believe in Jesus, absolutely. But the first thing we do in that belief is repent. Repent and believe (Mark 1:15). Turn against our old self and believe in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). As John Owen says, “Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.”
What we need desperately is not stand-alone comfort, but the actual source of comfort — “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3). We need effective tools to do battle against our own flesh. I believe this is exactly what our identity in Christ is. It is the hope of victory over sin, the confidence that Christ has done what we cannot. It is an Older Brother who saves. It is the hard edge of death to self, and the glorious comfort of new and sanctified life in him.
Enemies of the Sin Within
Sin is the enemy (Genesis 4:7). Sin is in us. Christ is the Victor. Christ is in us. When you are true to your identity in Christ, you must be the enemy of sin in yourself. You must hate those cold hands on your neck enough to make them captive to Christ, enough to cry out to your Savior in the confidence that he will see them dead. This is why all those simple platitudes have done so little to make us feel better.
Jesus loves you, which is why he would kill that part of you that loves sin. If we want to live well, we must learn to die in him. Your identity in Christ is what gives you the courage, the ability, and the desire to do this. In Christ, your sin cannot rule over you. In Christ, you do not want it to. In Christ, we have the strength to fight it. And in Christ, we will ultimately have the victory.
“With so much talk about Christian identity, why do the women of our faith seem no stronger?”
There are no words to convey how deep and real and free this comfort and love is. This is rest. This is joy. This is victory. This is actual life. But it is not the comfort of little lies about how beautiful we are or about how much we deserve happiness; it is the comfort of seeing the true nature of our Savior and his love for us.
It is not our beauty but his that we should be captivated by. In him, our flesh is nailed to the cross. In him, it dies. In him, we can truly live without guilt and without shame. Knowing who we are in Christ equips us to shoulder our regular burdens and steward our trials in a way that reflects the glory of our salvation — in a way that reflects our Christ!
The Greater Comfort
This is the moment of victory. But we cannot expect victory when we are too afraid to fight. Christian women have not been needy as much as we have been cowards. We must no longer be squeamish or fearful about the nature of our identity in Christ. Our part in Christ is indeed beautiful — like a clear sunrise on a new day full of new hope and life — but it is that same sun rising on an execution day.
There go our sins, our great enemies — selfishness, lust, laziness, envy. There goes our flesh to die in Christ. That is the glorious day in which we can live, fully his, strong in our identity, and beneath us, the Everlasting Arms of Comfort Himself. Ladies, pick up your weapons gladly, for you belong to God.