As you may recall, we began our series entitled, “Living Life From A Heavenly Edge.” I believe there are several spiritual facts to developing a powerful self-image as to who we are in Christ.
Recognize Our Righteousness
We need to recognize our righteousness. In Ephesians 1:1, we read, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.”
If you are in Christ Jesus, that is, if you have received Christ as your personal Savior, if you have repented of your sin, trusted Christ, and you’ve been saved, you are a saint!
Now, sometimes our Catholic friends take certain
individuals who have achieved certain things in their Christian lives and they say we’re going to canonize them or make them saints. Yet, nobody can make me a saint; I am already a saint. There are only two classes of people in the world, the saints and the ain’ts. That’s all.
Now, what the word “saint” means is “a sanctified one”. It means one that God has made righteous and set aside for Himself.
What is humility? You may say, “Well, you know, I just don’t think I ought to call myself a saint.” Well, let me tell you what real humility is. Real humility is accepting what God says about you. I am not asking what you think about it, but what God says about you.
There are some Christians I cannot lead to victory because they will not understand or they will not receive what God says, not only about their sinnership when they were lost, but about their sainthood now that they’re saved. Some Christians just resist the idea. They don’t get victory because they cannot accept the fact that they’re saints.
I’m telling you dear friend, God calls you a saint. You’re saying, “Well, you mean that I’m supposed to be sinless?” No, dear friend, you can’t be sinless. But I’m going to tell you one thing, you can be blameless.
In chapter 1 verse 4 we read: “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:” Every one of us ought to be blameless before the Lord Jesus Christ. We are saints of God. You say, “Well, but I’m not perfect.” That makes no difference. In God’s sight, you’re His saint.
Every one of us in some way we’ve failed from time to time. If you’ve repented of your sin and trusted Jesus Christ to save you, you are righteous in God’s sight and you are a saint of God. You better understand that, because until you see who you are, you’re not going to behave like you ought to behave. You see, your behavior comes out of the conception of who you are, and when you see that you’re the righteousness of God in Christ, then you’re going to begin to behave that way.
Rely On Our Resources
In Ephesians 1:3, we read, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,”-now watch it-“Who hath”-that is, it’s already done-“hath blessed us with all”-” spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” All spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.Now, you need to understand, not only are you righteous in God’s sight, not only does God call you a saint, but that God has given you everything that you need to live a Christian life.
Now, I want to ask you a question, “Who is right, you or God?” Huh? According to this verse you have everything that you need to live the Christian life. You have all the love you need, you have all the patience you need, you have all of the faith that you need, you have all of the wisdom that you need. You say, “If I have it, why don’t I have it?” Because you’ve not understood that you have it. You do not have a conception of yourself as having it. You do not perceive yourself as having it. You’re like that elephant that’s being held by that little peg. You’re like that person whose face has been changed, but you’ve never changed on the inside and therefore you still see yourself without wisdom, without love, without patience, without faith, without strength. You conceive of yourself that way and because you conceive of yourself that way, you live that way.
God does not ask anything of you that He has not already given you. Everything that God demands of me, God has already given me. Do you understand that?
God doesn’t ask me to manufacture anything. It is already mine in Christ and according to Ephesians 1:3. God has already blessed me with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
I want to tell you that truth is believing what God says. It’s more important to believe what God says, than what you think. Now, listen, when you understand what God says, when you understand the truth, the truth will set you free. I’m saying in order to have a healthy self-image, number one, you are to recognize your righteousness in God’s sight. You are a saint.
God has imputed righteousness to you, and you are the righteousness of God in Christ. God has imputed that righteousness, and God will never impute sin to you. That doesn’t mean He’ll not carry you to the woodshed and beat the daylights out of you if you disobey Him, but He will never put that sin on your account. One-half of one sin would damn you forever if you ever had that sin imputed to Him.
How does it come? Through the knowledge of
Him that hath called us to glory and virtue. All things that pertain to life and godliness, everything that you need to live the Christian life. You don’t need anything else. God has already given you all things that pertain to life, all things that pertain to godliness. How does it come? Through the knowledge of Him who’s called us.
