A video circulating around the Internet features a mom defending herself for yelling at her kids. Her description of the video says, “I am a yeller. I yell a lot. I am tired of being told that I need to stop yelling. This is my parenting style, deal with it. Can I get an Amen from all the yellers out there???”
I have no doubt that this woman is telling the truth, and I can sympathize with her. Who of us cannot relate to being a yeller (or a gossip or an overeater or insert your own personal struggle)? I know what it feels like to be stuck in sin with no way out. We all do, don’t we?
We all start out with a sinful identity. Apart from Christ, we are people who sin. We do it, we love it, and we identify with it. We live in a culture that declares that to reject our sin is to deny our very selves. Rather than rejecting our sin, society encourages acceptance and celebration of it. That’s why there is an organization encouraging women to “shout their abortions” to remove the stigma of killing one’s unborn child. That’s why there are pride parades glorifying sinful behavior and sinful identities. And that’s why there are videos like the one I just described of a mom who proudly yells at her kids. Once we have accepted that our sin is our identity, we can choose to celebrate it or put it to death, and celebrating it is certainly the path of least resistance.
The culture is right that to reject our sin is to deny our very selves. But what they get wrong is that this denial is the end of our true selves. Scripture teaches that death to our sin is actually the beginning of new life and our truest identity—the one we were designed to have—in Christ.
“Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
This is the only hope for you and for me. Maybe our old identities were found in being yellers, too. Or maybe we were slanderers, liars, sexually immoral, thieves, gluttons, impatient, harsh, ungrateful–you name it. Whatever it is, once we come to Christ, we are washed of that old identity. The kind of person we were and are apart from Jesus is gone. In its place is a new identity in Christ, and with that new identity comes the ability to turn from our sin. We may still struggle with yelling or lust or envy or lying, but we no longer struggle alone or in vain. We no longer delight in, celebrate, and identify with our sin. Now, we are empowered through the Holy Spirit to act in accordance with our new identity as a child of God. This is what God intended for us from the beginning.
This is hope for everyone, and a hope I especially appreciate as a mom. Motherhood has revealed my sin more than perhaps any other role or experience, as I am constantly confronted with new worries, burdens, irritations, inconveniences, and exhaustion. But thanks to God’s mercy, when we feel stuck in sinful patterns or responses, there is a way out. Through rejecting our old self, we actually find the true self God designed us to be. Through death, we find life.