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When Your Identity is in Christ

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
April 29, 2021 2:00 am

When Your Identity is in Christ

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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April 29, 2021 2:00 am

Author Christopher Yuan, who left his homosexual lifestyle after believing in Jesus, talks freely about his identity as a Christian. Yuan explains that when he lived as a gay man, being gay wasn't what he did but who he was, or so he thought. Realizing he's in Christ and bears God's image gave him a new identity as a Christ follower.

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LISTEN: Christopher Yuan and his mother, Angela, talk about the way God slowly and patiently drew Christopher to Jesus Christ.

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Facing temptation is a part of living on earth. And in this culture.

Sexual temptation is one of the challenges all of the space Christopher nuances to fight temptation.

We have to realize who we really are the desires and in the feelings that we get in some as we conceive and bombarded sometimes during the day could be like about good of the types of the day are types of the week just like you just bombarded with these thoughts that you didn't ask for these feelings in the desires I'm going to be filtering those all through the grid of my identity in Christ. This is family life today. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson and Bob Lapine.

How does understanding your identity in Christ affect your ability to deal with temptation is one of the things we'll talk about today. Stay with us and welcome to family life today.

Thanks for joining us. You know we've already talked about this a little bit this week about what feels like kind of a renewal among Christians today about the importance of understanding our identity in Christ.

Understanding who we are as Christians I'm thinking about the movie that our friends Alex and Stephen Kendrick did recently. That was about that a movie called overcome or there are books being written on this subject. This is a vital issue in our day for every believer to understand who am I in Christ. What does God say is true about me, yet I've seen the same thing. There is a I would say God's doing this from around the world but deftly in our country. I watch it for the last three or four years and I've talked about many times versus theme that's rising up in literature. I've never seen a lot in music that's I can say I handed a sermon grabbed my guitar and sing.

I'm no longer the fear.

I am a child of God, right SLI guy we could do that right now I don't think so very you and the church stood up and start things because there's a seminar our soul that needs know who am I and so I think God is speaking to us in the church and try to remind us this is the core of your identity. I was reading an article earlier that we were reading it together about how adolescents, young people are really struggling with what is their identity and in our world today when they are confused about their identity or when they are insecure about their identity and somebody comes along and says well maybe you need a new identity. Maybe you need is a is a girl to shave your head than where boys close and maybe you're really a boy that can be attractive just because you want something fresh and new think it's starting all over its becoming someone new and maybe it's because we haven't like the old person, and so were trying to figure out who it interesting for 33 years now I've led a Bible study for the Detroit Lions wise and this past year I asked them to introduce themselves in a little different way.

I want you to introduce yourselves. But you can't say what you've done who you're married to, or accomplishments that you had in your life in the room silently. It took a long time. Finally, someone said I'm loving but it's interesting when you think about your identity apart from your desires or accomplishments. It's hard to come up with an answer of the reason or focused on this issue is because it's at the heart of a book that our friend Christopher Yuan has written called holy sexuality of the gospel and Christopher's back with us again today.

Welcome back. Thanks Bob, we have been talking about this issue of sexuality identity is at the core of understanding our sexuality is not yet it is. That's why my book began that way. Honestly, I think in a conversation around sexuality. The concept of identity is really the missing piece that we as Christians at least are not getting the world gets it. The world actually is completely embraced it. So when we engage with our gay neighbor are a lesbian coworker and you know we like you know how I talk to them about this and we begin with sinful behavior. The reason why it's so offensive is because and I'm just like a personal when I lived as a gay man being gay as I would've said being gay is not something I did. Being gay is not what I felt being gay was who I was 100%.

So when we come out and say, sexuality is sin in your same situation to sin. They don't hear you saying what you're doing is sin, you know what your your actions are sinful. What they hear is you just called me my whole being the core of who I am as reprehensible, detestable, sinful, and that's why so offensive, so I think before we even address the sinful behavior. We need to step back and get at the core identity which honestly and I love what you said that. Who are we in him without saying it on the mother of a wife or whatever. That's hard because this problem.

