Identity theft! We cringe at the thought of it. We set up firewalls to keep the hackers out of our computers, tablets, and phones. We have to make a list of passwords for every bank account, every utility, every loan, and even our grocery store accounts and then a password for the program to protect our passwords. All because of an invisible predator.
Identity theft didn’t begin with the digital age of computers. It began with the subtle lie of Satan in the Garden of Eden—“You will be like God…” (Genesis 3:5). Adam and Eve believed it. Satan stole their original identity—made in the image of God to walk with Him in fellowship (see Gen. 1:27, 3:8)—and their lives were filled with misery (see Genesis 3:16-19, 23).
My identity was stolen at an early age. I was no longer Dale; I was “Freckles.” Had lots of them (still do)—and the kids in school reminded me just about every day. When the doctor gave me my polio vaccination back in the 50’s he said, “If I had to miss a freckle I couldn’t do it.” My mother—bless her heart—scrubbed the top of my head until it bled before she realized that she was scrubbing freckles, not dirt. I began to believe freckles were bad, not wanted, and anyone with them was inferior. I belonged in the bargain basement with the other irregulars, not good enough to be on the main floor.
I accepted the title of Inferior and it dictated the script of my life’s narrative for more years than I like to think. And, at times, still does.
Identity theft is vicious. It makes one a slave. King Nebuchadnezzar knew it. After a grueling 4-month march from Jerusalem to Babylon, Daniel and his three friends were all renamed. These young men now belonged to Nebuchadnezzar. He was erasing all traces of their Hebrew religion and elevating the pagan Babylonian gods and culture by giving them new names. Nebuchadnezzar was stealing the identities.
Has your identity been stolen? Are you labeled by a past failure? What lie have you believed about yourself?
If your heart is bound in chains today you need to nudge up to Daniel and his friends. Here is the way they stood firm in a culture bent on destroying who they really were.
1) They never believed the labels placed on them. They knew who they were—children of Jehovah God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of the Exodus from Egypt. The first step to breaking the bonds of identity theft is to re-establish who you are and whose you are. As Pat Barrett reminds us: we belong to a “Good, Good, Father;” our name is “Loved by God.” W. C. Fields was right when he said, “It ain’t what they call you; it’s what you answer to.” I am not “Freckles.” I am “Loved by God.” Re-claim your name if it has been stolen!
2) Daniel and his friends avoided being sucked into the black hole of Babylonian culture by remembering their prior commitment. They were determined to keep their identity (see Daniel 1:8). They made a decision before they were thrown into the conflict; they were surrendered to God (see Daniel 3:16-18). In baptism, I declare I will live for Christ, I will fight for Christ, and, if need be, I will die for Christ. He is Lord, and I belong to Him.
You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. (1 Corinthians 6:19c-20a
There is power in being able to say, “Right there, right then, I made a conscious surrender—an oath of allegiance—to Christ in my baptism.” This settles so many issues seeking to steal our identity.
Remember who you are, and whose you are. Allow God to write the script for your life!