Summary: The glorious reality of who we have become in Christ has been the topic of these first three chapters. In Christ all things are made new. In Christ we have a new identity. And on the first few pages of Paul's letter to the Ephesians you come face to face with the new you.
Ephesians: Our Identity in Christ-Part 10
The New You
19. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household,
20. having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,
21. in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord,
22. in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
New and improved. There is something contagiously alluring about the statement. Research has shown that the American people like the idea. Manufacturers labor diligently to produce products which they can then describe as new and improved. And the reason, of course, is that we want things that are new.
We want a new and improved dish washing liquid. We want a new and improved weed killer. We want a new and improved hair color. Some of you even want new hair --- or any hair! We want a new figure. We want a new car. And the list can go on and on and on. We like things new.
All of this points to the biggest need people have. It is the need for a new life. The reason why so many people are dissatisfied with what they have is because they are dissatisfied with who they are.
This is the need that these first three chapters of the book of Ephesians has been addressing. The glorious reality of who we have become in Christ has been the topic of these first three chapters. In Christ all things are made new. In Christ we have a new identity. And on the first few pages of Paul's letter to the Ephesians you come face to face with the new you.
The reason Paul wrote Ephesians is so you would be able to see yourself from that perspective. What we believe about ourselves will determine how we behave and how we live. If our self-image is determined by what we failed to achieve before we met Christ, then we will find ourselves caught up in a downward spiral of despair. But, if our self-image is determined by what God's Word says we are in Christ, then we will be able to mount up with wings as eagles and soar to the heights. So it is important that we come face to face with the reality of our new life in Christ in all of its implications.
Our text today gives us a short list of several new and improved relationships the believer has in Christ. This is part of our new identity in Christ --- the new you.
Citizens in a New Kingdom
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints . . . (2:19a)
Part of the revelation of the new you is a revelation of the new dimensions in which we function. Here we are told that in Christ we are now citizens in a new kingdom. We are told that we are fellow citizens with the saints. Before we met Christ we were strangers and aliens. The word strangers could also be translated as foreigners. We were foreigners, strangers and aliens, to the Kingdom of God.
What this passage has in view is our allegiance to a new kingdom. It is the Kingdom of God. In fact, the Gospel is a Gospel of the Kingdom. We find John the Baptist declaring in Matthew 3:2: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus Himself teaches us to pray in Matthew 6:10: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” When we come to Christ, we enter the Kingdom of God. And what is this kingdom? It is the place where God rules. When you come to Christ, you submit yourself to the rule of God. Those who refuse to submit themselves to that rule have not really come to Christ. True believers enter the Kingdom because they enter into a relationship to God whereby they surrender their rights and submit to His rule. That is what the Kingdom of God is all about.
We are now citizens of that kingdom. We must be remembered that in the ancient world citizenship was very important. One took a great deal of pride in being a citizen of a prominent city. In fact, they internalized the laws and customs of the city of which they were citizens. When they met an inhabitant of that city in a strange place, they considered that person to be a friend. Citizenship was highly personal, and provided a distinctive identity for the person holding it. In Paul's day, Roman citizenship was a prized possession. With it came certain rights and privileges not afforded non-citizens. In Paul's travels, he used his Roman citizenship to his advantage on several occasions. But here he is saying that we are now part of a new city, or kingdom.