Identity is not something that the gay community is wrestling that we all are. We put identity and things that we do know so I teach at Moody. I'm a teacher, but is that really who I am because if I retire, but I don't teach my still a teacher. I mean, I don't know man I guess you could say that but I think many things that we then label ourselves or say that that's who we are. That might be more about what we do or even what we feel, so I can to develop that and I so so if that is not who we are but I say so sexuality is not who we are it. How we are and if that's not who we are and who are we, that's in a very important question.

I think all Christians. We need to ask ourselves invoking the personal for a minute you said your own identity. You know this is who I am. You don't believe that anymore. Don't talk to me. Who are you my whole life. This was 20 years ago was gay all my friends were gay and these are wonderful people there, successful, loving, kind of people all my friends were gay. I lived in apartment complex in Midtown Atlanta that was probably 95% gay men.

I shopped at a gay Kroger I worked out a gay Jim. I everything around me was gay. The world was telling me I am Gail my friends were affirming that then when I became a Christian and God began to peel away the layers of my wrong identity.

I did have an identity crisis all over again like I did when I was a teenager on Chinese so I dealt with identity. Who am I in my Chinese my American MI Chinese-American and my American, Chinese, and what who am I so I had this identity crisis as a newfound Christian. I need to study for that for myself and I came across all of these passages in the New Testament we are in Christ, we are in him over. There's hundreds of these statements and I need to fully understand what that meant and even going back to Genesis that God created us in his own image, no other created being. Has that honor to be created in his Shem and that's an important place to start because you might say my identity today is I'm a child of God. We need to back up and say well every human being has as an identity marker. The image of God. Yes, we are all created in his image.

Whether you know Christ or not. And there is a nobility to that that often gets ignored or minimized when were talking about behavior that we find inappropriate. That's right, you're just the fact that every one of us, whether you know Christ or you don't.

Were all created in God's image, so even the worse mass murder for the guy whose unit abuse children. You know what I just think of the worst. Whatever. And in her mind that individual is even and even if there unrepentant is still created in the image of God.

Adolf Hitler was recently yes I had all the hardware so that means every person in God's eyes has great value and has in us that very image of God.

But the story doesn't end there. You know Genesis 1 doesn't end the Bible just just doesn't end at Genesis want to Genesis 2. Unfortunately, he precut Genesis 3 and that's an important part first understand as well that does not take away the image of God. It distorts it. But the image of God is never lost and that then compels us forward to then having all of the Old Testament dealing with their sin and rebellion against God but and pointing toward the Messiah, who is Jesus Christ's redemption. Thus the need of my subtitle of my book sex as I relationship shaped by God's grand story, God's grand story being creation fall redemption and then the end times consummation in what would be fully complete but what Christ came.

Yet of course we all know Christ came. You know so that we have faith in him, our sins are forgiven, but we also need to realize Christ is the perfect image of God and when we put our faith in him.

He is in a sense restoring that image of God in us. So anyway, it's all about identity. So yes we are created in the image of God has been distorted, but then is people of faith who now believe in Christ by grace. We then are being restored every day into the image of Christ, who is the perfect image of God.

So, identity, now I realize from when I my identities in Christ, Christ follower and I don't want there to be any permanent modifier before my main identity in Christ I'm united with him. So somebody says to you, I'm a gay Christian what you say Bechtel well, I don't identify as a Chinese Christian I don't identify as a male Christian even though yes I am male.

And yes I am Chinese but I believe any permanent modifier shouldn't be before who I am in Christ.

I never like labels growing up I was called alderman types in the casino. Not only because I was Chinese because I didn't fit into the mold of of a young boy I was awful at sports. I was musical and you know just I grew like I think once I got out of high school, so I was teased ruthlessly. I never like labels and when I became a Christian was like I still don't like labels but if there's going to be anyone label that I will permanently put before who I am is I'm a Christ follower and hence actually my name which is so ironic. My mother named me Christopher as a non-Christian, she menus at the God ordained didn't know what that name meant all my life. I went by Chris all my friends call me Chris and you know in my testimony in having become Christian in prison.

