This fall many of our Connect Groups are doing a study of the book of Ephesians. I spent much of last week studying and meditating on the first chapter, and had the privilege of leading our new Group of young married and engaged couples on Sunday in a discussion of that rich passage of scripture. What follows are some thoughts that emerged as a result.
What would be your response if someone walked up to you and asked “Who are you?” Of course you would tell them your name first of all, but then they ask, “But who are you really?” Would you tell them what you do for a living, or that you are a parent, or you are married, or list your hobbies?
But think about it on a deeper level; what truly defines who you are, how do you really see yourself? What is your real identity? And more importantly, does the way you see yourself agree with the way God sees you and what He says about you?
Paul addresses the letter to the Ephesians “To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus”. Even though we are not in Ephesus I think we can agree that this letter is to all of us who consider ourselves followers of Christ today. Furthermore, I hope we can agree that this letter, being a part of the New Testament, is inspired and should be considered God’s Word to us today.
With that being said, let’s look at what Paul says is true about us, and who we are, from God’s perspective. These are taken from Ephesians 3-14. We (You) are:
Blessed with every spiritual blessing
Chosen (before the foundation of the world)
Holy and blameless
Predestined for adoption as God’s child
Lavished with grace
Enlightened to the mystery of God’s will
A rightful heir
Sealed by the Holy Spirit (as a downpayment on your inheritance)
So, when you were asked “Who are you?” how many of those things came to your mind? It is pretty difficult for us to get our mind around some of these, and realize it is true. But that is who God says we are! These are our privilege as God’s children, but because we fail to realize who we are, and what we have been given, we live far below our privilege. It is like we were given a check for a million dollars and keep it in our pocket and live in a cardboard box on the street. We don’t know who we are.
Paul knew that would be the case, so in the second half of the chapter he expresses a prayer for the Ephesians, and for us!
Eph 1:15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints…19 and what is theimmeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might...
Even after Paul told us all that we are in Christ, he knew we wouldn’t get it, because he immediately prays that God would open our eyes to see and understand how rich we are in Him! It is ours by Position as rightful heirs, but not by Possession in our actual experience. We have it, but we can’t enjoy it, because we don’t believe we really have it. We have the check, but not the faith to cash it.
Many Christians live defeated, sin plagued lives because they don’t believe they have the power within them to say no to the temptations they are bombarded with. They think “I am a sinner, so I am just going to sin.” But God says, “No, you are Forgiven, you are Redeemed, you are Holy and Blameless. You do not have to sin”. But, as Paul prayed for us, we need the Holy Spirit to enlighten our hearts and minds to understand who we are, and that He gives us power to live the way we should; the Power to say “No” to sin and “Yes” to His will for our lives!
So we need to learn our Spiritual Identity, who God says we are. If you see yourself as a helpless sinner who lives under a load of guilt, your identity is in the “old you”; the person you were before you gave your life to Jesus. If that is your view of the Christian life you will probably continue to struggle and have little real victory over sin in your life.
But when you begin to understand your true Identity in Christ, and, by faith, believe that His Power is in you to help you succeed; and you see yourself as Chosen by God, Forgiven, and Redeemed, you will find within yourself the ability to say no to those things that you know will interfere with that new peaceful relationship that you have with your Heavenly Father. And you will be able to say yes to the things that build up that relationship and help you grow in your faith and walk with Jesus.
So if you have read this far and now find yourself thinking you are not sure where you are finding your identity today, just remember that this is Paul’s prayer for you: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints…and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might.
If you have truly received Christ as you Savior, go back and look at that list again, and know that is who God says you are. All the privilege of His sons and daughters are yours. Walk in freedom, and walk in victory.
Be encouraged by this song that we have been singing in church lately,
“I Am Who You Say I Am”