“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Romans 6: 3-4
Many years ago, I overheard a mother say to her daughter, who was spending the night away from home, “Remember who you are.” This was a Christian family, so the mother may have been referring to the girl’s testimony as a Christian or as a reflection of their own family name. Probably both, I’m thinking. And she was right in both cases.
I want to give you—us—the same reminder, but not for either of the aforementioned reasons, worthy as they are. No, my challenge today is to remember who you are, not who you were. And I don’t hesitate to say, it’s just as important as the other two reasons. More, perhaps. This is not another look at Paul’s words in Philippians 3:13 about “forgetting those things which are behind.” This is about being true to who you really are and refusing to be who you are not.
These two verses in Romans, and an abundance of others, make it perfectly clear that just as you and I were inseparably united to Adam as far as sin, we are now just as inseparably united with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection (1 Cor. 15: 22). We rose from the dead with Him to “walk in newness of life.” Not sinless, for we must walk in sinful, not yet redeemed bodies, but as a new “self.” The only self of which we should be conscious (Gal. 2: 20).
Here are two things to remember about sins in the past, before or after conversion. First, your past didn’t make you who you are; it made you who you were. You decide who you are, so you see why it’s vitally important to know who you are. We may live in sinful flesh, but that’s not our default setting anymore. And each time we sin, we betray not only God but our true selves. We’re completely out of character.
Second, the past is not nearly as powerful as it is portrayed to be. It has no more power than we allow it to have; and with the resurrection power we have at our disposal, it should be thought about, much less spoken of, rarely.
It’s hard to be who you are when you’re more familiar with who you were.
One of the characters in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, says these words: “This above all: to thine own self be true.” I agree. I say to you, as I say to myself, “Be true to yourself—your true self—your risen from the dead self. Remember who you are, not who you were.
“God help me to live in a morally and honest way, without pretending either to be what I am not or not to be what I am.” – J.I. Packer