There are a million steps we have to work through in order to recover from intimate betrayal, but I believe the first (and most critical) is to re-establish who we are. Too often we have lost ourselves in the midst of all the trauma and confusion. Yes, we have to learn how to set boundaries, and we have to learn how to practice self-care, and we have to learn healthy ways to communicate, and we have to learn how to love like Jesus; but each one of those steps is built on a solid understanding of our own identity. In order to effectively and successfully learn any one of those things we have to first learn who we are. So we’re going to take some time over the next year studying the book of Ephesians in order to firmly establish our identity in Christ. Because this series will be so long, we’re not going to give every week to it. Instead, we’ll post a new addition to the series every three weeks until we’ve worked our way through the whole book of Ephesians. As we learn together, may we resolve to never be anything less, or anything more than who God says we are!Before we learn to set boundaries, or practice self-care, or communicate well, or love like Jesus when healing from a betrayal, we have to first learn who we are in Christ. It is the foundation on which healing is built Click To Tweet
Introduction to Ephesians & Identity in Christ
This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
Before we really dig into this amazing book of the Bible, we have to look at who it’s for. Its message does not apply to everyone. Paul wrote this book over 2000 years ago, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as a letter to the church at Ephesus. Its message is for God’s holy people who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus.
In other words, if you aren’t a Christian, the things we’re going to learn in this study won’t really apply to you. If you haven’t given your life to Jesus, I’m sorry to say, your identity won’t be found in Him. The good news is becoming one of His holy people is simple. Let’s take a little time before we dive into this series on identity to plainly spell out what the Bible says about how to become a child of God.If you haven’t given your life to Jesus, I’m sorry to say, your identity won’t be found in Him, and the things we’re going to learn in this study won’t really apply to you.The good news is becoming one of His holy people is simple.… Click To Tweet
All Have Sinned
The first thing we all have to do in order to become a follower of God is begin to understand and believe a little about who God is, and who we are apart from Him. The Bible tells us that God is the perfect, all powerful, all knowing Creator of the universe.
Romans 1:20 – For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
Deuteronomy 32: 3-4 – I will proclaim the name of the Lord; how glorious is our God! He is the Rock; His deeds are perfect. Everything He does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright He is!
Colossians 1:15-17 – Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth… Everything was created through Him and for Him. He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together.
The Bible also tells us that we are, each and every one of us, sinners. No matter how hard we may try, we are hopelessly enslaved to the power of sin, and that sin separates us from God. His holiness makes it impossible for Him to have a relationship with us as long as we are entrenched in our sin.
Romans 5:12 – When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.
Romans 3:10–12 – As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous – not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.”
Psalms 5:4 – Oh God, You take no pleasure in wickedness; you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked.
No matter what, there just isn’t anything we can do to mend the chasm that separates us from God. We can’t earn our way back to Him. We can’t work hard enough or be good enough. We must recognize our utter helplessness and humble ourselves before a Holy and Righteous God. We must admit that we are wicked and what we deserve is death.
Romans 7:14-25 – So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate… And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway… I have discovered this principle in life – that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? THANK GOD! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
God Made a Way
The good news is that God loves us more than we could ever imagine. He didn’t want to leave us in this state of helplessness and hopelessness. He wanted to make a way for us to find our way back to Him. He wanted relationship with us. So in order to satisfy the debt of sin that had to be paid, He sent His one and only Son. Jesus Christ. Jesus was perfect and holy, and was God Himself.
Romans 8: 3-4 – The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent His own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirements of the law would be satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.
John 3:16-17 – For this is how much God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.
Jesus humbled Himself and gave up His rights as God in order to come to this world as a human baby. He lived a perfect life – without any sin at all. Then He willingly offered that life in payment for our sins. He died in our place and covered our sins in His perfect blood.
Philippians 2:5-8 – You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
1 Peter 3:18 – Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but He died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but He was raised to life in the Spirit.
Three days later Jesus was raised back to life by the power of the Holy Spirit of God, and in that moment, conquered forever the power of sin and death. He was seen by many of His followers before He ascended to Heaven where He is waiting for the day when He will come back and claim all those who are His.
Romans 6:9-11 – We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and He will never die again. Death no longer has any power over Him. When He died, He died once to break the power of sin. But now that He lives, He lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 15: 1, 3-6, 21-23 – Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before… Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and He was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, He was seen by more than 500 of His followers at one time…
So you see, just as death came into the world through one man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when He comes back.
Believe and Repent
Jesus did all the work. He made the way. All that’s left for us to do is believe it, and to repent of our sin, asking for the forgiveness He has offered. When we accept the free gift of salvation He has given, we turn our lives over to Him allowing the Holy Spirit to come into our heart and be the boss. We commit to seek and follow Him all the rest of our days.
Luke 13: 3 – …And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God.
Romans 10:9-11 & 13 – If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be disgraced…” For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved.
Acts 2:38-39 – …Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away – ALL who have been called by the Lord our God.
Romans 8:11-12 & 14 – The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do… For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
That’s really all there is to it. Our part is so simple! We simply have to believe, repent, and follow. All the hard work is done for us through the three persons of the Godhead: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We become precious children of the Lord. His own holy people. And at that point, our identity is found entirely in who He says we are. So let’s dig into Ephesians to find out exactly what that identity is.
A Moment of Self-Evaluation
Before you move any further into this series, please take some time this week to earnestly examine your heart. Has there ever been a time when you humbled yourself before God and admitted how desperately you need Him? Have you acknowledged how helpless you are without Him?
If not, do it now. You’ll never get to a place of confidence in who you are if who you are is not found in Him. Get down on your face before the Lord and tell Him all about it. Tell Him about your failures and inadequacies and the difficulties of this life that have you feeling defeated. Acknowledge who He is. His goodness, His love, His sacrifice for you. Thank Him for giving everything to provide a way for you. Thank Him for offering you a future and a hope. Ask Him to take the mess that is your heart and your life and transform it. Ask the Holy Spirit to take up residency in your heart and help you through every day of the rest of your life. Don’t wait friend. If you’ve never done it before, do it today!
If you enjoyed this post, check out the rest of the Identified Series as we work our way through the whole book of Ephesians to discover everything God has to teach us about who we are in Him.
***Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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