identity in christ

The Second Most Important Question in Life

In Matthew 16:13-17, Jesus has an interesting exchange with His disciples.

“When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, ‘Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?’ So they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?

Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’

Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.’”

The most important question in life is who we say Jesus is. Peter had a revelation about this. We, too, thank the Father for more revelation on this most important question in life. 

The second most important question to answer in life is who we say we are. If we don’t get our identity right, then it will be impossible to live victoriously. 

We cannot consistently do what we don’t believe we are. 

I remember when I began to understand my biggest spiritual battle was between believing lies or truth. When I asked God to show me lies I was believing, he took me to a phrase in Genesis 3:11 “Who told you that you were naked?”. God would ask me the question, “Who told you that?” when I would say things like: 

  • I do not have the gift of healing
  • I am a disorganized person
  • I do not remember names well
  • I am weak

“Who told you that?” I would answer, “My past experience.” 

“Steve, why do you call yourself by your past, rather than who I call you?”

I did not have a good answer. I began to realize that I determined my identity more from my experience than my new creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). 

Hebrews 10:14 says, “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” When I became born again in Christ, my identity was perfected in every way. Sanctification is the process of getting into my experience who I already am. The renewing of the mind in Romans 12:2 is the key step in sanctification and being transformed into the full experience of our identity as a new creation.

Jacob wrestled an angel to know his true identity in Genesis 32:22-32: 

  • “But (Jacob) said, ‘I will not let You go unless You bless me!’” – Spiritual tenacity is an incredible force
  • “So (the angel) said to him, ‘What is your name?’” – In other words, who do you think you are? 
  • “He said, ‘Jacob’”  – Jacob means “deceiver”; he called himself by his experience
  • “And (the angel) said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed” – His blessing was a revelation of his true identity 

It is interesting that Jacob’s blessing was not material things (a new camel or chariot), but a revelation of his true identity. If we believe we are who God says we are, we will not have to worry about having the things we need in our lives. Identity alignment through a renewed mind is our foundation for flourishing.

Abram decided to call himself and his wife by their promise and breakthrough followed.

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him . . . ‘No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.’”(Genesis 17:1,5).

Abram received a revelation of his true identity when he was ninety-nine. He had been given a promise years earlier about how numerous his descendants would be, but it had not happened. In this encounter, Abram (exalted father) was to rename himself (father of a multitude). One year later, he saw breakthrough and transformation when Isaac was both to his wife Sarah. Once he called himself by the promise, everything changed.

Who do we say we are?

One of the biggest strongholds blocking the purposes of God in our personal lives and in our corporate settings is our belief that we are who our past says we are. We do not deny the reality of our past, but we cannot get our beliefs from the past. One of the reasons we here at Igniting Hope emphasize making declarations is because it breaks off our agreements with the past. 

So, I hope I have convinced you that the second most important question in life is this: “Who do you say you are?” When we increasingly get our answers from the right source, we will find acceleration in our lives, our families, and our influence.

For more on topics like this, listen to my podcast by clicking the link below.


Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.