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Identification Truths - The Basis of Growth

For more details on this topic and to see a lesson by lesson presentation including handout materials see this site

All spiritual life and growth is based upon the principle of position or identity - who we really are. It can be summed up in the one word - source. Through physical birth we entered our human family position, from which source we derive certain characteristics. We are the product of this source.

It is the same in regards to our spiritual birth. When we are born again, the risen Lord Jesus Christ becomes the source of our Christian life. We are given a new creation nature indwelt by the Holy Spirit who now directs this new creation nature. Our position or true identity before God, who is the source of our new Christian life, is perfect. It is eternally established in His presence. The Father sees us now as being eternally seated with Him in the heavenly places.

The question of spiritual growth for the born again believer hinges on which life is consecrated to God, the old self-life, or the new creation Christ-life? Put another way it hinges on which life is directed by the Holy Spirit - the old or the new? God can accept nothing from the old - it is of no value to Him.

Identification truth teaches our true identity in Christ - who we really are as born again believers - what has really taken place within us at the new birth - our complete identity or position in Christ. Our true identity before God, from God's perspective, is that our old self nature has been crucified with Christ and buried, and that we have been raised up with Christ in His Resurrection life and that we are now seated with Christ in heaven. This is now our true identity or position.

Spiritual growth proceeds as we continually recognize the futility of relying upon our old self nature and we consciously choose to rely upon our new creation nature which is indwelt by and directed by the Holy Spirit. It is “not I but Christ”. The spiritual battle that we face is the struggle between the old and the new natures. It is a battle that we cannot win in and of ourselves. Victory can only be realized at any given moment by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.

The steps in this process of spiritual growth are:

  • We see and understand our identity in Christ of having died to the dominion of sin, and of having been made alive to God,
  • We become aware of the need, in our daily walk, to be separated from self and to Christ,
  • We exercise faith in these positional identity truths by reckoning upon the facts of our death and resurrection in Christ, and
  • On the basis of this faith, the Holy Spirit is free to change our daily walk into that which is in accordance with our true identity.

These truths were foundational in Christian teaching in the past but have largely been neglected by present evangelical Christendom. They were extensively taught by the early Plymouth brethren and also by the mainstream evangelical church. The early Keswick conferences taught these truths. Many Bible colleges of in the past taught these truths. For a more detailed discussion of these truths please consult our references page where we have a number of sources on identification truths which can be downloaded in pdf format.

Here we trace our history in relation to the first Adam; the ruin we received from Adam by inheritance, and the remedy we received from God by the cross. We cannot fully become what we already are in Christ, until we know what we really were in Adam.

Everything in Adam is the ground of sin and death; everything in the Lord Jesus is the ground of growth and life. Our responsibility is to keep off the old ground, and to live on the new ground - our position in Christ.

Sins Specific acts of rebellion against God
Principle of sin The underlying basis and source of our sins; the consequence of which is death.
Death Death is separation of relationships - spiritual, physical, and eternal.
Position The source from which we derive certain characteristics. This is God's perspective on us as individuals and is unchangeable except through the new birth.
Condition What we are in our actions and behavior. Our condition is variable and develops over our lifetime.

It is vital to recognize the difference between our "sins" which are many and the "principle of sin" which is the source of our many sins. The first is dealt with in Romans 1:18 to 5:11; the latter in Romans 5:12 to 8:39.


Adam sinned and entered death - separated from God, the source of life. Since Adam is the head of the human race into which we were born, we were also born into sin, death, judgment, and condemnation. "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men . . ." (Rom.5:12). ". . . through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men . . ." (Rom.5:18).

There are three basic aspects of our relationship to Adam our representative man. (1) Our position of sin; (2) our nature of sin; (3) our personal sins. Knowing the condition of our old life in Adam is the key to all spiritual growth. Conversely, ignorance of these facts results in certain defeat in the Christian life.

1. Our Position of Sin

The basic principle is that sin results in death. "The wages of sin is death" (Rom.6:23). Because of our fallen source, Adam, each of us was born into a doomed humanity. The result of our position in Adam is that we were born dead to God and alive to sin. "In sin did my mother conceive me" (Ps.51:5). "dead in your trespasses and sins" (Eph.2:1). "in Adam all die" (1 Cor.15:22).

God has not forgiven or altered the consequences of the principle of sin. On the cross, in the person of His Son, God our Father once and forever dealt with the principle of sin, thereby canceling our position of sin. Far from being forgiven, sin was judged and condemned in death. "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf." 2 Cor.5:21. "He (God) condemned sin in the (His) flesh" (Rom.8:3).

2. Our Nature of Sin

Our position in Adam resulted in us being born into this world as a sinful being - our nature of sin. In Adam we are "by nature the children of wrath" (Eph.2:3). This nature is characterized as being natural, fleshly, and separated from God. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them . . .. (1 Cor.2:14). It is this fallen nature of sin that gives rise to a natural propensity to sin.

