But God is rich in mercy, and he loved us very much. We were spiritually dead because of all we had done against him. But he gave us new life together with Christ. (You have been saved by God’s grace.) Yes, it is because we are a part of Christ Jesus that God raised us from death and seated us together with him in the heavenly places. God did this so that his kindness to us who belong to Christ Jesus would clearly show for all time to come the amazing richness of his grace. Ephesians 2:4-7
With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity. But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. Ephesians 4:17-24
Do you need reminding that the unjust have no share in the blessings of the kingdom of God? Do not be misled. A lot of people stand to inherit nothing of God’s coming kingdom, including those whose lives are defined by sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, sexual deviancy, theft, greed, drunkenness, slander, and swindling. Some of you used to live in these ways, but you are different now; you have been washed clean, set apart, restored, and set on the right path in the name of the Lord Jesus, the Anointed, by the Spirit of our living God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Today's thoughts from today's verses:
Yesterday we said that many Christians who struggle to feel good about how they are doing at living the Christian life are quite troubled by the words we have been looking at this week from Matthew 25:30, “Now, throw that good-for-nothing servant far away from me into the outer darkness, where there will be great misery and anguish!” We have claimed that these words are reserved for those who dismiss altogether the treasure of Jesus and his glorious heavenly kingdom because in doing so they are in reality rejecting Christ. And of course those who reject Christ and never embrace the Savior of the world in this life, will pass into eternity and go to the place of outer darkness where there is great misery and anguish.
We also said there is more to this week’s theme, “Our Heavenly Destiny,” than arriving safe in heaven someday. “Our Heavenly Destiny” includes a lifetime of embracing and serving Christ and the true kingdom of heaven while we are here on earth. Yesterday we focused on surrender, today we focus on identity, and tomorrow we focus on vocation. These three considerations wonderfully help us experience “Our Heavenly Destiny” as fully as possible while we are here on earth.
We have been exploring our Christian faith in terms of what it means to be a new person with a new life. When we looked at surrender yesterday we saw that unless we allow God to be in charge of producing the "new person" and "new life" he has in store for us we will travel a very rocky road in our Christian faith. This is why it is extremely important to make the commitment to always pursue being surrendered to God as fully as possible. Today we look at identity (tomorrow, vocation). When we talk about identity in regard to our Christian faith we are talking about who we are in Christ. Having the correct view of ourselves is essential for going forward in our Christian faith in ways that are healthy and successful.
We have an old identity from before we became ones who put our faith in Christ and we have our new identity as ones who have put our faith in Christ. While a new picture of our person and life is being painted by God in accord with our new identity, our picture is not yet complete and perfect. If it were complete and perfect we would have no need to stay here living out life on earth. Rather, the picture God is painting of us will not be complete until we are home with him in Heaven someday. Here is where it gets tricky. Becoming the new person God wants us to become and living the new life he wants us to live is a progressive thing. The level of progress we make, however, has a great deal to do with how we actually view ourselves. There will always be old stuff in our lives but we must not let that define us. We need to define ourselves by our new identity and the new picture God is painting of us.
Let's look at our passages above and some of great things that are said about identity. From Ephesians 2: "We were spiritually dead .... but he gave us new life." From Ephesians 4: "Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life .... put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy." From 1 Corinthians 6: "Some of you used to live in these ways, but you are different now; you have been washed clean, set apart, restored, and set on the right path in the name of the Lord Jesus, the Anointed, by the Spirit of our living God." We see in each of these the contrast of our old identity and our new identity. The more consistently we focus on and live in the reality our new identity, the more who we are and how we live will be defined by the new and not the old.
It is this consistent focus that is the hinge on which all this hangs. We must meditate on God's Word day in and day out. To help you do this, take a piece of paper and make two columns. Write "I am not ...." above the first column and write "I am .... " above the second column. Then go through the three passages and write things in the first column that pertain to the "old" and things that pertain to the "new" in the second column. As often as you can over the course of this month, but at least once a day, mediate on these columns. Prayerfully seek God's presence and with a great sense of surrender and dependence, renounce "the old" from the first column and embrace "the new" from the second column. You will be amazed at how much this will foster your connection to God, your connection to his Word, and your connection to your true identity in Christ.
Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:
Lord, thank you so much for your commitment to me. The love, mercy, grace, and plan you have for me are all truly amazing gifts. Help me to believe, receive, and rest in your provision. I commit myself to doing what it takes to focus consistently on my true identity in Christ. I look forward to the fuller way you will be painting the picture of the new person and new life you have for me as I go forward with the fulfillment of my heavenly destiny. Amen
Posted on Thu, March 28, 2019
by Ken Hart