When you wear a mask, you’re not trusting in God’s grace. When you accept Christ into your life as your Lord and Savior, you are given a new identity and no longer have any reason to wear a mask. This is what the sermon at church was about yesterday and it really encouraged me. So here I am to share my notes (all five pages) and some of my own thoughts with you.
Whether you are a Christian or skeptic and whether you are 10 years old or 100 years old, no matter where you are at in life, you’ve struggled with putting your identity in the things you’ve done and not in what has been done for you. But when we become Christians we become new creations,
2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
You are not defined by the thing s you have done, but by what Christ has done for you. There is an awesome song that describes that: Tenth Avenue North – You Are More.
Because of Jesus death, we are given a new identity so that when God looks at us, He doesn’t see our ugly sinfulness – He sees Jesus’ righteousness. Often, we look around and see other Christians whose lives look immaculate and struggle-free. But we can’t see their hearts and we don’t know what kind of sins they are hiding. I’m only fooling myself if I think that no one else struggles the way I do.
I’m a sinner, but because of my new identity through Jesus Christ my sin isn’t standing between God and me, God has his arm around my shoulder and is walking through it with me. God is good.
So what does it mean to have a new identity – it means an authoritative identity, a noble identity, and a loved identity.
Ephesians 1:1a – Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
I think it is really interesting what the word ‘apostle’ really means – sent one. In the first century the word apostle was used to describe cargo that was sent with an official purpose. So Paul is an apostle, one who was sent with an official purpose, by the will of God. It’s important to note that the One sending is more important than the one being sent.
God has given you and me the same authoritative identity that Paul had. We may not be apostles in the sense that we are called the write books of the Bible, but as Christians we are still sent one “official business” to share the Good News that we are only new creations because of what Jesus Christ has done.
I think Paul’s testimony is an awesome one. He was killing Christians until God “knocked some sense into him” and showed Paul that he belonged to God. My story may not be as dramatic or as obvious as Paul’s, but I was headed in one direction with my life until God stopped me and said, “No, Jacquie. You belong to me.”
So ultimately, it comes down to a choice – will I decide to accept the authoritative identity and the powerful message He has given me and take it to make a difference in the world? Or will I choose to keep the message to myself and ignore the authority I have?
Ephesians 1:1b – To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
Saint means holy, set apart, sanctified.
Have you ever thought of yourself as a saint? I know I never have. I always thought that saints were these holy people who were WAY better than me. But once you put your identity in Christ, you are a saint.
As a child of God, I am set apart, He has made me holy. But being holy doesn’t mean I don’t sin, it simply means that He is with me and we are walking through my sin together. It’s nice that I don’t have to go at it alone.
God wants me to do great things, that’s what He made me for. He has set me apart for a beautiful purpose. Often times though, I find myself wishing that my life was more glorious than it really is. I want to be “awesome” for God. But I have to remind myself (quite frequently) that if I think that I am of any use to God, He can’t use me. But how wonderful is it that He wants to use me anyway. Even if He is using me in ways that I don’t see or understand, He is still using me for His glory and His greater purpose.
Ephesians 1:2 – Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace is unmerited favor and peace is reconciliation, and God gives both of those. Both of which we don’t deserve. If we believe that our identity is found only in Christ, then we should see God as our Father. God is a perfect Father and He loves in a way that we can never really comprehend.
We have an internal thought of how things should be; what shalom is like. The only reason we have that is because God planted that in us. I had a horrible dad growing up, he just wasn’t there. But how did I know that he was a crummy dad? I knew because, in my heart, I had a knowledge of what a perfect Father should be like (whether I knew that or not). God is that perfect Father. And while my dad and I are on good terms now and we have been reconciled, he’s still not perfect. God is the only perfect Father.
God loves me to a point that I can never understand. I mean, He sacrificed His Son for me…it still blows me away. I am a sinner, and yet He still loves me and gives me so much grace. Without His grace I couldn’t make it through my life. Thank God for grace!
If you don’t believe that God loves you, you’re not a Christian. So come on in. It’s nice in here. Let God love you, it’ll be the greatest thing you ever did.
Personally, I thought it was bit intense that an entire sermon could be created from two verses…and a powerful sermon at that. This sermon was just one of many things that really blessed and encouraged me yesterday. I was encouraged by attending the baptism for my church and watching a few of the kids from my Sunday school class get baptized. It blows me away to see these young kids making a profession of faith in front of a bunch of people. I was encouraged by the support of a few great friends whose support and prayer is priceless.
I get caught up in my old identity so much. I get stuck thinking I am not as good as my Christian friends because I am sinner, but the truth is, I only sin differently than them. We all have a new identity in Christ that removes our old identity. And yet, we all still truggle with letting our sins define who we are. That is one of the many reasons that we need each other – to remind each other where our new identity comes from.