This fallen nature never changes and never improves. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." (John 3:6). The Adamic nature is self-centered and totally against God. "For those who are according to the flesh set their mind on things of the flesh . . ." (Rom.8:5). "The mind of the flesh is hostile toward God . . ." (Rom.8:7)

Our sinful nature was not forgiven, but likewise was taken into the judgment and death of the cross. All that we inherited from Adam suffered this same fate. At the moment of our new birth, from God's perspective, this fallen nature was positionally put to death on the cross. "Knowing this that our old self was crucified with Him" (Rom.6:6).

3. Our Personal Sins

The natural product of a sinful nature is sins. A dog barks: the sinner sins. We grew up to be sinners in practice and by our own choice. This is true of everyone. "There is none righteous, not even one" (Rom.3:10).

Our sins were forgiven - past, present, and future - by Christ's shed blood on the cross. "and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross . . .. " (1 Pet.2:24). "having made peace through the blood of His cross . . . " (Col.1:20). "To Him who loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood" (Rev.1:5).

Our Relationship with Adam Terminated

When we were born again, our relationship with Adam was terminated and we entered into a new and living relationship with our new source, the last Adam, Christ.

All of God's dealings with sin were accomplished in and by His Son on the cross of Calvary. On the cross the Lord Jesus was identified with our sin, and our sinful nature; our "old man" being thus condemned and crucified with Him. At the same time, in His substitutionary work of redemption, He paid the penalty of our sins. Thus His death on our behalf completely freed us, as individual believers, from Adam and all Adamic penalties and consequences.


We need to see ourselves as God sees us - dead to the first Adam, and alive to the second Adam. We have been crucified with Christ, buried, raised up and made alive, and have ascended with Him into heaven, and are now positionally seated with Christ at the Father's right hand.


We have died with Christ and that death has severed our relationship to Adam. It is vital to know and believe that our old self nature was crucified with Christ on the cross. "We have been buried with Him through baptism (Spirit) into death" (Rom.6:4) "our old self was crucified with Him (Christ)" (Rom.6:6). "I have been crucified with Christ" (Gal.2:20). Therefore we have been freed from the principle of sin and the old nature. "For he who has died is freed from sin" (Rom.6:7).

Death, our ruin, has been the very means of our triumph over it. "Death is swallowed up in victory . . . but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. " (1 Cor.15:54, 57).


We have also been buried with Him. None but the dead are buried and those not dead are not buried! "Therefore we have been buried with Him" (Rom.6:4). "and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ (on the cross) having been buried with Him" (Col.2:12).


The fact of our death and burial with Him does not in itself give us new life. But it has set us free to look up from our death to fallen Adam to our birth in Christ our risen Head.

When the Lord Jesus burst the bonds of death He took us with Him in His glorious resurrection life. "as Christ was raised from among the dead by the Father's glorious power, so we also should live an entirely new life. For since we have become one with Him by sharing in His death, we shall also be one with Him by sharing in His resurrection" (Rom.6:4, 5 Weymouth).

We are to know and believe that we are "alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Rom.6:11). Our calling is to offer our new creation life to God "as those alive from the dead" and our bodies "as instruments (like a musical instrument in the hand of a master) of righteousness to God" (Rom.6:13)

1. A New Position

Whereas our old position in the first Adam made us dead to God and alive to sin, our new position in the risen last Adam makes us alive to God and dead to sin. " For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. " (Col.3:3). Formerly our judge, now by means of His Son's death and resurrection, He is free to be our Father, and we His sons. "Beloved , now are we the sons of God" (1 Jn.3:2). "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba! Father!” (Gal.4:6).

2. A New Righteousness

The old life is not changed but exchanged for that which is entirely new. " Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature (creation); the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ . . ." (2 Cor.5:18).

Our Father sees each of us as completely new in His Son. He wants us to see ourselves from His point of view - new creations in Christ Jesus!


Being identified with the Lord Jesus in His death to sin and in His resurrection unto life, we are also in Him in His ascended life at the Father's right hand. Born from above, we are to abide above. " But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. " (Eph.2:4-7).

Positionally, God now sees us as being in heaven with Christ at His right hand. At the same time we are in the Spirit of Christ here on the earth. The Holy Spirit is the one in whom we live and move and exist here on this earth. He ministers the life of the Lord Jesus in us as our new life, and who develops the characteristics of that life in and through our new nature. " Now we have received . . . the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words" (1 Cor.2:12-14)


This speaks of our rest in Christ and of our cessation from working. We are seated with Him in the heavenlies. "and seated us with Him in the heavenly places" (Eph.2:6). We cease from all of our works. It is God through His Spirit who works in and through us. This is a positional fact that we need to embrace. "For we who have believed enter that rest . . ." (Heb.4:3). For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His." (Heb.4:10).


Born by Grace

As a Christian you understand that you were born again on the principle of grace - the unearned, free gift of God. “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord” (Rom.6:23 ). “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it (salvation) is the gift of God” (Eph.2:8).

