Anyone who has listened to these studies before, knows that our identity in Christ is my main topic… I speak on our identity as New Creations in Christ Jesus more than any other, because it is one of the most neglected aspects of life in Christ – and sadly it’s the foundation of it – it’s the very essence of what Jesus accomplished for you. He has allowed you to be “born again” He has completely regenerated you, from the inside out. And most people are unaware of it.
So I often speak about and study our identity. And today, I would like to show you a practical example in scripture, of this change taking place in the very father of faith, known as Abraham, back when he was just known as Abram. And as we see this happening, we can see how God changed his entire perspective, in the same way that we have studied in the past – and by seeing this you will have a better understanding of what it means to live your new identity in Christ Jesus today.
Today we are talking about perspectives, specifically seeing yourself with the same eyes as God; through His lenses, if you will. In truth, a lot of us do not see ourselves this way… we take a look around, we see our current situation based on our five senses, and our human intellect, and what the world tells us, and we make a judgment, based on that information.
However, we are reading the wrong report. Isaiah says in chapter 53:1, who has believed our report? To whom has the arm of the LORD (YHVH) been revealed?
You see, their report was different then the world’s report. Their report was better than the others, their report was of victory and even ultimate victory of the Messiah on the cross.
When the twelve spies were sent in to spy out the promised land in Numbers 13, ten of them came back with what God called an “evil report”, it was a report which declared that the Israelite’s could not take the land because the land had giants in it, and the walls were too tall and too thick – even though God had already promised that they could take the land. As far as God was concerned, the land was already theirs, but this evil report directly contradicted what God said. Only two of the twelve spies (Joshua and Caleb), stood strong on the promise of God, and confidently declared that they were well able to take the land, and that those giants were considered as bread to them! You see, they noticed the same giants, and the same walls, as the other ten spies – the difference was they also considered the promise which God had made, and they filtered what they saw through the lens of God, and that lens of God, put the proper perspective on what they saw.
So let’s take a look at an example of God Himself demonstrating this perspective shift in the life of Abram… as we read Genesis 15, starting with the first two verses:
“After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am your shield, and your exceeding great reward.
And Abram said, LORD God, what will you give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?”
Just as before with Isaiah, and with the twelve spies, we see two reports here. One report is the report of God; He says to Abram here “Do not be afraid Abram, I am your shield, and your exceeding great reward.” Pretty awesome! God even calls him by name, so that Abram wouldn’t doubt it by saying “Oh he didn’t mean me!”.
So God gives Abram an amazing report. However in verse two, we see a stark contrast between what God says about Abram, and what Abram says about himself. We see a huge difference between the way God sees Abram, and how Abram sees himself.
Earlier in Genesis 12, God had already promised to bless Abram and his descendants. And now God is detailing those blessings even more, but in verse 2, look at how Abram sees himself:
He says, what will You give to me? (in the sense of, what good would any of your gifts be?) seeing as I am childless?
So God had promised Abram children, vast descendants, protection and exceedingly great rewards; however Abram sees a different picture… again, Abram says what will you give me, seeing – and what did Abram see? He saw himself childless! He took stock of his current circumstances, and allowed his current situation, what he saw, what he felt, and what his human reasoning said – he let all of that speak louder than the promises of Almighty God. What will you give to me? Seeing that I am childless?
He continues: and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? Now, by saying this, Abram was attempting to complain that the only male steward of his household, wasn’t even a proper descendant. He was attempting to prove his point and in a sense he was trying to shame God by saying “See! I don’t even have my own descendant to care for my house!” However, this actually doesn’t prove anything, and Abram is so situation-conscious instead of God-conscious right now that he doesn’t even realize what he is saying, because the very name Eliezer in Hebrew means “My God helps”.
How many understand that the more focused on our problems we are, we become more spiritually oblivious, and often miss what is right in-front of us!
Abram’s not done yet though… because in verse 3, he proceeds to flat-out lay the blame on God directly and say:
“Behold, to me you have given no seed: and, see, one born in my house is my heir.”
