Is identity what you think of when the idea of grace is rolling around in your mind?
On the surface, the two don’t seem connected. Grace, however, is the very thing that brings those of us far from Christ into a new identity.
The book of Hosea gives us a beautiful example of this on display.
God gave the prophet Hosea a strange request.
To demonstrate how the people are religiously promiscuous, I want you to marry a woman who is sexually promiscuous. I want you to marry a prostitute.
That is not the object lesson I would want to use in my ministry, if I were Hosea. The prophet, however, obeys God and marries Gomer the prostitute.
If nothing else, marrying a prostitute named Gomer demonstrates Hosea’s deep love for God.
She becomes pregnant and has children, presumably, by Hosea, yet she does not stop her former ways. She goes back to her promiscuous life. Back to being in bondage.
In Hosea 3, he buys his wife back from prostitution. She put herself back into the sex trade, but her husband redeems her out of it. Why? Because she is no longer a prostitute, she is his wife.
“Don’t pursue that life again,” he tells her. “You aren’t to be with any other man. I won’t be with any other woman.”
Hosea’s grace gave his wife a new identity. She was no longer Gomer the prostitute. She was Gomer the wife of Hosea. That made things different.
While we should be able to see the obvious parallels to our situation with Christ, the book of Hosea makes it clear.
Paul picks up on this in Romans 9:25-26. While Israel has rejected God, He has redeemed a people from Gentiles and renamed them. They are now “My people.”
We once were unloved. Our choices, our sin had left us outside of God’s family. His grace, however, did not let us stay there.
We are now loved. We have a new identity. We are children of God. We are called “Beloved.”
Gomer was purchased out of prostitution to live differently, to live as Hosea’s wife. In the same way, our responsibility is to live in light of the new reality, our new identity.
We can live different because we have already been made different. Grace has brought a new identity.