Breaking free from an identity of shame
One of the big things that holds us back from allowing life to flow through us is the issue of being condemned. The major difference between religion and sonship is the issue of condemnation. Condemnation is the power of the knowledge of good and evil. When you get a revelation of your sonship, regardless of whether you feel anything emotionally, one of the major signifiers is that condemnation begins to drop away. Paul experienced this when he exclaimed, (in Romans 8:1) “There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus!”
A DEEPER IDENTITY
We can see from an example in the Old Testament prophecy of Zechariah that condemnation is one of Satan’s main tactics to undermine our realisation of our identity before the Father. In chapter 3:1-5, the prophet Zechariah had a vision which he described like this:
“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord and Satan standing at His right hand to accuse Him. And the Lord said to Satan, ‘The Lord rebuke you, O Satan, the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?’ Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Remove the filthy garments from him.” To him he said, “Behold I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.’ And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by.”
This scenario gives us an insight into how condemnation works. Joshua the High Priest was there in the heavenly realm and he was clothed in filthy garments. We do not know why his garments were soiled. Maybe it was something he had done. Whatever it was, it was enough to make him lose his reputation and to be vulnerable to accusation. The Bible uses the metaphor of clean or unclean clothing to signify righteous or unrighteous acts. What I wish to emphasise is that Satan stood there as the accuser. In Scripture there are only two people who are the named as the accuser, Satan and Moses. The law of the knowledge of good and evil will always accuse and condemn because it will show us that we are never up to scratch, that we never quite make the required standard.
It is somewhat surprising how this plays out. Heaven overrode the problem of the filthy garments, and the accusation of Satan. Heaven saw the true identity of this man, Joshua, that it was not in the filthy garments.
What is also remarkable is that the prophet Zechariah participated in the heavenly adornment of Joshua. Zechariah directed that the turban be placed on the high priest’s head and the angels did what he told them to do! Heaven, represented by the angels and the prophet, dressed this man, Joshua, according to his true identity.
In my own life, I can say quite freely that my garments became filthy. I fell into moral sin. I lost my reputation as a mature and respectable Christian. Satan stood to accuse me but Heaven saw who I really was and issued the instruction to remove the filthy garments. I received a revelation of purity from heaven itself.
This scenario sums up the insidious power of condemnation. Satan is trying to show us that we’re clothed in filthy garments. The Arch-Accuser tells you that you’re either sinning or you’re not doing good enough; or you’re not serving well or you’ve made the wrong decision. But those are all points of condemnation, points of accusation and life will never flow in the face of condemnation.
While you are condemned by the power of the knowledge of good and evil, the law and the accuser, you will never be free to flow in the life that is within you. The problem is that most of us wholeheartedly believe that the accusation and the condemnation comes from God, not Satan. We are caught in the trap of condemnation because we believe that it is God who points out our filthy garments. But God the Father never speaks words of condemnation.
AN ETERNAL IDENTITY
Revelation 2:17 contains a promise to the one who overcomes. The promise includes a white stone with a name engraved on it. The white stone speaks of permission granted. In the time when John wrote, one of the uses of a white stone was that it was an admission ‘ticket’ to gain entrance to particular places and events. The one who overcomes is given access and permission. On the white stone is engraved a name, a “new name…that no one knows except the one who receives it.”
There is a secret name that is given to us and that secret name is the identity that the Father sees us with for all eternity. I am not talking about a literal name here or some sort of prophetic moniker here. These can be purchased relatively easily. I am talking here about a deep, inner heart-revelation in the core of my being about who the Father sees me to be; about what my unique identity is by His design.
Before my garments ever became filthy, before I fell into immorality, I had a ‘name’ that the Father knew me by. The Father sees that this immorality is not the true me. I deliberately keep this in the present tense because we are never really free from temptation. It is part of being human in this world. But the real me is someone who wants to be like Jesus. The real me is the one called by the secret name, which is my identity before I was ever a glint in my parent’s eyes! It is the same for all of us. When we begin to get free from accusation we can begin to be on this road to freedom and God’s life to begin to flow from within us. Getting free from condemnation is the first step in the walk of life.