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Who Do You Think You Are?

Scripture: Jeremiah 29:11, 1 Corinthians 4:12-13, Colossians 1:12
Date: 01/17/2004 
"Who do you think you are?" is the topic of this sermon. Many people do not know the answer to this question. We need to know that God has a big plan for each one of us.
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Note: This is an unedited, verbatim transcript of the live broadcast.

Who Do You Think You Are?—AD-E2403

Doug Batchelor

I Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Who do you think you are? There’s a few ways you could say that and it would come out different. Who do you think you are? Who do you think you are? Every way you say it, it means a little something different.

I’ll submit to you that I believe that a lot of people are experiencing an identity crisis. They don’t know who they are. One thing that I’ll never forget, my mother used to say that separated my brother and I. My brother Falcon and I were very different in our personalities, is she said Falcon always knew who he was. She remembered asking him three or four years old, “Who do you think you are?” He said, “I’m Falcon Batchelor.” I mean just he just never had any doubts. She’d ask me that question. I thought it was so profound. I’d begin to surmise, “Who was I? Where did I come from?” She said, “You were very different. You seemed confused by the question where your brother it just seemed very natural to him.”

But a lot of people don’t know who they are. Some think they’re more than they are. Some think they’re less. I remember reading a story growing up by Edgar Rice-Burroughs about Tarzan of the Apes. Forget about you know all the fanfare and animation and things you’ve seen in Hollywood. The classic itself is very unique if you read it and I’m not recommending it, but you’ve most of you have just been exposed to the essence of the story. These missionaries in Africa are killed. Their baby survives who is adopted by apes, gorillas, and he’s raised thinking he’s a gorilla, doesn’t know he’s a human. Edgar Rice-Burroughs actually based the story on some true reports of children and I’ve documented this, I’ve done some amazing facts and I went through the research and there are some modern recorded reports of children who somehow were abandoned by their parents and adopted by wolves. And he had heard maybe about the wolf child in France and some others and runs on all fours and acts like a canine. A human that didn’t know it was a human thought it was a dog or a monkey.

Sometimes we act like the environment around us and we don’t know who we really are. Now for Christians to have that kind of identity problem is a real crisis. Some people get lost when they’re driving and they don’t know where they are. That’s bad, but spiritual amnesia is worse if you don’t know who you are. Now genuine cases of amnesia are very rare. I mean we’ll hear about people who get bonked on the head and they suddenly say, “You know I’m able to function normally, but I just don’t know who I am.” And they just have no memory of that. That’s very, very rare. It does happen. Most cases you hit someone on the head hard enough where they don’t know who they are they don’t know how to tie their shoe either, right? But there are some rare cases where the way that they’re hit they just don’t know who they are.

I believe there’s a lot of people in the church that are going through all the motions and they’re bewildered spiritually. They’ve got spiritual amnesia. They don’t know who they are. You probably heard stories about babies that get swapped in the hospital. Somehow the nurse puts the wrong name band on the baby and the wrong parents take them home and years later they start to wonder why the child doesn’t resemble either parent and their mannerisms and they do a little research and they find out through DNA now that the babies got swapped in the hospital.

There are a number of accounts of parents that adopted children around WWII and they were placed in a number of families around Europe and some even in North America and they found out later that they had adopted Jewish babies and these children grew up and they did not know that they were Jewish. Matter of fact, Madeline Albright the former Secretary of State, her parents changed their religion so as not to be killed during WWII and she grew up thinking she was Catholic. She was Jewish. Can you imagine the “Aha!” experience when somebody finally tells you, “You may have been wondering all these years, but you’re Jewish.” Because being a Jew is not the same as just a religion, it’s also a race. And so not knowing who you are can kind of be unnerving.

Now I have traveled so much in the past that I have honestly had occasions where I wake up in a hotel room and I’m going “Where am I?” and it takes me a while. You know you’re looking around. You travel all night, you get to this strange place, and you get your room and you flop off to sleep and you wake up and you go, “Who am I? What am I doing here? How did I get here?” and I’ve actually had to fish around in a drawer by the nightstand to find a postcard or some stationery and find out where am I? You remember traveling with the Heritage Singers, Doc? Did that ever happen to you? You go to a different room every night and you’re going, “I don’t know where I am any more.” It just makes you… and you know you like to know where you are. Likewise I don’t think you can be secure as a Christian if you don’t know who you are.

