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Identity | Orchard Christian Fellowship

I Am Victorious

IDENTITY, pt. 10—I am Victorious
Ephesians 2:1-10

 

“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Pet. 2:9

 

Believers are victorious over the PAST

Though all people are born spiritually rebellious to God and deserve wrath for their sins, those who turn to Jesus and repent are forgiven of past sins, never to be remembered (Ps. 103:12). Believers are redeemed (Gr. apolutrosis, ‘ransom paid in full’) from their past and given a new life free from sin and judgment (Rom. 8:1; Eph. 1:7). Through Christ, people have victory from who they were!

 

Believers are victorious in the PRESENT

Having a new nature desiring to please God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, followers of Jesus are made saints while living (Eph. 4:12; 5:3)! Though not perfect in action before people, believers are perfect in standing before God. They now live their lives for the glory of God, knowing He is helping them to show their victorious character, which is demonstrated by good works (Matt. 5:16). Through Christ, people have victory in who they are!

 

Believers are victorious in PERPETUITY

During their lives, a believer’s salvation and victory are guaranteed through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who has sealed (Gr. sphragidzō, ‘to stamp for security or preservation’) their eternal destiny (Eph. 1:13, 14). Additionally, they are already spiritually seated with Christ in heaven in a position of authority and victory. This glorious reality includes being promoted to priests and kings, ruling in God’s Kingdom (Luke 12:31, 32; Rev. 1:5, 6; 3:20, 21; 5:9, 10). With victorious eternal life, believers live their lives abandoned to God’s plan without fear (John 3:36; 10:28; 1 Cor. 15:54-58). This truth brings tremendous confidence as Christians will escape the coming judgment on humanity (Rom. 2:1-11). At Christ’s return, he will separate forgiven from unforgiven, then after ruling with Jesus on earth for 1000 years, believers will reign forever with Him on the new earth—including even judging (Gr. krinō, ‘to decide judicially’) angels (Matt. 25:32, 33; 1 Cor. 6:1-3; Rev. 20:1-15). Through Christ, people have victory in who they will be—forever (Rom. 8:28-39)!

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I Am At War

IDENTITY, pt. 9—I am at War
Ephesians 6:10-17

 

“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Pet. 2:9

 

I am at war against my FLESH

Humans are born in the image of God with a nature corrupted by sin, leading to sinful actions from a self-orientation. While people assume their feelings are pure and ‘true’ to them, people are self-deceived until they come to the light of Christ (John 8:12). Humans naturally do not want God’s will in their lives so they live by their fleshly desires. Once repentance happens people are given a new spiritual nature that will still struggle with old habits (Rom. 7:19; 12:1, 2; 13:11-14). It is this battle which must be continually fought as the old self desires to ‘come alive’ again (Gal. 5:16-26; Eph. 4:17-24). Instead of conforming to the old way, believers are to choose the transforming power of God, so their character is strengthened to do God’s will. Character is built on doing good, not feeling good!

 

I am at war against the WORLD

As sinful people make sinful cultures and sinful nations, God allows their influence to pervade daily life. Once the believer is saved they leave the system they participated in and become an agent of godly change though they’ll be hated (Matt. 5:13-15; John 15:18, 19). God can bring good from any evil in the world (Rom. 8:28)!

 

I am at war against the DEVIL

The devil (Gr. diabolos, ‘liar/slanderer’) is a fallen angel who hates God and designs temptations to get believers to dishonor God and draw them away. Jesus was tempted at times of physical weakness yet he always chose God’s will for him (Luke 4:1-13; Gal. 5:16; Heb. 4:15). Satan is pictured as a lion looking to devour people’s lives by distracting them from godly endeavors to ruin this life, and their eternal lives as well (1 Pet. 5:8, 9). Satan is faster, smarter, and stronger and knows your thoughts and weakness, while never getting tired. The encouraging reality is that he has no power or access to you that is not allowed by God. Satan may be put in your life to test you, but never to defeat you (James 4:6, 7). Though believers are at war, through Christ they overcome (John 16:33)!

