New Covenant Identity
Topic: New Covenant Passage: Ephesians 1:4–1:14
When I was a young boy, when I left for school, or before my dad went to work, he would say, “Remember you are a child of the King”. He sent me off to school with that identity.
On Josh's dad's tombstone, it says, “Denny DeGroote - Follower of Christ”. I've always thought that was so appropriate because those 3 words described Denny so well. That was how he saw himself - That was WHO he was. That was his identity!
This morning, we are going to talk about New Covenant Identity. This is the identity that Jesus gave his own blood to purchase for you. Your identity is the way you perceive yourself, the way you see yourself, what you consider yourself to be. Your identity answers the question: Who are you? And in Christ you have a whole new way to answer that question!
Your identity is important because: How you live flows out of who you are. How you speak to your husband, or your wife, flows out of knowing who you are. How you treat others, flows out of how you see yourself. Even how you spend your time flows out of who you think you are. How you relate to God flows out of knowing who you are in his sight, knowing how he sees you, and how you see yourself before him.
As an example of identity, Paul begins his letter to the Romans by saying, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, and set apart for the gospel of God.” He identifies himself. He knows who he is and how he became that. And he has complete confidence about it. He began other letters, “Paul an apostle by the command of God” or “Paul and apostle by the will of God”. There is no confusion, no doubt, no uncertainty about who he is. He knows it, he believes it, he can say it and mean it.
And he speaks to the Romans, telling them who they are: “To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints”, “you are those called to belong to Jesus Christ.” He speaks to WHO THEY ARE! Loved, Called, People who Belong to Jesus.
DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE? How would you answer the question, “who am I?”
Typically people identify themselves by what they do: for example, someone might say I am a plumber, or a salesperson. Or people identify themselves by relationship; someone might say, I am a wife and mother of 4 children. Some might base their identity on the car they drive or the title on their business card, or the brand of clothes they wear. Or by how beautiful or intelligent they are. That is not to knock beauty and intelligence, but your identity is not bound up in those things.
We DO have a worldly identity, we are a man or a woman, tall or short, we have certain things we can do or like to do, we can cook, or not, we have positions or roles in our job, or in our home. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging these realities. But there is a core identity given to you by God, that FAR outweighs this natural or outward identity, and matters FAR more than these. And that should become the main way we see ourselves.
It was very difficult to chose a single Bible text for this message because there are so many verses that tell us WHO WE ARE.
For example 1 Peter 2:8,9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God... You are the people of God”. How much is there in just that one verse about your identity? On the basis of this verse you are a chosen person, you are a person with direct access to God, a part of a royal priesthood, you are holy. Holiness is YOUR identity, (if you do not speak or live in a holy way, then you are acting out of character). You are a man or woman of God, you belong to God. That verse alone could revolutionize your life and increase your joy.
I could read of hundreds of statements from Scripture just like that but before we get into this there are some foundational truths that we must keep in mind when we talk about identity.
All of our identity is based on being in Christ. When we believe in Christ, God puts us “in Christ” and we take on his identity. The best answer to the question, “Who am I?” is, “I am in Christ!” And in Christ I am forgiven, justified, holy, washed, clean, beloved, accepted, dead to sin, alive to God, and on and on...
You enter this status when you hear and believe God's offer to save you! Ephesians 1:13 “and you were included IN Christ, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, having also believed...”
To be in Christ means God identifies you with Christ, or sees you in Christ. As far as God is concerned, what is true of Christ has become true of you. God thinks of you like his own Son, loves you like his own Son, treats you like his own Son. If Christ is accepted, you are accepted. It he is beloved, you are beloved. If he is raised from the dead then you are raised up in new life now and will be physically raised from the dead too. If Christ is seated in Heaven, you are seated in Heaven. If Christ reigns, then you reign. If Christ is glorified, you are glorified with him. YOUR LIFE IS COMPLETELY TIED TO CHRIST!
Ladies, when you are carrying a child, that little person is IN you. Where you go your baby goes. You baby is blessed by all the good things you eat and drink. Your baby has all the benefits of your life just by being in you. Over 100 times in the NT it says you are in Christ: You are the righteousness of God IN Christ. There is now no condemnation for those who are IN Christ Jesus. In HIM we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins. In HIM, we may approach God with freedom and confidence. All is based on being IN CHRIST.