Now there are a number of examples in the Bible on both sides of this issue of people who knew who they were and those who didn’t know and one of my heroes in the Bible is the story of Joseph and one reason for that is in spite of the radical change in his circumstances and the attitudes of everybody around him about him he did not let that effect his attitude about God and what he knew God’s attitude was about him. He was the son of a noble sheik. He was the heir of this wealthy nomad, Jacob, loved by his father, chosen by God. He knew that his family had been chosen. He knew that he had been called in his dreams but then he ends up a slave, but he doesn’t let that bother him. He conducts himself with a faithfulness and a dignity so he just didn’t seem like the other slaves and he keeps getting exalted. Finally, you know the circumstances, he’s falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife. He’s thrown in jail. He still does not identify as a prisoner. He conducts himself with this dignity this nobility this intelligence. He ceases to let his environment and his circumstances dictate who he is. He knows who he is. He believes that God has a plan for his life. He never loses faith and he manages to work his way to the top even in prison. He comes before the Pharaoh, king of this mighty empire, he’s not intimidated. He’s always known that God had great plans for his people and his family.

Because he doesn’t lose this concept of who he is through God’s eyes God is able to use him and he always floats to the top. No matter where you put Joseph he floats to the top because he knows who he is.

Who do you think you are? Does it bother you that sermon title? Who do you think you are? You need to ask yourself that question. You’ll get tired of it before the sermon is over because I want you to really think about “Who do you think you are?” The Bible says, “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” What you think about yourself has a great deal of influence on who you are and how you act. Do you all believe that? It’s true.

On the other side of the coin God had problems with the Nation of Israel a few years after Joseph because they didn’t know who they were. They’d been in Egypt so long being treated like slaves they started to think like slaves and when God brought them out of Egypt even though they were no longer under the bondage of Pharaoh they’re still thinking like slaves. And you can always hear them whining and wishing they were back in Egypt eating the provender that was given to them by the Pharaoh.

They didn’t know who they were. God kept trying to tell them, “You are a great people. You are chosen.” Exodus 19:6, “You are a kingdom of priests. You are a holy nation. You’re my chosen people.” They kept acting like slaves. They kept thinking carnally, “I wonder if God can really get us into this Promised Land we’ve never seen.” They didn’t know who they were, did they? They had an identity problem, but because they didn’t know who they were they kept falling behind and many of them never made it to the Promised Land. They were a people that were chosen by God above every other people in the world and they didn’t know it. How sad to have God in their very midst and not recognize that. Then probably it’s downhill from here because this is the best story in my opinion of somebody who knew who they were. It’s the story of David. Nobody knew who he was except him. He had a relationship with God that was nurtured on the fields of Bethlehem where he was communing with God through prayer, through song, through beholding the things of nature and he had a rich relationship with God and he knew that God loved him.

But you know when Samuel comes to pick a king from the sons of Jesse he didn’t think it would be David. Jesse didn’t think it would be David. Samuel didn’t know who he was. Jesse didn’t know who he was. Then when David goes to his brothers in the battle and he begins to wonder why they’re putting up with Goliath his brothers don’t know who he is. They say, “Will you mind your own business? Go home.” They didn’t recognize God in him. King Saul didn’t know who he was. Said, “You’re just a youth. What makes you think you can go against this giant?”

But David knew something that they didn’t know. He felt that spark of God inside of him. He believed that God was with him. He heard the voice of God. He knew who he was in God and all of us need to have that kind of relationship. Nobody knew. Goliath. Did Goliath know who he was? The Bible says, “What? Are you coming against me with a stick? Who do you think you are?” Be careful when you ask that question. Goliath asked David that question, “Who do you think you are?” David knew who he was in God. He did not answer in his own behalf. He said, “I come against you in the name of the Lord.”

Now that brings me to what I think is one of the most important points is that we need to know that God has a big plan for each one of us. Do you see yourself like Peter did? Peter didn’t know who he was. Jesus tried to get him to raise the bar. Peter was content when his net was full of stinking fish. And Jesus said, “Follow me. I’ve got something better. You see yourself as a fisher of fish. I see you as a fisher of men. You need to raise your concept of who you are. You’re content to go through your life fishing for fish. You’re thinking you’ve been successful when you’ve got a net full of fish.” How much better is a man than a fish? That’s how much better God’s plan is for you than often what we can see for ourselves.

So who do you think you are? You know with our children one of the things that I always like to impress upon them is that God has a great plan for them. And I make it a habit to try to instill not only in our children but the kids that I meet as I travel and I visit with them if there’s the single most important thing I figure I can say to them is, “God has a big plan for you.” And when the Batchelor boys come in and see Dad in the morning I give them a hug and I say, “God has a big plan for you.” They get tired of me saying it, “I know! I know.”

You know. I say, “God has a big plan for you.” Because I think that everybody should strive to be great for God. I don’t think that God is satisfied with mediocrity. I think that he would want us to think of great things for him. The Bible tells us that Jesus said to Peter, “Follow me and I will make you a fisher of men. In me you’ll do much better than fish.” It takes a little more intelligence to catch men than catch fish. When the Lord spoke to Nathaniel Jesus said, “Because I said I saw you under the fig tree you believe you’ll see greater things than these. You need to think higher.” Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the thoughts that I think towards you,’ says the Lord, ‘thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you a future and a hope.’”