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I Am Gifted

IDENTITY, pt. 8—I am Gifted
1 Peter 4:7-11

 

“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Pet. 2:9

 

Believers are GIFTED by God

Once a person has found their identity in Christ, they have the calling and privilege to work out their identity for Christ (Phil. 2:12, 13). God is a gift-giver and always gives His best (1 John 4:11-14)! In joining the family of God, believers are given a place and a job. Everything should be done in an attitude of love and service rather than pride and selfishness. God’s gifts are not to bless the person, but to bless the people (1 Cor. 12:7). Believers are to realize life is short and opportunities must be taken advantage of (Eph. 5:8-17). In the church there needs to be unity, but not necessarily uniformity. A church can have disagreements, but God never gifts a person with a critical spirit for disunity of the church (gossip, slander, anger, fighting, etc., Eph. 4:31; 1 Pet. 2:1). A healthy church is like a healthy body—though diverse in its parts, each part must do its job so all the others can survive and flourish. The Holy Spirit indwells a person for salvation and infill’s them for serving.

 

Believers are a GIFT to others

Life, salvation, and service are gifts given through the grace of God. God is a Gifter who has given gifts to the gifted to become gifts to the giftees. What has been received with appreciation should be poured out in application. Believers are the hands and feet of Jesus and ambassadors for Him to reconcile a hurting and lost world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:20). God’s most precious gift to the world is the believer because they have within them the most precious Gift to the world (2 Cor. 4:6, 7). Joy in Christ often flows from using our gifts from Christ for the glory of Christ. The reason God leaves Christians on earth is to bless others through preaching, teaching, counseling, serving, leading, encouraging, and giving (Rom. 12:3-8). Believers are blessed to be a blessing (Gen. 12:2; Matt. 5:16; Eph. 2:10)! The Holy Spirit gives the impulse, intelligence, and the industry to do His work so there is no excuse for poor effort as everything should be done as for God Himself (Col. 3:23, 24). It is often through human effort that a divine effect happens!

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I Am Heard

IDENTITY, pt. 7—I am Heard
Matthew 6:5-15

 

“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Pet. 2:9

 

Prayer is PERSONAL

Throughout history people have tried to contact god/s by various means not knowing if, what, who, or where the god/s existed. As humanity’s spiritual nature longs to connect with their Maker, the desire is correct but the disposition is not. Once people repent and their sins are forgiven through Jesus, then those joined to the family of God now have access to God the Father who hears and responds to their prayers (2 Chron. 7:14; Ps. 145:18; Eph. 2:19). Prayer should not be for outward recognition like a hypocrite (Gr. hūpokritace, ‘stage actor’) but rather meaningful and often private, as it should be done unceasingly (1 Thess. 5:16-18). Prayer is a deliberate, purposeful soul-conversation with the God who loves His children (Matt. 7:11). Being personal, prayers can be hindered (Ps. 66:18; Prov. 28:9; Mark 11:25; 1 Pet. 3:7). A believer’s knowledge of God’s will starts at scripture, goes through godly counsel and ends with personal feelings. This way, prayer can be focused and answers understood with clarity. God is personal but not personal feelings!

 

Prayer is PRIORITIES

Jesus told his disciples not to ‘heap up empty phrases’ (Gr. battologeo, ‘stutter/repeat tediously’) like pagans hoping to impress their god. Prayer is not a mechanical repetition of words but a living conversation that takes the priorities of the Person prayed to into account. God is not Santa and prayer is not a wish list. As Jesus denounced the habitual recitation of words, the Lord’s Prayer was not given as the prayer to pray, but rather the way to pray (1 John 5:14). Authority. Believers are to recognize and respect the role and authority of God as Father, who knows all, sees all, and controls all and that His will would be done through them as it is in heaven. Bread. Believers bring their needs and desires for consideration. Confession. Believers confess personal sin and ask for help forgiving others. Deliverance. Believers ask for protection from evil and help to not sin against their Father. God’s answer will be ‘yes’, ‘no’, or ‘wait’. Prayer helps us to align with God, not God with us!

