Did you know that once you accept Jesus as your lord and savior, your identity in Christ supersedes all your other identities? I am a disciple of Jesus, a coworker of God, an apostle of Christ by the will of God. What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus?
I did not grow up a Christian. We did not know God. I was raised by a very abusive, evil, and hateful mother who suffered from a mental illness. My alcoholic relatives were violent, adulterous, and addicted. Hostility and hatred reigned in our abuse-filled home. I was rejected, bullied, manipulated, violated, and beaten regularly.
What I learned was self-reliance.
The only person who was there for me was me.
During the first 25 years of my life, I learned to live in my own power. I was independent, goals-oriented, laser-focused on what I wanted, and a high achiever. I had big dreams, and I believed that I was all-powerful and could make anything happen for myself.
There were reasons to believe so…
Living in My Own Power
I became the only person in my family to graduate from university. I graduated from three universities! I was an A-student always. I graduated with high honors from high school, teaching college, a business school in Russia, and law school in Russia. After earning a doctoral degree in Criminal Justice, I also graduated with an MBA from Georgia State University in America with a 3.74 GPA! I taught myself English in 18 months listening to Frank Sinatra. I spoke at local, regional, national, and international conferences on various business topics and won awards, including financial prizes.
I found myself a Prince Charming, got married, and left Russia. All my relatives are still exactly where they were, and my 65-year-old mother lives with her mother: she never ever left the house. Failure to launch runs in my family. Owning my own mind was something I took pride in, especially because I was able to build a new life for myself, away from my relatives.
Then, I experienced domestic violence. I became homeless, hopeless, and helpless, in a foreign country, without any documents. Why? Because Prince Charming turned out to be The Prince of Darkness and enslaved me. He never followed proper immigration procedures on my behalf.
I built a new life even then for myself! I started working, saved cash, paid my car off, got free legal help for all the issues caused by Prince Charming, and soon I was on my own in America. I taught myself English, graduated from GSU with an MBA, and published an award-winning book about goal-setting. My hopes were very high, and I counted on myself. In 2014, after my second marriage fell apart, I came to the end of myself and met Jesus.
What I learned was that I was actually pretty fragile and not at all that powerful. On my own, I pretty much ran out of gas… When I hit the rock bottom, Jesus was my rock, and I asked Him to save me.
Abiding in Christ
I got baptized in October of 2014. Over the years, I’ve learned to abide in Christ instead of walking in my own power. Actually, I’m keeping a journal in my phone notes called “Abiding in Christ vs Walking In My Own Power.” It’s an everyday commitment to living life following the teachings of Jesus Christ and sharing about Him with others.
In 2017, God called me to ministry.
For some time, I felt not qualified. But God didn’t ask me to sign any contracts with Him about this. He simply gave me the dwelling of the Holy Spirit calling me daily to share the Gospel with God’s creation. Slowly, I opened up to the idea.
Online Discipleship For Women was born.
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“Whoever Brings Blessing Will be Enriched” Proverbs 11:25
Bless Online Discipleship For Women
Being Set Free by God’s Truth
I was very controlling for many years. I couldn’t allow people to just be themselves. I had a manual for everyone’s life. Why? Because my mother taught me so. I share some insights in the article called “Things Narcissistic Mothers Say.” Being a fixer of people was my identity.
“Russian women are like that” – I was excusing my controlling attitude. “My mom was like that. My aunts were like that. My grandma was like that. My sisters were like that. Consequently, I am like that.”
That was my thinking.
Then, I took a love dare test and saw on paper, in writing, that my score was zero on what the Bible taught about allowing people to be who they are and loving them anyway. I had no such skills.
I was living life in accordance with what I knew from my upbringing. What was modeled to me at home was what I did: controlling demands, screaming, yelling, blaming, anger, and zero allowing.
In fact, I illustrate it really well in my article called Narcissistic Mother-Daughter Relationship. I provide some specific examples of how I was never allowed to just be who I was created to be, and so I never learned how to allow others to be who they were created to be. I was hot-tempered, impatient, demanding, and quarrelsome.
