Brookwood Church - Love God, Love People



Josh Masters |

My identity was embedded in the hurt and mistakes of my past, but Christ rescued me, purchasing my new identity rooted in forgiveness and renewal.

iAM: Discovering My True Identity
Message 1 • iAM RESCUED.
Joshua J. Masters
February 21, 2021


I want us to think about those lyrics for a moment.

Imagine a God who says,
You are not hidden
There's never been a moment
You were forgotten
You are not hopeless …

I'll be your shelter
I'll be your armor …

In the middle of the darkest night,
It’s true, I will rescue you.
-Lauren Daigle

Those are song lyrics, not Scripture, but that’s exactly who God is.

To God… you are worth pursuing. You’re worth defending. You’re worth rescuing.

Yet many of us continue to live under the weight of how others see us and what the world says about who we are.

--But what if we lived in the truth of how God sees us?
--What if we lived every day as if we’ve been rescued for a purpose?
--As if we’re loved, and significant, and empowered by a God to do great things?

Those are the questions we’re going to ask in this new series on Discovering My True Identity.

In our last series, we looked at the life of Jonah, who’s pride, and self-centeredness derailed his relationship with God and dishonored the call God put on his life.

Make no mistake. Pride and selfishness are a cancer to the mission of the church.

God is holy. God is in control. And we should live and serve with the humility of knowing that we are nothing compared to God—but that doesn’t mean we’re ‘nothing’ TO God. [Repeat]

Yes, pride and selfishness ARE a cancer in the church, but there’s a more subtle cancer that keeps the body of Christ from fulfilling the purpose He has for us—identity.
Or more accurately, our lack of identity.

The great tragedy of the church is that we continue to see ourselves through our own eyes instead of seeing ourselves through God’s eyes.

Look at our artwork for this series.

See, when God calls us to do something great, many of us see ourselves as the “i” in this logo.

-That might be what the world says you are,
-It might be what your past says you are,
-It might be what your family says you are,
-It might even be what you once were.

But when you’re saved by Jesus Christ… that’s NOT who you are.

The chains of my past and the lies of this world label me with a false understanding of who I am.

But when my “I am” is rooted in the Great I AM, that’s when my true identity and purpose are revealed.

Is your “I am” rooted in the Great I AM?

Over the next few weeks, we want to strip away anything we believe about who we are that doesn’t come from God.

Because if Christ calls you His own: you are rescued, you are loved, and you are significant.

We’ll talk about being loved and being significant in the coming weeks.

But today, we focus on this…

You cannot live a life of insignificance if you truly experience Christ’s rescue and what it says about who you are.

Many of us know we’re rescued by God but feel detached from what that really means.

When I was a kid, I was riding in a van with my uncle and his family. He was a volunteer fireman, and we drove by a house that was on fire. And I watched my uncle, wearing a t-shirt and jeans, grab his gear from the back of the van and run into a burning building.
That left an impression on me.

He left the safety of the van and his family because someone needed rescue. That’s incredible.

Sometime later, when I was visiting my Nana who lived across the street from my uncle, HIS house caught on fire with his family inside—it was a chimney fire.

Now, as heroic as the first incident was, in his gut, how much more motivated how much more desperate do you think he was to get the people he loved out safely?

How motivated would you be?
Now, imagine how motivated Christ was to get His loved ones out of the fire?

This is one of my favorite passages in the Bible:

Though [Jesus] was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
Philippians 2:6–8 (NLT)

Don’t miss how important that should be to our everyday lives.

Jesus is the Great I Am, the voice of the burning bush. Through Him everything was created.

Jesus was not only in the safety of the heavenly realm, but He was surrounded by angelic beings that worshipped and adored Him…

But when He looked at the danger you were in—the gulf that was between you and Him, when He saw you were lost and broken and hurting… and that you had no way to reach Him… He looked at all the glory and all the worship around Him and said, “I will give all of this up… for a time… I will give up my divine privileges, I will become a slave, I will be tortured… I will die… I will do that to rescue you—so I can bring you home safely.”

Christ’s sacrifice was a rescue mission.
He rescued us to live in the hope and purpose of His glory.

Look at Colossians 1:
…He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to His people, who live in the light. For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.
Colossians 1:12–14 (NLT)

He rescued us from the kingdom of darkness so we could live in the light.

Those who live in the light, those who follow Christ, are called to a life of power, and influence, and endurance, and hope.

But So many believers live like they were accidently rescued—like they got caught up in the net of others being saved. No. God saves you. God sees you. God chooses you.

Do we live in the light of who God says we are?
Or do we live in the darkness of what we’ve been labeled by our circumstances?

And our answer to that question affects more than ourselves.

Because we’re not only called to be people who live in the light but to be a reflection of the light.
Our rescue should be a signal of hope for those who are still in the fire… but many of us don’t believe (deep down inside) that we have enough value to be part of God’s ongoing rescue mission.

What does God’s rescue of me (personally and individually) say about who I am?