God has big plans for us and we often fall short of that because we don’t know who we are. Who do you think you are? Now in keeping balance in this message, we’ve all met people. We talk about the battle between the loss of identity and some people have low self-esteem and there’s a lot that’s being said today in the world about doing everything we can to increase people’s self-esteem.

In some respects some folks have too much self-esteem. They are very much in love with themselves. And that’s different from what God has for them. I haven’t seen too many healthy presentations on the difference between a good attitude about self-esteem and knowing who you are in Christ. A lot of folks get those things confused. The Bible says don’t think too much about who you are. Some folks have got visions of grandeur. They’re thinking about greatness for themselves. They want to better than everybody else and bigger than everybody else and they’ve got these dreams and illusions of how great they are. Romans 12, verse 3, “For I say to you through the grace given me to everyone who is among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.”

Don’t think too much about yourself, “but think soberly.” Now why does Paul say it that way? He doesn’t say, “Think low of yourself.” He says be realistic. “Think soberly as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” In other words, have a realistic concept of who you are.

Some people you know they’ve got these, you’ve all met, maybe you haven’t, people who think they’re Napoleon or you know they fantasize that they’re some great person and they’re a little deranged. That’s one extreme. And then you’ve got folks who grovel around all the time and they want everybody to wipe their feet on them because they’ve got no self-esteem and they’re always constantly being used and abused by everybody around them because they don’t know who they are. And somewhere in between you should have a realistic, I don’t believe you should have an arrogant attitude, but I think a Christian should have a realistic confidence about what they can and what they can’t do. If Michael Jordan meets up with some kids on the basketball court and they say, “Can you play?” And he says, “Well, I’m learning.” That’s not humility that’s lying, isn’t it? He’s not learning. He’s a great basketball player, and he should say, “I’m pretty good.” I mean, be realistic. That’s not arrogance. You should have a realistic concept of who you are, but don’t be a braggart and don’t be unrealistic.

One of the problems with the church in the last days is they think they’re better than they really are. Revelation chapter 3:17 “You say I’m rich and become wealthy and have need of nothing, and you don’t know your real condition.” You don’t know who you are. Isn’t this what Jesus is saying here? You don’t know who you are. You don’t know that you’re wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. He doesn’t want them to stay that way, but if you are you need to know it. We need to know what our condition is before God.

It’s like the man who goes to this elegant dinner party in his rented tuxedo and he thinks he’s making a great impression, but on the way to the party at the bus stop he leaned against a white pole and he’s got a stripe going down his back and the tag, the price tag of the tuxedo rental is hanging out of his pocket and he doesn’t see it but everyone around him sees it and he thinks he’s really something, but everyone around him thinks that he’s weird. and you know I think that’s what angels see sometimes when we have these unrealistic views of who we are. We think that we’re making a big splash and we look like idiots. Have a realistic concept. You’re better off coming in thinking a little less than thinking too highly.

Did you catch that? It’s important. If you’re not sure how to feel about yourself then don’t think too much. You’re better off thinking a little less and letting the Lord help level things off for you. Jeremiah 45, verse 5, “And do you seek great things for yourself? Don’t seek them.” That’s a good verse.

Did you catch that? Write that down. Jeremiah 45, verse 5. Is it okay to seek great things? Yes. Not for yourself. Do you seek great things for God? Good. “Do you seek great things for yourself? Don’t seek them.” If you’re seeking something great for yourself, don’t do it. Why did David excel? Because he was seeking great things for God. The reason he was mad at Goliath he said, “He’s mocking God.” Why did Joseph excel? He was thinking of God. He told the Pharaoh, “God will give you an answer of peace. It’s not in me.” They knew how to give the glory and the credit to God and if you know who you are in God he has a great plan for you. Amen?

You are not who the world thinks. Now think about this for a minute. Did Jesus get his identity from what the world thought of him? Did he? Did the world know who he was? He stood before Pontius Pilate and trying to figure out, “Who is this man? He’s different.” They didn’t know who he was. He came to his own, “his own received him not.” They didn’t know who he was. And Jesus said, “If I your Lord and Master have been persecuted and rejected then why are you expecting otherwise?” If you’re waiting for the world to appreciate you and to know who you are in God it’ll never happen. That’s why you need to know who you are no matter what the world thinks. Is that becoming clear? You look at the great people that God has used. Did the Pharaoh recognize who Moses was? But Moses knew he had a relationship with God and it didn’t matter what the kingdom of Egypt thought. When Moses walked out of Egypt the Pharaoh wished he had known who he was dealing with because Egypt was ruined because the Pharaoh didn’t know who he was. In the same way they didn’t recognize Jesus and the nation of Israel was destroyed a few years later because they did not know who he was.