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I Am A Child Of God

IDENTITY, pt. 6—I am a Child of God
John 1:12, 13

 

“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Pet. 2:9

 

Believers are BORN into the family

Humans are physically born into a single family scenario separate from every other family on earth. Humans are also spiritually born into the singular family of humanity separated from the family of God. This spiritual separation results in deadness toward God which can only be remedied by being ‘born again’ into the family of God through belief and repentance (John 3:3-8, 35, 36; Eph. 2:1-7). As with physical creation, the father provides his genes to produce a child. Similarly, God the Father births a new spirit inside a person giving them new spiritual DNA, making them part of the family (2 Cor. 5:17). This new family provides personal access to the Father and close connection to other brothers and sisters that every human is designed for, which is called the ‘church’ (Eph. 2:18-22). As children of the King, believers are given power, privilege, and authority by their Father as kingdom children (2 Cor. 10:3-5; 2 Tim. 1:7). The believer’s Father fits them into His family of faith!

 

Believers are ADOPTED into the family

Children without families in ancient Greece and Rome were valueless, taken advantage of, abandoned, abused and nearly never adopted. Into this reality, God offers adoption into His family. Jesus is known as the only Son of God (‘begotten’ KJV, Gr. monogenes, ‘one of a kind/unique/special son’; John 1:14; 3:16) meaning that he is the only true original family member sharing the same nature as the Father. No one can adopt themselves into a family but must be invited and then accept. Amazingly, it is God’s will to purposely adopt the lost and rebellious (Eph. 1:5). Believers are ‘sons and daughters of God’ by being adopted into a family they don’t deserve (Gal. 4:4-7; 2 Cor. 6:18). Believers are adopted by the Father through the work of the Son, who then become heirs to everything the Son has rights to (Rom. 8:12-17; Heb. 2:11). After adoption, believers represent the new family and are connected to their new Father’s name and reputation. Children of an amazing Father help others become part of their amazing family (2 Cor. 5:20)!

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I Am New

IDENTITY, pt. 5—I am New
2 Cor. 5:14-21

 

“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Pet. 2:9

 

Jesus gives a new NATURE

In the beginning God gave Adam and Eve physical life (Heb. nephesh) and breathed into them a human spirit (Heb. ruah), made in His image, which was to co-exist with their bodies perpetually (Gen. 2:7; Eccl. 3:11). Humans were originally designed with no physical or spiritual defects. Once sin entered the world however, people became un-ideal and the result was brokenness in all facets of life, including spiritual death, separating people from God (Gen. 2:17; 3:6-8). The ‘heart’, or location of moral choices that forms our character, can’t be changed long-term by willpower alone, but must be spiritually born again, as people can’t be freed from the rebellion in their heart without Jesus (John 3:3-6; 8:36; 2 Cor. 5:17). Christianity isn’t about becoming a better you, but rather a different you—a person with a new destiny, new desires, and new dreams. Christianity is not a religion to God, but a relationship with God.

 

Jesus gives a new MISSION

As humans are helpless to permanently change themselves and don’t know how to serve God, God helps them through the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit. By God’s power, once a person is spiritually reborn, he is then transformed (Gr. metamorphoō, ‘to change forms’) from being one person to becoming the next (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:22-24; Titus 3:5). A believer stays exactly the same, yet becomes totally different! Though in the same body, a believer’s new heart begins to produce new choices to serve and please God rather than self. A new heart makes a new character that makes new choices that makes a new life that becomes a new destiny! This new direction in life stems from a new directive directed by the Director of history. God has entrusted (Gr. tithaymi, ‘to place into the hands/heart’) to believers the mission of being ambassadors for Christ as his representatives on earth. These ambassadors are to declare the message that people can be reconciled (Gr. katallagay, ‘to exchange/adjust to bring balance or peace’) to God. The Gospel is the great news that a great God gives great peace!

