A Change of Identity

Who and what are we? If we are walking with Jesus the answer to that question lies in the scriptures. There is a great example in the Old Testament (OT) of how we can answer the question. Most of us are likely familiar with the story of Elijah and Elisha and what happened when Elijah left Elisha. We pick up the story in 2 Kings. Rather than focusing on Elisha’s perseverance I want to focus in on what happened after Elijah was taken up to heaven.

12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces. 13 He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan. 14 Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over.

15 Now when the sons of the prophets who were fromJericho saw him, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” And they came to meet him, and bowed to the ground before him. 2 Kings 12-15

If you fellowship in some circles you will hear a lot about people receiving the mantles of others. However, while that happened here, look at what preceded it. In the OT the tearing of one’s clothes is usually a sign of mourning. Yet we have no evidence of any mourning by Elisha. In fact later in the story (verses 16-18) the others want to search for Elijah’s body and he tells them not to bother. He is at rest with Elijah being taken up. What Elijah did was tear his clothes in two, they were now no longer functional for him, and take up Elijah’s mantle. He embraced a new identity. He had been Elijah’s servant, now he took his own place as leader of the sons of the prophets (those serving and being discipled). He embraced a new identity.  

Elisha’s action foreshadowed our call to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God, to put off the old man and take up the new. Lest you think I am reading too much into the text let us move forward and hear from Paul.

19 My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, Galatians 4:19 (NKJV)

20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:20-24 NKJV

11 Likewise you also, [a]reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:11 NKJV

The Lord loves uniqueness and so makes every snowflake different and calls each one of us into our own walk and relationship with Him. At the same time He calls each and every one of us to embrace a new identity. To tear off our old identity and take up a new mantle, putting on Jesus nature and cooperating with His grace so Jesus is formed in us and manifest through us.

I heard a pastor share one time that he was talking with a man from the congregation and the man had an outburst of anger. When he challenged him the man said it was because he was just like his father. The pastor responded, “Which father?”

We have a new father, a new identity. Let’s seek His face and sit with Him and His word so that others encounter this ‘new man’ manifest through our lives.

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I have been walking with Jesus since 1985. I am currently retired from my career in the helping professions but still focused on ministering to others. I completed a Doctorate of Philosophy in Apologetics in September 2020.

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