Now at this point, some people would take offense to this, and say that if anyone ever talked to God like this, they would be cast out. Some people get squeamish at the very idea of taking this kind of a tone with God. They say, How dare you speak to God in this manner!
God doesn’t seem to mind it too much though, and He simply proceeds to get Abram’s focus off of himself and his problems, and back onto where they should be – beginning, by refuting Abram’s argument in verse 4. And in all of this – we never see God becoming angry. We never see God give a heavy sigh, or do a face-palm. This is simply a conversation between two close friends. Look at verse 4:
“And, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, This shall not be your heir; but he that shall come forth out of your own bowels shall be your heir.”
Simple, to the point. God is saying: “Hey Abe, things aren’t nearly as bad as you think. And they are going to turn out better than you can imagine.”
Then, in verse 5 God does something very interesting… He begins to show Abram things, and He begins to do things that will cause Abram to totally shift his perspective of himself. Look at verse 5, now:
“And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if you be able to number them: and he said to him, So shall your seed be.”
Now the Hebrew text of this verse, reveals something that our English translations generally don’t. We think that God just brought Abram outside to look at the night sky, and look at how many stars there are; but there is more here than that. Do you see that phrase “tell the stars”, there in the verse? (Other translations might just have the word number the stars, or count the stars), However in Hebrew it is ספר הכוכבים meaning to “read or recount the names of the stars and the story in them.” to read them like a book, if you will. It carries a meaning of more than simply numbering or counting the stars like one, two three…
You see, what God was actually doing here – besides showing Abram how numerous his descendants would actually be, is that He was actually showing Abram the Gospel story written in the stars. How exactly was God doing that? I can’t say for certain which method God chose because the scriptures don’t say exactly… He may have used the Zodiac, which was never meant for divination, but actually depicts the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Yet regardless of which method God used, I know that He did show Abram the Gospel in the stars because Psalm 19:1 says that is the actual purpose of the heavens. Psalms 19:1 says that the heavens, הַשָּׁמַ֗יִם, the place of the stars, declare the glory of God. And Jesus is the Glory of God, the Lord of Glory according to James 2:1. Furthermore, Galatians 3:8, plainly says that God preached the Gospel to Abraham, so there is no doubt whatsoever!
So God showed Abram the Gospel, He preached the Gospel to Abram – and this changed Abram’s lenses. He started seeing himself through the lenses of God, through the eyes of Grace through faith. And look at what we see in verse 6 of Genesis 15:
“And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”
There are so many people today that are struggling, striving, working hard trying to be righteous. But as we see here, the true way to be righteous is to simply believe in the LORD.
After changing Abram’s perspective of himself, two chapters later in Genesis 17, God then changes Abram’s confession, his speech, his words. God does this by changing Abram’s name to Abraham, and Sarai’s name to Sarah.
Abram’s name meant “exalted father”, and God changed it to Abraham, meaning “Father of many”.
Sarai’s name meant “my princess”, and God changed it to “a princess” (in the generic sense). The implication there is that she was no longer a princess to a singular person, but she is now a princess to many people (her children).
And this is something that the world tries to latch onto – the power of positive confession… but they are missing the root, they are missing the foundation of Jesus Christ, the Gospel truth. Always remember that God changes the heart, the lenses, the perspective of Abram, before He changed his words. You can speak all the positive words that you want, but without the foundation, they are all just empty, meaningless words without substance, if they lack the foundation.
If you don’t actually see yourself through the eyes of God’s Grace, and you just try to speak positively, you are “putting the cart before the horse” and not even being honest with yourself!
I’m not just making this up either… this principle is also in your Bible. Jesus spoke these words, which many of us have heard before and memorized, but we don’t often stop to realize what He actually said. Check out Luke 6:45:
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
You see, both Good and Evil, both of them come from your heart first, long before they are spoken by your words.
The idea that I want you to see here, is that if it doesn’t come from your heart, is your mouth really “speaking”, with power? I don’t believe so.
It is only when you truly see something in your heart, then that gives your words power – be it both good, and evil.
So I encourage you today, let the truth of Christ, let the Gospel change your lenses. See youself the way God sees you. See yourself in Christ, and live your identity in Him.