It is one thing to be told that you are loved, ( or to say I am loved). This explains WHY you are loved and gives you a rock solid basis, for knowing you are loved. You do not just have to try to talk yourself into it! Being in Christ is the massive, solid, unshakeable foundation upon which your identity (of being beloved) is based. If you are in Christ, you can say, “I am a Christian, born again by the Spirit, I am forgiven, declared innocent of all wrongdoing, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, a child of God and so much more”.
Two: Your identity is bestowed upon you by God and has nothing to do with your own performance. GOD places you in Christ THEN you live out of that identity, that standing. I Corinthians 1:30 says, “By HIS doing you are in Christ Jesus”. Your status with God, your identity, your favor with God, does not have to do with YOU earning this. It is the gift of God.
In the world people strive for years to attain a certain title or position. But God does things quite differently!.. Under the grace of the New Covenant, He GIVES you the title, the position, the identity! He calls you saints, dearly beloved children, temples of the Holy Spirit. THEN we are told to live as such, NOT in order to become! But because you ARE! Go live based on this! For example, because you ARE a temple of the Holy Spirit, don't live immorally.
Three: Until your identity in Christ is a belief in your heart, it is a powerless doctrine that will do nothing for you. If your heart believes you are not beloved by God, that's exactly how you will feel no matter what what I tell you!! Or what the Bible tells you!
All we say to you this morning about identity in Christ, will mean very little unless you RECEIVE and BELIEVE them into your heart. We can talk all day long about you being in Christ, a saint, a chosen one, beloved by God, dead to sin, a new creation, a child of God..But that is just hot air, if you never take these things into your heart with faith. You must actually see yourself in Christ, according to God's Word.
Someone has said, “Our emotions tell us what our heart really believes to be true”. If that is true, it the beliefs of your heart that keep you in bondage to painful emotions. And the way to joy and freedom, is to change the beliefs of your heart. Instead of believing in your heart that you are unloved and rejected you must believe in your heart that in Christ you are accepted and beloved. Instead of believing that you can't help sinning, you start to believe that you died with Christ and are freed from sin.
Instead of believing that God was not there for you when you needed him, you now believe that you are a person for whom all things work for good. Instead of believing that things never go your way, you now believe that you are always led in triumph in Christ Jesus. Instead of believing that you are dirty and unclean from something that happened to you or that you did in you past, you now believe that you have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.
Four: When we talk about your identity in Christ, we are not talking about just building yourself up, through some kind of psychological self-talk technique. It is not just saying I am a champion, I am a person of excellence, I am a winner, I am the greatest thing since sliced bread, and so on. Identity in Christ is NOT just another word for building self-esteem. In a sense it moves your focus off yourself and onto Christ. These are all things you have IN Christ and only because of Christ. YET they do change the way you perceive yourself and make you a person who knows and feels that they are blessed!
Some areas of emphasis:
*You are chosen, loved and accepted. All of these are found in Ephesians 1. “God chose us in Him”, “in love he predestined us to be adopted”, “he made us accepted in the Beloved” or “took us into his favor” or “he blessed us in the Beloved One”. These all have to with God's initiative towards you. He came after you. He loved you. You are not an outcast, but you are a man or woman, a boy or girl who is chosen, accepted, and loved! You have been adopted as a child of God. with the full love and acceptance of a son and with the full rights and privileges and inheritance of a son.
*Second: You are redeemed and forgiven of all your sins. You can say, “I am washed, clean, my sins are removed from me as far as the east is from the west”. Because you are in Christ you see yourself justified from all wrongdoing, freed from all charges against you. You have unshakeable confidence that you are in a state of favor, not of wrath, justification, not condemnation.
*Third: You are righteous, in Christ. You are declared righteous. You are credited with righteousness. You are the righteousness of God in Christ. Romans 3:22 says, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” This gift of righteousness gives you such a status, that those who have it are said, “to reign in life, through Jesus Christ”. You are no longer identified with sin and death and condemnation, but you now identified with righteousness!
*Fourth: You are born of God, and because his seed is in you, you are prone to do righteousness. You are not prone toward sin as you once were. 1John 3:9 “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains IN him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God! That is your reality! Not only are you credited with righteousness, you have righteousness planted within you. You have become partakers of the divine nature! God has imparted his very nature to you. The very essence of being a Christian is to have the life of God, born in you. Therefore you are a person set free from having to sin.