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I Am Forgiven

IDENTITY, pt. 4—I am Forgiven
1 John 1:9

 

“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Pet. 2:9

 

Sin is PERMANENT but forgivable

God originally made Adam and Eve morally perfect with no inclination for selfishness or wrongdoing, creating perfect peace between God and man, Adam and Eve, the animals and the earth. After Adam rebelled against God and sinned (Heb. chaṭṭâ’âh and Gr. hamartia, ‘to miss the mark or correct path’; Gen. 4:7; Rom. 3:23), God cursed the universe and the peaceful relationship between God, humans, the animals and the earth ended (Gen. 3). Adam, as the Head and ideal example of humanity handed his sinful genetics to all humans afterward (Rom. 5:12). All people are spiritually dead and alienated from God so everyone is a sinner both by nature and choice. Man, of himself, is unable to fix his lost and depraved condition and will continue as a sinner permanently and eternally (Eph. 2:1-3). ‘Good’ human deeds will never make up for a wicked human heart (Ps. 14:2, 3; Is. 64:6). God cannot let sin go unpunished indefinitely but provided relational repair and cancelled the moral debt owed to Him through Jesus (Matt. 26:28; Col. 2:13, 14).

 

Forgiveness should produce FORGIVENESS

God will not force anyone to be saved but continually pleads with people to repent (return to God by asking forgiveness and wanting to change) through nature, conscience, the Bible, and other Christians (Acts 3:19; Rom. 1:18-23; 2:15). Only God can forgive sin against Himself, and once a person repents, their heart is changed and their lives purified to live for Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). After being forgiven an unimaginable amount, believers are commanded to forgive others who are imperfect and unworthy of it as well (Matt. 6:9-15; Mark 11:25; Eph. 4:31, 32). Forgiveness releases the bound-up conscience, unloads the heavy heart, is the salve for the wound of being wronged, and the purifier for the poisoned well of the soul. Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the chains of slavery to guilt, heals emotional wounds, and restores broken relationships. Seeking forgiveness is the opposite of pride—giving it is the essence of godliness. Only forgiveness sought can heal what sin has wrought.

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I Am Chosen

IDENTITY, pt. 3—I am Chosen
1 Peter 2:9

 

“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Pet. 2:9

 

A divine CHOICE

Before the beginning, God chose to make the universe (Gen. 1:31). After sin entered the world, God chose to make a way of forgiveness through sacrifice bringing relational repair (Gen. 3:21). As Adam and Eve had to choose to put on the clothes of forgiveness offered by God, so people are to respond to the forgiveness offered by Jesus. However, as humans are spiritually dead because of sin and can’t respond to God on their own, God must draw them (John 6:44; Eph. 2:1-5). While the salvation call is for all of humanity, God chose some to be saved before creation, thereby guaranteeing the work of Jesus (Eph. 1:4, 5). As with choosing Israel, this divine choosing (Gr. eklektos, ‘to select as by favorite’) is a mysterious, paradoxical, supernatural reality that doesn’t supersede a person’s freedom of choice. God wants all people to be saved (His general desire), but sovereignly chooses those who then believe the truth (His specific purpose) without manipulation (John 3:16, 17; 1 Tim. 2:3-5; Rev. 3:20). God’s freedom to choose doesn’t negate man’s freedom to choose. Like the theological tension in the incarnation of the God/man Jesus, the salvation reality isn’t either/or but both/and. We have been freely chosen by God to freely choose God!

 

A chosen PEOPLE

Once Jesus died for the sin of all humanity on the cross, those who trusted in him were given a new nature in their old bodies (Rom. 8:10; 2 Cor. 5:17). This new nature became alive to God and transformed the believer’s character to begin making godly choices. All those predestined to respond to God’s salvation become a new people (Gr. genos, ‘relatives/countrymen/offspring’) group based on their new spiritual ‘genes’. For the believer, this new association brings peace and security as they have not been responsible for the strength to choose God or maintain their salvation or continue their relationship to God’s people—it has been God’s choosing and power from beginning to end (John 10:28, 29). God’s choosing brings freedom for God’s people to live lives worth of the choice (Eph. 4:1)!

