Dr. Stephen Phinney | August 5, 2020 |
Identity in Christ is everything!
Recently, a blog troller* commented on one of my blogs - depicting me as a man who did not understand my identity in Christ. This troller used bits and pieces of my testimony as a weapon to prove I was a hypocrite. Their logic? Well, from this person's wording, it appears the detailing of my journey into the indwelling Life of Christ was focused on "being overly concerned about what other people think of you."
First, I thank this troller for their honest entry. Secondly, their entry demands a Biblical response. The objective in my "Tell All" blog entries is to share thoughts & feelings from a raw, real, and straight from the heart perspective, which includes how my past experiences formed my present flesh tendencies. Keeping in mind, while I adhere to the reality that past rejection experiences form present day flesh, it doesn't depict who I am in Christ. Somehow Grace cops don't allow indwelt believers the grace to make use of the Old Testament (pre-indwelt) flesh vs. present day identity in Christ.
God gave us the Old Testament (law-covenant) and the New (grace-covenant) for a specific reason. It is Biblical heresy to remove the Old Testament from the Holy Word. Any "Christian" that walks around with the New Testament as the full Word of God is, in my perspective, subjecting themselves to heresy. A responsible believer is able to use the Old Testament to sustain the need for the new.
In like fashion, present day believers need to master the art of using their "old-nature" (identity) testimony to reveal their new-nature (identity) in Christ - the New Covenant. "Christians" who hamstring authentic believers in telling their full story, should be avoided at all cost. Each are covertly confessing a gracilized gospel.
Those that know me interpersonally, know that I have a great love for the organic Hebrew, their customs, laws, and daily requirements. My fascination with the study of Hebrew helps me understand that God is not only a loving God but, He is the Law. Thus, why He sent Jesus to fulfill the Law - not to abolish it. Fulfilled Law equals fulfilled relationship. This new gracilized "gospel" deludes the sting of the authentic Gospel, which maintains the sting of death for those who do not transition into the New Covenant. Fact, those who do not embrace the Old with the New, miss the opportunity of Life everlasting.
Our present day gracialistic teachers are compared to the brood of vipers Jesus was addressing in Matthew, who refused to transition into the New Covenant - the Life of Christ.
"You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?
The group Jesus was addressing was the "theologians" of His day - Pharisees. The irony, these "theologians" were clueless as to their destination, despite their security in their self-prelimited opinions. Secondly, Jesus was not afraid to keep the organic reality that their ideology would not save them from their sentence of hell. The "Jesus" that many of our gracialistic teachers use today, delete the need of making use of the "old-covenant" to make way for the new. Thus, turning the real Master and Lord, Jesus, into a impotent god, who craftily avoids the use of the Old Testament.
"For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." (Jude 1:4)
Taking a glance into the "old-nature."
Yes. It is true that throughout my life, I have struggled with the unfounded rejection of others – which formed my flesh ideations of today. As a result of this perplexing dilemma, my mother called me her, “Little Joseph.” A title that brought great curiosity & confusion.
At the time when she commissioned me with this title, she was not a born-again believer. She didn’t receive Christ as her Savior until I was 17-years of age. So, how did she know I was as this Joseph – a Biblical character I didn’t come to understand until my late 20’s. Somehow she knew this prophetic title, and its characteristics were somehow associated with her youngest son. Later in life, God revealed the reasons why my mother referenced me as her, Little Joseph.
The “Little Joseph” vs. The “Big Joseph”
The organic story of Joseph, as found in Genesis chapters 30-50, teaches about faith, power, and trust in God amid suffering. One is as being sold into slavery at the ripe age of seventeen. An age my childhood rejections was coming to the surface.
Jacob, his father, favored Joseph. In my case, I was favored by my mother – most likely due to my constant state of sickness. My earthly title Bubble Boy was converted into a protective bubble of favoritism. Even though her efforts in keeping me in this bubble saved me from horrific sins committed by family members, this perplexing truth brought on a plethora of resentment and rejection by my siblings; there were six of us.
Throughout my childhood, as you will learn in future posts, I have been accused falsely and being mentally imprisoned by those around me – particularly by those closest to me. While today I maintain forgiveness with each of my family members, it is undeniable that their reaction to this favoritism resulted in me "feeling" I am my flesh, which is the identity marker Satan hopes to embed into all children. As in the "Big Joseph's" life story, his family & people, in general, forgot Joseph. Loneliness is the birthing canal for a self-centered identity. The "baby" that comes forth is the flesh-life, which demands a matriculation of "feelings" of abandoned.
You might be thinking at this point that I am focusing on, poor me. I am! Not in a self-exalting modality, but in a reality check that the old Steve deserves my present-day compassion. In up and coming posts, you will discover the reason God gave me a new name - Stephen the Redeemed.
