HOW IS FALSE IDENTITY FORMED?
Origin: False Identity is the identity of sin that became human nature due to disobedience to God. “But you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat it you will surely die” Gen. 2:17. This came as a moral test to know if Adam will out of love for God, consciously and deliberately choose to believe and obey, or to disbelief and disobey God, his Creator. Adam disobeyed and reaped moral disaster and death. Spiritual and moral death occurred immediately.
The moral death is death to God’s life in man, another life took over: a sinful nature, the stranger. The spiritual death meant that their former relationship to God was destroyed: Consequently, every person born into the world comes with a sinful nature (Romans 8:5-8). Man became sinful and corrupt. This corruption of human nature involves the innate desire to go one’s own selfish way without concern for God. “The real man in God’s image died and another life that is corrupt took over and this passed on to all human beings.
“When Adam had Lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image: and he named him Seth. In Gen. 8:21 God said every inclination of the heart of man is evil from childhood”. Man has become corrupt and depraved in nature and his tendency towards evil is innate in every man from birth. This is expressed early in childhood and throughout his existence (Romans 3:10-18).
Lost of identity meant lost of true value or worth for living. Human tendency since then has been to develop in the wrong direction, promoting the nature of good and evil through human sense, desire, emotion, hormone, instinct and ideas set in one’s mind etc. With true identity lost, man lost his true worth, thus, resort to externalities; such as trust in things, possessions, man’s approval or commendation to find his worth.
From a very young age the idea of false identity begins to manifest either through family background, popular culture, environment or experiences in life. For instance in family background, when our parents begin to negotiate with their love so as to get us to perform in an acceptable way. This can be in what they say to us in words or actions:
“Mummy won’t love you again if you don’t finish your food or if you don’t behave yourself, and be nice to your brother or may be something like “Daddy won’t love you if don’t get good grades in school”, etc.
Thus, the message gets communicated: We are not lovable in and of ourselves. We’re lovable or acceptable because of what we do, or how we perform. As we grow older, this message is reinforced by our peers who believe that the most popular children are usually those that are most talented or have the best things in life. Even our children tell us that their “popular” friends are those who are best in a certain sport or those who get the best grades in school. It doesn’t take long for the message of this false identity to be formed and stick to us.
A Message Is Passed
What message do we get? The message is that who we are and our values depends on what we have, what we do, and what other people think about us. This is false identity and it is so ingrained in us that we begin to define ourselves by these standards. False identity may be fear based as we grow up in suppressive homes.
Jacob realised fearfully that by his identity he was not qualified to receive the covenant blessings of his Patriarchs, so he manipulated his way to get the blessing by usurping the identity of the first born, Esau.
True Identity Can Only Be found In God
Jacob wasted many years in identity crisis before he finally discovered that his true identity can only be found in God. Thus, he fought desperately, engaging God in an encounter that gave him back his true identity as Israel (the Prince of God) in contrast to the Satanic identity, Jacob (a sup planter) that he bore for years.
As the prince, Israel, he was qualified to partake of God’s covenant blessings. Jacob knew the power of misplaced identity, such that when his wife Rachel in her death pangs gave her new born son the name Benoni (child of my sorrow), Jacob immediately changed the name to Benjamin, rejecting false identity in the life of his son.
True Identity Restored
Interestingly, it’s precisely to deliver mankind from this false identity of sin that took
Jesus Christ to the Cross. Jesus paid the price of sin nature and desire that all men should accept the finished work of his crucifixion of the body of sin at Calvary and thereafter trust in Christ to give us new life (restored identity in God).
How can we die to the false self or identity?
We need to die to the old self and escape the demands it places on us through our super ego and a society that is wholly dedicated to fostering the values of the false image.
Jesus showed us how to die to false identity in his struggle with temptation in Matthew 4 vs 1-11. In the three temptations of Christ, we see Jesus saying “no” to the tempter.
Jesus Temptation – As Our Pattern
After 40 days without food, Jesus was tempted to do something about his hunger by turning stones into bread. But Jesus resorted to the word of God by quoting Scripture, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” He refused to yield who he was. He refused to define himself by what people say about him.
The next temptation is for Jesus to “establish himself in the estimation of others” by throwing himself off the peak of the Temple and command his angels to save him—this would definitely get people’s attention and cause them to start talking about His power. They would recognize Jesus for who he is: the Messiah. But Jesus didn’t need this kind of recognition, because he already knew who he was. He refused to define himself by what people say about him.
Finally, we see Jesus standing on top of a very high mountain where he is shown all the kingdoms of the world and its glories, then Satan whispered, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” But Jesus would not be tempted to find his true identity in what he could do. He knew “…Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15) He knew who he was before God and in God.