I remember when I turned 21 and was able to show my ID when I got carded in a bar. I confidently pulled out my driver’s license and waited for the response. What I expected I don’t know. Maybe something like, “Wow! You’re old enough to drink. Good for you, man, good for you!” What I got was more along the lines of, “I’ll be back with your beers in a second, guys.” With responses like that the novelty wore off quickly enough.*
This article shows just how calm a bar server can be after carding people for a while:
Imagine you’re a waitress, out with friends on a night off, when you lose your wallet. …
It’s a pain, but you carry on. Two weeks later, you’re at work when four people walk in and sit in your section. They start ordering drinks. You ask to see their IDs. A woman in the group hands a driver’s license to you. You look down, and it’s yours.
The rest of the piece explains how she handled it, and the police response as well. Pretty impressive all around. Except for the person who tried to use the server’s driver’s license. She wasn’t so impressive. Why was she bothering with a fake ID when she’s 26 and able to use her own identification?
It’s bad enough getting caught with fake ID in a bar and having to answer to the police. It’s even worse in the spiritual realm.
Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. (Acts 19:13-16.)
How did the evil spirit know these exorcists didn’t have the authority of Jesus behind their words? Simple. They didn’t have the seal of Christ, the Holy Spirit:
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 1:13.)
I bet the evil spirit had no trouble recognizing the Holy Spirit when he saw him, and no trouble spotting a false ID when he saw that too. The people who witnessed this had no trouble understanding what had happened either:
When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power. (Acts 19:17-20.)
So the question now is: whose ID do you show when you get spiritually carded? Do people see the Holy Spirit within you? Do they see the seal of Christ? Do they see that you are a member of the family of God our Father?
Here’s my confession: sometimes I whip out a false ID. My words and my actions do not prove me to belong to Christ.
And here’s my confident hope: in spite of my occasional (and all too often) use of a false ID, God always calls me his, even when I don’t say so myself:
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” (John 10:14.)
“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” (John 17:25-26.)
If anyone wants to know, that’s who I am. The one Jesus knows, loves, and is in.
Now there’s an identity!
*Did I ever go into a bar before I turned 21? No, of course not … well, maybe …. umm, it’s been a few decades now and my memory’s not what it used to be. Can I get back to you on that?