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Loved and Forgiven

January 3, 2016 | PB | From the series: Born Again Identity

Have you ever thought about your ultimate identity? More than the good front you may put on for others, your true identity means a great deal in how you live out your life! This message is the first in a series called “The Born Again Identity” and we begin by finding out the role of love and forgiveness in your identity. There are only two kinds of people…

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Sermon Notes

I John 4:7-11

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

All this month, we’re going to discover our born again identity.

It’s going to have to start with a question: what exactly is an “identity”?

For some people it’s a persona that you put out in front of you that you want everyone to believe, but that’s not what your identity is.

Your identity is what and who you actually are. Most of us are still learning our true identity. It’s who you really are that forms your identity and it’s made up of a mixture of many factors.

Your identity includes:

  • Your gender
  • Age
  • What you’re good at – intellectual, musical, athletic, etc.
  • What you do – business person, student, UPS driver, tree surgeon, etc.
  • Where you like to be – outdoors or indoors
  • What your demeanor is like – calm, active, hyperactive, etc.
  • What your personality is like
  • The state of your health – healthy, facing a life dominating problem/limitation, etc.

Normally, because so much goes into your identity, it takes a while to get to know someone well. That’s why you don’t meet someone at a party and marry them the next Saturday.

There are major parts of your identity that override the importance of the rest; one that separates your identity from all others. “There are two kinds of people in this world, the kind that loves John Wayne and the kind that don’t.”

On a more serious note, there really are two kinds of people in this world: those who know they are loved and forgiven by God, and those who don’t.

Your identity has everything to do with God. There are those who have known the Love and Forgiveness of God and those that don’t. Every one of us, on both sides of that fence, finds their most important factor of their identity in God Himself.

Let’s go back to the Scripture and see the central Person of your identity. It isn’t you.

1 John 4:7-11

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

In verse 8, it says simply that “God is love”. In other words the substance, origin, and source of Love is God Himself. Out of Love, He sent His only begotten Son that we might live. Here’s an identity question: Do you genuinely believe that the Love of God has been focused on you? Do you know and appreciate and live under the Love of God?

How would you know that you do? If you know that He loves you, you live differently. You act differently, with a humble freedom and confidence.

I was watching a documentary a few weeks ago that traced the experiences of Chinese children who had been adopted from China by American families. There was one girl whose English name was Grace. She was five years old (old enough to remember) when her birth father took her to a train station. She suspected nothing. He distracted her by getting her to watch nearby birds and then she turned around and she was alone. People helped her and she ended up in a Chinese orphanage and was then adopted by a family here in the States. It turned out that she had some significant heart problems, so they got the heart surgeries that she needed and in miraculous fashion, she recovered fully. But she had a question when she became able to voice it. “Why? Why did my birth Dad and Mom leave me like that? They must’ve hated me, wanted to get rid of me, and that’s why they left me.” Thankfully, she has wise parents. They took their time to reason with her about the motives of her birth parents. As they explained those reasons, it dawned on her, “They did that because they loved me. They knew I had some severe health problems and that I wouldn’t have survived long. So they did what must’ve been the hardest thing they ever could have done, leave me with the hope that somehow I would be taken to a place that could provide the help that I needed. They actually loved me”. Well, that revelation changed her life. She had a release, a freedom. The last scene in the documentary showed her adoptive family taking her back to China, to the very place she was abandoned, and she danced on the very spot. She was loved and she knew it.

If the Holy Spirit can convince you that the Creator/Redeemer actually and truly loves you, that will be the major factor in your identity. It will change how you live. I can tell if you know that love because if you do, you love.

What about the forgiveness part of the Born (Again) Identity?  Plainly it’s related to the Love of God, but how does that play into your identity if you are indeed forgiven?

Let’s just say that you’ve done something awful to the One whom you know loves you. How does that impact your life when you become aware of it?

There have been some situations in recent history of a child committing a horrific crime in their family and the father later forgiving the child. What if that child was somehow able to be freed by a perfect substitute taking their place in prison, death row? Do you think it would affect their identity?

Psalm 103:8-14

“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.”

Who does your identity reflect on as the most important figure in it, the One who gave you that identity; especially and primarily if it’s undeserved and impossible for you to get?

How can you know that Loved and Forgiven is your own identity?

When your identity is Loved and Forgiven it produces love and forgiveness.  It’s evidential in your life. You walk confident and humble and you love and forgive. Is that you?  It can be you if it’s not. If you aren’t convinced it’s you and it is you, you need to believe it.

Identity is everything.