Our identities are in the process of transformation because we have been re-born into God’s family. The way we see ourselves determines the way we see everything else. It’s impossible to understand life correctly when we see ourselves incorrectly, in the light of what others say about us. It causes us to be weak and passive. In the Old Testament, God told the children of Israel to drive out the enemy and take the promised land. Their response to God showed they had a distorted view of who they were:
And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” (Numbers 13:32-33).
By putting the story of the sons of Sceva and the response of the children of Israel together, we see that a damaged identity causes us to see ourselves as weak, ineffective, and defeated. The children of Israel and the sons of Sceva had flawed, deceived, distorted identities which kept them out of their God-given destiny. It opened the door to the devil, allowing him to do the following four things to both groups:
1. Defeat them
The Israelites couldn’t win with a defeated self-image. The sons of Sceva were tackled and thrown down because of their identity crisis.
2. Control them
The Israelites were controlled by their fear. The sons of Sceva were overpowered and pinned down. The devil controls us when we live a life of defeat. Being controlled starts when we stop fighting the devil. Often, people will get to such a defeated place that they have lost their will to fight.
3. Strip them
The Israelites lost their future—it was stripped from their lives. The sons of Sceva were stripped of their clothing and ran away naked. We lose our identity when our lives are out of control, and will often adopt an even more broken, sinful identity. The longer we live in an environment of defeat, the more we are bent and twisted away from who God has created us to be: His sons and daughters.
4. Traumatize them.
The distorted self-image kept the Israelites from seeing the good in the land and sent the sons of Sceva running wounded into the night. The devil’s goal is to hurt us so profoundly the injury will grow and get worse and infect all of our behavior. If we don’t go to God and find the healing we need, the wound won’t heal right, and we will live defeated lives.