To Gain Your Identity,
You Must Lose Your Identity!
   The world says, "Grab hold to your identity and hold on with all your might."  However, this is just the opposite of what the Scripture teaches.  Jesus said, "He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal" (John 12:25).

I. General Outline:
"Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.    After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.    Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth"  (Hosea 6:1-3).

A. Verse #2 may speak of the rebirth, but verse # 3 is not specifically speaking of getting saved (born again).
B. Note specifically: We are to follow on to know the LORD.
C. We can walk in the fulness of the Spirit (the latter rain) as we follow on to know the LORD.

II. What is the first requirement to follow on?
A. An Old Testament application.
1. In Chapter 32 of the book of Exodus we find that Moses had been on the mount receiving the Ten Commandment, but came back to find the people worshipping the golden calf.  Moses took the golden calf, ground it up into power and spread it of the water for the people to drink.  He also called for a commitment to follow God.  However, only the Levites responded. Moses then had the Levites to kill 3,000 men who had refused to repent.  Moses went again before God to plead for the people.  God told Moses to have the people to remove all their ornaments.  "For the LORD had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee. And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb" (Exodus 33:5-6).

2. They had to lay aside their ornaments that they might be free to worship God and follow Him.  The basic meaning of the word "worship" means "to give worth or value to."

3. The QUESTION today is, "What are the ornaments which may decorate our lives which point to our own worth which may hinder our following God?"

4. Our ornaments may be:

 a. Our job or position.
 b. Our physical or intellectual ability.
 c. Our achievements in life.
 d. Our education.
 e. Our race or nationality.
 f. Our family or friends.
 g. Our church or ministry.
B. What did Jesus say about following him?
1. "And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Luke 9:23).
a. The subject is following on after Jesus.
b. One must deny himself.
c. One must take up his cross daily (daily die to self) before he is free to follow.
d. This means that we are to put our wants and desires on the shelf before we are free to follow Jesus.
2. "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26).
a. He is speaking of following him as a disciple (a disciplined one).
b. Our love for our family and even our own lives must be as hate compared to our love for Jesus.
c. Are you willing to forsake all to follow him?  Abraham had to forsake his home, his country, friends, and even his family to follow God.
3.  "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33).  (Are you willing to forsake everything that you may be free to follow Jesus?)
C. What did Paul teach?
A. "Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ" (Philippians 3:8)
1. He was circumcised as sign of his covenant with God.
2. He was part of Israel of the tribe of Benjamin.
3. He was a Pharisee the strictest religious sect.
4. He was zealous in persecuting the church.
5. He lived according to the Law.
6. He was also educated under the rabbi Gamaliel.
7. He was also a Roman citizen (something of great value at that time).
8. He spoke about five different languages.
B. Yet, he counted it all a pile of manure that he might follow after Christ. What is in your pile of manure?
D. My experience.
One night while we lived in Ft. Worth, Texas when my wife and three daughters were away from home, I had a searching and convicting visit from the Holy Spirit.  We had recently bought a new car which I was quite proud of.  My wife took the car that night when she and our daughters went out. The Holy Spirit brought some very disturbing questions.  I don't remember the exact order of the questions but the were something like this:

Would it be O.K. with you if your wife had a car wreck?  Would that hinder your relationship with God?  Well, I definitely didn't was "my" new car in a wreck, but it wouldn't hinder my relationship with God.

What if one of your daughters were injured or kill?  Again, I definitely wouldn't something like that to happen, but I could still keep on living.

What if your wife was killed? Or if wife and daughters were killed? Oh, God forbid!  This was even a more difficult question, but I could still keep on living.

There were many other questions also.  What if you lost the house that you are living in?  Well, we had lived there for some time and paid a very nominal rent.

What if your library was taken away?  I had a quite large library of books by this time.

What if your freedom was taken away and you in jail.  My next thought was, "Well if I just had my Bible, it would be O.K."  Guess what the next question was.

What if your Bible was taken away?  The Bible seemed to be my life, but I would still have Jesus.

What if your health was taken away?  I had to conclude if everything in my life was taken away, I could still have a relationship and fellowship with Jesus.

It was a hard test, but it boiled everything down to JESUS.

III. Examples from Scripture of losing one's identity to gain one's identity.
A.  Abraham was a want-to-be father became the father of the nation of Israel and more than that the father of our faith.
1.  "Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:    And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:    And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 12:1-3).  He gave up everything to become ....  He gave up his home, his friends, his country, and even his family to follow God.

2.  "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all" (Romans 4:16).

3. "And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of" (Genesis 22:2).  He had to be willing to give up even that which God had given him.  Are you?

B. Moses, the would-be prince of Egypt, became the prince of the Hebrews.
1. "And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod" (Exodus 4:2).

2. It was representative of everything the Moses was, a shepherd.  He had been a shepherd for forty years.

3. When he threw the rod down it was as though he was throwing down his life.  It became a poisonous serpent.

4.  When God told him to pick it up, he had to put his total trust in God because God told him to pick it up by the tail leaving the action end open.

5. The rod became a symbol God's power and authority in the hand of Moses and of Aaron.

6. The rod became the instrument through which God worked many miracles.

7. Moses became the leader of the Hebrews leading as many a 2,000,000 people.

C. Gideon was a coward, but became a mighty man of valor
1. "And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour" (Judges 6:12).

2. Gideon was hiding in the hole of a wine press from the Midianites when the angel came to him. He was throw up the gain over his head just high enough for some wind to carry away some husk.  It would have been a miserable job with the dirt, some husk, and grain falling back in his face.

3. However, he was able by the help of God to defeat a large army of over 32,000 with only 300 men.

C. David was a small shepherd boy who became the mighty shepherd-king of the nation of Israel.
1. "And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.   And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he" (I Samuel 16:11-12).  (He was the runt of the litter.)

2. "And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle" (I Samuel 17:28).       Eliab his brother looked down upon him.  If had listened to his brother he would have remained a poor shepherd boy.

3. "And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance" (I Samuel 17:42).   (But David cut the head of the Philistine off).

D. Peter, the fisherman, became a fisher of men.
1.  "And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.   And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men"  (Matthew 4:18-19).

2. Peter was the one who denied Jesus three times before the crowing the rooster.

3. However, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter stood boldly and preached and 3,000 men were saved.

E. Paul told the baby Christians in Corinth that they had a new identity.
1. They had been sinners. "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,   Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God"  (I Corinthians 6:9-10).
2. However, Jesus had given them a new identity.  "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God" (I Corinthians 6:11).

3. They had become saints.  "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called [to be] saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:" (I Corinthians 1:2).   The "to be" is not in the original text.

What new identity will God give you if you will let go of your old identity?
Who will you become by the grace of God?

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