*Fifth: You are a saint, a holy one of God. The Bible addresses us as saints. We are told that we are a new creation! The Holy Spirit has written his desires, his ways on the tablet of our hearts!
Yes we still do sin. James said we all stumble in many ways. We keep that sense of humility and watch ourselves lest we be tempted. BUT our new identity in Christ is that we are saints, holy ones. The Bible says, we were sinners, we were darkness, we were sons of disobedience, we were by nature children of wrath, BUT GOD made us alive!! Now you are light in the Lord!! When the Corinthians struggled with sinning, Paul did not did not tell them what wicked people they were. He said do you not know you are the temple of the Holy Spirit? Do you not know you are saints!
CS Lewis tells a story in Mere Christianity of a man who wore a beautiful mask to make himself look nicer than he really was, after many years of wearing the mask he took it off and found that his face had taken the shape of the mask and he was now quite handsome! In something of the same way as we put on this new identity in Christ we find that we are conformed to his image, we are living like him in this world!
*Sixth: You are a minister to other people. In Christ you are here for others. You are God's co-worker - 2 Corinthians 6:1. You are an ambassador of Christ. God is making his appeal to others through you - 2 Corinthians 5:20. You are a light to others, to show goodness, righteousness and truth - Ephesians 5:8,9. You have a manifestation of the Holy Spirit given to you for the common good (meaning the good of others) -1 Corinthins 12:7. So you see yourself as being here for others. You come to church for others. You are faithful to certain responsibilities because you are here for others.
Other Verses on You Identity:
- I John: I have someone greater in me than he who is in the world. I overcome the world because I am born of God.
- John 15: I am a branch of Jesus Christ. I am chosen and appointed to bear fruit. I am a friend of Jesus Christ.
- I Corinthians: I have been bought with a price and I belong to Christ, to live for him.
- Philippians: I am a citizen of heaven Hebrews Christ views me as his brother and is not ashamed to call me his brother.
- Romans 8: I am a person for whom all things work for good. I am free from charges brought against, and I cannot be separated from the love of God.
- 2 Timothy 1:7: I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind.
- Ephesians 1: I am a saint I was chosen before the creation of the world. I was predestined to be adopted as his son, in accordance with his pleasure and will. I have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, , I am given God's glorious grace lavishly without restriction. I have Hope, I am rich with a glorious inheritance, I have great power at work in me, the same power that raised Christ from the dead.
How do I get these truths about myself down into my heart?
First: Listen with an open heart, to what God reveals to you about who you are. Ponder and treasure them in your heart. (Like Mary when she heard the amazing things the shepherds said about Jesus.) Listen to what the Bible say about you as a person in Jesus Christ? What does the Holy Spirit say to you? Listen to these things. Embrace and believe them in your heart. Remind yourself of things that are true of you at the deepest level, the things that God says are true of you.
Second: Acknowledge the lies that you have held onto, in your heart, for whatever reason, without justifying, or excusing them. Bring them out into the light. Maybe you have to admit that you do not see yourself as clean, and forgiven. Or that you do not see yourself as a blessed person. Or that you have been believing that you are unloved and unaccepted. Or that you are person who always has bad luck.
These are worldly, human, viewpoints about yourself that do not come from God. It may be true that your mother or father did not love you, or your spouse did not love you, or your best friend deserted you. But you cannot make your identity that you are unloved. God says, I love you and you are mine. I have inscribed your name on the palm of my hands. That is your identity. That trumps all other messages you have heard or listened to in your heart.
*Reject and Abandon any image of yourself that is not from God. Don't define yourself by whatever labels others have put on you. Don't base your identity on someone else's opinion of you or what others have said about you, or how your family has defined you, or how your in-laws have defined you, or even how you have defined yourself.
*Determine to Receive and believe his counsel as to who you are. Actively put on this new identity. You must never think of yourself as a normal human being again. You are in Christ with all the change of status and identity that brings.
*How should people live who have received all this: this position, this honor, this grace, this identity? In Ephesians Paul takes three chapters to tell us WHO we are, then in chapter four, he says, I Paul a prisoner of Jesus Christ, urge you to live a life worthy of your calling. You have the calling! It's yours! But now go live in a way that shows that you understand the value of your status!
In complete humility, gentleness, patience, no longer live as the Gentiles, get rid of all rage and malice and bitterness, live a life of love, there must not be a hint of sexual immorality.... For once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord, so live as children of light.
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