The first three chapters of Ephesians are filled with “indicatives,” as opposed to the last three which are filled with “imperatives.” Indicatives don’t tell us what to do so much as who we ARE. Identity! That’s what the Holy Spirit wants us to be sure of.
Gathering our identity apart from God is one definition of sin and is characteristic of the lost, not children of God.
In The Reason for God, Tim Keller explains, “Sin is the despairing refusal to find your deepest identity in your relationship and service to God. Sin is seeking to become oneself, to get an identity, apart from him” (162). Keller is doing what Paul is in 2:1-7, drawing a link between sin and identity.
There is so much to explore here, maybe some evaluative questions will help us test ourselves. You might have an identity problem if your answers to these questions are opposed to God’s identity for you.
Sören Kierkegaard said that only if your identity is built on God and his love can you have a self that can venture anything, face anything. Isn’t that God’s call on those who would follow him and isn’t that the strength, perspective and confidence he gives his children? Any identity apart from God equals insecurity.
What if I discover I have an identity problem? First, write it down. Write down the answers to those questions or write down the things that you believe cause your insecurity. We shouldn’t simply label ourselves with a new identity, like “Insecure Person.” Describe those things on paper. This exercise will help you formulate clear thoughts and identify specific causes. Second, bring your list to Jesus in prayer. Talk to God about it; ask him to free you from your false identity and to embrace being “in Christ.” Third, become part of a church – the gathered people of God – where you can share your broken identity and seek the help and support of those who would speak the Gospel into your life that God would give you freedom.