- (Photo: CJ Rapp)
Recently I discovered I am one of the many victims of the credit card breach at Target. Thieves stole my credit card number and personal information possibly with the intention to steal money and possibly my identity. Crafty thieves have found a way to wreak havoc in the lives of thousands using our personal information against us.
The electronic age has made identity theft more familiar but actually it has been around since the beginning of time. The thief of old steals a different kind of personal information. He wants to rob us of our spiritual identity in order steal our inheritance, kill our hope, and destroy our trust in the truth – the Word of God. Why? Identity is how we see ourselves. For example we are "in Christ" or not. We are a "new creation", or we are the same old person. We are forgiven or not. For the believer identity is foundational to our faith because it is built on what God says is true of each of us. A stolen identity equals a life of less than what God intended.
The first case of identity theft is recorded in Genesis 3:
The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, "Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?" 2 "Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden," the woman replied.3 "It's only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, 'You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.'"
4 "You won't die!" the serpent replied to the woman. 5 "God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil."
6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. 7 At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. – (NLT)
Before her conversation with the serpent, Eve was simply Eve. I suspect she was content being herself until the seed of doubt and mistrust were planted with these four words, "did God really say?" Why did the serpent ask that question? Did he not know what God said or was he running the first phishing scam? A phishing scam is an attempt to steal someone's identity through questions and trickery. The serpent wanted to know if Eve was aware of what God said and confident in his Word. The minute she answered him the trap was sprung. In repeating God's instruction she said, "…you must not eat of it or touch it…" That was all the information he needed. The serpent knew what God said. God never said not to touch the fruit. Eve added that revealing she really didn't know with confidence what God said.
Stealing her identity was as simple for the serpent as the thieves found stealing my personal information from Target. The serpent followed with the one, two punch. You won't die! Translation – God is a liar. And God knows when you eat of it you will be like him knowing good and evil. Translation – You are not good enough. Ironically that is the message most women still struggle with today, "you are not good enough." Eve didn't know she could "be more" until the serpent implied there was more to "be".
His argument sounded reasonable and proved convincing. With one bite he robbed from her the precious truth that she had been hand designed by God. She was good, perfect, and precious in his sight. She was the Lord's child. She was already created in his image and likeness. She was like God. Within minutes the realization set in and she knew she'd been deceived. Shame and fear replaced security and confidence. He stole her identity and in so doing stole her peace of mind and her joy.
At the root of all her future challenges, and now ours, is the same question: "Did God really say?"
The answer to this question reveals our relationship with the truth. When we know the truth we know who God is, who we are in his sight, and how he wants us to live. It is truth that protects us from the enemy's phishing schemes. Knowing the truth is not just reading the Word, although that is certainly part of it. Truth is relational. Truth wants to know you as you much as you want to know him. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Knowing the truth is knowing Jesus. Just as Target is now offering Life Lock to protect all of its customers from financial loss, knowing the truth will protect us from losing our inheritance as a child of God…a rock solid identity in Jesus.
Protect yourself from Identity theft by:
Reading the Word daily – Start with a few minutes at a time. Look for verses about God's character and how he sees you. Write them down.
Meditate on what you have read – Renew your mind by thinking about what you read. Allow the truth of what God says is true of you to replace any thoughts that contradict his Word.
Speak the truth over yourself – Stop the habit of negative self-talk. Instead practice truth-talk. For example say aloud, "I AM says I am his masterpiece." (Ephesians 2:10 NLT) Truth trumps the lie. Faith comes by hearing. The more we hear the truth about our identity and worth the stronger our faith becomes.
CJ Rapp is the founder of Unfading Beauty Ministries, national speaker and a women's issues expert. She has authored several books including "I AM Says, 'You Are…'" which guides women to discover their true identity as a beloved child of God.