My Name Is Jesse and I'm a Sinner

Jesse Birkey's picture

I shifted in my hard chair and listened to the hum of the air conditioner blowing sweet relief through the auditorium.  The speaker was a kind man, smart, with a heart full of love.  But he’d just said something that made me cringe. 


You are sinners.  We are all sinners!


I could taste the bile in my throat.  The speaker went on to talk about the love, grace, and mercy of God.  It truly wasn’t a turn or burn message.  The speaker wasn’t that kind of guy.  But I’d heard those words all to often from well intentioned, loving people and this time they were barbed hooks in my heart.


What was it about those words that produced such a visceral reaction in me?  They’re just words aren’t they?  After all, the statement does tend to sound nice when wrapped with the love, mercy, and grace of God.  We are sinners and God saved us.  Yes, the love of God is not up for debate here. 


But is there something that should be debated?  Is there a hidden danger here?  Let’s explore this a little more.


What’s the big deal?


Catherine Pulsifer writes:


“Who we are, is what we believe. As you were growing up, you may have been told over and over that you were good at doing something. You believed it.  Similarly, if you constantly tell people they are doing a good job, they will eventually believe it even if, in the beginning, they have doubts about their ability. In essence, we become what we believe.”


One of the most fundamental, critical questions we have is, Who are we?  Who am I?  Many of us spend our entire lives trying to figure it out.  Families, possessions, careers, ministries, talents, and gifting’s are all caught up into the desperate whirlwind of a driving obsession: 




It’s the foundation.  Sand or rock.  This simple, yet profound statement holds true:  We become who we believe we are. 


I remember walking into GA (gamblers anonymous) for the first time.  Coffee stacked on top of a plain table in an ice-cold room.  I listened to others and then it was my turn, “I’m Jesse and I’m a compulsive gambler.”


Something didn’t feel quite right when those words came out of my mouth.  Is that who I really am?  Is that really who all of us sitting here are?  It wasn’t until months later that I came to understand the significance of those words.  It was a statement of identity, a statement of me at my core.  How on earth did I ever expect to gain victory when I identified myself as a compulsive gambler?


The statistics of AA, GA and others seem to support the problem of making addiction an identity.  Reports greatly vary.  One study shows that just 33% are sober after ten years while this study reports that 95% drop out in less than a year. 


Where we settle our identity is where we will find our life.  Life as in worth, value, and significance.  You see, we are no one without an identity and we’ll take a negative one over nothing at all.  But we all have one thing in common.  We live to become our identity.  Who we believe we are will shape our actions every day.


This is why the speaker’s words felt like a punch in the gut.  Identify yourself as a sinner and you won’t ever stop sinning.  Those who identify themselves as addicts will always be addicts.  An identity wrapped into career will destroy families.  Believing that we are ugly, worthless, insignificant, and unlovable will produce a life lived in the gutter.  A Good Samaritan can pull us out but we’ll retreat right back where it’s comfortable, where we know who we are.   


But Who Are We Really?


We are God’s sons and daughters.  We are his workmanship.  Because of this we are his heirs, loved, cherished, valued, and adored.  We are his friends.  We are free, justified and redeemed.  We are accepted and saints.  We are chose, holy, and blameless.  We stand in the heavenly places with Christ and much, much more!


And this has nothing to do with anything we’ve done or not done.  Christ died for us when we were still his enemies.  It’s because he loves us.


I am God’s son.  You are God’s child.  That is a foundation of rock!  It won’t crumple.  Things built on top might from time to time but the slab will never crack.  I am God’s son who works as a firefighter/paramedic.  I also write books and blogs and minister to others as led.  I’m a husband and father and sometimes I sin. But my identity is God’s son. 


We will become who we believe we are.  You are an awesome person with many different gifts, talents, and abilities.  You are great at your job and the love of Jesus shines from your heart.  But your identity is God’s beloved child. 


You look in the mirror and wince.  Drugs have ravaged your body and purity is nothing more than a cruel joke.  People around you have done nothing but tell and show you how worthless, unlovable, and insignificant you are.  But your identity is God’s beloved child.


There is a whole reservoir of life waiting for those who recognize who they are.  It’s time to destroy the dam.


Truth or Lies?  Sand or Rock?  Who are you?




Jesse and Kara Birkey

[email protected]


Jesse and Kara Birkey are committed lovers of Jesus who seek to show others the extraordinary life of Jesus is available for everyone.  They have authored two books, been featured in films and seek to serve the Lord in whatever ways they can.  Follow their blog here.    


Bring Jesse and Kara to your venue.  Find more information here.


Get a sneak preview of Jesse’s upcoming fiction, Finding Home.


Life Resurrected, Extraordinary Miracles through Ordinary People has been endorsed by Sid Roth and Mark Virkler and is a collection of inspiring stories making it clear that the extraordinary life of Jesus is available to all who love Him.  It’s also the testimony of Jesse’s life, the road he travelled bringing him into the arms of Jesus. Get the paperback here.  Get the Kindle Version Here. View the trailer here.    


Marriage What’s the Point? One couple finds meaning in a crazy mess is the story of their marriage—The tragedy and the restoration.  They bear their hearts in an attempt to get others to bear theirs and finally receive the freedom they’ve longed for.  Get the paperback here.  Get the Kindle Version Here.


Jesse is also featured in the film DeadRaiser, a movie shining the spotlight on resurrection testimonies across the nation.  Find more information here.




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Anonymous's picture

This has been one of my constant struggles for the past year in my support group. I cringe also when I hear the words, "Hello, my name is Joe and I am a _____."
I constantly have to remind myself, daily, hourly, every five minutes sometimes of who I really am in Christ. Otherwise I see no hope in the recovery process.
Recover. Recover from what and where am I going? What a weight was loosened from my neck when I began to learn of my identity in Christ!
One evening, I was really in despair as I was praying after the service was over. In my mind's eye all I could see was this huge crater in what was represented as the road of my life. The crater was huge and dark. In prayer I kept staring into the hole wondering how in the world can plug this hole and work with this! The still small voice in the back of my heart said, "John, you will only make progress by looking up to me not staring at your failures. Your hope is in the work I have done on the cross, not in fixing this on your own".

My life has been on a different course ever since. Even though some days are more challenging than others, I now identify myself according to His faithfulness not my sin, trusting that God is not through with me and that He is patience in forming me into His likeness.

Thanks again,

Just a point to ponder. Is it any wonder that Charles Stanley (so I have heard) spoke to his congregation last week on the problem of suicides in the church?!

Jesse Birkey's picture

Thanks for sharing.  I rejoice with you in your testimony and as you continue to discover who you are in him!  Yes, there are studies that show that more people die from suicide than homocides, terrorist attacks, etc.  It's a huge issue in and out of the church.  All comes back to identity.  Blessings,

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