When I had to sign my name on the dotted line to get out of prison I had to sign my name and not Chris Yuan but I had to sign my full name Kristin and I it was. I remember Thursday I looked at that and I knew what that name meant. And as I was walking as I was walking out of prison I knew that this was going to be a very special day that I went into prison. My old man and I walked out of prison a new and so I go by Christopher Exley on ministries called bearer of Christ and actually now I kind of insist people call me Christopher is still kind of different for me and you call me Chris yeah so when people call me Christopher unit hard to say I you know what you want to go by I go by Christopher.

I know started to say but my name is Christopher that's my given name. That's my God-given name and also it's a daily reminder for me that I'm on this earth for a reason and that's to bear Christ not you know accidentally but purposively that's who I am and so when I walk into a room. I want people to say wow. That's an interesting guy and that's a nice Chinese man. That's whatever I want that person to hopefully walk away and say is different. You know what I see Christ in him is what I want, so I don't even identifies a same-sex attracted Christian yes that might be something that I might wrestle with. But actually that's the fact that I might still experiencing such a tragic is it really the real issue.

The real issue I still wrestle with my sin nature in Christ God is give me the ability to put to death my sin nature put to death and be victorious over my indwelling sin that Connick continues and wants to haunt me on the side of glory.

But that's who I am and so yes I might wrestle with the sinful temptations, but you want so do we all write and that puts us on the same level playing field. All daily in need of more say I think every single person wrestles with that identity piece wrestles with who we are in Christ height, even as a mom mom can think I'm a bad mom. I'm a terrible wife.

My husband isn't bad has been okay.

We can go through all the things and I'm fatter and uglier. I'm stupid and I think people the more you think that that can become part of our identity. Lower sales do I have worth and value, and where do I find my work.

Now you and apart from Christ, people are running around all over the place trying to say.

I think him and find it here. I think I will find it there. When you find worth and value you go.

This feels really good yeah, and everybody's looking for that. But apart from Christ. It's all counterfeit worth and value. It is the easy thing to do. You know this is I'm a baseball player. I'm a mom and honestly, you know, I would say there are many Christian moms out there that have made that the core of who they are they the put everything and then when things go wrong with the child. The whole world. That was my mom.

She was your typical Tiger mom, you know that hellhole. She honestly she gave up everything for family, she came here to the US on a full ride scholarship for graduate school and gave it up because her whole life. She wanted to be a mom and a wife and a good wife and that was her dream so she gave that elbow all up and then here I am. My view know rebelled and you know so her world was crushed. She wanted to end her life, she literally wanted to end her life then it wasn't just me. My parents marriage they were going to get a divorce.

I was just a combination of things that that seem to come a snowball but can't use that and instead of her taking her life concave. Her lifetime she she says in her testimony she wanted to end her life and in reality she did is one really reverses. Galatians 224. I've been crucified with Christ, but Christ now lives in me that's that's a key thing but unfortunately I think with many even parents who have gay children. They beat themselves up because what did I do wrong if I just went to all his soccer games or or whatever it is, then she or he whatever wouldn't. But here's the here's the reality.

Perfect parenting doesn't guarantee perfect children.

I have to tell many parents. It's not your fault. You could have been a perfect parent your kids are still sinners, no matter what you can do you not mean we look at Adam and Eve in the garden. Did they not have a perfect father were not raised in the perfect environment, they still rebel.

So what makes us think you know of what makes Paris thinks that they can do any better even listeners. You probably have a friend who you look at them there like they were the worst parents like everything wrong and what happened there.

Kids are great to write like that's all so unfair and then you look at some other couple there like they did everything right. You know the mom stayed home. The dad you know devotions in and taught the Bible to them and the kids turned out wacky or whatever. Or it out but that tells me is parents you're not God. No parent can turn a heart to Jesus. Only God can do this right and so it's really helpful for us to realize you know the goal and here I am is a single man given parenting advice, but the goal of the Christian parent. I don't believe is necessarily to produce godly children. That's not the ultimate goal because we can't really change that that can't be the main goal.