A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.Proverbs 15:18
From this verse, I realized that I needed to learn patience! Ok. But how? My breakthrough was this: I could change by allowing God to lead me, through the Holy Spirit, and by following Jesus’ teachings about loving people. I changed. Why? Because my identity in Christ supersedes my identity as a controlling Russian woman, which came from my mother.
I remember drinking heavily all the time growing up and really using alcoholic beverages as my go-to anxiety-relief. Why? Because everyone drank heavily in my family all the time just to avoid dealing with life issues. They even made and sold their own alcohol to help others become drunks instead of facing life’s stresses and fears.
My grandpa was an alcoholic. My aunts were alcoholics. My cousins were alcoholics. My mom was an alcoholic. My neighbors and friends were alcoholics. So, I grew up in Kursk, Russia to be an alcoholic.
Why was I drinking heavily? Because it was all I knew. My mother taught me how to drink alcohol when I was five. Drinking was my identity. “Russians are mostly all alcoholics” – I was explaining to myself my out-of-control drinking.
Then, I learned from the Bible that prayer is a much better anxiety-relieving tool than alcohol. So, I learned how to pray. I gave my life to Christ and I changed. Why? Because what God says about me supersedes my identity as a Russian alcoholic.
I remember May 9th of 2013. I launched my first book. And then it was recognized by Indie Excellence Awards and International Book Awards. I was constantly talking to everyone about my SMART goals book non-stop. I wanted to boast about myself as an award-winning author and I wanted everyone to talk about my accomplishments all the time. Why? Because I thought that was what award-winning authors were supposed to do! And then I learned what the Bible says in James 1:17. It teaches us where awards, recognition, and accomplishments come from.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.James 1:17
So, it was not all my own doing. Yes, I thought I was the center of the universe and deserved boasting. I was self-centered and trusted only in my own power. Now, I know better. Today, I give God all the glory for my life story.
If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.1 Corinthians 1:31
It’s the Lord who blessed me with all the good things. Giving all glory and honor to God and not bragging about my accomplishments all the time became my new goal. Why? Because who I am in Christ supersedes my identity as an award-winning author.
To be a disciple of Jesus means to obey His teachings, which are communicated to us through the Bible. Being His follower means living the way He asked us to live: humbly, kindly, honestly, and godly. He asked us to be bold, courageous, do the work God called us to do, share the Gospel with all the nations, not seek the approval of others yet love one another, and practice self-control in every area of our being: sexuality, eating, health, and relationships.
Following Jesus, we must go where He is going. Being His disciples, we must walk in our identity confidently and not look back to be confused. No matter what identities we used to walk in – our ethnic roots, culture, skin color, educational backgrounds, job titles, addictions, achievements – none of our identities are above the identity of a disciple of Christ. Once we accept Jesus into our hearts, being His disciples becomes the superseding identity.
We must step out of our power and abide in Christ.
What It Means To Abide in Christ
As a new Christian, I wanted to abide in Christ, but how? What exactly does it mean to abide in Christ? Abiding means accepting, respecting, following, upholding, and obeying. To abide is to obey.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.John 15:4
Jesus (the vine) commanded us (the branches) to abide in Him (to obey His teachings) in order for us to bear Fruit. What Fruit? The fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). And the outcome of bearing the Fruit is clear conscience, blessings, righteousness, joy, and prosperity (Psalm 1:1-3, Proverbs 21:21, Hebrews 13:18). All this is illustrated in the ITCEBO model I created. Click below to see it in a large, printable PDF format.
To have a good life, to make wise decisions, to stay out of trouble, to be peaceful, and to have joy, all we need to do is abide in Christ and follow the right side on the ITCEBO model to experience the outcomes of the Spirit. Obeying Christ’s teachings results in blessings, joy, righteousness, peace, and and prosperity.
If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.John 8:31-32
It worked really well for me. I learned the truth: I can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13). That truth set me free from my identities as a sex addict, alcoholic, over-spender, raging control freak, and all other identities. I stepped into my identity as a disciple of Jesus and now I am free. I take my life seriously because I know that I am here on earth representing God. He gave me a passion for ministry.
