By Stephen Kendrick and Alex Kendrick
Contrary to what many people believe, your desires do not determine your identity or your destiny. Scripture warns us to follow God-honoring desires but to turn away from sinful ones.
“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.
“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:16–23 NLT)
Regardless of how we feel, Scripture says God never tempts us to sin. Our own sinful desires, not God, are what lure us toward doing something wrong (James 1:13). God is actually the source of every good thing (v. 17). He has our best interests in mind and wants us to enjoy His best desires freely without the heartbreak or the hangover afterward.
So the biblical response to wrong desires is to willingly turn from the stumbling blocks in our lives and apply the Word of God instead, to “put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (v. 21 ESV).
Remember, God can renew your mind (Romans 12:1–2), save your soul (James 1:21), restore your soul (Psalms 23:3), fill you with His love (Romans 5:5), and give you the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). His best for us is within reach if we are willing to trust Him.
Other People’s Opinions Will Oscillate
The words and opinions of people are varied, contradictory, and can easily change or swing to extremes.
Your mom may glance at your third-grade report card and tell you how smart you are, but later your older brother catches you dripping ketchup on your shirt and informs you that you’re a complete idiot. Your football coach gives you a high five and calls you a winner. Your ex-girlfriend posts online that you’re the world’s biggest loser.
Try releasing a movie and reading the wildly differing reviews:
“Greatest movie ever made! I’ve seen it six times!”
“Absolute most embarrassing piece of life-sapping garbage ever put on a screen!”
When it comes to your identity, even if you line up 10 people who know you well to tell you who they think you are, they still only know a small fraction of your words and actions and only a few of your inner thoughts. Who has total omniscience, perfect understanding, and could articulate everything about you flawlessly?
Only God, not them.
Jesus did not base or alter His own sense of identity on what other people thought or said about Him. Some people listened and followed Him, while others questioned and angrily opposed everything He did.
The night Peter was vowing to die for Christ, Judas was simultaneously betraying Him behind the scenes. Even when people were believing in Him, Jesus “would not entrust himself to them, since he knew them all and because he did not need anyone to testify about man; for he himself knew what was in man” (John 2:24–25). He understood “it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man” (Psalms 118:8 NASB).
Throughout our lives, we will each hear a wide variety of helpful and hurtful things said about us. Some loving; some hateful. Some completely true; some totally wrong.
Words can be so powerful. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21). Sometimes what people say about us can feel like a curse. Their words cut deep, go to the heart, and feel true. Then we can replay them hundreds of times in our minds. We may reject them, believe them, or wonder if they might be true. Then when anything happens that reinforces them, we can overreact out of fear and struggle to prove them wrong.
Whether it’s the fear of looking stupid; fear of failure; fear of being overlooked or replaced; or the fear of being rejected, unloved, or abandoned, all of these can be horrible tormentors to someone’s thinking if that person is not grounded in the solid truth of what God says about them.
We must remember:
“The fear of mankind is a snare, but the one who trusts in the Lord is protected” (Proverbs 29:25).
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV).
In conclusion, be careful about grounding your identity in fluctuating things that will set you up for failure and disappointment. You should be defined by God, not by your changing feelings, fickle desires, Facebook likes and reviews, or others’ assessments of you.
We all have issues and should continue to walk in humility and love, being willing to learn and grow. But to discover who you really are, as told by the One who truly knows you, can be a life-changing breakthrough that unlocks how best to live.
The best is yet to come.
STEPHEN KENDRICK (@stephenandjill) and ALEX KENDRICK (@AlexHKendrick) are co-writer and producers for Kendrick Brothers’ films and related resources. Excerpted from Defined: Who God Says You Are, Copyright © 2019 by Stephen Kendrick and Alex Kendrick. Published by B&H Publishing Group.