Halloween is upon us, and for one evening many of us will morph into another person by borrowing the identity of someone else. It may be a character from the movies or famous figure from literature or history. Some people become animals or even objects, but when the evening is over, everyone assumes their original identity. Fleeting, intentional loss of our identity can be enjoyable, but when a stranger permanently “borrows” our identity, its no laughing matter. It’s identity theft.
Everyone has seen the commercials. Two white haired, little old ladies, Thelma and Norma sit on a couch and start talking and laughing in husky male voices about their new Harleys with all the trimmings. A bald, buff African-American body builder is lifting weights at the gym. Suddenly from his lips comes a shrill female voice raving about her new hair extensions. These people are victims of identity theft, and though the spots are clever and funny, they remind us that any one of us could be next.
We are increasingly aware that nothing is really safe or secure. Credit cards can be stolen, computer sites can be hacked, and ATMs can be tampered with and altered. Organizations like banks, insurance companies, and even the government, that hold our personal information can be plundered and our data can get compromised. In an instant our credit rating, financial resources and reputations can be jeopardized, and it may take months or even years to restore the damage.
As bad as this type of identity theft can be, there is an even more insidious form of identity theft being perpetrated against each one of us. John 10:10a warns us: “The thief, Satan, only comes to steal, kill and destroy.” How does he do it? Primarily he convinces us we are better off on our own, carving out our own identity, rather than saying, “Yes” to God, and receiving our identity as His adopted child. Then Satan subtly siphons off our true identity until nothing but a shell of us is left.
Two characters in the Bible, Saul and David, vividly illustrate this. Both were selected by God to be kings of Israel, and both received God’s Spirit to guide them. But Saul ignored God’s counsel and relied on his own reasoning. He was influenced by others’ opinions and his own insecurities. He became jealous when he feared David was becoming more popular with the people.
The more he sought to establish his identity by comparing himself with others, the more depressed he became. In the end he was so lost he sought advice from a witch with contacts to underworld spirits. He lost his throne on the battlefield, where he also saw his son killed before his eyes. In a final gesture of agony, he committed suicide by falling on his sword. He lost it all, a victim of Satan’s identity theft.
In contrast, David eagerly sought God and became intimate with Him. Although persecuted and pursued by Saul, David continued to show loyalty to the throne and did not retaliate against Saul even when he could have. His integrity earned him a large following with the people, and after Saul’s death, he had a long and prosperous reign, being succeeded by his son, Solomon. Even when he strayed and became involved in adultery and a murder plot, he repented and sought God’s forgiveness and obtained it. He was able to recover from his error because his identity was firmly established in his relationship with God.
Are you battling with identity theft, struggling to discover and maintain yourself through your own self-effort? Always feeling like you are on the verge of arriving, but never quite getting there? Say “Yes” to God today, and find your true identity rooted and grounded in Him!
Come and join us this Sunday at 9:00 AM or 11:00 AM. My son Gabriel will be talking on “Break Your Fears” as the last message of the “Born Identity 2” series.