Do you know who you are in God? Don’t wait for the world to figure it out. First Corinthians 4, verse 12 & 13. The Bible says, “Being reviled” by the world, “we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat.” Just expect this from the world. Don’t get your self-esteem from the world’s recognition. “Being defamed, we entreat. We have been made the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.” This is Paul speaking. Defamed by the world, the offscouring. That’s what you scrape away. This is how the world views us.

I think the church gets into a lot of trouble trying to get their self-esteem and identity from the world, trying to be appreciated and accepted by the world we get into a lot of trouble. Don’t ever expect it because if you’re being recognized and appreciated by the world, you’re probably doing something wrong. Jesus said, “Woe unto you when all men speak well of you for so they did of the false prophets.” If you’re following Christ the world is not going to know who you are because let’s face it, the teachings of Jesus are really weird. I’m talking, I’m not talking about the political Christianity. I’m talking about real Christianity is radical and weird. To love your enemies, to turn the other cheek, to go the second mile when someone says to carry their burden. The world doesn’t understand it and if you are really living the principals of Jesus, that kind of honesty where you walk back to the grocery store to return the extra nickel that they gave you in your change, they don’t understand it. It doesn’t fit in. It seems illogical. To be honest on your taxes when you could easily cheat, the world doesn’t understand that. Fess up! Oh yeah, it got quiet in here. Don’t get your identity from the world. Romans chapter 12 verse 2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you might prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Now while we’re on the subject I would be remiss if I did not spend some time reminding you, if you don’t know who you are you are what you think. You are what you believe. “As a man thinketh so is he.” How many times did Jesus heal… and that was Proverbs chapter 23, verse 7. How many times did Jesus heal somebody and he followed the healing by this statement, “according to your faith, let it be”? It’s going to be you according to what you believe. You will end up like you think. So many people never rise… is it a shock to you if I were to tell you now that people who have been abused in their families growing up end up marrying abusive people? You know why that so often happens? Because their concept of themselves, they think so little of themselves, their concept of themselves will not allow them to find somebody that treats them better. They almost go searching for somebody who they subconsciously know will treat them the way they’re used to be treating or how they think they deserve to be treated. “Be it unto you according to your faith.” If you find that this is a cycle you’re trapped in, you need to change how you think about yourself.

Who do you think you are? Jesus would heal somebody and never did he say, never did he say, “My faith has made you whole.” It’s always the reverse. He says, “Your faith.” And I read to you earlier God has dealt to all men a measure of faith. Your faith has made you whole. We are greatly effected and I even believe the things that happen to us during the day and in our lives are largely connected with what we believe. I think when we get to heaven and the veil is pulled aside we’re going to discover how much good and evil came into our lives because of our attitudes of what we believed. Faith is a big operating power in the Christian realm. Romans, I’m sorry, in Matthew 29, “According to your faith let it be unto you.” Mark 10:52, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” People will often treat you how you allow them to treat you based on who you think you are. That deserves repeating. Some folks say, “I don’t know why everyone treats me so badly.” People will often treat you the way you invite them to treat you because of who you think you are.

One more time, it’s worth it. You don’t like the way people treat you? I’m not talking about one or two people. I’m talking in generally through your life. They’re probably treating you the way you’re inviting them to treat you because of who you think you are. Was that true? Did I just say something true? I believe it, friends. I believe that we often are treated, for one thing, the way we treat others, but the way we invite people to treat us. Now I want to talk a little more about this faith principle. And we all know what a placebo is, and a placebo of course is a phony pill. Whenever they do medical research to see if some procedure actually has real medicinal value they’re having to do all of their surveys and their research now by not only giving the new drug or medicine to the people but they must also give them a placebo.

The FDA when they approve various drugs now they cannot do it without using placebos. A placebo is a pill or medicine that is in some inert valueless substance like starch or sugar and they’ll put it in a capsule or a solution and they’ll color it and they’ll try and make it look like some medicine and they’ll give it to people and often even the doctors administering it are not told which is the real new medicine and which is the counterfeit and then they have a group and only the testers know who have gotten the placebo and who have gotten the real thing. And they have learned some amazing things about the power of the mind in these studies. So many people get better or get sick because they believe that something has happened to them in this medicine or this pill that they’ve taken or this procedure that the doctor has done when all they’ve done is taken starch or sugar water.

