Does that sound like Joel Osteen to you? Whenever I say something along those lines, someone asks me if I'm not just dipping into the shallow dredge of self-esteem. But no. When I want to know who I am, I dip into the well of the external word in the gospel. God declares me a sinner deserving of hell. Nobody can say anything worse to me than this, really. God declares me a beloved child, a joint-heir with his Son, and eternally secure to future glorification with Him. Nobody can say anything better to me than this.
Cornelius Plantinga says, "We are redeemed sinners. But we are redeemed sinners."
Because of Christ, I am free to confess that I am a sinner deserving the wrath of God but I am also free from both sin and wrath. Why do some Christians think that to seek our identity in Christ, the way the Scriptures say we ought to, is thinking too much of ourselves? Why are they afraid to trust what God says about them? When God says to his people, "whoever touches you touches the apple of my eye" (Zech. 2:8), am I to think he doesn't mean it? Why ought we to side with the devil in accusing ourselves as if the gospel is not true? As Martyn Lloyd-Jones says, we need to stop listening to ourselves and start talking to ourselves!
In Martin Luther's "Letters of Spiritual Counsel" we find this word of encouragement written to a young correspondent:
When the devil throws our sins up to us and declares that we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus: "I admit that I deserve death and hell. What of it? Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation? By no means. For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction in my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Where he is, there shall I be also."
I am not a fan of Neil Anderson, mainly because he appears to deny what is in the Bible (that Luther affirms), the notion of simul justus et peccator, but I have found this list of gospel affirmations compiled in the back of his book Victory Over the Darkness helpful, for me and for those I counsel:
I am accepted...This is not self-help. This is God help.
John 1:12 I am God's child.
John 15:15 As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1 I have been justified.
1 Corinthians 6:17 I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 I have been bought with a price and I belong to God.
1 Corinthians 12:27 I am a member of Christ's body.
Ephesians 1:3-8 I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child.
Colossians 1:13-14 I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.
Colossians 2:9-10 I am complete in Christ.
Hebrews 4:14-16 I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ.
I am secure...
Romans 8:1-2 I am free from condemnation.
Romans 8:28 I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances.
Romans 8:31-39 I am free from any condemnation brought against me and I cannot be separated from the love of God.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 I have been established, anointed and sealed by God.
Colossians 3:1-4 I am hidden with Christ in God.
Philippians 1:6 I am confident that God will complete the good work He started in me.
Philippians 3:20 I am a citizen of heaven.
2 Timothy 1:7 I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.
1 John 5:18 I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me.
I am significant...
John 15:5 I am a branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life.
John 15:16 I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit.
1 Corinthians 3:16 I am God's temple.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 I am a minister of reconciliation for God.
Ephesians 2:6 I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm.
Ephesians 2:10 I am God's workmanship.
Ephesians 3:12 I may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.