You’ll know the truth and the truth will set you free. When you understand who you are in Christ Jesus, when you recognize your righteousness, God calls you a saint when you rely upon your resources.Now, it’s not until you know this that you begin to have this healthy self-image, to understand who you are in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Rest In Our Relationship
What is your relationship? In Ephesians 1:3, we read, “the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
Now, what is your relationship? Your relationship is one of acceptance, not merely that you have accepted God, but He has made you accepted in the beloved.
Now, who is the beloved? Jesus, and you in Christ. So, what is true about Jesus is true about you. When God the Father looked over the battlements of Heaven, when the Lord Jesus was being baptized, God the Father said of God the Son, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) Now, if you are in Him, you are accepted in Him, in the beloved, you are accepted in the Lord Jesus.
The problem with so many of us, the reason we do not have a good self-image, the reason we have such a warped personality and psyche, is that we have this feeling of rejection. Sometimes it’s called an inferiority complex, sometimes it’s called a feeling of rejection, and other things. Why do we have it? It is inbred; it is incipient in the race.
Why do you think kids will leave a good home where they have a nice soft bed and nice carpets on the floors, and good clean clothes to wear, and love of a father and a mother? Why do they leave that home and go live in a commune with a bunch of unwashed, unruly kids, and eat sardines, potted meat, and crackers? Why do they do that; sleep on a dirty mattress? Because in the commune they have a feeling of being accepted, that’s why.
Everybody dresses a certain way to be accepted. Madison Avenue tells us if we don’t use the right kind of toothpaste we won’t be accepted. If we don’t wear designer clothes we will not be accepted. If we don’t have, as I said this morning, the right little animal on our shirt pocket we’re not going to be accepted. This rejection is enforced.Well, you know, kids are cruel. Did you know that? I’m talking about little kids. You know, when you’re in grade school, somebody came up and said, “Did you know that your ears stick out?” And, boy I want to tell you, lock in on that and you’ll never look in the mirror without going like this. Or they’ll say, “Did you know that one nostril is bigger than the other?” Kids are that way, aren’t they? And, all your life you go through life saying, “Boy, I’d be a pretty good guy if one nostril weren’t bigger than the other, and you just want to be accepted. You just want to be a part, and we just have this, this inborn rejection.
Now, what happens is that many Christians, many Christians, still have this need for acceptance. I mean, even after they get saved they fail to understand that they are now accepted in the beloved. And, so many Christians get off into legalism, and they’re trying to be accepted when they’ve already been accepted. And, many Christians are working hard to make God love them. They think, “Boy, if I could just give more money. If I could just be at the church more. If I could just pray harder. If I could just study. If I could just memorize more verses maybe then, maybe then God would love me. Maybe then God would accept me.”
Now, I want to give you what I consider to be the greatest truth in this message: God does not change you in order that He may love you. God loves you in order that He may change you.
When I see this, when I see right away that God already loves me, I mean, God loves me now, even though I’m imperfect, even though in my own stature there are faults and failures and foibles, still I want to tell you, I am the righteousness of God in Christ. That righteousness hath been imputed to me, and I need to recognize my righteousness, and I need to rely upon my resources. God has blessed me with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. I need, not only to do that, but I need to receive my relationship, which is this: that I am accepted in the beloved and I need to quit trying to work my way to God. Holiness is not the way to Christ. Christ is the way to holiness.
Now, listen, the key to all of this is that little phrase, “in Christ.” Paul says, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus and to the faithful”-here it is-“in Christ.” Look in verse 2-3: “Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:”
“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
Now, listen, what does it mean to be in Christ? Well, if I were to put you in a barrel, you’d be in a barrel, right? Then I’d put the barrel in the Mississippi River. Where are you? You’re in the Mississippi River, right? I mean, if I’ve got you in a barrel, you’re in the barrel, and I put the barrel in the river, where are you? You’re in a barrel in the river, right?
Where are you now? You’re in Christ, right? Where is Christ? He’s seated in the heavenlies. Where are you? Seated in the heavenlies, right? What is true about Christ is true about you. And, you see He’s already enthroned, is seated in the heavenlies. And, all things are beneath His feet. And, when you understand who you are in Christ, you talk about having a good personality, you talk about self-acceptance, a good self-image, you’ll have it. It won’t be pride; it’ll be genuine humility. Humility is accepting what God says. You’ll know the truth, and the truth will set you free.