As with Joseph, God has a purpose in our sufferings. We should never be ashamed to share the details of those sufferings. Without God detailing Joseph's sufferings, we simply could not identify with the message God was scripting in his life's story. As God was committed to growing Joseph from immaturity (old identity) to supernatural strength and mercy (new identity) - I, too, had to embrace the familiarities of the exact lessons of Joseph. Without a doubt, God used bad circumstances to save Joseph’s family, not just himself. Joseph’s demise was not about him; it was about the future generations to come. His family rejection had a purpose beyond the pain he suffered throughout his young adult life. My guess is he was clueless at the time as to the importance of his prophetic life, by way of his bones, being carried around in the Ark of The Covenant, which housed the presents of God.
[Review "IM The Holy Temple" booklet. HERE]
Few believers would deny the fact that God used Joseph’s sufferings to bring blessings to the world for generations to come. Joseph’s sufferings were the beginnings of the Lord’s promise (Gen. 12:1-3). God required me to embrace that my life’s sufferings are a part of God’s larger plan that calls for casting my sights on His sovereign plan for future generations - in teaching that all authentic believers have a special position in Christ. A plan that is relevant to all of us.
[Review the video, "Embracing Our Position In Christ" HERE]
Without question, we learn obedience through the things that we suffer. In the study of Joseph’s life, we quickly discover his family was dysfunctional. He came from a long line of liars; his father, grandmother, and obviously, his brothers. You know the story. Jacob came forth with his hand holding on to his twin’s heel, Esau. Later, Joseph’s grandmother (Rebekah), deceived her husband, Isaac, because she favored Jacob. She contrived a deception by placing a hairy skin on Jacob’s arm to deceive her blind husband – hoping Isaac would think it was Esau. Did it work? Yes. And why did she do this? To manipulate her husband in giving the birthright to her favored son, Jacob, Joseph’s father.
Paying Deception Forward
As Genesis 37:1-4 reveals, Joseph became Jacob’s youngest and favorite son. Since Jacob was a man of the tent and gained his birthright through deception, he picked Joseph as a man not meant for a life of fieldwork like his older brothers. He commissioned this decision by giving Joseph the coat of many colors. Do you think his brothers resented this decision? That would be an understatement. After Jacob sent Joseph into the field to report on the success or failures of his brother's work, his brothers took advantage of the opportunity. Joseph’s brothers find a perfect opportunity to be rid of their father’s favorite son. They throw Joseph under the bus, into a pit – hoping to kill him. Ruben hopes to rescue Joseph, but Judah, one of the two eldest brothers, argues that it is better to make some money from the ordeal. So what do they do? They sell him to the highest bidder, which happened to be a caravan of Egyptians.
Joseph ends up as a slave in Egypt. Jacob is cruelly deceived by his sons, who return the coat of many colors stained with blood, claiming Joseph is dead. As with all childhood fleshly modalities, the generational sin of deception continues.
Keep in mind that the promise God made to Abraham regarding the birthing of the 12-Tribes from the loins of Jacob, God was obligated to move this story forward despite the family’s deceptive dysfunctions.
While I encourage you to read the full story of Joseph, we know that it ends in the fulfillment of Joseph’s dream, which he shared with his father and brothers at the ripe age of seventeen (Gen. 37:5-11). If you remember, the dream predicted that his father, mother, and brothers would bow before him. A dream that prophetically proved the rejecters would depend upon the rejected. A modality that matches the story of Jesus. In this revelation of Joseph's dream, his brothers would put into motion to plot the demise of their youngest brother.
Did you know that Jesus's brothers despised the favoritism His parents imparted? It's true. Two of His brothers ultimately bowed to serve their first born brother - James and John. The other two, well, today, they might be begging for a drop of water.
Shortly before my father’s death, he asked me to commit to reconciling the family after his death. I whispered those words in his ear moments before he died, with the reminder I would keep our agreement. Years later, before my mother died, she reminded me of this commitment. Somehow, both of them knew our family would suffer immeasurable rejection and separation after they were gone. Their premonitions, or foresight, nudge me to this day.
As with Joseph, my family went through a misplaced identity era. An example, most of my family exalted the education and ministry achievements of one of my brothers, while refusing to acknowledge my profession/ministry God called me. How is a son to reconcile a family plagued with deception, lies, and twisted favoritism? Easy. The same way He did with Joseph - to focus on present day sufferings to advance the generations to come. It was never about Joseph, his father, or brothers. It was always about God using sufferings to learn obedience - trusting in Him over family rejection.
At this point in God's timeline, outside of myself, and one sister, our family, is a trainwreck. Only God can heal. Throughout my life, I have learned how God moves in and around the rejections of others to produce dependence. Not only in the dependence on God through the indwelling Life of Christ, but in God ultimately using the rejecter(s) to depend on the rejected for guidance and spiritual foresight. - as in the cases with Joseph and Jesus.
Romans 8:28 tells us, And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. The real issue becomes the test of our love for God, and secondly, in our commitment to fulfilling our upward calling. Once these two elements are tested and passed, God obligates Himself to work all difficult, if not impossible, situations for His good.
Until next time...
*A Troller is a poster who refuses to attach their names to online opinions.