We are going to jump right into part 2 of our Identity 101 series. Last week we laid the foundation of our identity: we are children of God. The first step in understanding your value is knowing that you belong to God. If you didn’t read last week’s post, I suggest starting there before going further.
We are studying Ephesians 1:7-19 today. It is It’s quite a bit of ground to cover but I know it will be helpful.
7-10 “Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.
11-12 It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.
13-14 It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.
15-19 That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength,” (Ephesians 1:7-10 MSG)!
- I am free in Christ.
The definition of freedom is, “the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.” The fall of man brought sin into the world and affected all of us. We are slaves to sin without Christ and need a Savior to rescue us.
Freedom is an interesting thing… it’s kind of like the process has happened and is still happening at the same time.
Has happened – Jesus paid for sin once and for all. Verses 7-10 tell us that we are free because of His sacrifice. Jesus sets us free from the power of sin when we are saved. We instantly have authority over the enemy and will spend eternity in Heaven.
Is still happening – freedom is also a continual process. We are constantly being set free through the process of sanctification. In most cases, things like unhealthy habits, addictions, strongholds, and fear don’t just go away because we are Christians. There are instances where people are miraculously healed of those things when they give their lives to Jesus but for many of us, we have to repent, learn new ways to cope, and practice correct behavior until it becomes our normal (See Romans 12:2).
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed,” (John 8:36 ESV).
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery,” (Galatians 5:1 NIV).
- I have a purpose.
Verses 11-12 are so beautiful! Let’s read them again, “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone,” (Ephesians 1:11-12 emphasis added).
That verse tells us a few very important things:
- Who I am is determined by Christ.
- What I am living for is determined by Christ.
- My hope is found in Christ.
- I am never out of His sight.
- He knew the plans He had for me long before I was born or in relationship with Him.
- He has designed me for a purpose.
A lady came to our church’s women’s conference a couple of weeks ago and told her story. She was abused in every way possible, used drugs to cope with her pain, and lost her daughter to the foster care system as a result. She has given her heart to the Lord and is working her booty off to build her life on a solid foundation. She made this statement that took our breath away. She said, “I no longer outsource my value.” I stood up and cheered! Yes! That is it!
How many times do we do that? We allow other people to define and categorize who we are and what we should be doing. That’s not the way it was designed to be. God ALONE knows why He put me on this planet. He ALONE gets to tell me my worth, identity, and calling.
We cannot fully understand who we are or why we are on the planet apart from God. Each of us has our own unique giftings, callings, and passions. They are equally important but are also very different. God created you to be the only you there ever was and we need what you have to offer. Trust that He has a unique purpose for your life and don’t apologize for it.
“Think of it this way. If the whole body were just an eyeball, how could it hear sounds? And if the whole body were just an ear, how could it smell different fragrances? But God has carefully designed each member and placed it in the body to function as he desires. A diversity is required, for if the body consisted of one single part, there wouldn’t be a body at all!… You are the body of the Anointed One, and each of you is a unique and vital part of it,” (1 Corinthians 12:17-19, 27 TPT).
“We have become his poetry, a re-created people that will fulfill the destiny he has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it,” (Ephesians 2:10 TPT)!
- I have an inheritance.
Verses 13-14 talk about the promise of a bright future and inheritance for God’s children. God rules over and owns everything. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and we get to be His kids!
The word “signet” in verse 13 is sphragizó in Greek which means “sealed with authority and validated by.” Imagine a king writing a very important letter and then sealing the back and stamping it with his signet ring. It is marked with the king’s identity and carries incredible authority. You only seal something that is valuable and that you want to prove is yours. Whatever is written in that letter is legally binding because it came from the king himself. You and I are that letter and the Holy Spirit has sealed us.
I was worried about finances one day and the Holy Spirit whispered to me that I was a, “Spoiled rich kid whose Dad owns everything!” God was saying that I had nothing to fear because the Creator of the universe is my provider and has more than enough for me. He has come through for us over and over again. While I believe that our inheritance from God can (and does) mean financial provision, I also think that it is so much more than that. God wants us to be whole while we are living on earth and looking forward to our ultimate inheritance in Heaven.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope,” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT).
“Lord, I have chosen you alone as my inheritance.You are my prize, my pleasure, and my portion.I leave my destiny and its timing in your hands. Your pleasant path leads me to pleasant places.I’m overwhelmed by the privilegesthat come with following you,for you have given me the best,” (Psalm 16:5-6 TPT)!
- I am expected to work hard.
This point takes a little bit of a different turn. So far in Ephesians 1, God has lavished us with all of these beautiful things that He has provided. We are His children so we are free, have a purpose, and get an inheritance.
Then Paul mentions in verses 15-19 that he prays for the believers to be “intelligent, discerning, focused, and clear” for “what they are called to do”. Being intelligent, discerning, focused, and clear are gifts that people can be born with but they are also disciplines that we can grow in and work on. Prayer is absolutely essential but so is hard work. The things that God has called us to do don’t just happen because we love Him. We have to step out in faith and exercise our wills to accomplish what He has for us.
Part of our identities as sons and daughters of God is that we learn, have a strong work ethic, and that we get rid of distractions. We know that what we are doing matters and is worth our time and excellence. The end of verse 19 promises that God will fill us with strength if we work hard for Him.
“…Faith apart from works is dead,” (James 2:26b ESV).
“Put your heart and soul into every activity you do, as though you are doing it for the Lord himself and not merely for others,” (Colossians 3:23 TPT).
“If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living,” (2 Thessalonians 3:10b-12 ESV).
When I am doing pastoral counseling, I often draw a stick house and I ask people to identify what they are building with their life. Who or what is their foundation? We established last week that the only thing worth building on is Christ. Today we are going to build on and add walls and a roof.
This house is our homework for the week. Take some time to process who you are and what you’re building. Week 2 Homework
I hope that you are able to apply this to yourself. When you have been a Christian for a little while it’s easy to dismiss these kinds of truths because you have heard them so many times. “Yeah, yeah, yeah… I know all of that.” But my question to you is: Are you living it? When things get bumpy do you stand firm in your identity in Christ or do you freak out and want to jump ship? What kind of home are you building?