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ephesians-identity

Ephesians 2: A New Life In Christ

To understand our new identity, we’ve got to uncover our old identity. We’ve got to dig deeper into who we were, beyond our ancestry and family of origin, to see the ugly truth. Paul is going to show us an unfiltered picture of who we really are.

– Tony Merida

Before we can understand just how much God has done for us, we must understand where we have come from or better yet, where we were without Christ.

Chapter 2 of the book of Ephesians begins with four very strong words … “And you were dead…”. Every human being that is a son or daughter of Adam (which is pretty much everyone!) entered the world spiritually dead. We have no inclination toward God and no ability to please Him (Romans 8:8). As Merida puts it, “Apart from Christ, we are spiritually dead”.

ephesians-2

We all know the first line of Amazing Grace:  “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me”. That is who we are – dead wretches!

Just as verse 1 starts with four strong words, verse 4 starts with two of the sweetest words found in the bible – BUT GOD!

Just when things look the most desolate, Paul utters the greatest short phrase in the history of human speech: “But God!” – ESV Study Notes

Ephesians 2:4-5: But God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved.

It is said that grace is “God’s unmerited favor to us”! Praise the Lord for His grace! This “grace” has been given to each of us who have transgressed His law and have sinned against Him. Again, this is everyone!

Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Tony Merida goes on in his teaching of Ephesians to say:

Works matter to the Christian, but we’re not working for salvation; we’re working from salvation. The words for and from are subtle but incredibly important.

It is vital to understand that what God has to offer us is a gift and not a prize! A gift is something that we are given – no strings attached; no “if you do this, then I’ll do that”. Whereas a prize is something that can be obtained or worked for. A prize is given to those people who have accomplished a set of guidelines or list of things to do. If we could do something to work for our salvation then the gospel would be in vain.

christianity-is-not-a-do-gospel-it-is-a-done-gospelMerida points out that the difference in Christianity and a lot of other so-called religions is that their’s is a “do” religion whereas Christianity is a “done” religion. Jesus has done everything for us and it is only through Him. He went to the cross. He shed His blood for me. He died for the sin of mankind. When Jesus uttered the words “It Is Finished” on the cross of Calvary, there was nothing else that needed to be done.

Remember in Ephesians: Your Identity In Christ – Part 1 where we talked about the phrase “In Him”. This is the only place that salvation can be found. Ephesians 2:13 says, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ”. John tells us in John 14: 6 that Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.

Because Jesus has become our substitute, we now have life in Him. Ephesians should compel us to hope and to understand that no one is beyond the reach of God’s amazing grace. – Tony Merida

Let me leave you with these thoughts on our new identity in Christ. Tony refers to these as the “formerly … but now” expressions:

  • We were dead in sin, but now we “are alive together with Christ” (2:4)
  • We were separated from Christ, but now in Christ Jesus, we ” have been brought near by the blood” (2:13)
  • We were foreigners, “but now we are fellow citizens” (2:19)

Who are you in Christ? You are HIS workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works!

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free, my God my Savior has ransomed me. And like a flood His mercy reigns, unending love – Amazing Grace!

ephesians-identity

I am excited that you have chosen to come along side me and join me for this Ephesians blog post series (Explanation here: Ephesians: Your Identity In Christ – Blog Post Series)

Let’s start way back when you were a child. What did you want to be when you grew up? I’ll give you some time to think about it. (Begin “Jeopardy” theme music now)

A lawyer? A fireman? A doctor? A teacher? A Veterinarian?

Now that you are an adult, are you actually doing what you wanted to be as a child?

Some of you may be, but for the vast majority, I would say that we are not doing what we wanted to be as children. But either way, if you are or if you are not, we all have our own identity. It’s what makes you – well, you!

Our identity is who we are, or who we think we are.

Merriam-Webster describes the word identity as the following: the distinguishing character or personality of an individual.

As Christians, we must understand that when we asked Jesus into our hearts we were bought with a price and we are no longer our own (I Corinthians 6:19-20). And because we are no longer our own, we are to take on the personality or identity of Christ.

