At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, He was tempted by Satan. Two of the three temptations began with the words, “If thou be the Son of God…” (Matthew 4:3, 6, Luke 4:3, 9). At the end of His life, He faced the same challenge. As He suffered on the cross, strangers ridiculed His apparently helpless state: “Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Matthew 27:40). Even one of the thieves who was crucified with Him joined the chorus: “If thou be Christ,” he said, “save thyself and us” (Luke 23:39).
What was the purpose of those “ifs?” Satan wanted to weaken Jesus’ confidence in His divine identity.
Contrast that with the words Jesus spoke shortly after His death, as recorded by a group of people on the American continent:
Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name.3 Nephi 9:15
No “ifs” there. He was confident in His role, which was defined by His relationship with His Father.
When God appeared to Moses, the first thing He did was introduce Himself: “Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name.” Immediately after, He affirmed Moses’ identity: “And, behold, thou art my son” (Moses 1:3-4).
President Russell M. Nelson taught:
I believe that if the Lord were speaking to you directly tonight, the first thing He would make sure you understand is your true identity. My dear friends, you are literally spirit children of God. You have sung this truth since you learned the words to “I Am a Child of God.” But is that eternal truth imprinted upon your heart? Has this truth rescued you when confronted with temptation?
I fear that you may have heard this truth so often that it sounds more like a slogan than divine truth. And yet, the way you think about who you really are affects almost every decision you will ever make.“Choices for Eternity,” Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults with President Nelson, 15 May 2022
No wonder the Young Women Theme in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints begins with the words “I am a beloved daughter of heavenly parents, with a divine nature and eternal destiny.” No wonder the Aaronic Priesthood Quorum Theme begins “I am a beloved son of God, and He has a work for me to do.” We are empowered when we remember our identity as sons and daughters of God.
Today, I will remember that I am a child of God. I will find confidence in that knowledge, to help me overcome temptation and do my work well.
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