- Sermon Notes
Your Identity in Christ
March 6, 2022
A very well known story is the story of Cinderella. The girl who has a loving father who marries a woman with two daughters. Then the father dies, and the stepmom becomes the evil stepmother with the evil stepdaughters. Eventually they start to treat her like a slave in her own house. Her self-worth is broken down. Then something wonderful happens. She meets the prince who falls in love with her. The whole story of the glass slipper plays out and at the end the evil stepmom is exposed, and she marries the prince. She gets a new identity and they live happily ever after.
Every time I watch one or the other rendition of this story, I always ask myself: Why does she allow them to degrade her like that? Why doesn’t she stand up for herself and take what is rightfully hers? The problem is that she is powerless and has no authority. This affects her view of herself and her identity.
In a similar way people don’t know their identify and worth in Christ. Like the stepmom, the world and the enemy criticize people until it affects how they see themselves. If you think that you aren’t worth anything, you won’t expect much. You set the bar very low, and you will never reach for more.
Illus. A man buys ticket for a cruise. To save money he brings his own food. He sits in his room the whole cruise with his picnic basket. Bread grows stale. Captain informs him when he disembarks that he could have had the most wonderful food included in the cruise.
Christ has lavished us with spiritual riches that we cannot even fathom.
1 Corinthians 2:9 but just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”
We cannot hope for, believe for, or take hold of it if we don’t know about it. That is why I love the book of Ephesians. Especially the part we are getting into tonight. Paul begins by reminding them of who God is, and who they are in Christ.
Ephesians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8which He lavished on us.
I. Your Identity is Set in Stone
When you live your life without your identity being grounded in Christ, it can feel like you are walking on quicksand. You are never sure when you take the next step if it is going to be firm, or if you are going to sink. As Christians, Christ is our rock and foundation. If you have a wrong view of your identity, your foundation will be affected.
Our identity is linked to what Christ did for us, because that reveals the worth he sees in us to us. There are a few key revelations we need to understand the riches we have in Christ. This will really ground our relationship and identity in Christ.
A. Your identity is grounded on Grace
The first word we should understand is ‘grace’.
- Verse 2- Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Paul’s prayer for them is that the grace and peace of Christ might become part of their spiritual walk. He will go on to expand what this grace looks like. But we should first define grace and peace.
- Grace differs from mercy. Mercy is not getting the penalty for something you have done. Grace is getting something that you did not deserve or work for. That is unmerited favor.
Illus. – Imagine someone coming before a judge for stealing. The penalty is something like ‘pay $5 000 to the person you stole from and get a suspended sentence of 5 years or go to jail for 5 years’. The defendant really shows remorse, and the social worker also tells the judge that this person is sorry, and she believes that he will never do it again. He has been involved with the wrong crowd and was coerced into stealing to become part of the gang. She has worked with him for a few months and believe he really turned his life around. Still, the truth of the matter is that he is guilty. So, the judge brings the judgement. You are guilty. You have to pay the fine or go to jail. The gavel shot rings through the court and fear and dread fills the guilty one. Then something happens.
The judge gets off the bench, walks to the defendant, and tells him that he will pay the fine himself so he does not have to go to jail. Not only that, but he will supply the money for a scholarship so he could go to college.
- This is a great illustration of mercy and grace. The guilt was paid for by someone who did not have to do it. Mercy.
- Grace is getting something over and above which you did not deserve. This is God’s heart. He did not only forgive us our sins, but he wants to lavish us with new spiritual riches.
- It is like having a loved one leaving you a box with lots of presents with different dates on it. Every time you open a present on the assigned date, you get another surprise and showing of their love and compassion. If you never open the gifts, it would be tragic.
- God does the same. That is why we should search the scriptures, get the word in us so it can transform us with the truth.
John 8:31-32 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
- The truth will set you free. The truth is a person. Jesus is the living Word of God.
B. Your Identity is grounded on Peace
- Verse 2- Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- God’s heart towards us is that we should be at peace. We should live in peace.
Philippians 4:6 -7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
- Be anxious for nothing. That means nothing. Nothing should stress us out. Nothing should steal your joy and peace. If anything steals your peace it is because there is some truth about a situation you do not yet understand. Insecurity, feeling rejected, feeling not good enough, feeling unloved is the ploy of the enemy to keep you ineffective and paralyzed.
- Fear steals your peace. Fear of the future, fear of being rejected, fear of all the above.
- There is an antidote to fear.
C. Your identity is grounded on Love
- Verse 5: In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself,
- Our foundation in life is the one all-encompassing truth: God loves us. God loves you!
- The need to be accepted drives many people. They are driven by the pursuit of money, power, and recognition. This behavior is mostly driven by a need to feel accepted.
- It is the nature and condition of man after the fall. There is a space God created for himself inside man, and without Christ people try to fill this with acceptance from others.
- One’s mindset can be stuck in this loop and one’s actions can be driven by this lie. ‘If you will only do this thing, or achieve that thing, people will accept and adore you.’ It is always empty, because the adoration of people is empty and might fluctuate.
- There is only one love that is not influenced by the approval of others. Not even moved by your past, or your present behavior. God’s love is not based on your behavior, but on your intrinsic value. You are made in the image of God.