The main goal for a Christian parent is to be godly parents you can handle that. You can change that point you could to Christ. But you can't turn then you can't make them believe in Christ. I think that's important and it ties into this identity because it puts it back upon who we are parents, your main focus is to love Christ be more transformed in Christ and not put your whole world around other things that aren't really who we are. So here you are you nosy think about your mom who's praying for you and begging God for what you become. But at this point you're not see go back to their prison cell in your walk out your new man immediate emotional think about how to's. This is cool identity moment so your mom can change a I'm sure you change if you did it and so we started I met identity.

Let's make sure you close the loop. There, how does your new identity in Christ which is so cool it's literally in your name and sky were tied at my fifth in Christ is Christopher so how does that apply now to the identity of who you are and and especially even to your sexuality. Walk us through that.

Yeah I think so when we talk about identity in Christ union with Christ. It really is happy if we just can make a kind of practical Lehman everyday talk.

I think the easiest way to think about it is what is like the main priority in our life. What is it that we dwell on like if you're a teenager and in high school and you kind of have this new puppy love. You know I and all you think about is that person that can be really consuming and you know how we making Christ, his kingdom the body of Christ like the forefront of what we do throughout the day. When I look at my schedule and and what I'm doing throughout the day and that doesn't mean that your necessarily reading the Bible every moment of the dam and that will be great but we got to work right.

But while we're working am I doing what I'm doing, whether I'm answering the phone and an office, you am I doing it for the glory of God that I'm doing it. Christ, like if I'm an accountant you know in my crunching numbers for that and I can be meditating on it. How can I be doing this for the glory that I think these are all things that we need to think about throughout the day. Whether you're on a break, Paul says, pray without ceasing, prayed as meaning to close your eyes and put your hands together. I just pray sometimes renders walking I'm waiting on an elevator right I mean instead of listening to the living music you don't think about man you know my friend that just asked me to pray one to do that and when you do that right now that me just little little things like that.

What's the priority the things that we make of the main thing I life everyday and it can really really be simple things for me. That is what is identity.

Even as a mother when I'm shepherding my child am I doing this and saying you know am I doing this and I'm not pointing my child to Christ in my doing this in a way that is just infused with the good news of the gospel.

So here's what I hear you saying I hear you saying when you understand your identity understand I am a child of God, I belong to him. I'm really his family. This is who I am.

Now I'm facing decisions about my sexuality about my desires about my attractions so my identity is going to govern how I respond to that input is all right yes yes so the desires and in the feelings that we get in some as we can save in bombarded sometimes during the day could be like about good other types of the day or types of the week or just like you just bombarded with these thoughts that you didn't ask for these feelings in the desires I'm going to be filtering those all through the grid of my identity in Christ that even the the feelings because because I know my sinful behavior anyone civil behavior always begins with the heart with the desire in my mind. And if I'm not filtering those things. It's much easier to kind of fall right into the behavior so I need to be catching these things.

My thoughts, my desire so the sexual desires that I have I'm single man I'm not married to a woman yet so any sexual desire that I have. It will not be toward my potential life so therefore I need to be controlling those I need to be putting them under the authority of Christ and say that is not God's will. Even my relationships and so it's not just sexual but also the romantic desires and this is where in my chapter desire. I differentiated between not just sexual desires, but sometimes we then say well then we look at all the other nonsexual desires. I think that's a bit too simplistic. I thing we also need to differentiate between even though they might be non-sexual and they might not be you know just friendship. We also have this category.

Of the more romantic desires. I know what romantic desires are. You know when you may be asked teenager they kind of struggle with being able to differentiate even 20-year-old I know when my heart is being led in one way. For example, if I'm at work and I'm thinking you know, I wonder what she's thinking I want you know, and that those are things that are kind of the more romantic that and if I'm having those romantic desires for someone that I know can't ever lead to a relationship that God would bless him, married woman right for another guy. Yes like then I need to.

Even though I could say oh they're not sexual. I need to say those are not correct desires. Lisa and I need to stop them because I hear this, even among those in the gay community or even people who was am Christian and identifies gay they could say well I know that the sex is wrong. The social desires are wrong, but we need to have Leica a covenant relationship and we need to commit to one another or it's almost like marriage without the sex. And this is where I think that it's not correct because for example if I was a young man and I developed this very close relationship with this young woman, but she's married to another man. If not having sex but were having this romantic relationship. Let's say you know I was a student and I would walk her to class every day. We were students together. Her husband wasn't going to the school. We came best friends we weave and hold hand but we would have sex with that be right or wrong. I hope all of us would say that's wrong with you, what would have having sex wise that wrong. This is not the sex.

