Summary: You identity will determine your activity. Your identity will also determine you destiny. If we as the church find our identity in Christ we will be united as the new creation.
Intro: For the past five weeks we have talked about our identity. Your identity will determine your destiny. If you are a child of wrath you will spend this life and the next without God. If you are in Christ you will spend this life fulfilled. If you are dead in your trespasses, purposeful breaking of the law, and sin missing God’s perfect mark you will spend this life empty and the next life forever alone.
Not only does your identity determine your destiny but it also determines you activity. If you are truly in Christ then that identity should result in a lifestyle of worship, witness, service, prayer etc.
Paul has already told us that if we are “In Christ” we are not in identity crisis but we have had an identity change. Ephesians 1 Paul told us we are rich. His prayer then in is for us to understand what that Identity change means. That we would grow in our personal knowledge of Christ so that we can have a full life. We are His workmanship, His masterpiece and we were created for God to show off in our life.
Now it seems Paul is repeating himself. 2.11 seems to repeat 2.1 dead in trespasses is parallel to separated. Remember when the Bible is speaking of death it is speaking of separation. Upon physical death your spirit is separated from your body. Spiritual death you are separated from the grace and goodness of God. Paul doesn’t want the Ephesians or us to forget our past.
I. Remember your past identity
Paul is speaking primarily to gentiles here. Don’t forget your past.
2.11, 12 “you were separate”
The gentiles were separated and alienated but from what?
A) Separate from Christ – they were Christless
B) Separate from Israel – they were stateless
C) Separate from the covenants – they were hopeless
D) Separate from God – they were Godless
The Jews despised the gentiles and would sling ethnic slurs at them. Uncircumcision is a term of derision and hate. The Jews were proud and would go so far as to shake the gentile dust off themselves when they crossed the border back into Israel. David uses it against Goliath in 1 Samuel 17.26
We see in the hostility and hatred of the Jews for the gentiles and the gentiles for the Jews that the fall of man was personal, social, and eternal.
It was personal because it separated both groups from God because of sin.
It was social because sin led to hostility between all people.
It was eternal because without a solution all would remain separated from God.
Like many today the Jews believed that their circumcision their outward actions made them acceptable to God. Circumcision was and is no different than baptism. Both are outward signs of an inward truth. Abraham received the sign of circumcision after believing or trusting God. The covenant mark meant and means nothing without inward renewal.
Paul is calling the Ephesians and every born again Christian to remember our past identity without Christ. Not only remember it, but be moved by it. Be gripped by the uncertainty, the horror of hopelessness and be aware of how you treat others who are without Christ.
Remember the solution for separation is reconciliation
II. Recognize your present identity
A) No longer distant from God
All who accept the finished work of Jesus are brought near. Hostility with God is over hopelessness is washed away by the blood of Jesus. He is our hope. We are now part of the true Israel, the Israel who has been circumcised in the heart. As a believer and follower of Christ we do not hope in tomorrow, we do not hope in wealth, or government.
B) No longer dividing walls
Paul says in 2.14 (read) broke down the barrier of the dividing wall.
In the outer court of the gentiles there was an actual wall. It was 3 to 4 foot tall and had this inscription on it. “No foreigner may enter within the barricade which surrounds the sanctuary and enclosure. Anyone who is caught doing so will have himself to blame for his ensuing death. These Thanatos (death) can be seen in the Archaelogical Museum in Istanbul and the Rockerfeller Museum in Jerusalem.
Jesus tore down the dividing wall with words of death and spoke words of life to both Jew and gentile.
Jesus broke down the barriers between people whether of race, nationality, sexuality male and female.
The danger there is as a church today is to construct walls that God in Christ has already tore down. We all want results so bad that we forget that God is not looking for worldly results but reconciliation.
C) No longer dividing ceremonial laws
The barrier of legal ceremonial laws were destroyed by Jesus’ death. We come to God by faith alone in Christ alone. Jesus Christ crushed the ceremonial law forever. I