Illus. When my kids were born, it was the most amazing experience. I could see myself in this little baby. I held this little bundle of joy the first time and immediately there was a love for this little baby that I could not explain. I would lay down my life in a heartbeat for this child. It had nothing to do with what he or she did or didn’t do. The value was because of the fact that this child was mine. It was birthed from me.
- God made you and put His breath of life into you. He loves you because you were created in His image. That is why no other redemption payment would do, but the life of God Himself.
Joh 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”
- It is very important to realize that Jesus did not come to judge the world now. The time for that will come. Now His whole mandate is to draw in, forgive, love and change people from the broken creatures the enemy wants to oppress, to free people transformed into His image.
1 John 4:18-19 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love because He first loved us.
II. The Blessings of Redemption
- Verse 3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ
- ‘Every spiritual blessing’ is an amazing concept. It speaks of us being transformed into the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ. He, being the firstborn amongst the brethren, which is us, now calls us-co-heirs and brothers.
This brings about many spiritual blessings.
A. You have Spiritual Authority
- Jesus said in His name, He has given us spiritual authority
Luke 10:19 “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you.”
- Authority is not birthed from ourselves, because without Christ we are in the dominion of darkness. That is why Jesus had to redeem us and transfer us into His kingdom of light. Now, as His ambassadors, we have authority given to us.
Illus. When a policeman stands in front of a semi-truck and lifts his hand, it is not the ‘power’ in his up-lifted hand that stops the truck, but the authority of who he is, represented by the badge and authority given to him.
- In the same way it is the authority we stand in that makes the enemy flee by who we are in Christ.
- The authority comes from knowing Christ and being in relationship with Him. His name is not a ‘magic word’ we can use.
- This is evident from the instance we read of in Acts 19 where the sons of Sceva, tried to exorcise demons in the name of Christ. The demon replied:
Acts 19:15 And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?”
- In other words, they had no authority to use the name of Jesus as they did not belong to Him, and the authority of Christ has not been granted them. So, the evil spirit leapt on them and overpowered them.
- However, if we believe in Christ and are born again, you have His authority because of who you are in Christ and your identity in Him.
B. God makes you holy and blameless
- Paul begins the letter in verse 1 saying ‘…to the saints…’. Now if I should ask a group of Christians from all walks of life who of them consider themselves saints, many would be hesitant to raise their hands. That is because we have been influenced by the notion that only very specific people who have done many marvelous works, or who were very pious would be dubbed saints by the church. This is a huge error. Paul calls the believers A saint is a person that has been sanctified, not by the church as some believe, but sanctified by Christ. If you believe in Christ, you are sanctified. It is the work of God, not something you can do by earning the title.
Hebrews 10:10 By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
- You might say that you still have sin and fall many times and struggle to be victorious. Your being called a saint is not because of what you do, but it is how God sees you.
- There are two parts to sanctification:
- Positional: God sanctified us by the blood of His son.
- Process of sanctification: We grow towards how God already made us.
- Our sanctification process is growing from where we are towards WHO we are as we grow in Christ and in our spiritual life. God already see you as righteous through His son.
Illus. Many of you who have kids might be able to relate to this. As a parent, you see the unbelievable potential in your kids, even though they don’t see it. I have told my kids many times, “I wish you can see yourself the way that I see you.” They always reply, “You have dad goggles on.”
- How much more is this true with God. Look at verse 4.
- Verse 4: just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.
- He who has created you, designed and planned you before the foundations of the earth, only to see you being corrupted and destroyed by the lies of the enemy. He wants to give us new glasses so we can see what He sees.
- He sees us Holy, in other words set apart for Him and hitting the mark for His purpose, and blameless. No more blame. The enemy wants to blame you because he is the accuser of the brethren. God has already made up His mind. NO MORE BLAME!
Romans 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
C. God lavishes His Grace
- Verse 5 Speaks of us being adopted as His sons (and daughters) because of the kind intention of His will. There is a saying you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends. God chooses us as friends. But not only that; He adopts us into His family. That is only half of it though. We have to respond and choose Him back. God will not force you to believe in Him and love Him. It is a choice. When we choose Him, He gives us rights and privileges as co-heirs with Christ. Our inheritance is a life of victory on earth despite circumstances, and eternal life.
Romans 8:37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us
- Verse 7 is so beautiful. It just expands on this. We have:
- Redemption through His blood,
- The forgiveness of our trespasses,
- According to the riches of His grace,
- Which He lavishes on us.
- I love the word lavish. It means overflowing, grace in abundance. If we tie this back to the beginning on what we discussed grace means, it says we are under lavish, undeserved, or unmerited favor.
- Why does God do all this?
- Because He is good, He loves, and you are made in His image. He wants to share all good things with you.
- Verse 6 says for the praise of the glory of His grace. I believe that all the heavenly hosts just stand in amazement of God’s goodness, His mercy and His grace towards us. Not only that, but when people get revelation of these truths, they cannot help but to fall their knees and praise Him. It can even be a testimony to the lost to see God’s goodness towards you.
How about you? Have you felt worthless, being tossed around by the enemy, not feeling loved and accepted? Living in fear. God wants to reveal to you how He sees you.
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus [a]by the will of God,
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before [d]Him. In love 5 [e]He predestined us to adoption as sons and daughters through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, with which He favored us in the Beloved. 7 In [f]Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our wrongdoings, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He [g]lavished on [h]us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He [i]made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He set forth in Him,