The kingdom of darkness we just read about says my past is too horrific for me to be used by God.
The darkness says I am too damaged.

B. Christ’s rescue says…

Now, I know any Sunday School kid can probably tell you that (Sometimes they actually understand it better than we do as adults).

Why did Christ die on the cross?
Christ died to forgive our sins.
We all know the answer to the question…

We know it intellectually.
We know it theologically.
But do we know it internally?
Do we live in our forgiveness?

Here’s a question: Do you know what the enemy’s greatest weapon is?
It’s not temptation. It’s Shame.
He uses temptation to bring us to the place of shame.

Do you know why? Because shame is an identity.
Shame is a false identity that prevents us from grabbing hold of the identity we have in Christ.

Yes, the Holy Spirit will convict us of our sin.
But conviction and shame are not the same thing. They’re opposites.

Conviction from the Holy Spirit says, “I have DONE something awful; I must turn to God.”
Shame says, “I am awful; there’s no way I can turn to God.”

Shame is rooted in condemnation.
But conviction is rooted in forgiveness.

Let me say that again. The Holy Spirit convicts believers of our sin so we can experience forgiveness.

Forgiveness instead of condemnation.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.
Romans 8:1–2 (NLT)

See, if the enemy can keep our identity rooted in shame, then we’ll believe our sin still has power over us.

--And that’s what prevents us from believing we can do the things God calls us to do.
--That’s what prevents us from trusting God’s promises.
--It prevents us from believing we can overcome our past.

Why does the enemy want that? If we’re rescued… if we’re saved, he can’t take that away from us.
So why keep piling on the shame?

Because it keeps us from pursuing the purpose and the mission God has for our lives.

It prevents us from being that light to others.
If we keep convicting ourselves of the sins Christ has already forgiven,
It’s easy for us to convict the sins of others as well.

Think about it.
If there’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ, why do those in Christ find it so easy to condemn others?

Why are so many Christians living the life of Jonah—a life where seeing others punished is more satisfying than seeing them saved?

It’s because we don’t understand our own forgiveness.
We hold on to our shame, and then heap it on others.

We condemn ourselves and we condemn others because His forgiveness doesn’t feel real to us.
*We haven’t reflected on what we’ve been rescued from.
*We haven’t meditated on the forgiveness God has given us and what that says about us.

We’re going to talk a lot about meditation and reflection in this series because we have to move past knowing who God says we are and start experiencing it.

If we’re going to do all the things God has called us to as individuals and as a church—we need to go beyond studying what God says about us and start believing it.

Now, when I say meditation, I’m not talking about the kind of Eastern meditation that tells you to empty your mind.

On the contrary, Biblical meditation is about filling your mind with what God says so there’s no room for the emptiness of the world.

That requires us to do more than just read God’s word. It requires us to meditate on it. We need to communicate with God through it.

The spiritual practice in our discussion guide for this series will help us with that.
It’s available on our Brookwood app or our website, I encourage you to engage with it and take it seriously.

Every day there’s a Bible reading about who God says you are.

As you read them, don’t rush through the passages. Reflect on the individual words and phrases. Sit quietly, and ask God, “What are you saying about who I am?”

Experience the words. Expect an encounter with God in the silence.

And you know what?
if you need to do the same reading over and over for several days… If you need to stay on the verse about forgiveness for a week, that’s fine. Keep asking God and keep meditating on it until it feels true… not intellectually, but in your heart.

Because that thin line between knowledge and belief is the difference between living in shame and living in victory.

Living in the truth of God’s forgiveness brings victory.
Victory over the struggles of my past.
Victory over what world says about me.
Victory to do great things for God.
Victory in my desire to be different.

Learn to say, “I may not be perfect, but I am forgiven.”
Because that forgiveness is what allows us to be transformed.

The darkness says I can never change.
Christ’s rescue says…
2. I am MADE NEW.

The identity of shame we carry keeps us from believing we can be anything different than what we’ve always been—that we can only be a disappointment to God.

Don’t raise your hands.
But how many of you have felt like the person you are is a disappointment to God?
Are you feeling that right now?

Listen to me very carefully, when you become a follower of Christ,
God no longer sees the shame of your past. He sees the glory of your rescue.

Christ’s rescue and His forgiveness means I am made new.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

I’m not the person I used to be.
You’re not the person you used to be.
That guy doesn’t exist… so why do you keep trying to find him and put him back on trial?

I think it’s because we don’t see how it’s possible that we’re made new.
I’m still in this same short, stout little body, right?
Forgiven or not, I still have the same past, right?
So, how is that even possible that I’m a new person?

That’s actually a good question.
It’s an important question—one that needs an answer.
Because if I feel like the old me, I will behave like the old me.

Here’s the answer. Galatians 2:20:
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Galatians 2:20 (NLT)

Christ’s death was the means of our rescue. And when you live in the promises of God—when you are forgiven, then everything that was wrong with you is crucified along with Christ. 

It was left in the fire.

So, in His death, we lose our ability to disqualify ourselves.
We lose the right to say, I’m not enough.

