Greetings and good morning, brothers and sisters. This is Dr. James Perry continuing with our series where we seek to explore the deeper meanings of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years, the heavenly Father has revealed many revelations of spiritual truth to me, and I want to share them with you. This morning we discuss the process of spiritual identification.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
"And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall rejoice in his salvation." Psalms, Chapter 35, Verse 9.
My soul thirsts for you, Father, like a thirsty man longs for water.
Brothers and sisters, spiritual identification is the method by which we identify with the heavenly Father and survive the mortal life. We are material beings with spiritual potentials. But in order actualize this spiritual potential we must identify with the divine spirit. Let us delve into material identification as a stepping stone to help us grasp the reality of spiritual identification.
Much of our behavior as human beings is learned through the process of identification. Since we come into the world totally devoid of knowledge, wisdom, or experience, we have to rely upon others to help us develop as socially acceptable human beings. Without this process of identification, we could never fulfill the potential of being a human being. We begin to identify with our parents early on. And initially this is not a conscious process; we just do it. We note how they conduct themselves and we copy their behavior. (Many a parent has been embarrassed to hear their young offspring repeating some expletive in front of others. The child at this stage has no idea what the word means but is repeating what he has heard.)
As children, we learn what is important to our parents, what their values are, and we make them our values, at least during the formative years of growth. And this identification process is reinforced by the parent who rewards the child for identifying with him. And when the child reaches adulthood, many a parent has been pleasantly pleased to see that the child has made their value system apart of the child’’s; and conversely many a parent has been dismayed when they see the now adult child reflecting some of their more negative values. It is no mere slogan when it is said, if you want to change your developing child’’s behavior, change yours and the child will follow. "Train a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." The shadow always follows the object of the shadow.
Identification in the adult can be total or partial. Many problems of disharmony and mal-adaption occur because of partial identification. In this material secular age we are living in, there are many examples of partial identification. And because identification is partial, it does not command the loyalty of the individual. Consider employment. In some, the purpose of the individual and the purpose of the job are diametrically opposed. Quite a few individuals in this society pursue jobs not because they are suited for them or are even willing or able to carry out the functions that job requires, but because of the money that the job pays or because of the status of the job. And we all experience the results of this partial identification: incompetence, shoddy work, lack of productivity, lack of progress in mastering the functions of the job, lack of interest in the functions of the job, and ultimately dissatisfaction. And there are many other areas of life where we see partial identification at work. Now let us examine spirit identification.
At a certain stage in our lives, we come under spiritual influences. These spiritual influences are designed to develop our spiritual nature, so that we can survive the mortal life. The Father’’s spirit lives within our minds and souls. With the creation of our souls, we now become two-fold beings. We are material and also spiritual in potential. We can never escape the necessities of the material self, but at the same time we must place our supreme loyalties towards the heavenly Father. We must become skilled at rendering the things of Caesar to Caesar and rendering the things of God to God. So the stage is set for unavoidable conflicts within the self, the urges of the animal nature versus the urges of the spirit. We are absolutely conscious of our animal nature because we are born with them. We are only faith conscious of our spiritual nature. The things of the spirit are not a natural part of our material natures. They are superimposed upon them. And we have come to know them by and through our faith, that is, we recognize them as being from the spiritual realm through faith. The animal nature is selfish and self-serving; the spiritual nature is unselfish and other serving. The spiritual nature is identified by unselfish love; the animal nature knows selfish affection but knows no unselfish affection.
In our interactions with each other, we have a choice to proceed according to our animal nature or according to our spiritual nature. We can choose to relate to each other in an unselfish and loving way rather than in a selfish and unloving way. We can choose to love people and use things, or we can choose to love things and use people. When we choose to love people and use things, then are we identifying with our spiritual nature. The process of choosing to love people and use things is to do the Father’’s will. We identify with our spiritual natures by choosing to do the Father’’s will, by becoming like him, as demonstrated by his Son, Jesus. When we choose all of those things that we recognize as being true, beautiful, and good, we are identifying with our spiritual nature.
When the desire rises up in us to be loving and kind and we choose that desire, we are choosing the Father’’s will; as we choose, so do we become. The more we identify with the spiritual nature, the more we are transformed into the image of the spiritual nature, the image of his Son. And this image is none other than Jesus, the Son of God, who lived the life of the flesh, demonstrating to us how to identify with our spiritual natures. And now that he has lived the life in the flesh, having perfectly demonstrated for us how to render the things of Caesar to Caesar and the things of God to God, his Spirit of Truth now surrounds our souls and seeks to lead us along the same path of identifying with our spiritual natures and ultimately transcending the material nature and assuming the spiritual nature.
So we see that spiritual identification is not just playing lip service to the idea that we can escape the mortal life by saying we believe in Jesus. We can only escape the mortal life when we develop our souls, which always reflect our degree of spiritual identification. And just as we learn the values and meanings of being human by being totally enmeshed in those values and meanings, we learn the values and meanings of the spirit by being totally enmeshed in them.
Jesus says to us, if you love one another as I have loved you, then all men will know that you are my disciples. This identification process is also facilitated by interacting with spiritual beings and influences through prayer and worship. When we pray, in reality commune with spiritual forces, we become more and influenced by them just as we would if we spent a lot of time in the physical presence of others. As we embrace the ideals and values of the spirit, we identify with them.
And as we continue this identification process with the spiritual nature, it becomes the dominant influence in our lives. And we find that we increasingly choose the values of the spiritual nature in greater and greater perfection. And this process of choosing the values of the spiritual nature is the progressive identification with the spirit Father and insures that we will survive the mortal life.
This constant seeking to do the Father’’s will in response to the desire of our soul constitutes spiritual identification. Consider this quote: "And it is not so much what mind comprehends as what mind desires to comprehend that insures survival; it is not so much what mind is like as what mind is striving to be like that constitutes spirit identification. It is not so much that man is conscious of God as that man yearns for God that results in universe ascension. What you are today is not so important as what you are becoming day by day and in eternity"
This concludes today's message on understanding the meaning of spirit identification. We hope you find something in this message to ponder and pray about as you go about your day.
Until next time, this is Dr. James Perry.