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Adopting Our Identity in Christ

 Adopting Our Identity in Christ

I have been speaking about our identity in Christ, because one of the problems facing Christians today revolves around an identity crisis. Many Christians gain their identity more from their family background, work, or human relationships than from who they are in Christ. As a result, they act more like the world and people around them instead of acting like Christ. In order for us to act like Jesus with humility and love, it is essential to see who we are in Christ and adopt that identity.

The Bible has a lot to say about our identity in Christ. See picture. (I will break down the following passage by verse following this reading.)

Ephesians 1:3-14 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Now Paul has said a mouthful. Let us break it down verse by verse so we can fully realize what we have been given, and adopt our identity in Christ.

1. (Eph. 1:3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places

We, who are in Christ, that is, those who have confessed Christ as their personal Savior and made Him Lord of their life by repenting of sin and dying to self in baptism, and have been born again of the Holy Spirit—those are the ones in Christ who are blessed with every spiritual blessing. If you continue in deliberate sin, you will reap curses instead of blessings.

If we fail to realize our blessings in Christ, we will continually feel insecure and anxious. We will grumble and complain instead of praising God for all the good things we already possess in Christ. We will fail to appropriate the grace and power of God we have been given. We will be afraid to share the Gospel and testify about Jesus Christ.

On the other hand, if we realize we have every spiritual blessing given to us because we are in Christ, we can be confident that we can do everything through Christ who gives us His strength and power.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

2. (Eph. 1:4) even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

Too many believers are living under the temptation and imprisonment of sin because they do not adopt and act on their new identity in Christ. They live according to their fleshly desires and the philosophy of the world. Therefore, they have a gnawing sense of guilt and think they have to earn their forgiveness and acceptance through good works. They don’t realize they are God’s people who can live before Him with holiness by the power of the Holy Spirit within them.

If we are in Christ and we adopt our identity in Him, we stop sinning because we love Jesus and realize we are God’s child and carry the Name of Christ. Since we identify with Jesus and not the world, we humbly act like Jesus by His grace and power.

3. (Eph. 1:5) In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will…  

We, who are in Christ, have been adopted as God’s children, inheriting all the privileges of being in His eternal divine family.

Unbelievers hate us because they hate Jesus. Since we are a part of Christ’s family, we enjoy His blessings while they remain in the family of the evil one and reap the consequences of sin. Although God wants them to become part of His family, they refuse to believe, repent, and give up lordship of their lives. They call evil, good; and good, evil.

Therefore, part of our inheritance in Christ is being treated like Jesus was treated, including persecution. But again, in this there is a great blessing.

John 15:18-21 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.”

Matthew 5:10-12 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

4. (Eph. 1:6) to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

Unbelievers think that their great purpose is gained through their own selfish satisfactions. We, who are in Christ, live primarily for the praise of His glory. Our greatest purpose, joy, and sense of fulfillment comes through pleasing the Lord in all respects.

1 Corinthians 10:31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

As we focus on God and praise Him for His attributes, we are filled with the Holy Spirit and have a greater sense of His presence, love, and splendor. The Holy Spirit produces the fruit, or the character of God in us. The Holy Spirit also keeps us from sinning.

Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

2 Peter 1:3-4 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

5. (Eph. 1:7) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace

We, who are in Christ, enjoy being redeemed, forgiven, and saved through the blood of Jesus Christ. We enjoy entering in God’s presence and having an intimate relationship with Him.

Many Christians need to learn how to put off their anger, fear, and feelings of rejection and put on the peace, love, and joy of the Spirit, found in Christ.

Ephesians 4:17-24 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

6. (Eph. 1:8) which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight…

Our Father does not hold back any good thing to those in Christ. For example, we, who are in Christ, can praise God as He generously gives wisdom, knowledge, and discernment when we ask Him for it to accomplish His will.

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

7. (Eph. 1:9-10) making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Before I was in Christ, the Bible was a mystery and a boring, outdated book to me. On the other hand, those in Christ, have been given an understanding into the mysteries of God’s Word and His will.

