This is an excerpt from his new book Jesus + Nothing = Everything (pp.132-133)
The gospel frees us from this pressure to perform, this slavish demand to “become.” The gospel liberatingly declares that in Christ “we already are.” If you’re a Christian, here’s the good news: who you really are has nothing to do with you—how much you can accomplish, who you can become, your behavior (good or bad), your strengths, your weaknesses, your sordid past, your family background, your education, your looks, and so on. Your identity is firmly anchored in Christ’s accomplishment, not yours; his strength, not yours; his performance, not yours; his victory, not yours. Your identity is steadfastly established in his substitution, not your sin. As my friend Justin Buzzard recently said, “The gospel doesn’t just free you from what other people think about you; it frees you from what you think about yourself.” You’re free!
Now you can spend your life giving up your place for others instead of guarding it from others, because your identity is in Christ, not in your place. Now you can spend your energy going to the back instead of getting to the front, because your identity is in Christ, not in your position. You can also spend your life giving, not taking, because your identity is in Christ, not in your possessions. All this is our new identity—all because of Christ’s finished work declared to us in the gospel.
Paul speaks of our “having been buried with him [with Christ] in baptism,” in which we “were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead” (Col. 2:12). Our old identity—the things that previously “made us”—has been put to death. Our new identity is “in Christ.” We’ve been raised with Christ to walk “in newness of life”—no longer needing to depend on the “old things” to make us who we are.
When we truly see and understand all these aspects of what we’ve become in Jesus Christ, what more could we possibly ever want or need in our self-identity? Here in Christ we have worth and purpose and security and significance that make utterly laughable all the transient things of this world that we’re so frequently tempted to identify ourselves by.