Let’s continue the conversation about getting unstuck by laying down any false identity.

4 False Identities

In part one of this conversation, we discovered 4 false identities and discussed how to deal with the first two. As a reminder, they are…

  1. Guilt – I am my past.
  2. Shame – I am a mistake.
  3. Rejection – I am unwanted.
  4. Bitterness – I am wounded.

Last week we looked at how to lay down the first two. If you haven’t read that yet, I highly encourage you to go and do so.

This week, let’s dissect the final 2 and pursue freedom by laying them down…

Laying Down the Identity of Rejection

God addressed Samuel: “So, how long are you going to mope over Saul? You know I’ve rejected him as king over Israel… Fill your flask with anointing oil and get going. I’m sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I’ve spotted the very king I want among his sons.”
Samuel took his flask of oil and anointed him, with his brothers standing around watching. The Spirit of God entered David like a rush of wind, God vitally empowering him for the rest of his life…
At that very moment the Spirit of God left Saul and in its place a black mood sent by God settled on him…
After that, whenever the bad depression from God tormented Saul, David got out his harp and played. That would calm Saul down, and he would feel better as the moodiness lifted.
1 Samuel 16:1, 13-14, 23 MSG
Thank God because of Jesus, we will NEVER be forsaken by God’s spirit! Unlike Saul in this story, he will never leave us, despite our disobedience, because the cross paid for it all. Jesus was rejected on the cross so we would never have to be again. That is why Jesus cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The picture here is of the father turning his face away from Jesus.

Jesus endured ultimate rejection so you and I could be accepted, wanted and loved eternally.

If this it true, then it should change everything. So why do some of us still feel unwanted, unloved, rejected and depressed? 

As we search for the answer to that question, I want to point us to the story of Saul. Saul experienced ultimate rejection: God rejected him as king and it defined the rest of his life. His heart never healed and Saul’s response was to sink into depression.

There’s something important we need to know to understand this story: in the Old Testament only King’s and Priests had direct access to the power and presence of God’s spirit. As soon as God chose a new king, the old one lost his access.

How terrible it must have been for Saul to experience the presence of God in his life and then suddenly lose his access! We know Saul had previously been filled with the Holy Spirit, so to lose that anointing was devastating.

I think this is where we can relate to Saul’s story, except the source of our rejection is people, not God. All of us have relationships that once thrived, only to crash and burn later on. The loss of this connection to that person, especially if it was their choice, leaves us with the sting of rejection.

When this rejection isn’t dealt with, our hurting hearts often choose isolation over intimacy. We begin to hide ourselves from any relationship where we could get hurt again. The lack of connection perpetuates depression and reinforces the lie that we are unwanted.

Breaking the cycle

So how do we break this cycle and infuse the truth of acceptance into our hearts again?

I believer we find the answer in Saul’s story as well. It’s fascinating to me that the only way to combat Saul’s depression was to get him in the presence of one who now carried God’s presence: David.

Saul’s black mood would lift when David began to worship; his praise would bring the presence of God back into Saul’s atmosphere. Whenever David played, Saul experienced what it felt like to be with God again. Depression had no place in an environment where God was present. David’s music became Saul’s medicine.

There is a practical reality here that Saul never fully grasped, but you and I must. Sometimes our way out of rejection and depression is only found in the thing we fear: intimate relationship with others God places around us.

Some of us need a David to invade our black mood and bring the presence of God back to our souls. Someone to worship with you. Someone to show you the unconditional love of the Father. Someone to listen. Someone to worship with you till depression has to flee and joy invades the atmosphere.

What if that person was nearer to you than you thought? Who do you know who loves God and carries his presence? Is it possible that God won’t let you go any further, without discovering he created you to NEED other people?

What if could mend the wound of rejection by opening ourselves to godly community again?

So let’s DO IT.

Exercise: Laying down rejection. 

Step 1: Receive God’s acceptance
  • Visualize Jesus on the cross as he cries out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  Realize that because Jesus was rejected, God will always accept you and never be angry at you again.
  • Begin to praise & thank God for the beautiful truth that you are accepted by him as his child.
  • Make this declaration: I am SO LOVED by God, that he sent his son to die for me. I will never be forsaken by God. God wants to know me. I am valuable and important to God.” 

Step 2: Forgive those who rejected you. 

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal anyone who has rejected you.
  • Name them by name and choose to forgive them.
  • Speak a blessing over them and consider ways to do good to them.

Step 3: Connect with people who carry God’s presence. 

  • Choose to not allow the pain of your past relationships to dictate your future ones. Seek out authentic, vulnerable relationships.
  • If you’re not involved in a great local church, find one.
  • Get involved in an intimate small group of people who love to worship and seek God’s presence. If you’re in the Lansing, MI area, you can join with us in community here.  