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I Am Wonderfully Made

IDENTITY, pt. 2—I am Wonderfully Made
Psalm 139:1-16

“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Pet. 2:9

 

God knows WHO I am

Despite the complexity and enormity of the universe, humans are not just part of the creation, they are His crowning achievement. Humans are the only beings created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26, 27)! Every person is known by God and searched (Heb. khaw-kar ‘to examine thoroughly’) so that nothing is a mystery or surprise to God about anyone—physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. God knows thoughts, motivations, and actions—even before they happen! God’s intimate knowledge of every person is so complete He knows the number of hairs on their head (Luke 12:7). Humans are special because they can communicate with God, love God, serve Him and enjoy Him. God put His stamp of uniqueness on each person by giving them value based on His love for them. People can choose to live apart from God, but no one lives independent of God.

 

God knows WHERE I am

God has total and complete knowledge of the universe as a whole—all the way down to the sub-atomic level. Like fish in the ocean, because God’s Spirit fills the universe, no one can escape Him, they just move around inside Him! God’s sovereignty includes determining where people live and the borders of nations (Acts 17:24-28). Though believers may feel lost, when they trust God they always end up in the right place!

 

God knows WHAT I am

At the beginning of the universe, God made an ideal planet to sustain life and built the first man from the dust (Heb. adamah ‘dirt/earth’) and breathed life into him (Gen. 2:7; Law of Biogenesis). The human body is fearfully (Heb. yaw-ray, ‘to bring fear/frighten’) and wonderfully made as an unduplicatable piece of masterwork, crafted with 12 separate yet interdependent systems. Each system is then made up of billions of unique cells, each programmed like a factory, with a chemical alphabet (DNA) directing its job in supporting life. God doesn’t make junk!

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I Am Loved

IDENTITY, pt. 1—I am Loved
1 John 4:7-11

“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Pet. 2:9

 

God LOVES

Everyone knows love exists, but few no how to define it. The Bible speaks of God as love (Gr. ah ga pay, ‘have affection or benevolence for—often sacrificial’; John 3:16). Like energy, love has a source. God has love intrinsically as part of His nature. God doesn’t just know about love or feel love, God actually is love. Unlike physical energy sources however, God’s love can be accessed at anytime, anywhere, as God is its ever-present Source. Every experience of real love mirrors God’s love—even for those who don’t believe in God! People don’t have to search for God’s love, it already exists for them. God’s love existed before there were people to love and a creation to connect with. God created people to love them, provide for them, and have a relationship with them. Humans have no true identity until they find their identity in the love of God!

 

God loves you so you can LOVE

Believers must build their lives off of their identity in Christ (Col. 3:3). Nowhere in the Bible are people ever told to ‘love themselves more’ or ‘find themselves’ but the focus is continually to love God, serve others and die to self (Rom. 8:12-14). Christians are saved to serve (Matt. 20:24-28)! The primary element of love from Christ is the desire to love through Christ. Serving is the spiritual motivation that fills a person’s time and fuels physical action. Every waking moment, everyone serves someone—either self, God, or others. The percentage of time a person focuses on Jesus, Others or Yourself (JOY) determines who they live to please. The fact love can be chosen means love isn’t primarily feeling-based but rather action-based. Love doesn’t just happen, it has to be chosen. No one can say they just feel ‘love’ but not do ‘love’. The greatest understanding of a person’s identity and worth happens when the love of God is manifested by those who know His love. Believers are to make the most of every opportunity to serve Jesus and others (Eph. 5:16). Because sacrificial love is so rare, God is most on display when believers are most deferential to others (John 13:35).

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