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I want to begin to understand my new identity in Christ (how he sees me; how I should see myself) and understand what it means to be free from sin. I have lived my whole life as a slave to sin, I want to learn to think and act like the free man that I have become because of Christ.

Where should I start? Any recommendations on passages of scripture that discuss this? I have done small word studies before but I have no idea how to even start this study. Any advice will be appreciated. I am a 25 year old male.

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    Scripture speaks of a new birth and of being part of a new humanity (Christ the Head, the redeemed the body). I know of nowhere in scripture that suggests one has a new 'identity'. One is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and that is a matter of union (in Spirit, in Christ). But my spirit is still my spirit. I am still me. I have not become someone else. (Though I have a new name.) I challenge the modern idea (borrowed from philosophy - id and ego and superego) that it is not from the bible at all.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 3:01

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As has been pointed out, the expression “a new identity in Christ” does not appear in the Bible. It is a modern evangelical term. Several places in Scripture refer to believers being “in Christ” (1 Peter 5:14; Philippians 1:1; Romans 8:1).

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Colossians 3:3 gives a little more insight: “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

When we come to Christ as broken sinners, God exchanges our sin for His righteousness:

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The book of Romans is a wonderful place to understand what it means to be free from sin and how God views us. Here are a few verses to get you started:

Romans 5:10: For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

Romans 6:6: We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

Romans 8:15-16: For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

Romans 8:38-39: For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 12:1-2: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

And here is the best news of all – having been chosen by God and adopted into His family, the refining work that started when we came to saving faith in Christ Jesus will reach completion:

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).

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A very good starting-point is Romans ch6. Paul states that we have been "baptised into Christ"; that is, we are now "in him" and identified with him. In that status, we have died on the Cross "together with" Christ (v3, v6). Therefore we will share in the resurrection with him. More to the present point, we have already been "raised" to a new life, having "died to" the old sinful life (v6, v11). So life "in Christ" means endeavouring to live up to that status; "Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life" (v13).

It is important to note, as part of this discussion, what Paul says in ch7 v6. His readers are no longer under the guidance of the old written law. Instead they serve "in the new life of the Spirit." We still avoid murder, theft, adultery, etc, but we avoid them because the Holy Spirit, our new guide, tells us to avoid them, not because Moses tells us to avoid them. Don't get enchained by legalisms. Legalism and life by faith are not compatible.

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Places that I would look:

  • Matthew 5-7 (Sermon on the Mount), especially the Beatitudes
  • John 15 (vine and branches)
  • Galatians 2, esp. the end, with "I am crucified in Christ..."
  • Colossians 1:24-28 (Christ in you, the hope of Glory)
  • Romans 6-8, concerning death to self (ch 6), the continuing struggle against sin (ch 7) and the strong promises (ch 8)
  • 1 John
  • Jeremiah 31:33 (I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts)

Those speak about the transformation caused by being indwelled by the Holy Spirit. For specific results to study, a person with a Christian identity needs:

  • Ethics: Job 29,31 and most of Proverbs
  • Purpose: Ecclesiastes (to reject false materialistic purposes), Matthew and Acts (for the mission of spreading the Gospel)
  • Morals: Exodus 20 (the Ten Commandments) and Matthew (the Law of Christ)
  • To Sacrifice for others: (Philippians 2)
  • Emotions: Psalms (which are a meditation on the Law) are to perform surgery on your emotions and make the good appealing and the wicked unappealing, to stimulate worship
  • Wisdom: Proverbs 2 is about the change from a person who finds wisdom distasteful to one who finds it pleasant to their soul

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