Will We be Ourselves?
Loss of identity?
Some have this belief we will lose all identity of who we are when we get to Heaven. They reason we have to forget about all the horrible things that have happened to us on Earth to enjoy Heaven. Others say we will be without sin, and that will make us fundamentally different and unrecognizable. Some wonder if we will have emotions or if our talents will be with us.
A few Bible verses suggest a loss of identity to some:
"For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind."(Isa. 65:17 KJV)
"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."(1 Cor. 13:12 KJV)
"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption"(1 Cor. 15:50 KJV)
When we are in our resurrected bodies, how much of who we are now will remain?
No loss of identity or memory
The book of Samuel provides one example of how we will retain who we are and our memories. After the judge Samuel died, he was summoned by a medium to King Saul(1 Sam. 28:1-25). Samuel does not ask who Saul is as he already knows. He is also aware of what Saul has done.
During the Apostle John's vision of Heaven, he sees martyrs who were killed for their faith in God(Rev. 6:9-10). The martyrs ask God how long until He seeks justice against those who killed them. They clearly remember what happened to them on Earth.
The story Jesus told of the rich man and Lazarus has some interesting points (Luke 16:19-31). While in a place of torment, the rich man recognized Abraham and Lazarus who were in paradise. The rich man also remembered his life on Earth.
Peter, John and James recognized Moses and Elijah at the transfiguration of Jesus(Matt. 17:1-13). At the time of Jesus, these 2 had long since died. Even though photographs didn't exist at the time, the disciples somehow recognized these 2 figures with Jesus as Moses and Elijah.
The book of Job talks about seeing God in our resurrected bodies(Job 19:26-27). Job talks about seeing God for himself with his own redeemed eyes and not another. Even though we will be in a resurrected body, we will still be ourselves.
We will be asked to account for our lives in the judgment of works(2 Cor. 5:10). How can we do that if we aren't ourselves? We have to not only retain our memories but remember better than we can now.
What about those passages that suggest a loss of identity?
The Isaiah 65:17 verse at first appears the most convincing regarding a loss of memory. However, this is a continuation of verse 16:
"That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes."(Isa. 65:16 emphasis mine)
God is saying the sins we committed won't be held against us in eternity. It makes more sense when the verses are together:
"That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes. For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind."
What about when the Apostle Paul talks about knowing in part now but fully in Heaven from 1 Cor. 13:12? This doesn't imply a mind wipe but rather a fuller understanding of God that is not possible now. Paul was saying on Earth we see through a glass that is dark and hard to see through, but when we see God, we'll see completely unobstructed. We'll have a better understanding of God's plan on Earth and won't need to have our memories erased to enjoy Heaven.
What about flesh and blood not inheriting the kingdom from 1 Cor. 15:50? Paul was saying we cannot enter the eternal state in our current bodies as they are corrupted by the fall. We will have our resurrected bodies that will be better by far. Having our resurrected bodies does not change who we are.
Will other aspects of ourselves be preserved?
Will we have emotions in Heaven? We know we will be laughing(Luke 6:21). Emotions aren't a result of the fall. God has emotions such as grieving over man's rebellion prior to the flood(Gen. 6:6). God also displayed anger at Moses when Moses asked God to send someone else to free the Israelites(Exo. 4:14). One emotion that won't exist in the eternal state is sadness due to pain or death(Rev. 21:4).
What about our skills? Some are afraid our skills and talents won't survive on the New Earth. Will painters still paint and musicians still make songs? Skills such as painting are not evil but God-given and can be used to glorify God. Before the fall, Adam used his skills as a gardener in the Garden of Eden(Gen. 2:15). The Bible also mentions our deeds will follow us(Rev. 14:13).
In short we retain all the good and none of the bad. The curse and sin don't make us who we are. Rather our memories, skills, personality and interests make up who we are. We will have all those in Heaven. God made us each individually and values us(Psa. 139:13-16).
Last updated 7/15/2011