I am a disciple of Jesus: I obey and follow Him and I share the Gospel with all the nations through this Christian blog for women, as well as my Christian podcast, poetry collection, Christian apparel, and books, which you can find in my store on this website. I deny myself, live a celibate and single life, do uncomfortable things when I hear God’s voice calling me to do so, and I do this all out of gratitude for the sacrifice of Jesus.
Becoming a Disciple of Jesus
What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ? A disciple is defined as a follower, an admirer, a believer, and a devotee. When I invited Jesus to come into my heart, I didn’t become perfect, of course. What did happen though was this: I began to wonder “What does Jesus say about this and that?” I considered His opinions about drinking, overeating, sex, friendship, marriage, career, health, and self-care.
What Jesus says matters to me not because I want to earn His love but because He loves me so much that He died for me. I’m just grateful for my salvation. That’s why I want to follow Jesus as His disciple.
The more I study the teachings of Jesus as His follower and as a believer, the more I get to know who Jesus is and the more I admire Him. The more I admire Jesus and feel gratitude for what He had done for me, the more of a devotee I become. The closer I draw to God through my personal relationship with Christ, the more I want to be His disciple and follow His teachings. It all happens as my faith becomes steadfast and resolute. I wrote an article about it called “What Is Faith?”
Following Jesus is a daily choice. I’d say it’s an hourly choice, actually. We must die to our Flesh and choose to walk in the Spirit.
When a coworker takes credit for your work and you want to tell her where to go and how exactly to get there in anger, you choose to either follow Christ and be kind or to be self-righteous and fight your own battles instead of allowing God to settle the matter. Every day, you choose to either walk with Christ or follow your own path and live in your own power. It’s up to you to be a disciple of Jesus or not to be.
Because you read thus far, I assume you walk with Christ. If you’re here because you consider yourself a disciple of Jesus, His follower, and a passionate minister to others, I want you to know: it’s a delight to have you as a part of my community!
Walking with Christ
Following Jesus, I serve Him by honoring His word. He asked to forgive my offenders, so I forgive. He asked me to love people, so I do it to the best of my love-ability. He asked me to be humble and only boast about God, so I try my best to be humble and give God all the glory for my story. He asked to bear with one another and tell people the good news, so I enthusiastically share the Gospel every chance I get. And I fail often, of course, because I’m a human.
But Jesus knows His disciples’ hearts. He understands that to learn to love people the way He did takes time and practice. It’s a journey. But if the heart’s desire is to honor the teachings of Jesus, Christ Himself says in John 12:26 this is what will happen…
Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.John 12:26
Jesus is in heaven. The key to heaven is not a performance for Jesus. We can’t do things hoping to be where Jesus is due to our own goodness and righteousness. But if we love Jesus, if we believe in who He is and what He did for us personally, if we are His disciples, if we abide in Him by obeying His teachings out of gratitude for His sacrifice and our salvation, then we gain the ability to walk in the same direction with Him.
This doesn’t happen in our own power. It happens through the power of God’s Holy Spirit in us. That’s how we become Christ’s servants. That’s how love for God is made complete in us.
We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.1 John 2:3-6
Being a disciple of Jesus simply means living like Him in accordance with His commands. Do you agree to follow Jesus every day? Are you ready to be Christ’s servant?
Here are some frequently asked questions answered.
And by this, we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments – 1 John 2:3-6
If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me – Luke 9:23
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple – Luke 14:27
A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone, when he is fully trained, will be like his teacher – Luke 6:40
Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men – Matthew 4:19
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you – Matthew 28:19-20
A disciple is a follower of Christ who obeys and honors His teachings in personal life by example, who shares the good new of salvation with others boldly and courageously, who is humble and doesn’t boast except in the Lord, who gives God all the glory.
John 12:26 that disciples of Jesus will be in heaven with Him. The benefits of being a disciple of Jesus Christ are the outcomes of the Spirit, which are clear conscience, righteous living, and prosperity. You can see those benefits illustrated in the ITCEBO model of Christian living.
