Ray Ortlund begins the discussion by saying that it is harmful for anyone to make aspects of their fallen nature their primary identity. He goes on to say that we all have tendencies toward this, as we often take aspects of our earthly life and make that the ultimate lens through which we see ourselves. This false grid, Ortlund states, can be made up of sexual identity, corporate identity, relationship status, or any number of other things. When we come to Christ, Ortlund reminds, we all have to offer up our identities to him and allow him to define who we are. He references the New Testament ethic and defines it as being who we are, and who we are has now changed—the new self in Christ Jesus.

Sam Allberry asks Ortlund why it is so hard for us to believe we have been made new, and Ortlund responds with a confession of how the old self is still close at hand. He points to Romans where we are commanded to consider ourselves dead to sin and how important it is for us to have a mindshift of who we are in Christ, as we start walking in our new selves. 

Ortlund argues that one of the things that makes this shift complicated for us is the fact that we live in a culture that tells us that the highest priority is to “be who you are.” The problem with this mindset, he suggests, is that the gospel critiques the very thing our culture most prizes by calling us to let God define identity rather than ourselves. 

Allberry adds that Romans also warns us against idolatry of even good gifts—God-created things. He says the idolatry enters in when we don’t look higher and try to find finality within ourselves rather than in Christ who is above all. He adds that we were never designed to generate our own finality, and if we try, we end up disappointed and angry, often taking that out on others. Idolatry doesn’t work because of the internal energy of impossibility we are attempting. 

In this episode, Ray Ortlund references Kevin DeYoung’s book The Hole in our Holiness.


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This episode was produced by Heather Calvillo and Steven Morales.