That's just wrong is not just even the sexual desires that that's wrong it's even the romantic desires as well. I I actually look to what Jesus set up on the sermon on the Mount where he said if a man looks lustfully after woman he's ready committed adultery which means if the act is wrong. The desire is wrong and everything in between is wrong.

Even the behaviors that might lead to the sex, but might not be having sex. I think this is so significant and so important for us to get our arms around. I think the key idea here to understand what is our identity and then to have our behavior governed by that understanding and when your behavior is different than your identity sums wrong right yet I'm inspired right now in this way because it's so easy to say my desire so strong I can't really control it.

I've heard Christian men say that that's I just can't.

And I'm hearing you say gay Ken you and I know I can I and I've had desires.

We've all had wrong sinful desires that are strong.

It is like there. Let know their real and their strong but in Christ.

The identity piece again right.

There's actually a power that I did not have when I was not in Christ that I now have literally the Holy Spirit of God lives in me.

Can I control this is our yes I can make decisions.

I need a brother to go beside me, but I mad like to say to people listen or not you can win this battle right now this have the power. This is the same spirit that raised Jesus from the data so if he can raise people from the dead can help you put to death. The desire that you're dealing with on I was thinking today when you said you came out of prison.

You literally where a new person because Christ with living union. He had the power of the Holy Spirit you are brand-new anywhere brand name. Amen. That is a new identity.

And anybody in Christ is brand-new and the power of God's resurrection. This is why identity is so important because if you think about it who we identify as you know what flows from then thinking our thoughts are behavior our actions or relationships. I really think that so much is tied directly into who we are because then if you have the wrong identity gets within Florida wrong thinking wrong behavior wrong relationships.

This is why this book is not just for people who are curious about same-sex attraction and that issue. This is a book that helps you understand human sexuality.

All of our sexuality are desires or behaviors are actions and how the gospel and our sexuality ought to interact. I think this would be a great book for small groups to go through together a good book for parents and teens to go through together holy sexuality of the gospel, sex, desire and relationships shaped by God's grand story the author is our guest today, Christopher Yuan, we've got copies available for you. Our family life today resource Center order from us or call to order one 800, FL, today the website again. Family life phone number is 1-800-358-6329 that's one 800 F as in family L as in life, and then the word today and we feel like these kinds of conversations are important for us to be having. And it's important for us to keep coming back to what the Bible has to say about subjects like gender identity, sexuality, marriage, parenting all of the things we talk about your on family life today. Our goal is to effectively develop godly marriages and families the way you do that is by continuing to renew your mind around what God's word has to say on the subject's family life today is committed to providing practical biblical help and hope for your marriage and your family. But the people who really make sure this word gets out what some of your fellow blisters. Since those of you who have joined arms with us by making donations to this ministry so that we can reach more people more regularly with God's design for marriage and family. If you're a regular listener and you've never made a donation or it's been a while since you've donated to support this ministry. We encourage you to go to our website. Family life to donate today or call to donate at one 800 FL today when you do would love to send you as a thank you gift a copy of two books that we talked about this week. Matt and Lisa Jacobson's books hundred ways to love your wife hundred ways to love your husband ways we can proactively more effectively express our love to one another in marriage again those books are a thank you gift when you donate to support family life today or when you call one 800 FL today to make a donation now tomorrow morning to talk about how suffering fits in to this whole issue of human sexuality because when we learn to control our appetites. There can be something that goes along with talk more about that tomorrow with Christopher Yuan. You can join us think our engineer today.

Keith Lynch some help this week from Bruce Goff and our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our hosts Dave and Ann Wilson. I'm Bob Lapine. See you back tomorrow for another family life to a is a production of family life of Little Rock, Arkansas. Accrue ministry help for today hope for tomorrow

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