Text: Ephesians 1-2 | Listen to Message
If you’re working off a Traditional Identity script, you tend to look outward for validation. If you’re working off a Modern Identity script, you tend to look inward. The Gospel calls you to look upward. The only thing that really matters is not the voice of society or the voice of self, but what God says is true about you.
If you put your faith in Jesus Christ, you’re not just “saved” to go to heaven one day. You receive the gift of a new and enduring identity now.
1. You are defined by God’s grace toward you.
Every society is a meritocracy, defining you by your successes and failures. Do a good job, as culture defines “good,” and you’ll be validated. Do a bad job, and you’ll be ostracized, criticized, even condemned.
Oh, sure, Modern culture boasts that you can be/believe anything you want. Just do you. Live your truth. But don’t believe it for a second! The moment you express belief in absolute truth, an exclusive way to God, biblical sexual ethics, or one of a million other “regressive” values, you’ll be scorned. Progressive ideology has simply replaced Traditional ideology, creating a new meritocracy.
It’s exhausting, isn’t it?
But God doesn’t identify you by your merits and demerits. He doesn’t label you according to your last performance. You are not defined by your achievements, but by Christ’s achievements for you.
If you’re a follower of Jesus, God defines you by sheer grace. Your core identity – chosen, called, loved, accepted, forgiven, liberated, blessed – is a gift of God’s free and unmerited kindness to you.
Do you see how liberating this would be if you actually believed it? Do you see how this would break the power of others to control you with their affirmation or criticism? Do you see how this would free you from your own toxic inner dialogue?
2. You are defined by how God sees you.
We choose who our decisive validators are, and then we’re dominated by what they think of us. We’re controlled by people’s opinions of us. We constantly adjust the record, desperate to convince ourselves and others that we’re better/smarter/more successful than we actually are.
But no one’s opinion ultimately matters – not society’s, not even your own opinion of yourself. The only opinion that matters is God’s! You are who God sees.
Now that should sound terrifying, given that God is omniscient and omnipresent. He knows everything bad about you and you can’t fool him. Furthermore, God is your Judge – and he’s completely just!
But when God looks at you, he doesn’t see your performance for him, he sees his performance for you! Because of what Christ has done for you, you are justified – declared righteous. God doesn’t view you through the lens of your past sins and complain about how disappointed he is in you. He views you through the lens of Christ’s obedience and he celebrates how loved and accepted you are.
3. You are defined by who you are in relationship to God (and to other believers).
You’re not an island. An isolated individual. An orphan.
Scripture piles up descriptions and metaphors of who you are in relation to God. You’re his child. His beloved. His bride. You’re a part of his body. A citizen of his kingdom. A sheep of his flock. A member of his household. A fruit-bearing branch of his vine. You’re a saint. A priest. A living stone built into a temple for the Holy Spirit.
In other words, you’re not meant to conceive of your identity apart from God – Father, Son, and Spirit. Since you’ve been reconciled to him and adopted into his family, you’re meant to be comforted by all the ways God has united himself to you.
But notice something else about a lot of these metaphors: you’re not just united to Christ, you’re simultaneously united to everyone else who follows Christ. They’re your brothers and sisters. Your fellow citizens. Members of your same body.
This is just scratching the surface of who God says you are in Christ. But these are some good summary thoughts. What stands out to you? How would it comfort and affirm you if you could really trust that this is how God sees you?