Because in His resurrection, we’re also resurrected to a new life, a new purpose, a new identity.

And there it is. That’s the key.
Our identity is in who Christ is IN us.
It’s no longer I who live, but Christ in me.

That’s the identity we can’t find in the world… because it’s impossible to find it in the world.

God has placed a consuming desire in every heart to know our true identity.
We’re desperate to know who we are,
We’re desperate to belong.
And if we don’t find it in the truth of this verse, we will grab hold of anything we can find.

The brokenness of this country and the brokenness of this world is rooted in an identity crisis.
--Our identity is not in our job.
--It’s not in our race.
--or our political party.
--or our gender.

Make no mistake. Those things are important.
They make us unique. They give us opportunities to serve in a ways no one else can, but they’re not who we are. They’re not the things that make us valuable.

The church looks like the world because we take on the identity of the world.

But God says you are more valuable than what you look like or your job title.

You’re made new on the inside through Christ… to be a light of hope to those who are desperate to find the very thing we’re not grabbing hold of.
A new life.
A new hope.
Real purpose and
Real belonging.

And as long as we keep pouring all our energy into defending the identity this world says we should have; they will never see the hope of the identity He’s given us.

It’s not I who live, but my Facebook followers who live in me.
It’s not I who live, but Trump or Biden who live in me.
It’s not I who live, but my title who lives in me.

God has rescued us, and forgiven us, and made us new for a purpose so much greater than that.

The verse we read in 2 Corinthians said, “The old life is gone; a new life has begun.”

And I think we struggle to grab hold of that new life for two reasons.
--First, we don’t believe we’re worthy to be made new (that’s the shame).
--But second, we don’t understand what the COST of that new life says about who we are.

The darkness says I have no value.
Christ’s rescue says…

The word redeemed sounds very churchy, doesn’t it?

The only place I’ve ever heard it regularly used outside of church is when I was a kid and we would redeem bottles and cans. We’d collect empty soda cans and bottle and redeem them at the store for money.

It took something that was trash… and gave it value.

The definition from Oxford is this:
1. To compensate for the faults or bad aspects of something.
2. To gain or regain possession of something in exchange for payment.
-Oxford Languages

Christ did both. And the payment was steep.

The word redeemed literally means “purchased.”

It means a ransom was paid—a debt was cancelled.

Look at this verse:
For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.
1 Peter 1:18–19 (NLT)

How many of us feel like we’re still living in the empty life of our ancestors?

The things the world tells us to find our identity in will always lead to emptiness.
That’s why everyone is so angry…

“I’ve grabbed hold of this false identity, but I still feel empty—and if you take that away from me, I will be nothing—I will be worth nothing. So, we have to attack and destroy anyone who threatens that.”

That’s the source of all the anger in our country.
Because fleshly anger is always a cover for hurt or fear—always.

And our fear is that when everything is stripped away, we have no value.

The reason we fall victim to the false identities of this world is because we try to find our value in the same places the world does—the whole time believing that we’re trash—empty cans. Because we can’t live up to the expectation.

But that’s not who God says you are.

The world says you were a mistake—a happenstance. And the only value you have is in what you do.
But God says you’re not a mistake. You were made in my image. And your value isn’t in what you do—It’s in what I’ve already done.

The most priceless paintings in the world are only worth a few dollars in materials.
There are two things that make a painting priceless:
1) Who Created Them
2) And what someone is willing to pay for them.

And your value isn’t based on the raw materials that your made of or what you do. It’s based on:
1) Who created you.
2) And what someone was willing to pay for you.

And what was that price?

The Father gave His son. And Christ willingly surrendered His own body.

That’s an incredible price to pay… and it gives your life incredible value.

Though [Jesus] was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
Philippians 2:6–8 (NLT)

With His own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—He entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.
Hebrews 9:12 (NLT)

If we could grab hold of our redemption… if we could really focus on finding our value and identity in that… then the church would be an unstoppable force of compassion and love and hope in the community, in this nation, and around world.

But we have to stop rejecting who God says we are.

We have to stop fighting a fight that’s already been won.

>> Maybe you’ve been a follower of Christ for years, but all you can see is the struggle right now.
Let this song be your prayer of renewal.

>> Or Maybe you’ve never been a follower of Christ.
Maybe this song can be your first prayer in accepting a new life.

This is the beginning.
This is where we start stepping into the greater calling God has for us.
The first revival of this nation must be in the church.

And that revival will come when we stop living in what our past says about us,
And start living in what the victory of Jesus Christ says about us.

Let’s pray with hope as we sing.


One final verse.

God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world.
1 Corinthians 7:23 (NLT)

You don’t need to believe what the world says about you.

Shake off those heavy chains.
You don’t have to be who you used to be.

Whether you need renewal, or you’re feeling drawn to God’s rescue for the first time, we want to walk with you.

We have care volunteers and pastors down front and in the care connection room who will pray with you and encourage you. Or if you’re in our online campus, click “Request Prayer” and let us know how we can pray for you.

Let’s pray

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