Your Identity In Christ
Text: Eph. 6:5-9
1. Illustration: You probably know Ted Giannoulas even if you’ve never heard his name. He has been the San Diego Chicken for 30 years. He originated the character as a college student, but Ted is getting older. At age 50, being the Chicken has been his life and his whole identity. His face is never photographed unless he is in costume. No one knows the real Ted. He has no family. At first, he loved his alter ego. "I discovered an untapped personality in that suit," he said. "It was like, now I have freedom. Now I’m no longer Ted." But there is a price to pay. Dave Raymond, who for years wore the costume of the Philly Phanatic, said, "[Giannoulas] was the first and the funniest, and I have nothing but respect for him. But if you’re not careful, you can lose yourself in that suit." Ted himself says, "I have plenty of Chicken stories. I’m afraid I don’t have any Ted stories." Many people live life being someone God didn’t create them to be. They lose themselves in other things instead of finding their identity in Christ.
2. Our text today is yet another example of not only how deep the Bible is, but also how relevant for every age and situation.
3. This text can speak to:
a. The ancient system of slavery.
b. Our present employee/employer relationship.
c. Knowing our spiritual identity.
4. Read Eph. 6:5-9
Proposition: As Christians, we draw our true identity from being in Christ.
Transition: First, we must realize...
I. Who We Work For (5-7)
A. Working For the Lord Rather Than People
1. At first glance, this text seems to talk about a topic that is foreign to our day and time.
2. Paul begins, "Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear."
a. There are two words in this first verse that we need to get a handle on, and the first one is the word "slave."
b. This noun refers to a person who is the property of another person. A slave can be bought, sold, inherited, leased, or jointly owned (NLT Study Bible, 2222).
c. Our only frame of reference as 21st century American’s is the institution of slavery as it existed in our nations past. An institution that was eliminated with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.
d. A part of that barbaric institution was to keep slaves uneducated and ignorant as an inferior race.
e. However, in ancient Roman society, slavery was very different.
f. In contrast to our understanding of slavery, slaves in the Greco-Roman world of Paul "did not merely do menial work; they did nearly all the work, including oversight and management and most professions."
g. Many were educated better than their owners. They could own property, even other slaves, and were allowed to save money to buy their freedom (Snodgrass, NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: Ephesians, 327).
h. In Paul’s day, people even entered slavery voluntarily to gain economic advantage.
3. The other word that we need a better understanding of in this verse is the word "masters."
a. This noun means master, lord, or owner in social and economic contexts; generally, it refers to a social superior.
b. This is the same Greek word that is used to refer to Jesus as "Lord," which is why the word "earthly" is inserted here.
c. Taking this into consideration, what would be a comparable term in our modern world? Does this not sound like what we would refer to as a boss?
d. So from our frame of reference, this is more like a employee/employer relationship than a slave/master relationship.
4. So how does Paul tell us we should treat our boss? First, he tells us to "Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ."
a. What Paul tells us is that we should be genuine toward them, as if we were working for Jesus himself.
b. Colossians 3:17 (ESV)
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
c. So you should treat your boss the same way you would treat Jesus.
5. Look what else Paul tells us to do. He says, "Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart."
a. We should try to please them all the time, and not just when they are standing there watching us.
b. It shouldn’t matter if they are there or not, we should work just as hard and do just as good a job when they are not there as we do when they are there.
c. We have slang terms for when people work hard when the boss is around then they do when he’s not, and they are all derogatory terms.
d. So if they are terms that are not appropriate to talk about, don’t you think the actions they represent just as bad?
e. God is calling His people to be genuine, honest and trustworthy people.
f. We are to represent our Lord and Savior in all we do, and we are to set an example for other to follow.
g. As Christians, we are to serve God with all our hearts, and that includes on the job.
6. In reality, on our jobs we are to "Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people."
a. We have talked a lot about the fact that everything we have in this life was given to us by God.
b. Well don’t you think that includes our jobs?
c. If we look upon our jobs as given by God, then shouldn’t we work not as though we are working for an earthly boss but for the Lord Jesus?
d. Whenever a Christian is submissive to the Holy Spirit his accomplishments are as to Christ, because Christ is both the origin and the goal of his obedience.
e. He does everything out of love for Christ, by the power of Christ, and to the glory of Christ (The - MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Ephesians).
f. Therefore, we are to do it with all of the enthusiasm, effort, and skill that we are able.