Let me read something to you. This is a quote from a book called the Placebo Prescription written by Margaret Talbot, NY Times Magazine, January 9, 2000. “Doctors in one study successfully eliminated warts by painting warts by a brightly colored inert dye promising patients the warts would be gone when the color wore off.” How could the power of the mind effect warts? But they successfully got rid of the warts because the people believed this colored water was going to do it. That to me was the most shocking of the ones I’m about to read you. I wish I had saved it for last. “In another study of asthmatics researchers found they could produce dilation of the airways by simply telling people they were inhaling a bronchial-dilator even when they weren’t.” I can’t breathe! They’d give them something, they’d huuuh. And it’s some inert substance that has no medicinal value and they, “Ah, much better. Thank you!” Why? They believed.

Now the reason I’m dwelling on this is because I don’t think we appreciate how we think about ourselves, the impact that it has, the power of our faith. “Patients suffering pain after wisdom tooth extraction got just as much relief from a fake application of ultrasound as a real one so long as both the patient and the therapist believed that the machine was on.” They found that when they were giving these ultrasound treatments to people who had wisdom truth extraction pain that if the therapist giving it and the person receiving it thought they were getting it they felt much better in some cases they found out accidentally a lot of people felt better and they’d forgotten to turn on the machine. “52% of people with Colitis treated with a placebo in 11 different trails reported feeling better.” 52%! 50% of their inflamed intestines when examined with a scope were discovered to actually have improved. They were given nothing medicine but they believed.

Forty years ago there was a young Seattle cardiologist named Leonard Cobb. He conducted a unique trial of procedures then commonly used for angina pain in which doctors made small incisions in the chest, they tied knots in two arteries to try to increase blood flow to the heart. It was a popular technique. 90% of the patients reported that it helped, but when Cobb compared it with placebo surgery. I don’t know who got permission for this, but this is what he did. He made incisions in people, but didn’t tie off the arteries and he told them that he had. The sham operations proved just as successful, 90% felt better. That’s why they don’t do it anymore. It was all in their heads. Soon the procedure known as internal mammary ligation was abandoned because it was just people thinking that they got better.

Now if the power of the mind is that acute, is that powerful, if what you think has so much power over your health and these feelings… that’s why Jesus, when you pray and you ask him and you believe, it says, “come to the Lord believing.” Faith is a very important element. If that’s true in medical things then don’t you think that it has an effect on your attitudes about happiness? Some people are depressed all the time and a lot of it, I’m not saying that sometimes it can be chemical and sometimes it can be crisis and all kinds of circumstances that effect these things, but a lot of times if our attitudes about who we think we are could change everything.

Are you a tree or a turnip? Who do you think you are? Let me explain. If you win a weekend in Reno, don’t tell anyone else at the church, but if you win a weekend at Reno and part of that weekend is a shopping spree where you’re allowed to keep as much as you could put in shopping carts in fifteen minutes would you shop furiously? Of course you would. I mean, if you’re… I’ve heard of people who have won shopping sprees at Costco and stuff like that and they get these big old pallets and they’re running up and down the aisles in a fever trying to pile all the most expensive items they can on, right? Why are they in that kind of a frenzy? Or you’re told that you get to keep all the money you can win from the slot machines as long as you can put quarters in for the next hour. They’d be going from machine to machine to machine dropping quarters in trying to get as much as they can, right? Trying to hit the jackpot once. They’d be in a frenzy. Why? Because they’re thinking like a turnip. They’ve got limited time. They’ve got to shop like that.

Turnips typically, you ever plant radishes or turnips? They grow very quickly. If you want to take on gardening don’t start out planting something like asparagus, takes seven years before you get any. Plant turnips, plant radishes, amen? Any of you done this before? If you’re going to get your kids into gardening plant radishes; they’ll get quick results. They’re edible in about three weeks. But you don’t get redwood trees that way. Now the reason I say that is because if we think that this life is a brief shopping spree that we have run and we are going out to get eat and drink and get as much pleasure as we can because we think we’re turnips, we’re only here for a little while and then we’re going to dry out, crack, and wither. Turnips also have a short lifespan. Not only do they grow very quick, but if you don’t eat them when they’re small they get big, they’re woody and fibrous and you ever eat one like that? It’s awful. It’s like trying to eat oak. They’ve got a short lifespan. And if you think that this life is all there is you’re going to live like a turnip and you’ll be on a shopping spree and you’ll be frantic to try and get as much pleasure out of this life as you can instead of realizing that this life getting a good foundation in this life lasts for eternity. You need to think like a tree instead of a turnip. Isaiah 65:22, “For as the days of a tree, so shall the days of My people be, and Mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.”

