Some years ago Kristi and I walked the streets of ancient Ephesus in modern day Turkey. In the ancient past, people came from miles in all directions to bring offerings of worship to the temple of Artemis, a false god. (The temple is pictured above.) Others in Ephesus worshiped the emperor Nero. Many, like Demetrius and his guild of silversmiths, used Artemis for profit by making and selling shrines — they found their source in money. And many practiced magic and sorcery inspired by Artemis. Others frequented the brothel near the temple.
Is it any different today? Our false gods may be more subtle — we call them “compulsions” or “entertainments.” Just as the people of ancient Ephesus, we need to learn to draw our personal sustenance from an identity that is rooted “in Christ.”
“In Christ” Promises
In his New Testament letters, the Apostle Paul teaches us to root our identity “in Christ.” Nearly 160 times he shares beloved promises from God on how blessed we will be if we will find our all and all in Christ alone. (See “Identity in Christ Verses in the Bible.”)
I’d like to share with you seven of the in Christ promises from Ephesians, the book in the Bible with the highest concentration of in Christ promises. They form a progression for a life that is growing in God’s grace, apprenticed to Jesus Christ to become more and more like him from the inside out: secure, loved, esteemed, purposeful, strong – no matter what circumstances we face. You may want to insert your name in the blank and pray these promises out loud:
In Christ __________
- is chosen by the Father (Eph 1:3)
- is forgiven of all sins (Eph 1:7)
- is sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13)
- has the incomparable riches of God’s grace (Eph 2:7)
- is not far away, but has been brought near to God (Eph 2:13)
- can approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph 3:12)
- is a shining light to bless others (Eph 5:8)
I put these in Christ promises on a little sheet of paper to carry in my pocket and I memorized them so I could meditate on them over and over. Then I pray them for myself and others.
“In Christ” Promises Need to Be Incarnated
Learning our Identity in Christ is not just a cognitive exercise — we need to experience these spiritual “in Christ” realities. That’s why Christ left the privileges of heaven and became a man. But there can be a huge gap between what we profess to believe about Christ and what our actual lives show we believe/trust with our hearts. So in addition to meditating on Scripture it’s essential that we participate in “love one another” relationships.
For instance, say you want to know that you’re chosen by God the Father. You’d study the Bible’s message on this. I did one such study: “Bible Verses on the Father’s Love.” You’d also work on connecting with people in mutually grace-giving relationships: receiving loving initiative and extending it to others.