This week, we kicked off a new series called Dissatisfied that looks at the areas of life about which we’re most likely to feel dissatisfied. We’re exploring how we can find true satisfaction in these areas, and this week, we’re talking about being dissatisfied with who we are.

Read Galatians 3.264.7.

In this passage, Paul is talking about what we build and base our identity on. We all base our identities on something—it might be success or status, appearance, popularity or our relationships. Even though what we build our identities on differs, the truth is that we all build it on something.

Question: What do you commonly find yourself building your identity on? If you’re not sure, think about the question, “What are you most afraid of losing?”

Whatever we build our identity on—if it’s something in this world or related to our culture—it’s actually incredibly fragile. If we build it on success, we’ll be okay until we hit a failure or a bump in the road. If we build it on appearance, we’re constantly concerned about staying up-to-date with trends and making sure we’re always wearing the “right” thing. If we base it on being liked or popular, we’re constantly worried about saying the right thing and having the right friends.

The fragility of these things is what Paul is getting at in Galatians 4.3 when he talks about being enslaved. When we’re spiritually immature, it’s easy for us to buy into everything our culture says should define us. Ultimately, this thinking enslaves us because we can never reach the standard the culture sets, nor can these things ever be a stable or solid basis for our identity.

In the midst of all of this, God offers His followers a much better and stronger foundation. In Galatians 3.26, Paul tells us that “in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.” We can build our identities on being children of God—beloved sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father, living like royals in God’s holy family. This means two things for us.

1. As children of God, we’re heirs to God’s promises.

In Galatians 3.29, Paul says that if we belong to Christ, we’re “heirs according to the promise.” One of the purposes of the book of Galatians is to let us know that all of the promises God made to Israel and the Jewish people in the Old Testament can be ours through Christ. Just as God promised Israel a place to call home, a people group with which to identify, and provision for their needs, we’re heirs to the promise of a place in heaven, a family of other followers of Jesus, and a God who provides for us on earth and will live in splendor with us in Heaven.

2. As children of God, we experience intimacy with God as our Father.

In Galatians 4.6, Paul uses the word “Abba” when referring to God as our Father. In the first century, Abba was how kids addressed their fathers, and it expressed love, affection, confidence and loyalty. Being able to address God as “Abba” means that He’s no longer a distant deity or an authority figure—He’s come close to us. He hurts with us, celebrates with us, loves us and heals us because He is our Abba Father.

Question: Have you talked to God as your Father lately? Take some time to experience His presence as Abba Father this week and see how it affects how you define yourself.

Living like a child of God isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the best way to live. Basing our identities on Christ is so much better than anything our culture can offer for three main reasons.

1. As children of God, we’re free from the tyranny of being defined by our culture’s labels.

Galatians 3.28 says “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Essentially, Paul is saying that there’s no such thing for us, as children of God, that can define us more than this identity. Attractive or unattractive, single or married, popular or not. These labels still exist in our culture, but they no longer primarily define us because we can rest in being children of God.

2. As children of God, our identity is unshakeable.

If we build our identity on things in our culture or world, we’re always worried about losing whatever that thing is. But if we build our identity on being children of God, it’s fundamentally based on Christ and not ourselves, which means it’s unshakeable and unchanging.

3. As children of God, we have an undeniable winsomeness.

If we know our identity isn’t based on who we are or anything we’ve done, we’re humble. Simultaneously, though, if our identity is based on Christ, we have a confidence in who He is and His power in our lives. This humble confidence is one of the most attractive and winsome traits that a person can have, and it can mean that, as children of God, we’re incredible witnesses to His love.

Knowing all of the benefits of being children of God doesn’t mean that we’ll automatically base our identities in the right place. So there are two things we need to do in order to fully become children of God.

1. Put our faith and trust in Jesus.

Read Galatians 4.4–5.

On our own, none of us have the qualifications to be a part of God’s family. Only one person has them: Jesus. When we put our faith in Jesus and follow Him as our Savior, we’re adopted into God’s family through Jesus’ qualifications.

2. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to continually work in our hearts.

Read Galatians 4.6.

It’s the Holy Spirit who deeply roots our identities as children of God. Our culture is constantly pressuring us to drift away from our identity in Christ and define it by other labels. That’s why we put so much emphasis on reading our Bibles and listening for God’s voice in our lives. These aren’t things we do just because we should, but because they’ll continually root us back into our identities as children of God when our culture pushes us to drift away from that.

Question: When you tend to drift away from defining your identity by your relationship with God, what thing takes its place? Throughout the week, be on the lookout for times when you drift toward this, and ask the Holy Spirit to draw you back to Him.