Think with the long perspective. Who do you think you are? Are you just here for a little while? That will effect your philosophy about everything else. And you know there are even a lot of Christians who in their innermost souls they say, “Yes, I believe in Jesus. I want to go to Heaven and in eternity will be wonderful.” But in the back of their mind they’re thinking, “There’s a chance I won’t make it because I know things and God knows things that other people don’t know so in case I’m not going to make it, in case this life is all there is I better think like a turnip and get as much as I can right now because it’s short.” Who do you think you are? Do you really believe you’ve got everlasting life? If you believe you’ve got everlasting life you won’t try to get all your pleasure now. You’ll be satisfied living with some self-denial now because you’ll think, “Hey! At his right hand are pleasures forever more through eternity. I don’t have to think like a turnip and get it all right now. I can think like a tree.” Psalms 1:3 The man who trusts in the Lord “he’s like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in season, whose leaf also shall not wither.” You need that long-term perspective, amen?

What else does the Bible tell us? Who do you think you are? You’re rich if you’re a Christian. A lot of us would like to make an early withdrawal on that now, right? We’d like an advance, but the Bible says that in God we’re rich. He’s offered us great riches in Christ. Have you experienced that? Ephesians 2:7 “That in the ages to come He might show you the exceeding riches of His grace His kindness towards us in Christ Jesus.” The Bible speaks about the riches of his grace, the riches of his love. Mark 10:21 Jesus told that rich young ruler get rid of your earthly riches. Stop thinking like a turnip. Give it to the poor. “You’ll have treasure in heaven… take up your cross, and follow Me.” Did you catch that? You’ll have treasure in heaven. And so he’s saying, “Think on the long-term.” You’ll walk on gold if we believe it. Who do you think you are? The Bible says that we’re saints and you know you almost wonder why the Bible writers would call us saints now. But Paul addressed the church as saints I believe hoping that they would rise to the occasion. If he talked to them and told them they were saints they’d start acting more like saints.

I’ve heard a number of stories about pastors who would visit inactive or backslidden church members and address them as though they were Christians and say you know, “Brother, Sister so-and-so, I want to ask you to do me a favor. You’ve got a neighbor that lives up the street and they could sure use some encouragement. Could you go over to their house and have prayer for them?” And they’re thinking in their hearts, “Me? Have prayer for them? I’m backslidden!” But because the pastor is addressing them as though they’re in Christ they say, “Well, I guess I’ll go see them.” And as they start living out the expectations it starts becoming real. You know one of the keys to quitting smoking or any other bad habit? I remember I’ve done programs where I’ve tried to help people quit and I’ve had to quit. You’re halfway to the victory when you start saying to yourself not “I’m trying to quit” when you start saying to yourself “I quit.” There’s a big difference. When I hear someone say, “Well, I’m trying to quit.” I think, “Oh, that’s not good.” They need to start seeing themselves as free from smoking and as soon as they start seeing themselves free from smoking the temptations are a lot easier to cope with. You’ve got to see yourself differently.

Who do you think you are? If you see yourself all the time as fallen and oppressed and captive of the devil, if you think like a slave you’ll be a slave. You’ve got to see yourself as free. The Bible says, Jesus promised, “If the Son shall make you free, you’ll be free indeed.” Are you trying to quit? Or has he set you free? You see the difference? How do you see yourself? Who do you think you are? He tells us we’re saints. Colossians 1:12. That worries me. I give a scripture and I look and none of your heads move up or down. Please write it down or do a fake nod for me so the pastor will think you’re all looking these up. I spent a lot of time finding these references. I want to get some mileage out of them. Colossians 1:12 “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the power.” Will deliver or trying to be delivered? “He has delivered us.” Do you hear the difference? He’s delivered, past tense. “He delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of His Son, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” He gives us a new name. He says, “I’m calling you saints.”

It’s something that when you believe it, it becomes real. That is, if you’ve ever wondered what it means, the term righteousness by faith, that’s what it means. You become righteous when you believe the promises of God. The Bible says that you become a new creature. Who do you think you are? All things are new when you are in Christ and it’s really good when you can start envisioning that you are a new creature. Notice this: II Corinthians 5:17. I got a few more nods out of that. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,…” He might be, he could be, he’s hoping to be, he’s striving to be. “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature, new creation; old things” might pass away. We’re hoping they can shake them off eventually. No, “old things have passed away; behold, all things” we’re hoping will become new, they could become new, they shall become new. No, “all things have become new.” These words were carefully chosen. It’s very definite. If you’re in Christ, old things are passed away, old things are become new. You become a new creature. Do you see yourself as a new creature?

You know I remember hearing about Augustine before his conversion he confesses in his writings he lived a very profane and immoral life and sometime after he was converted (and he experienced a radical conversion) he was walking down one of the streets in Milan, Italy and one of his old girlfriends saw him and she was amazed that he looked at her and kept going without even a nod of recognition and they knew each other well in his former life. She chased him up the street and she said, “Augustine, Augustine, it is I. It is I.” And he turned and looked at her and he said, “But it’s no longer I.” He was a new creature and he saw himself that way and she no longer had a spell over him because he realized he was new.

