Knowing your identity in Christ first requires knowing your position in Him.
Do you know who you are in Christ? Do you know where you are in Christ? Do you know the supernatural acts that occurred upon your salvation?
The answer to these questions is very telling and determine how you live your Christian life, how you relate to the body – both locally and globally, and how much power you have over sin and darkness around you.
Upon salvation three very important acts occurred in your life, of which you may not be aware.
Paul talks about them in Romans 6:
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:3-4
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1
This is what makes baptism so powerful, because it is our physical identification with the spiritual act that occurs when we are saved:
Upon salvation, we died with Christ.
When we go down into the water, we are buried with Christ.
When we come up out of the water, we are rise with Christ.
But there is a fourth act that takes place that we find here in Ephesians 2 that is so crucial for cementing our position and identity in Christ.
But before we discover that, we need to identify three enemies that threaten our position and identity. We see them in the first three verses of Ephesians 2 and they are
- The world
- The devil
- The desires of the flesh
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
These three enemies do not just go away when you get saved.
Your salvation is a great threat to Satan, and he will do all he can to win back what he lost, and this is why understanding our position and identity in Christ is so vitally important!
When we understand our position and identity in Christ, we are able to recognize Satan’s strategy against us and develop a supernatural strategy to defeat him and his plans against us.
In the next 4 verses, Paul gives us great news:
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Did you catch that?
We were spiritually dead, but Christ raised us from the dead!
By His great love! And then, Paul goes on to define our position:
God raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus!
All other religions demand their followers to reach up to them, to somehow achieve some nebulous goal that will please their god, but Jesus Christ raised us up. We don’t reach up, He already raised us up.
The words “raised” and “made sit” (or seated) are past tense.
He reveals that in verse 7.
…that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
God wants us to be a visible expression of His grace.
When we realize our position, and walk in the power that it brings into our lives, we are a visible expression of the grace that God extended to us, showing the world that God wants to extend that same grace to them as well!
As we go forward in this chapter, we see that Paul has two more things to say about this truth. We can know that by the fact that in verses 8 and 10 he begins with the conjunction “for” or “because”.
1. We are saved by grace.
God chose to raise us from the dead and seat us in the heavenlies with Christ, not because we are really good people who have good hearts and do good things.
In fact, Isaiah says that all of the good things we do are filthy, putrid, and worth nothing more than to be thrown on a trash heap and burned.
If being really good people with good hearts who do good things was enough to make God want to save us, then Jesus died for no reason at all.
2. We are His workmanship
God handmade us and designed us for a purpose. Maybe you’ve heard all of your life that you were an accident, an “oops”, an unplanned pregnancy.
That isn’t true.
Ephesians 1 says that even before Genesis 1 He had already planned for you! In Psalm 139 it says that God has a book dedicated to you and before He created the world, He had already written down in that book everything about you!
You are His artwork, and He created you for a reason: to glorify Him.
That is the sole purpose of our existence, to glorify God on the earth.
How do we do that? By doing what He commands.
Aren’t we free from the law?
Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commands” and “You are My friends if You do whatever I command”. Keeping God’s commands doesn’t save us and it doesn’t make God love and accept us any more than He does right now.
But, we show God just how much we love Him by doing what He commands us to do; and when we do what God commands, we glorify Him in our lives and we glorify Him on the earth.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Those good works that we walk in are His commands.
I love what my dad says, “When you see ‘Therefore…’, you should ask yourself, ‘What is that therefore there for?'”
Verse 11 points back to the passage in verses 4-10, talking about our position in Christ, how we arrived at that position (by grace) and how we walk out that position (by keeping His commands).
Paul is saying, since we now know what our position in Christ is, we need to remember two things:
1. Where we came from
Paul is writing to Ephesian Christians, most of whom were pagan Gentiles. Gentiles were considered dogs to the Jews; outcasts, unacceptable, people to be avoided at all cost.
They were alienated from the promises of Scriptures and had no hope in this world at all. The had only one end: eternal death and hell.
This is the truth for all of us!
Perhaps other people’s details of their past are more sinister than yours, but all us were alienated from God and none of us had hope in this world at all.
Whether you were a homeless, strung-out drug addict with a sexually transmitted disease or a kind person who volunteered at charity events every week, you had only one end: eternal death and hell.
Christianity demands humility.
2. Who we are today
We have been brought near by the blood of Jesus and He has become our peace – our great reconciler. Jesus Christ reconciled us to God, but He also reconciles us to others.
There are no favorites in God’s eyes, we were all equally damned, and now we are all equally acceptable to God because of Jesus Christ. He destroyed the wall of separation that kept us condemned and under judgement, and created, in Himself, a whole new creation:
The Church – and already part of the mystery in chapter 3 is being revealed, piece by piece.
Let’s wrap this all up:
We are able to walk out the truths of Ephesians 1 when we understand our position and identity in Christ; but there are three enemies to contend with: the world, Satan and the desires of the flesh.
Understanding the power of our new life in Christ and our position and identity in Him, helps us to live free from those three enemies. But we don’t get there on our own, it is a work of the Holy Spirit that raises us up to our position in Christ. This truth completely annihilates any temptation to think that we achieved something that other, less-fortunate people did not. And it begins to reveal the mystery we’ll see further in chapter 3, that God – destroying the old Temple structure that separated mankind from Him and divided the Jews from the Gentiles – created in Himself a whole new creation: the Church:
The Church: individuals who are the temple of God, in whom God chooses to dwell, not limiting Himself to physical time or space, who come together locally as individual fellowships but who are part of a global community that make up the body of Christ – a physical manifestation of Christ Himself on the earth.
Catch the rest of the series here:
Grab the journal to this study and get study questions after each chapter, plus the 30 Day Prayer Challenge for Ephesians and the Quiet Time with Jesus Study Worksheet.