B. Christian Work Ethic
1. Illustration: A significant and often overlooked way that we serve God is in our everyday tasks. Martin Luther understood this when he wrote, "The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays -- not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors. The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship."
2. We are to look upon our jobs as a gift from God.
a. If God had not given us healthy bodies, we could not hold a job.
b. If God had not given us the skill, we could not perform our job.
c. If God had not given us a brain, we could not perform a job.
3. We are to look upon our jobs as ministries from God.
a. We show the character of God by our integrity on the job.
b. We show the faithfulness of God by our reliability on the job.
c. We show the holiness of God by our honesty on the job.
d. We preach the Word of God by what we say and do on the job.
e. People are watching you, and what they see in you is what they think about Jesus.
4. We are to look upon our boss as one sent from God.
a. If we believe in a sovereign God, then we must realize that our boss has been given his authority over us by God.
b. If we believe in a sovereign God, then we must understand that if God didn’t want that person to our boss He would have given us someone else.
c. If we are representatives of a sovereign God, then we must comprehend that we may be the difference between heaven and hell for our boss.
d. What they see in us, is what they believe about Jesus.
Transition: Secondly, we must realize...
II. Who We Are (8-9)
A. Whether We Are Slaves or Free
1. Before we deal with v. 8, I want to skip ahead to v. 9 and see what instructions Paul gives the masters.
2. He tells them to "treat your slaves in the same way."
a. They are to treat their slaves "with Christian consideration" (Bruce, NICNT: The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, 401).
b. They are to treat their slaves as what they are; their brothers and sisters in Christ.
c. They are to realize that they, just like their slaves, are slaves to the Lord Jesus Christ.
d. They are to realize, that like their slaves, they are saved only by the grace of God.
3. He says, "Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites."
a. He uses his authority and power as little as possible and does not throw his weight around or lord it over those under him.
b. He is never abusive or inconsiderate. He realizes that his own authority, though God-given, is strictly functional and temporary (The - MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Ephesians).
c. They must keep in mind that God gives authority, and God can take away authority.
d. John 13:34 (NLT)
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.
4. However, I believe that the key to this whole text lies in v. 8. Paul says, to both groups I believe, "Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free."
a. If we take this verse together with v. 9, we see that God has no favorites.
b. It doesn’t matter if we are slaves or free.
c. It doesn’t matter if we are the employee or the employer.
d. God will judge us all the same; based on what we do for Him and not what we do for a living.
e. God loves you just as much if you are a ditch digger or a bank president.
5. It is not a matter of social or economic status, but it is a matter of where we get our identity.
a. Galatians 6:15 (NLT)
It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.
b. Our identity does not come from how much money we have or what we own.
c. Our identity does not come from how fancy a car we drive.
d. Our identity does not come from how big our house is or what neighborhood in which we live.
e. Our identity comes from being in Christ.
6. This idea is not only the major point of this text, but it is the major point of the entire letter; knowing who we are in Christ.
a. Ephesians 1:3 (NLT)
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.
b. That’s why it doesn’t matter how much money you have or how much stuff you own.
c. The only thing that matters is being in Christ!
d. If you are in Christ today, you are rich!
B. Your True Identity
1. Illustration: Probably all or most of us are familiar with the story of Spider Man. How a young man, Peter Parker, is accidentally shocked, and as a result, takes on some characteristic abilities of a spider. His identity is no longer the mild-mannered Peter Parker, but his is in effect, Spider Man.
2. Your self-worth is not in what you do.
a. It doesn’t matter if you are a construction worker.
b. It doesn’t matter if you are a bank president.
c. It doesn’t matter if you are a street bum.
3. Your self-worth is not in what you own.
a. It doesn’t matter if you live in a mansion.
b. It doesn’t matter if you live in a trailer.
c. It doesn’t matter if you live in a cabin.
4. Your self-worth is based on who you are in Christ.
a. You are a child of the King of Kings.
b. You are a joint heir with Christ.
c. You are filled with the Holy Spirit.
d. You are touched by His power.
e. You are important.
f. You matter.
g. You will make a difference in this world.
Transition: Know who you are in Christ.
1. We need to know who we work for.
2. We need to know who we are in Christ.
3. When you look in the mirror who do you see?
4. When you are in public who do you reflect?