I Corinthians 6:9 This is a good one. “Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you.” He’s writing to the church. “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified…” He didn’t say you’re being. He said you were. It’s been done. “…in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” You were this, but you’re not any more. You’re a new creature. Do you see yourself as new? This is what it means to be born again. All things have become new. Now the good news is if you’ve been having an identity crisis, there are Christians who have spiritual amnesia, you don’t know who you are; this message is for you so you can know who you are. You need to start thinking of yourself differently. You need to see yourself through God’s eyes, and if you’re still out there and you’re lost then you need to come to him, accept that you have been forgiven and start seeing yourself differently. Otherwise you’re going to continue to see yourself like a slave and you’ll never rise above being a captive of the devil. You need to know who you are in Christ. Your faith will set you free. You’ve got to believe differently.

Now I’ve talked a lot about who you think you are. I want to word it a little differently. Whose do you think you are? That doesn’t sound like good English, does it? Whose do you think you are? Who do you belong to? Deuteronomy 7:6 this is what the Lord says, “For you are a holy people to the Lord God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.” Now he said that to Israel in the Old Testament, but I think it very truly applies to the church today. You are spiritual Israel. Do you agree with that? God says that you are a special people. This was our scripture reading. I Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Why would the apostle take time to tell them who they were? You know why? They didn’t know or they’d forgotten or their bar was set too low. They didn’t know who they were. Peter had to tell them. He says, “Let me tell you who you are.” He says, “You are a chosen generation.”

And you know what? That’s especially true today. Think about it for a minute. How many generations have there been in the history of the world? Well, the Bible tells us that from Abraham to Jesus, what is it? Twenty-eight generations? In Matthew it counts them out for us. I forget. It’s a series of fourteens. If you go back to Adam to the present I don’t know, hundreds of generations, isn’t that right? Think of all the generations that have ever lived. And some would argue a generation is twenty years now. I think the scale changes. In the Batchelor family it’s about eighteen years. Back in the Bible it was forty years technically for bible calculations. My grandfather when he died was a great-great-grandfather. He got married when my grandmother was sixteen and everybody was doing it and my mother got married to my father when she was nineteen and it just kept happening like that on down the line doing it young. But how many generations have there been? Think of it. Hundreds? I don’t know.

When you think about this for a second, what generation in the world is the most privileged? Well, there’s a couple. The generation when Jesus came the first time, I would like to have lived back then. And the generation when Jesus comes the second time. Living in a generation that may not have to taste death, that will be alive on the earth when the Lord descends, what a privilege. So when he says here “you are a chosen generation” that’s us, friends. You are a chosen people, not just the time you live, who you are. He has chosen us for himself. “A royal priesthood,” he’s called us to be his representatives, to make atonement for a lost world, to intercede. “A holy nation,” he says, “Be ye holy for I am holy.” He’s telling us who we are. “A peculiar people,” we are unique. We are chosen by God “that we should show forth the praises.” This is the purpose for which we’ve been called “to show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into marvelous light.”

That’s who you are. You are a royal people, a holy nation, a chosen generation, you are unique, peculiar, different from the world, and you have a purpose. You not only need to know where you are. You can check the stationery and find that out, get your GPS. You need to know who you are. You need to know why you are. You know what our purpose is? “To show forth the praises of Him” not for our glory but for his. That’s why David excelled and Joseph and the others, because they knew who they were in God. “To show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness” not into any light “into His marvelous light.” This is the word of God. This is why we have been called.

The Bible says that we are not our own. Whose are you? You belong to God. “You were bought with a price; therefore glorify…” and this is I Corinthians 6:20. You don’t belong to yourself. Whose are you? You’ve been purchased. He paid top dollar for you. You know it’s one thing when… you ever been at the supermarket and all the food’s on the belt and you’re supposed to put those little dividers on the belt to make sure you separate your groceries from the groceries of someone ahead of you? And there’s been a few times when you know the person who is behind me in line doesn’t put one of those dividers down and they’ve got a carton of cigarettes and a bottle of Jack Daniels and it’s starting to go over in my stuff and I like to draw the line right there and say, “I’m not paying for that!” You want to know what you’re paying for. Well, the Lord is telling us, “I’ve paid for you. You belong to me. You are in my basket and I paid top dollar for you.” You’ve been bought with a price. That’s why he tells us in Romans 12 “I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable, which is your reasonable service.” Why? Because he bought you. He owns you by redemption and he owns you by sacrifice, by salvation, by creation he owns you. “present your bodies a living sacrifice”

