Remember who you are not

On Saturday, we baptized nine individuals. And when we did, we baptized them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

And that’s significant, because these individuals were publicly confessing that their identity is in the triune God – Father, Son and Spirit. Their identity is in the Father. They are beloved sons and daughters of the King of the Universe. Their identity is in the Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is their friend, their brother and their Lord and Savior, and they are committed to modeling their lives after His. Their identity is in the Holy Spirit. They are empowered by the very Spirit of God to partner with Him in His work in the world.

But these folks were not just confessing who they are but also who they are not.

One of the most famous baptizers in the Bible, John the Baptist, multiple times in the book of John declares, “I am not the Messiah” (John 1:20, 3:28). John was very clear on his identity. He knew who he was (the voice of one calling in the wilderness). But just as importantly, he knew who he was not.

Not long ago, I was studying the book of John with a couple guys who were recently baptized. We were looking at the life of John the Baptist and considering what it means to know who we are and who we are not.  

And I asked these guys: What are some things you know you are not?

And I got some great answers: I am not who I was just last year. I am not in bondage to addiction anymore. I am not someone who knows everything. I am not perfect. I am not as good as I used to think I am. I am not dead. I am not orphaned. I am not abandoned. I am not forgotten.

If you are a follower of Jesus, it is essential to remember your baptism. We need to constantly be reminded that our primary identity is in the triune God. And because of that, there are certain things we are not. All false identities have been put to death.

Baptism symbolizes our dying to our old self – our past sin, shame and false identities. And it symbolizes being raised up with Christ into a new life, a new joy and a new identity.

In some Christian traditions, churches have a baptismal font as you enter the sanctuary. So as you walk in for worship, you can dip your hand in the water and remember your baptism. One church has these words next to the font:

“You are not your own; you have been marked out as belonging to God. You have been cleansed from your sin. You have been identified with the death and resurrection of Jesus. You belong to the multigenerational, multicultural family of God. Your baptism marks the beginning of a spiritual pilgrimage toward our heavenly destination."

Our church may not have a baptismal font. But Central Ohio is full of rivers, lakes, ponds and waterfalls. Any time you see water, will you remember who you are in Christ? And also who you are not.


Tyler Charles - July 24th, 2023 at 9:58pm

I love this! Praise God!

Ray Mercer - July 26th, 2023 at 1:44am

Thanks for sharing this. Great word. Remember who you are and who you are not.