Summary: The identity crisis that grace can cause
Who do you think you are? That question is identity-shaping, life-altering, eternity-affecting. How would you describe yourself? How do you introduce yourself? How do you perceive yourself? That’s the greatest question you will ever ask yourself? It’s your identity…and the truest of what you think about…
How would you answer this question: I am “blank”? I am rich. I am poor. I am young. I am old. I am smart. I’m stupid. I’m loved. I’m hated. I’m single. I’m married. I’m married. I’m divorced. I’m desirable. I’m undesirable. I’m successful. I’m a failure. I have hope. I’m hopeless. Who do you think you are? How do you see yourself? How does your identity alter and affect your destiny?
And let me say that how we come to understand ourselves and our identity, it starts when you’re little. Were you the cute one, the not-so-cute one? Were you the chubby one, the skinny one? Were you the smart one? Were you the funny one? This can be in relation to your siblings or friends that you know. As you get a little bit older, are you the jock, the athletic one? Are you the artist, the creative one? Identity starts to get established. People start to give you nicknames, some of them negative, some of them positive. That helps to establish for you, yet again, the beginnings of an identity, who you are, who you perceive yourself to be.
You hit junior high and everybody’s confused about their identity. You attempt to figure out what this actually means…who you really are…college, career, marriage…
Identity determines everything…directs our decisions and determines our behavior, how we respond to others, and it can point the trajectory of our lives…
And our pursuit of identity, this ideology, could actually be leading us to a misaligned, misused, and mistaken view of grace and we don’t even realize it… Your identity is in total crisis, and conflict, and chaos all the time.
Background: The first 3 chapters are filled with truth about who God is and what he’s done in the gospel; the last 3 chapters offer some of the most practical instruction you’ll find anywhere in the Bible— on marriage, forgiveness, conflict management, family, workplace relationships and a host of other day to day issues.
But that’s partially where people read it wrongly. They treat primarily as a book of doctrine or a practical guide for living…something much deeper
- Ephesus was one of the most impressive and intimidating cities of the ancient world. It was on a seaport right at the intersection of Europe and Asia, which made it one of the main trade-hubs of the Roman Empire.
- It was cosmopolitan and multi-cultural. It boasted one of the largest libraries in history, and many of the world’s most prestigious scholars lived there. ACCOMPLISHMENT - IDENTITY
- Religiously, it was a smorgasbord. The city housed 50 different temples, including the largest Temple of the ancient world, dedicated to Artemis, one of the 7 wonders of the world. EFFORTS - IDENTITY
- Sexual immorality was a literal industry. Most of the temples offered some kind of prostitution as part of the worship ritual. What happened in Ephesus stayed in Ephesus, unless it was contagious, and then you carried it around with you for the rest of your life... SINFUL/MISTAKES - IDENTITY
All this to say, it was not a Christian-friendly place. As a result many of the people were struggling with their identify…how do I live out this new found Christian faith in this culture…it created an internal conflict for many… Identity crisis…physically, emotionally, mentally…all because of spiritual…THEIR IDENITY AS A CHRISTIAN WAS IN CONFLICT WITH THEIR NEW IDENTITY IN CHRIST…so Paul writes to give them a balance of who they are and what they do…IDENTITY DETERMINES BEHAVIOR…WHO YOU ARE DETERMINES WHAT YOU DO…What does it mean to be a Christian…to stand in grace
Ephesians 1:3-14 - That is one, long sentence in Greek—202 words; a sentence that theologians love and English teachers hate; one long, Spirit- inspired, run-on sentence. Can you imagine what a grammar teacher would have done with this sentence? But there is a purpose, and that is to illustrate the way in which God’s plan is complete, with no weak or missing links in it.
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 to Himself 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. Ephesians 1:3-6