I heard this woman and her husband were touring the Outback of Australia and they’ve got some pretty Spartan tours they’ll take you on in these jeeps back there and they stopped at one of these remote towns that is sort of like a one-horse town and they usually all have one bar if you’re in the Outback of Australia and this woman, who was an attractive woman, and her husband he dropped her off there. They have a little souvenir store and she was shopping around for nick knacks and he wanted to go look at this cowboy ranch that they had a few streets up and it was not a good choice because the nick-knack souvenir store was also next door to the town bar and it was late in the day and some of the cowboys had been drinking. And she stepped out and she’s waiting now on the front porch where some of these men who had been drinking for her husband. She’s got to be out there so he’ll know where she is and that she’s ready. And they start to say unkind, obscene things and whistle and flirt and she says, “You gentlemen ought to mind your own business. I suggest that you leave me alone.” And they’re becoming a little indignant that she’s talking to them like this when she’s obviously outnumbered, and they say, “Who do you think you are?” About that time her husband comes around the corner with the tour guide and he is a professional wrestler, six foot seven, from America. I mean I’m not into the professional wrestler thing, but this guy was big and he gets out of the car and as he gets out it goes up on the shocks on one side. And she says, “I’m his wife.”

The church is the bride of Christ. We belong to him. You need to know that you’re on the winning team. Who do you think you are? You know Jesus tells us who he thinks we are. He has bought us with a great price. He has called us his children, a royal nation and we need to start seeing ourselves through his eyes and it will effect our behavior because “as a man thinks in his heart so is he.” Oh, if we only knew how much happens to us because of what we think about ourselves.

I remember one time reading the story from history when Napoleon Bonaparte was reviewing his troops in Paris. I think I’ve shared this with you before. It’s a great story. And he dropped the bridle and it startled the horse and the horse began to race, gallop and the little general, he’s doing all he can to hang onto the back of the saddle. The horse is out of control and one of the common soldiers jumps out in front of the horse at great risk to his life, grabs the horse around the neck and he gets drug a little ways. He grabs the emperor’s bridle and finally recovers himself, stops the horse, stands up and hands the bridle to Napoleon and Napoleon said, “Thank you, Captain.” Of course you could see from his uniform he’s a common foot soldier, and he said, “Of what regiment, Sir?” And he said, “Of my guard.” So this common soldier goes over to where the officers are, he leaves his gun with the other troops and he says, “I want to know where the Emperor’s Guard is.” And he said, “Why?” He said, “Because I’m their captain.” He said, “Who do you think you are?” He said, “I’m the captain.” “Why do you think that? Who told you that?” And he points to Napoleon who is still within sight and he said, “He did.” And they said, “Oh, we’re sorry, Captain. We did not know.” It was, all it took was the word of Napoleon and it exalted him from a common soldier to a captain.

So if you want to know who you are it’s not based on what you say or what others say; it’s based on what Jesus says. He says, “You are a holy nation, you are my peculiar people.” So now if I ask you who do you think you are? Well, the Bible tells us who we are. We’re his child. We’re his property. We are a royal heritage. We are a nation of kings and priests. Do you believe that, friends. Do you feel better now that you know who you are? You’re a child of the king and that’s our closing song. What’s the number? 468. Let’s turn and let’s sing about that as we stand together.

My Father is rich in houses and lands; He holdeth wealth of the world in His hands! Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold, His coffers are full—He has riches untold. I’m a child of the King, a child of the King! With Jesus, my Savior, I’m a child of the King!

Now you maybe didn’t think this was going to happen but this is a good gospel message. This is what salvation is all about, a new identity. You become his child. You change leaders. You find out who you are in God. We cease to be slaves of the devil and we become servants of the Lord. There may be some of you who have heard the Holy Spirit speaking to your hearts today and you realize that this has been the problem is I’ve been letting the devil define my identity. I didn’t know who I was in Christ. I also want you to remember this principle we’ve talked about. I want you to think like a tree and not like a turnip. This world is very temporary and the longer we live in eternity we’ll know how brief it really was. Don’t let the world define who you are because it will make you scramble like you’re running through a shopping center on some brief spree. You’ve got to think in eternal terms. Not only are you the child of the king, you’re living in a different world for a different time. It changes everything when you know who you are. If you’d like to say this morning, “Lord, I’d like to have that tree perspective and think forever in eternity.” Let’s sing verse four together.

A tent or a cottage, o why should I care? They’re building a palace for me over there! Though exiled from home, yet still I may sing: “All glory to God, I’m a child of the King.” I’m a child of the King, a child of the King! With Jesus, my Savior, I’m a child of the King!

Dear Father in heaven, we are so thankful that we can derive our identity not based on what the world thinks of us or even what we’re tempted to think of ourselves but on what your word says, who you declare that we are and it becomes true. Lord, I pray that we will base our conclusions on that identity on those promises in your word that we are a holy nation, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a treasure, a nation of kings and priests, and I pray that we will live up to that high calling. Bless us to that end, Lord, and I pray that you’ll give us that faith that will see us through. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

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