One night after discussing our identity in Christ (e.g., I am chosen, saint, Spirit-sealed, beloved, alive, workmanship, powerful, new creation, bearer of God's image, child of God), my body took a hit. It started with a tickle in my throat. Then a tenderness in my lymph nodes, swelling of my eyes, and dizziness ensued. I went to bed in convulsions; the Benadryl didn't relieve much.
My study in our Christ-given identity came solely from Ephesians. There Paul elucidates the 'riches in Christ' (3:8) we share as believers. These riches, above and beyond our salvation, include the truths cited above. Some of the students looked bored as I revealed these identity markers; they were waiting for the next movie clip. Other students took notes and jotted questions.
- What do you mean 'we're alive'? Of course I am, I'm breathing.
- What does it mean to be a poem of God (Eph. 2:10)?
- How can I be 'powerful' if I feel so powerless?
- Does God really love me?
Paul likens this 'ignorance' to a former way of life--the futile life of the material person (Eph. 4:17). Embrace your new life! he writes (Eph 4:1-16). Live your calling!
But it is difficult to live what one does not know. Sloppiness, boredom, and flippancy in the Christian life have more to do with faulty thinking about our identity in Christ, than petty responses to others/circumstances. And our thinking is chronically under attack.
To the core of his nature, the Enemy is a liar. More than forcing us into situations where we might sin (those are unavoidable), he peddles lies--lies primarily related to our standing with Jesus. Thus, it is no afterthought that Paul closes his letter to the Ephesian church by recognizing spiritual warfare. The Enemy seeks to usurp truth and plunder our 'riches in Christ.'
And if those truths are coming across too palatable, he will likely go for the throat.