Last post was just a warm up for unleashing my passion for the link between our identity in Christ and our obedient behavior. Simply put, the connection between the two unlocks the power and the joy of living the Christian life. And who does not want more power and more joy?
I believe the New Testament shouts this message to us. Let’s look at this connection in one of the apostle Paul’s most familiar letters; the book of Ephesians. This letter is built on the foundation and pattern of explaining who we are in Christ (chapters 1-3) and then developing the idea of how that identity informs our living (chapters 4-6).
Paul spends chapters one through three describing our identity in Christ with these observations. You are…
- Blessed with every spiritual blessing (Eph 1:3).
- Chosen to be holy and blameless before Him (Eph 1:4).
- Adopted as sons of God through Jesus Christ (Eph 1:5).
- Forgiven your trespasses (Eph 1:7).
- Lavished with the riches of His grace upon us (Eph 1:8).
- Sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise (Eph 1:13).
- Redeemed as God’s own possession (Eph 1:14).
Are you getting the impression that almost every verse of the first chapter of Ephesians describes some aspect of our new identity in Christ? The pattern continues in chapter two, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us…made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places” (Eph 2:4-6).
Continuing, we are…
- Saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8).
- God’s workmanship (Eph 2:10).
- Brought near to God by the blood of Christ (Eph 2:13).
- Reconciled to God and into one body through the cross (Eph 2:16).
- Accessible to God the Father in the Spirit (Eph 2:18).
- No longer strangers and aliens, but fellow-citizens with the saints (Eph 2:19).
- The dwelling place of God in the Spirit (Eph 2:22).
Concluding this section at the end of chapter 3, we come to Paul’s powerful prayer asking God the Father to reveal to us all the “new” that is available to us through Christ to live the life. “For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:14-19).
To go from our identity as “beloved by God, made alive with Christ, and raised up with Him” (Eph 2:4-6) to actually “being strengthened with power, feeling Christ dwell in our hearts, and knowing the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Eph 3:19) is the aspiration of every believer.
Let’s take that journey together as we cross the bridge into chapter four and the application part of this letter. See you on the other side next time.