When we are born, we are given a “birth certificate”, which details who our parents are, as well as the place and date
of our birth. This becomes an ID for life, often needing to be produced to prove our “identity” at various times. As we grow, we gather other ID items - a student card, a licence (don't you love those photos!), a passport, possibly a marriage certificate (identity change), as well as variety of library, bank and credit cards with their PIN numbers. These articles identify who we are and give us access to certain places or information.
When we are born we also inherit a lot of things - a family, a family background (race, gender, social status, education
and skills development, etc), personality traits and tendencies, and lots more. These things don't determine our choices or our future but they do greatly influence them. Along life's journey, our identity emerges further and is shaped by both the environment we live in and the choices we make.
When we become a Christian, the Bible describes this experience as such a radical event that its like being “born again”. Out of his great love, God chose to give us the right or privilege to become his children (Jn.1:12-13. 1 Jn.3:1-3). He adopted us into his family. “In Christ” (a phrase “in Christ” is used almost 100 times in the NT) we have a new ID card. We have a new father, a new name (Christian), a new purpose and a new nature with Godly tendencies. We become a brand new identity - a totally new person. The trouble is most of us don't know who we are! We're still living by the old ID card.Who we are “in Christ”
Paul wrote to some believers who lived in Ephesus to remind them of the blessings they have because of being “in Christ” (Eph.1:1-3). “In Christ” is a description of our new spiritual position or identity due to our relationship with Jesus Christ. The Father has chosen us, adopted us and accepted us into his family (1:4-6). Jesus the Son has redeemed us, forgiven us, revealed God's will to us and made us heirs (1:7-12). The Holy Spirit has sealed us and is a deposit assuring us of God completing his work in us. All of this is to “the praise of his (God's) glory” (1:6,12,14)!
Paul goes on to pray for them that they would realize what is “in the bank”, so to speak (1:15-23). Many Christians never read the balance sheet to see what they have been given “in Christ”. We need to discover “who we are” in Christ and the
“riches” that are available to us because of our family heritage. It's so important that we “know” or understand this truth.
These spiritual realities need to become revelation to us so that affect the way we view and live out our present natural reality. Paul is in prison! In the natural, he is poor, oppressed, weak and vulnerable. In the spiritual, he is a victor over all! He had a revelation of who he was “in Christ”.
Paul then goes on to speak of our “position” in Christ (2:1-22), says another prayer for them (3:1-21) and finally our responsibilities now that we are “in Christ” (chap.4-6). Christ has done his part, now we need to do ours. We need to be who
we are. Put to death the old nature (tear up the old ID cards) and put on your new nature (live by your new ID card). We have so much “in Christ” - this passage of Scripture is only a beginning. Have a look at the attached list of other benefits we have “in Christ” - Our Acceptance, Our Security and Our Significance.  Making it Work
Suggested Discussion Questions
- Know the truth
God says through the prophet Hosea says, “My people are destroyed (or taken into captivity) through lack of knowledge” (4:6). We don't know who we are and what God has done for us. Jesus said, “Know the truth and the truth will set you free (Jn.8:31-32).” Read God's Word about you (reality). Ask for revelation of the Word by the Spirit. God has revealed the truth about his nature, character and purpose through Jesus and the Scriptures. Study so you may know the truth. Pray for a Spirit of wisdom and revelation. Meditate on it. Know who you are “in Christ”
The way you think determines the way you feel and the way you act . If you want to change your actions, you've got to go back to the source and change your thinking (Rom.8:6-7). “Sow a thought, reap an act; sow an act, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”
- Believe the truth
Put your faith in what God says (his revelation) not in what you feel or what other people say or think. Be firmly persuaded and have a firm conviction about what God says istrue (see Heb.4:2. Jn.20:31 and Rom.10:17). Embrace what God says about you and believe it.
- Live the truth
Live your life with truth as your foundation. Obey the truth that you believe (see Jam.1:22. 2 Jn.4). Live your life on “objective truth” not “subjective feelings” or experience. Don't live by feelings. Walk by faith and often feelings follow. Be like a tree with strong roots that is not blown around by every wind or circumstance. Becoming who we really are is a process and it involves a partnership between God and us (Phil.2:12-13). Through the new birth, we have inherited the divine nature. Now we need to create the right environment to assist us to reach our God-given potential. Embrace your new identity “in Christ” and start using your new ID Card!
- Share a little bit about your family background. What things are you thankful for in the family you grew up in? What things, if any, do you regret about your childhood? The aim here is to help people open up and talk about their natural “ID card”. You go first!
- Read Eph.1:1-15. Have people share which of the many blessings Paul says we have “in Christ” are the most meaningful to them. No right or wrong answers here, just a chance to have people share what means the most to them about being “in Christ”.
- Discuss the potential impact of seeing ourselves differently (after the “Spirit” and not after the “natural birth”) - as children of God with a new ID card. In other words, if we really lived with an understanding of who we are, how would that affect our lives?
- Have people share about an area of truth from God's Word that they were able to embrace and establish in their life. Ask them to describe a “before”, “during” and “after” outline of the experience. In other words, someone may have really struggled with confidence but through seeing who they are in Christ, they've grown in their feelings about themselves. This is a good “testimony” time for the purpose of learning from one another's personal growth experiences.
- Have people share about their own devotion or Bible reading time. Get them to describe their most meaningful and life changing experiences and what happened. As above.
From Neil Anderson's excellent devotional book, “Who You are in Christ”, available in the CityLife bookshop.