Connect Notes: Know Your Identity In Christ
Key text: Ephesians 1:18-19
18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Historical Context for this week: Book of Ephesians and Ephesians chapter 1: Ephesians 1 has some of the most well-known and powerful declarations of our identity written by Paul. His heart is that you ‘know’ everything that we have ‘in Him.’ Out of his lifestyle of prayer, he begins with a profound statement: Jesus has ‘made known the mystery of his will.’ Paul is really challenging the ‘wisdom and understanding’ of classical Greek writers’ ‘wisdom’ and ‘understanding/insight’ are two different things in the Greco-Roman world. Wisdom: knowledge that sees into the heart of things and knows them as they are and insight: understanding that leads to right actions. Paul is passionate that your wisdom, knowledge and understanding of God is not just intellectual, academic of philosophical but a source of understanding that changes your behaviour and daily living.
Your identity (who you are) is established upon the qualities, personality, beliefs and traits that form the foundation of who you are and what you do. From a psychological perspective your identity relates to your self-image and your self-esteem. When you identify someone, you look at their driver’s licence or passport, that shows their photo, their name, their address the basic foundations of who and what that person is: your identity.
From Genesis we see the identity and security of Adam and Eve was established in what God said about them. They saw themselves as God saw them and spoke over them. Their purpose and meaning came from God alone, not their jobs, careers, family, or roles in the community, their dreams or visions. Once sin came in that God centred identity fractured and we allowed the shame of circumstances to determine who and what we are. The fracturing resulted in Adam and Eve, feeling shame of their nakedness for the first time.
Our identity and security in Christ are essential for Paul in the book of Ephesians. That you ‘know’ who you are (Ephesians 1-3) and in knowing who you are that knowledge impacts your life, relationships and homes (Eph 4-6).
In Chapter 1 of Ephesians Paul makes several declarations over who we are in Him. We are:
- Blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing 1:3
- Chosen in him before the world was created 1:4 and 1:11
- Holy and blameless in his sight 1:4
- Adopted to sonship through Christ 1:5
- Freely given grace 1:6
- Redeemed through his blood 1:7
- Marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit guaranteeing our inheritance 1:13-14
How do we ‘know’ these things so well that they become the foundation of who we are, not our circumstances, not our jobs? How do we swap what we currently establish our identity on and establish it on these strong, solid, unshakeable truths?
Paul shows us how in 1:16-19
16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
Can you see the progression of knowing? Knowing comes from the Holy Spirit revealing the truth, opening the eyes of your heart and giving you a revelation. When it comes to changing your identity Paul prays that the Holy Spirit will give you wisdom that will change your heart in what you believe so that what you ‘know’ becomes the revelation of God not the revelation of the world.
John 8:31: the truth will set you free. We need our people to ‘know’ who they are according to the Word of God, not according to Instagram or their circumstances. To renew their minds Romans 12:2 from conforming to being transformed. Having their identity established in the promises found in Ephesians 1 – in Him you are. The declaration is final, unconditional and current – IN HIM YOU ARE!!
2 Corinthians 5:17; John 16:13; 1 John 2:3; Philippians 3:8; John 15 (abide in Him)
Let’s make Paul’s prayer personal as we continue to seek deeper wisdom and enlightenment of our amazing God and who we are in Him.
Connect Group Discussion Questions:
- In the context of being a Christian, how would you describe yourself?
- Share any times when you’ve had a revelation about who you are that contradicted a lie you may have believed about yourself. How did it change things?
- How has having God ‘change your name’, (like He did with Saul to Paul, Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah), also changed how you live?
- Is there an aspect of who you are in Christ, described in Ephesians 1, that resonates with you? Discuss.
- Is there an aspect of who you are in Christ, described in Ephesians 1, that doesn’t resonate with you, that you could turn into a personal affirmation, or next step to grow in?
- Ephesians has much to say on how to act as members of Christ’s body, but He has given us authority to do certain things like introduce people to Jesus, resist the devil, overcome fear etc. What would you like to work on doing next?
- People have many assumptions about how God sees them when they haven’t met Him. How does the Bible say, God sees people: all people?
- We live in a world where media, materialism, comparisons, circumstances etc. rob people of living a grounded, peaceful and confident life. How can developing a strong foundation in the identity God has for us help us reach into the world of others?
- Does love and confidence speak to those arounds us? How?
- Many people also struggle with what we call an assurance of salvation because they feel they need to act better before God will help or accept them. How does Paul’s description of the Holy Spirit doing the revealing and transforming, help you in discussing these things with others?