Identity theft has become a rampant problem in the United States not only as it relates to technological glitches, but as a prevalent killer of spiritual lives. To truly steal someone’s identity, no computer is needed. Real identity theft happens when someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that prevents them from living their life the way God intended. The most startling statistic is that each of us have been a victim to such a crime!
Spiritual identity fraud can occur in several ways. Each of us have experienced life changes that force us to be something we’re not or have never been. Never is this more true than when discovering a husband’s betrayal. Suddenly, we are forced to redefine ourselves in light of these drastic changes. Maybe a job loss has forced your family to move. Or a loss of position and reputation in your church or community turns your daily life and interactions into a tightrope walk. Your identity as you knew it has been stolen.
People can steal your identity with their words or their actions. It’s possible you’ve experienced an abusive relationship and who you are is now defined by what someone else says is true. Over time, you have been redefined by someone else’s words and actions. Identity theft in its most blatant form!
No matter how the theft occurs, we stand frustrated, angered, bewildered, and sometimes hopeless as to how to find ourselves again. We look back over our lives and wonder where our earlier selves disappeared to. We question why we aren’t happier with ourselves because we’re older, wiser, and more mature.
Recognize the Thieves
The first step in stopping identity theft is recognizing the criminals. Unfortunately, those criminals are a part of our everyday lives and sometimes as close as the one we call “me.” Let’s put them in a line-up so we can identify each of them for the thieves they are.
The people around us are the most hurtful criminals as it relates to our identity. Unfortunately for some, the negative words began in childhood from parents. The words hurled at us as children often cause the most damage because our minds play them over and over for years. Maybe it’s a verbally abusive spouse who constantly reminds us of how we don’t measure up in looks, abilities, or intelligence. Perhaps the hurtful words came during the school years. Those negative comments slowly but certainly steal our true selves, the one God crafted perfectly for us. Suddenly, we begin to believe the critical words slung at us and each one chips away at the real person inside.
Another identity thief is the media. It is safe to say that an advertising agency’s job is to make people unhappy with who they are or what they have. Every day we are bombarded with ads that remind us we don’t measure up. From negative body images to lack of “things,” these ads seek to destroy who we really are and replace it with an alternate persona – one who has everything. While we know no one can have it all, we believe it over and over again, allowing the media to change us into something we were never meant to be.
One of the most crafty identity thieves sits quietly among us and easily does the most damage – ourselves. We feed our identity based on what we believe about ourselves. Our self-esteem, our personal worth, is determined by our own minds. If we focus on the negatives, then our self-esteem will be negative. On the other hand, if we focus on the positives, we see ourselves in a positive light.
The Chief Thief
The chief identity thief is Satan. Unfortunately, we often work hand in hand with him when we choose to believe the negative thoughts he feeds us. He’s the ringleader of lies and the master of ceremonies in our poor self-image moments. In these times, when we’ve failed, he taunts us and whispers lies about “who we really are” and “what we can really do.” Satan wants our self-esteem. If Satan becomes our means to self-define, then he achieves his ultimate goal. We become so focused on ourselves – what we can and cannot do, what we are and what we are not – that we cannot possibly stay focused on God.
What is Satan’s goal? Think about it. Identity theft is the greatest cause of people not fulfilling their calling from God. If Satan can get us to listen to the lies, we will never accomplish the dreams that God has given us. Satan’s lies and manipulation causes us to abort our mission from God, and if he does that, he never has to worry about all the people who would have known Christ if only we’d found our true identity.
The thief comes to STEAL, KILL, and DESTROY. This verse is taken literally in that Satan wants our lives. However, he gets the same results if he steals our God-given identity. He will whisper lies to consistently distort our self esteem. He will attempt to lure us into anything that can destroy our dreams and the purpose God has for us.
A Masterpiece Defined
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece created anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” Masterpiece is defined as “anything done with extraordinary skill; a supreme achievement.” When scholars begin to identify masterpieces they look at three elements: longevity, originality, and universality. Longevity refers to the artwork’s ability to stay popular over time. Originality means there is no other piece like it or it offers something no other art can, and universality says that people around the world can see its value and be changed by it.
God has called us his masterpiece. What an incredible value He has given us! If lived for Him, our lives will stand the test of time, offer something no one else can offer, and people will value it and be changed just by knowing us. That is powerful knowledge that must be first and foremost in defining our self-image.
To further define our God-built image, Psalms 139 reminds us that God made us wonderfully. Let’s ponder on our individuality blend for a moment. There are sixteen different personality types, each one with varying levels. Twenty spiritual gifts have been identified. An infinite number of talents exist in the world. Personal life experiences change drastically with each person we meet and action we take. Our educational backgrounds vary from high school years, college years, vocational years, or simply on-the-job training. Our physical abilities run the gamut of clumsily cute to athletically adroit. Add to these, our own personal list of dreams and goals. All those aspects mixed together make us who we are right here and now. The probability of our masterpiece make-up is easy to see.
God has written a classified ad that only you can fulfill; it includes all the elements above. Only you can live the plan God has for you — no one else. He will not get someone to walk the road paved just for you. Genesis 1:31 says God is pleased with how he made you. And how he made you cannot be stolen unless you allow it. You make the choice to let God define everything about you. His definition says you are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Lock that information away tightly and no thief will ever steal the identity that was hand-designed just for you!
Redefining My Hope,
*If you are looking to take back your identity in Christ, join a group of women who are doing the same. Our Online Groups are a great place to be encouraged in the truth of who you are to God!