Tony Merida (instructor for this series & pastor of Imago Dei Church) makes this statement:

If your identity is not in Christ, you will be dissatisfied. You were made for a relationship with God through Christ. When you become a Christian, you become a new person. You get a new identity.

So the question for Christians is this, “Who am I in Christ?” I am so glad you asked because chapter 1 of Ephesians lets us know exactly who we are and what HE has done for us.

“Titles” are everywhere we look. President or CEO of a company; Pastor of a church; Executive Secretary to the President and so on. Titles give us a form of identity. This title describes who we are. In case you don’t know, Paul wrote this letter to Christians. In verse two, he calls them – AND US – saints! How cool is that? Right off the bat, we begin to find out our identity in Christ. Every Christian is giving the title of “Saint”.

Merida says the following about our title of a saint:

The word “saint” has its root in the Old Testament, which speaks of God choosing a people from among the nations to be “My kingdom of priest and My holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6). Christ has made us into a holy people (Ephesians 5:26). Positionally, we are holy because we are united with Christ. Now we must live in a manner that is consistent with this position. Personal holiness is about becoming in practice what we are in the position.

I want you to notice something very important about the next few verses in Ephesians (and other times through the entire book). Over and over again, we see the words “In Him”. This is very important for us to understand. Why? Because we must remember that we can do nothing without Christ. It is only IN HIM, that we can have salvation and it is only in Him that we are saints. It is in Him that our true identity lies. We can do nothing by ourselves.

John MacArthur makes the following statement in his New Testament commentary on the book of Ephesians:

Only by being “in” Christ can one has access to “every spiritual blessing.” In you are in Christ, then “Christ’s riches are your riches, His resources are your resources, His righteousness is your righteousness, His power is your power. His position is our position; where He is, we are … what He has, we have”.

ephesiansSo now that we understand that it is only “In Him” we have anything, let’s look at exactly who we are in Him. In the first chapter, we begin to find out more about this new identity we have in Christ:

  • We have been chosen & adopted by the Father (1:4-6)
  • We have been redeemed by the Son (1:7-12)
  • We have been sealed with the Spirit (1:13-140
  • We have been given resurrection power (1:19-20)

How incredible is this list? As Christians, this is who we are IN CHRIST! We are blessed, chosen, adopted, redeemed, sealed and forgiven!

Your identity, therefore, is in Christ, not in your performance, your popularity, your productivity, or your prominence.

As I finish this post, I want to leave you with one of the quotes by Tony Merida that really made me think:

If you love Jesus deeply, it will change your behavior dramatically.

As Christians, our title is “Saint”. Let’s walk worthy of this title and “live in a manner that is consistent with this position”!

I came across this old hymn today by Samuel J. Stone entitled “The Church’s One Foundation”. Here are the words to the first verse:

The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ Her Lord

She is His new creation by water and the Word.

From heaven He came & sought her to be His holy bride;

With His own blood He bought her and for her life He died.

Colossians 1:18 says, “And HE is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might have preeminent.”

The authors of the book “Christ-Centered Exposition: 1 & 2 Timothy & Titus” make the following statement:

The church belongs to Jesus Christ. He founded it by His life, death, and resurrection, and since Pentecost He has continued to build it by His Spirit (Acts 2). Therefore, what matters most in the life of the church is not the church’s website or the latest statistics on what visitors are looking for in a worship experience. What matters most is what the Lord of the church has said.

Christ, and Christ alone, is our ONE FOUNDATION!

The spiritual life is an all-encompassing, lifelong response to God’s gracious initiatives in the lives of those who trust is centered in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Biblical spirituality is a Christ-centered orientation to every component of life through the mediating power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is a journey of the spirit that begins with the gift of forgiveness and life in Christ and progresses through faith and obedience. Since it is based on a present relationship, it is a journey with Christ rather than a journey to Christ.

As long as we are on this earth we never arrive; the journey is not complete until the day of our resurrection, when the Lord brings us into complete conformity with himself.

Kenneth Boa

“Conformed to His Image”

Biblical Spirituality: A Journey With Christ