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Jacob had to fully accept his sinful self in order to fully receive his new identity. 

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26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. – Genesis 32:26-29

“What’s in a name?” The classic quote by William Shakespeare is a great question to ponder because just as the word ‘rose’ carries with it a sweet scent, so Jacob’s name carries cold-hearted deception. Looking back, we notice how Jacob’s name was a self-fulfilling prophecy as he deceives his father into giving him his brother’s birthright (Genesis 27), tricks his uncle with a breeding scheme (Genesis 30-31) and plans an elaborate display to win the forgiveness of his brother (Genesis 32).

Twice Jacob was asked, “What is your name?” – once by his father when he answers, “Esau” (Genesis 27:18-19) and once by his wrestling opponent. During that night of struggle, Jacob finally comes to terms with his true self. He finally admits it. He recognizes himself as ‘Jacob’ and confesses it to God. It’s as if he says, “Yes, I am Deceiver. I’ve done my share of deceiving and I realize I’m the one who’s been deceived. I’m stuck and I’m ready to accept God’s help.”

Jacob had to fully accept his sinful self in order to fully receive his new identity. This is true for us, too. Like Jacob, we cannot live under deception anymore. We are not the person we wish to be. We must willingly accept every part of ourselves – including our sin and brokenness, including our failings and shortcomings – because this is our true self. Yet, like Jacob, we’ve been offered a new name and with it a new identity. Read Ephesians 1 and choose to meditate on one of the following words: holy, blameless, adopted, redeemed. Think about how you might “put on” this word as part of your new identity in Christ Jesus today.


“and [you] have put on the new self
who is being renewed to a true knowledge
according to the image of the One
who created him”
—Colossians 3:10 NASB

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By Yvonne Biel 

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