Laying Down the Identity of Bitterness

15 Watch over each other to make sure that no one misses the revelation of God’s grace. And make sure no one lives with a root of bitterness sprouting within them which will only cause trouble and poison the hearts of many.
Hebrews 12:15

Bitterness is poison to our hearts. The word in Scripture actually means to be “pierced through.”  People’s words or actions have the ability to pierce our hearts, leaving us wounded. When that happens, we are faced with a choice:

Do we receive supernatural grace to forgive that person? This allows our hearts to remain tender as God binds up the wound.

Bitterness can only find purchase in our lives when we miss the revelation of God’s grace. Grace creates a condition of the heart that is immune to bitterness. Scripture calls us to watch over each other by ensuring our spiritual family is receiving a continual flow of grace. For those of us who desire healthy relationships (as spouses, friends & leaders), we need a continual revelation and experience of God’s grace in order to protect these precious connections.

We can only freely give grace, when we have freely received it ourselves. 

Unfortunately, many of us who have faced offense or abuse were not mature enough to process what happened to us through the lens of grace, in a healthy way, especially if we were children.

So instead we internalize the offense, rehearse it in our minds, appoint ourselves as judge and allow the infection of bitterness to settle like a seed in our hearts.

And the seed takes root. Further offenses water it and accelerate it’s growth. As it sprouts, our hearts harden and grow cold toward others. Emotional numbness may set in. And worst of all, our ability to love lessens.

The Cross is the Cure

So how do we get rid of a root of bitterness in our hearts? As always, let’s orient our eyes to Jesus as the healer to find the answer.

A fascinating part of the story of the crucifixion is when Jesus is offered sour wine mixed with gall. This sour wine was considered the most bitter of all alcoholic drinks. Gall was added likely as a numbing agent. At first he refuses, but right before his death, he cries out “I thirst!” and drinks.

This act was intentional and symbolic. Jesus on the cross partook of our bitterness and experienced emotional numbness. He bore this on our behalf so you and I wouldn’t have to. 

I believe that the key to laying down the identity of bitterness is receiving a revelation of the grace of God, for us AND for those who have offended us. We receive this by looking to the cross of Jesus. 
A beautiful picture of this is found in the story of Israel:
“Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter… And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.” 
Exodus 15:23-25
Do you see the beautiful prophetic picture of the cross in this story? The solution to the bitter waters was a piece of wood. When we bring the power of the cross of Jesus into the spring of our lives, the bitter can be made sweet again. 

Exercise: Laying down bitterness

Step 1: Receive God’s grace as gift. 
  • Visualize Jesus on the cross as drinks the bitter wine vinegar and numbing gall. Remember that he did this for YOU and realize the radical measure of grace God has given you as a gift.
  • Begin to praise & thank God for how good he is to you. Receive his forgiveness and his favor. Ask God for a deeper revelation of his grace for you. Now ask him to give you his grace for the one who offended or hurt you.
  • Make this declaration: I am blessed and highly favored. I am not defined by the actions of others. I am defined by the actions of Jesus on the cross. God’s grace is abundant towards me and that empowers me to extend grace to others. Grace is my new natural state.” 

Step 2: Uproot offense and forgive the offenders. 

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal where you have taken offense and internalized it, especially as a child.
  • Go back to those moments in your memory and invite Jesus to come join you in them.
  • Make a choice to apply the grace of God to those situations and people. Forgive anyone who wounded you by receiving the empowering grace of God.
  • Surrender the soil of your heart to God: ask him to uproot any remaining roots of bitterness and replace them with the seed of God’s Word.
  • Listen in surrender to what God’s Spirit would say to your heart. As he speaks, receive a fresh sweetness in your heart that empowers you to love again.

Step 3: Wash Your Relationships with Affirmation and Honor

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal who you have discouraged or dishonored because of bitterness.
  • Ask him a specific word of encouragement that will uplift or honor each of these people.
  • Reach out to each one and wash away the defiling effect of your previous bitter words with a life-giving flood of affirmation and honor.

My heartfelt hope is that this conversation and these exercises will empower you to lay down EVERY false identity and be FREE to be who God created you.

Call to Action 

If you want to know how I remind myself of my identity and how you can daily infuse truth, stir hunger for God and live more like Jesus, then check out my “Morning Manifesto.” 

Download it here

Richard Shaull

Author Richard Shaull

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Join the discussion One Comment

  • Terri Bedford says:

    Wow! So GOOD! So GOD! Awesome message. Thank you Richard.
    Thinking on grace led me to Psalms 34. I sought the Lord and he delivered me from all my fears…my shame, my guilt, my bitterness, my rejection (it’s us rejecting our true selves, God in us), my depression, my unforgiveness…etc.
    They looked to him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed. I see grace as that radiance. That is Grace. How awesome is Grace. It is pure radiance. God sees us in pure radiance. Step into that Grace and become the radiant Divine Light Being that you are. Thank you Jesus!!!

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