Before I was in Christ, I saw the church as a snooty, hypocritical, social club. I thought Christians assembled just to share their ideas about how superior they are to everybody who does not attend church. To an unbeliever, this sermon would sound like preaching superiority, but it is about identity and acting like Jesus, the most humble and loving of all.

Fortunately, after I was adopted into God’s family through faith in Jesus Christ, my identity changed and I gained a greater insight into the way the Lord is carrying out His will through the Church.

We, who are in Christ, are part of His Church. We are under Christ’s authority, protection, and responsibility. Those who adopt their identity in Christ can be bold, and at the same time, humble. We can use the authority that we are given in the name of Jesus, in the word of God, and in the power of the Holy Spirit to do God’s will.

8. (Eph. 1:11-12) In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

We, who are in Christ, have obtained an inheritance in Christ. We glorify Christ as He works out all things, including suffering, for His purpose and pleasure through us.

Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, was asked the secret of his successful ministry. Booth answered, "I told the Lord that He could have all that there is of William Booth."

That describes the great exchange: we give God all we are and He gives us all that is His.

Even though the world thinks we are fanatics, haters, or second-class simpletons, we can be assured that God is working out His will through us as rich inheritors of His nature, power, and Spirit. We are not disillusioned radicals. We are people who are merely doing the will of our heavenly Father, seeking to give Him glory, loving Him with all our hearts, and trying to fulfill Christ’s great commission to share the Gospel and make disciples.

9. (Eph. 1:13-14) In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

We, who are in Christ, are a temple of the Holy Spirit where God abides in us. By adopting our identity in Christ and abiding in Him, believers are empowered, equipped, and enabled by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is by His power that we can do good works. Apart from Him, we can do nothing.

Many people think they are a product of their own thinking, their own effort, and their own family background. We, who are in Christ, are a product of the mind of Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit, and our adoption as children of God. We are His workmanship and not the product of our own making.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Furthermore, the Holy Spirit sanctifies us, teaches us, and comforts us with His all sufficient grace. He works to conform us to the image of Jesus emotionally, mentally, as well as spiritually.

Therefore, if we are adopting our identity in Christ, it is time to quit using the line “God is still working on me”, or “That’s just the way I am” as excuses for continuing to sin. We are to be like Christ and not like ourselves. We are to be a new creation and the old is passing away.

Paul had a good summation for adopting our identity in Christ.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

We, who are in Christ, not only enjoy all the promises in Christ, but we are privileged to be His ministers and representatives. Someone, who does not adopt the identity of Christ, cannot begin to appreciate the blessings of being a servant, a disciple-maker, and an ambassador for Christ.

Suffering from terminal spinal cancer at the age or 47, a former basketball coach spoke with a reporter. He looked back on his life and told a story about himself as a 23-year-old coach of a small college team.

“Basketball scores defined who I was,” he said, “You lose, you’re a loser. You win, you’re a winner.

“It took bolting up from this mattress three or four times a night with my T-shirt soaked with sweat and my teeth rattling from the fever chill of chemotherapy and the terror of seeing myself die repeatedly in my dreams for me to admit I was wrong. It’s identifying yourself with Christ and trying to do your best to represent Him that matters. What a great human being I could have been if I’d had this awareness back then."

Don’t waste your life by living for yourself and striving to be a winner in the world’s opinion. Make the effort to die to self and adopt an identity in Christ. Ask our Father to fill you with the Holy Spirit so that you may adopt all aspects of Christ’s identity and live for Him.

Our Father wants to adopt you. Will you adopt the identity of His Son? He sent His Son to live a perfect life and die on a cross to atone for your sin so you could be part of His family. But you have to desire this relationship. You have to desire this identity. God makes the offer of adoption, but you must receive it.

The first step to adopting your identity in Christ, is to believe Jesus is the Son of God who atoned for your sin on the cross. Repent of that sin—that is, your own lordship over your life—and give your life to Jesus by publicly confessing Him as your Savior and Lord. Then die to yourself in baptism and be born again of the Holy Spirit. This is how you become a child of God. Then you can identify with Jesus Christ. Day by day, the Holy Spirit will transform your mind, will, and emotions and lead you in following Christ and becoming like Him.