Grow by Grace

As a Christian, you also need to understand that your new life is to be lived on the same principle as your new birth - that of grace. “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him” (Col.2:6). “For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him, and the power to do what pleases him” (Phil.2:13 ).

Serve by Grace

God has his eternal purpose and plan for you as an individual, and as you grow spiritually you will be living the life he has chosen for you. “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph.2:10). He has promised to provide you with all that you will need for every task he gives you to do. “God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” (2 Cor.9:8).

He equips you for the task he has for you by His grace, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” , and his grace enables us to become His willing servant. “and his grace toward me did not prove vain; but I (Paul) labored even more than all of them, yet, not I, but the grace of God with me.” (1 Cor.15:10).


Unconditional Acceptance

As a born again believer in Jesus Christ you are fully accepted by God because He now sees you through your identity as part of his family. You are as surely a Christian as, in the natural realm; you are a member of the family of your physical parents. Your spiritual birth identity is in Jesus Christ.

Like everything else in your Christian life, your acceptance by God is of grace. “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the kind intention of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, through which he has made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph.1:5, 6).

To the extent that the Father accepts his beloved Son, he accepts you in Him. You can forever thank him that your acceptance does not depend upon what you are in yourself!

Position not Condition

With God, position is everything when it comes to your acceptance in his Son, and he wants that fact to be first in your mind. Of course, God is concerned about your day-to-day condition, and he expects you to be concerned also. But your acceptance is not based upon your condition.

Your acceptance by God will often be denied by Satan. He will accuse you concerning sin in your life. He will insist that God cannot possibly accept anyone in your condition. It is then that you can rest in the Lord Jesus, who is your full acceptance before God and your shield against the devil's dart of doubt. “For your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col.3:3).

God has positioned you in Christ. As the Holy Spirit develops Christ's life within you, you will be increasingly conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus, apart from what the accuser whispers to you. “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor.3:18 ).


This is the certain conviction that you are a Christian and that you have now and forever eternal life. “For I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day” (2 Tim.1:12 ).

Member of a New Family

Your unshakable assurance as to your spiritual parentage comes from the Bible. Your new position is as sure and unchangeable as the eternal Scriptures upon which it is founded. Your actual condition fluctuates from time to time, however your position in Christ is the only ground for assurance of your salvation.

Spiritual birth has to do with family position, and not with experiences. Your new birth may have a great effect upon your condition. You may be filled with love, joy, and peace - that is the result of your position. These and other aspects of your condition will ebb and flow.

There will be growth all during your life, but your family position will never change. And it is upon your position in Christ that your assurance of salvation is established. “We know also that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true - even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God, and eternal life” (1 John 5:20 ).

Facts not Feelings

Your assurance of salvation must always rest upon facts and not feelings. The facts of God's word are unchangeable but our feelings change from day to day.

You need to know that your Christian life, and your assurance of that life, has their source and foundation in your position in Christ as a member of God's eternal family. It is all of grace! “Who (God) has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was grated us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,” (2 Tim.1:9).

The Witness of the Spirit

Another factor about your assurance of salvation is the witness of the Spirit. “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are children of God” (Rom.8:16 ). This witness is not an inward feeling of being right with God; it is a witness recorded in the words of the Bible. The witness of the Spirit is the written testimony that lies plain and clear on the pages of Scripture. It is this: “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb.8:12 ).

When the Holy Spirit, the Author of the Bible, speaks to you, he does it by means of the Bible. As you study the Scriptures concerning your position in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Spirit of Christ gives you assurance within your spirit, which is beyond the realm of feelings. “The one who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself - And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” (1 Jn. 5:10-11).


Not of works

Many people insist upon some form of works in order to remain saved or to prove that you are saved. But the God of all grace, the One who saves and secures, says, “But to the one who does not work, but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness” (Rom.4:5). You are unconditionally and eternally secure in the risen Lord Jesus Christ. “to him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever” (Jd.24 & 25)

The Sovereignty of God

The key to your eternal security is the fact that your Father is the sovereign God of the universe. He has chosen you! He has made you his child! “Just as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world he predestined us to adoption as sons, through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the kind intention of his will” (Eph.1:4, 5). And He will keep you! “And I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28)

The Justice of God

In a day of great injustice, you need to know that your security is based firmly on the justice of God. “He did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” (Rom.3:26). God is both just and the justifier of the believer in Jesus Christ. Notice also that it was the Lord Jesus Christ who was just in the sight of God who has made you just before God.“For Christ also has died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that he might bring us to God” (1 Pet.3:18 ).

The Love of God

Nothing can separate the Lord Jesus from his Father, and in him nothing can separate you from your Father. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom.8:35 , 38, 39)

The Power of God

Further, you are an heir of God. Your inheritance is kept for you while you are kept by the power of God. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Pet.1:3-5).

The Promises of God

God has given many promises that he will keep you. “All that the Father gives me shall come to me, and the one who comes to me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37 ).God himself has said, “I will never leave you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Heb.13:5; Deut.31:6)

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