1 John 2:3-6 explains that a disciple must keep the commandments of Jesus Christ, which teach us how to live life: flee from sexual immorality, do not give in to the sin of gluttony, love one another, seek spiritual wisdom, stay away from fools, don’t be a drunk, be of sober mind, wear the armor of God at all times, live at peace with everyone, be strong in the Lord, etc. A disciple also must deny themselves, leave everything behind, and follow Christ wherever God leads them in order to reach more people as “fishers of men.”
A follower of Christ is someone who obeys His teachings with his or her own lifestyle. Discipleship requires ministering to others, so it takes courage and boldness to “put yourself out there” and tell people about salvation through Jesus the Messiah.
If you’re ready to be free from all your past identities and step confidently into your identity as a disciple of Jesus, memorize the Biblical affirmation below and practice it daily. Remember who you are, where you’re going, and why you chose that direction.
I Am a Disciple of Jesus
"I Am a Disciple of Jesus" #52Devotionals I abide in God's word, and His truth has set me free. I'm a disciple of Jesus, and to follow Him I daily agree. I keep His commandments, and God's love is perfected in me. I ought to walk the same way He walked - for eternity. Click to tweet
How do you plan to abide in Christ from now on and be His disciple? Let me know in the comments below. If this devotional was helpful, download my free book of #52Devotionals now. Stand firm and know what God says about you: loved, accepted, beautiful, powerful, valuable, worthy, and special.
Read My Other Devotionals
- “I am Forgiven” – Devotional #1
- “I am Accepted” – Devotional #2
- “I am Loved” – Devotional #3
- “I am Healed” – Devotional #4
- “I am Blessed” – Devotional #5
- “I am Special and Chosen” – Devotional #6
- “I am Justified and Sanctified” – Devotional #7
- “I am Alive” – Devotional #8
- “I am New and Transformed” – Devotional #9
- “I am Noble and Lovely” – Devotional #10
- “I am Beautiful” – Devotional #11
- “I am Holy” – Devotional #12
- “I am Worthy” – Devotional #13
- “I am Righteous” – Devotional #14
- “I am Valuable” – Devotional #15
- “I am Anointed” – Devotional #16
- “I am Free” – Devotional #17
- “I am Renewed” – Devotional #18
- “I am Not Alone” – Devotional #19
- “I am a Princess” – Devotional #20
- “I am Fearfully and Wonderfully Made” – Devotional #21
- “I am a Disciple of Jesus” – Devotional #22
- “I am a Child of God” – Devotional #23
- “I am a Citizen of Heaven” – Devotional #24
- “I am God’s Glory on Display” – Devotional #25
- “I am God’s Masterpiece” – Devotional #26
- “I am a Difference Maker” – Devotional #27
- “I am Light” – Devotional #28
- “I am a Peacemaker” – Devotional #29
- “I am Wise” – Devotional #30
- “I am Clear and Focused” – Devotional #31
- “I am Intentional” – Devotional #32
- “I am Decisive” – Devotional #33
- “I am Powerful” – Devotional #34
- “I am Disciplined” – Devotional #35
- “I am Thoughtful” – Devotional #36
- “I am Prudent” – Devotional For #37
- “I am Confident” – Devotional #38
- “I am Courageous” – Devotional #39
- “I am Victorious” – Devotional #40
- “I am Kind” – Devotional #41
- “I am Loving” – Devotional #42
- “I am Hopeful” – Devotional #43
- “I am Joyful” – Devotional #44
- “I am Grateful” – Devotional #45
- “I am Strong” – Devotional #46
- “I am Protected” – Devotional #47
- “I am Peaceful” – Devotional #48
- “I am Patient” – Devotional #49
- “I am Faithful” – Devotional #50
- “I am Gifted” – Devotional #51
- “I am Creative” – Devotional #52
Anna Szabo is the founder of Online Discipleship For Women, a Christian ministry committed to alleviating suicide among women globally by sharing hope in Christ. Anna teaches how to create a joyful life by embracing God’s word based on her own journey of faith and fortitude.
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