Summary: This sermon is the third in a series of four entitled "Our Identity In Christ" which seeks to lead one to an identification with Christ in His finished work on the Cross.
Identity theft is a problem most of us didn’t think about 5 years ago. However, today it’s common to hear the stories of victims who are trying to salvage their name and credit rating after learning that someone has stolen and misused a password, social security number, or credit card. Knowing the danger of identity fraud helps us think twice about how we give personal information that could enable others to access our accounts.
In a spiritual sense, not having an understanding of our identity in Christ makes us vulnerable to a different kind of identity theft. Our enemy Satan came to steal, kill and destroy. He is a liar and a deceiver who will seek to defeat us if we don’t know who we are in Christ. For that reason we need a deeper insight into this idea of identity so that we will know who we are in Christ and will identify with Him in His finished work on the Cross in our behalf. So first of all let’s look at:
I. The Idea of Identity
Throughout the NT we find a particular phrase used to characterize our identity. It’s the phrase “in Christ” (Ephesians 1:1 and 3). Did you notice how many times that phrase occurred as we read our text? This phrase or its equivalent, “in Him” or “in whom,” can be found about 27 to 30 times in Ephesians alone. I believe this indicates that God uses the truth of “in Christ” to tell us that our salvation is much more than a makeover from something already made. Rather it’s something brand new made out of something not already there. As the Scripture says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) The old sinful nature you were born with is gone and you have been born again with a new spiritual nature. The prophet says in Ezekiel 36:26-27, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh . . .” Peter says, “ you have become partakers of the divine nature . . . ” (2 Peter 1:4b).
Now it’s important to keep in mind that we aren’t new creatures in Christ because of a change in behavior. That is, “I used to drink, smoke, dip and chew, and now I don’t.” No, we’re new creatures in Christ because we’re in Christ and Christ is in us. We were old creatures because we were born “in Adam” and we’re new creatures because we’re born again “in Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:22 says, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” When we’re born again “in Christ” we have a new identity – an “in Christ” identity. His life becomes ours and his identity becomes our identity. We become who Christ is in us. To clarify let’s look at:
II. An Illustration of Identity
I believe this story I read recently will help us get a handle on the truth of being “in Christ.” Two boys grew up together. They were close friends as children, but as they entered their teen years their paths began to diverge and they ended up in very different places. Ernie was always in trouble. He began by shoplifting small things from stores and worked his way up to stealing cars. Next it was armed robbery. Finally, on one of his stealing sprees he killed a man. He was arrested, convicted and sentenced to death.
Mike took a different track. He turned away from the rebellious tendencies of his friend and continued through school. He worked his way through college, graduated and became a successful businessman. However, Mike had much difficulty with his physical health. His eyes in particular were weak. As he grew older, his eyesight deteriorated until he was legally blind. One day Mike heard the news about his old friend Ernie. He felt a terrific sense of compassion and sorrow for what had happened to his childhood friend and he reached out to him. After writing letters to renew their old relationship, he went to visit Ernie in prison. They had a very touching and emotional reunion there, speaking by phone across the security window at the penitentiary.
In spite of years of hard-hearted living, something in Ernie warmed as he talked with the man with whom he had played as a boy so many years before. An idea began to grow in his mind as well. Ernie was about to die; his friend Mike was sightless. Was it possible that Ernie could do something worthwhile in his death? Could he give his eyes so that his old friend could see? It turned out to be medically possible and that’s exactly what happened. Ernie was executed for his crime, but through surgery his good eyes were used to restore Mike’s vision. That’s an intriguing story – a murderer’s eyes being transplanted into the body of a law-abiding citizen. Now what determines the identity of those eyes? Whose were they before? A murderer’s! Whose are they now? Mike’s! Now, imagine this scene: A friend of Mike’s comes up and says, “Hey, Mike, how are you? You’re looking great, except . . .” The friend leans closer, squints, and exclaims in horror, “Do you realize that you have a murderer’s eyes?”