Ephesians Part One: Dive
IDENTITY BEFORE WAR
You can’t get to Ephesians 6 without going through Chapters 1-5. That sounds stupid, doesn’t it? Of course I can jump to Ephesians 6 and just read that without reading Chapters 1-5, but really, you shouldn’t go to Ephesians 6 without first knowing, and truly absorbing, what is written in the previous chapters.
The most well-known part Ephesians is Chapter 6:10-20, 'Finally be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might'. This is the warfare section, and because we all want the victory we happily jump to take up the whole armour of God against the devil. But did you notice the first word of that section? It says 'finally'. You are not supposed to leap straight to Ephesians 6:10-20 – this is the final installment of an incredible letter that builds us up to stand against the enemy.
Is your warfare not working? Do you feel defeated by the enemy more often than you feel like the incredible overcomer you are called to be? Let me fill you in on a simple answer: you went to Chapter 6 without knowing Chapters 1 - 5. You went to the 'finally' without knowing what came before. As you read the Word, don't miss the key terms like 'therefore', 'finally', and 'in conclusion'. If you want the keys to these terms, go back and find out what they are the 'finally' of, what they are the conclusion of – get the whole picture. So, what is Chapter 6:10-20 the 'finally' of? Chapters 1-5, of course, and what do they contain? The declarations of your identity. This identity is what you are to hold to when making your stand against the enemy.
As you read Ephesians, write a list of your qualities in Christ. This is your identity in Him, and in this identity, you find a solid foundation upon which you stand when the enemy comes against you. Trashing tip: whenever you come across the phrase 'in Him', highlight it! All the identity markers we;re about to go through are found in Him. When I was young, I learnt Ephesians 6:10-20 off by heart, and I tried my hardest to war against the enemy with the whole armour of God on. Every morning I would act out putting on the armor of God, but I didn’t have the solid foundation of my identity in Christ, so I would find myself defeated over and over again. What was I doing wrong? It is upon Him and the identity that He has given us that we stand against the enemy. Next week, we are going to find out that the armour of God is, in fact, just accepting the traits that Christ won for us on the cross. If we don’t know who we are, we won’t fight with the strength that God has given us.
Let me show you the declarations of identity in Ephesians. Let’s start in Ephesians 1:3.
Identity Foundation 1: I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places
E 1:3 'Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ'.
Infuse this into the foundation of who you are, so that when the enemy comes against you and says, ‘you do not have spiritual blessing’, you can reply, 'That is part of my identity – Ephesians 1:3 says I am blessed with every spiritual blessing'. Notice the tense; it doesn’t say you are being blessed or will be blessed it says you are blessed. You have it. It is yours! So we don’t pray from a position of begging God for spiritual blessing, we already have that. Instead, we thank God for the spiritual blessing we have.
Identity Foundation 2: I was chosen by God before the foundation of the world
E 1:4 'For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight'.
You were chosen before you did anything. Before you were born, He chose you. You didn’t work to be chosen, He chose you before the foundation of the world. So, when the enemy comes in and says, ‘you are nothing, worthless to God’ you can say Identity Foundation 2, and shoot back, 'Ephesians 1:4 says I am chosen by God before the foundation of the world'.
Let’s look at one more – one of the most important: your position with Jesus.
Identity Foundation 3: I am seated in heavenly realms with Christ
E 2:6 'And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus'.
How amazing is this?! You are not in the midst of your enemies, you are not overcome by them, you are seated above them in heavenly realms right next to Jesus! See yourself an overcomer, seated in authority with Christ.
Can you see the importance of the identity markers found in the first five chapters of Ephesians to our warfare in chapters 6? Without knowing your identity and what Jesus has done for you, given you and what you are already established in, you will be fighting on shaky ground and for things you already have. Some Christians wear themselves out fighting the enemy over being holy, blessed, sons and daughters, loved, fight for their inheritance in Christ, but God has not called you to fight for that. You simply need to stand on the fact that you already are or have those things.
Next week, we are going to go through Ephesians 6: standing on your identity and defeating the enemy from the high ground of victory. The battle has been won – it is up to us to enforce the victory, not re-fight the battle. But for this week, let's rest in be secure in the knowledge of who we are in Christ, and all that entails. Here are some more identity marks in Ephesians you can add to the three we went through earlier:
We are redeemed through His blood (Ephesians 1:7) – you have been saved and redeemed from your evil ways, so stop doubting and live life in the truth of your identity.
We have an inheritance (Ephesians 1:11).
We are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13).
We have God's immeasurably great power towards us who believe (Ephesians 1:19).
Even when we were dead in our trespasses, He made us alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:5).
We are seated with Him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6) – let that one sink in – you are seated in heavenly places, you are the head and not the tail, you are in a place of victory already! You are not fighting from the mud, you are declaring victory from the high ground.
We are His workmanship, created in Christ for good works (Ephesians 2:10).
All of these are found in the first two chapters! Can you see the declarations of your identity that Paul has piled into Ephesians? These are not things to come when we get to heaven, these are what we are now in Jesus Christ. Because we are in Him, we have these things – if you have not given your life to Jesus, that's your first step.
My prayer over you as you read Ephesians is found in Ephesians 1:17, 'That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of Wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your heart enlightened that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe'.
I pray that as you read Ephesians and see all the things you already are, that your confidence would build and your mind would be filled with the declarations of God over your life. Sometimes it is easier to believe the voice of the devil when he tells us we are nothing, God is not with us, He doesn’t love us, He won’t take care of us, we are not blessed, we are worthless. But today, I want you to stop believing the lies of the enemy and start believing the declarations of God over your life. It is on that foundation that Ephesians 6 is meant to be read. Paul wanted your identity in Him solid before you started fighting the enemy. It is on the solid foundation of an identity in Jesus Christ, seated in heavenly places that we are to war.
When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness in Luke 4, the first thing he said was, “If you are the Son of God”. He questioned Jesus' identity before he did anything. Jesus knew that he was the Son of God and that God was well pleased with him – His baptism was a confirmation of that. (Luke 3:22, 'You are my beloved Son, with you, I am well pleased'). On that identity, and with that as His foundation, Jesus defeated the enemy by quoting the other truths in the Word of God back to Satan. Know your Bible so you can come against him with the truth of God’s word.
Ephesians is going to tell you what you were before you were saved, and give you instructions on how to live your best life. It screams declarations of what you are now in Him! Stand on those truths because sometimes, everything in life can scream the opposite.