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About this series
Discover Your True Self
How to Silence the Lies of Your Past and Actually Experience Who God Says You Are
Who are you? Who says so? You? Your family? Your friends? From the first two chapters of the book of Ephesians, Chip helps you discover who God says you are as a believer in Christ. Understanding your position, the freedom, and the power you possess as a child of the Most-High God, enables you to move beyond the struggles and the uncertainty we all experience to living an amazing life of peace and assurance. It equips you to serve others with humility and patience and it empowers you to forgive and share with lavish generosity. People will wonder what your story is and with the help of this series, you'll be able to answer with confidence.More from this series
God has solved your problem and my problem. God has solved the problem for whosoever will. God wants to eradicate and obliterate, not just theologically, your guilt, but the experience of guilt and guilty feelings so that you can live a free life.
Notice how He did it. This is His provision; this is His solution. Verse 8, “For it is by grace that you have been saved” – how? “through faith. And this is not from yourselves,” notice, “it is a gift from God.”
“It’s not of works.” No amount of trying hard, no amount of re-upping, no amount of willpower. You can’t solve this. And the reason is that so no one can boast. Grace, the free, unmerited, love of God that put Christ upon the cross after living a perfect life to be your substitute, to pay for your sin, to atone. That’s what the word means. He covered it.
All that you deserved and I deserved was placed upon Christ and that’s why He said, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” because the Father turned away from the Son in that millisecond because the just condemnation and anger of God was placed on Christ so it shouldn’t be on me.
And just as I was imputed or given hereditarily the sin of Adam, now I get the imputed righteousness of Christ. That’s who you really are. It’s true!
Our restoration can only begin, however, when we recognize the full extent of our need. See, I think so many Christians is, even people I think come here to our church, I think it’s a lot of – “Hey, I want to be a better person. I want my kids to turn out right. I want a good life. And the music is good and you take good care of our kids. And the messages are kind of helpful for me to adjust around life and some of them are even inspirational and motivational.”
But you have never crossed the line. You are still in control. This is like, Jesus, help me so I can have my life the way I want it to figure out what I want to do, because I know what is best about being happy. You haven’t received the gift. You don’t believe God is who He really is. You still subtly believe, down deep in your heart, but if you surrender all, if you say, “I am going to follow Him. I’m going to go public. I am going to live out this life.” That, Oh my lands. Your income will probably go down. He’ll probably ask you to do some hard and difficult thing.
Is that what you would do with your kids? His plans are best for you. But you have to reach the sense of your need. It’s a gift.
Some of you are just outside of Christ and this is all new and it sounds too good to be true. Remember our series on generosity? I wrote something down and I’m trying to live it out. I’m making progress inch by inch.
And in that, I told you that I long to become known in heaven and on earth an extraordinarily generous person. Not that anyone would see it, but that was my prayer before God.
And so, this was, I don’t know, several weeks ago at Costco. And I was checking out. I was by myself picking up some stuff. And it was very obvious the couple and small kid behind me were struggling, financially. And they were trying to figure out: can we put this in or that in? And they had a number of things. It was a pretty good little…
And so, I, like you do. I give my thing; I pay my thing. And I saw it, and then I whispered, I said, “Put theirs on mine? Okay? Just let me take care of that.” And the guy heard me. “What? What?” I said, “No, no, no, no, man. I have just been really, really blessed. I would be so honored if you would let me pay for yours. Just, you know what? Just would love to bless you today.” “No, no, no, man. Hey! No, no, no, no.” I said, “No, I just, would you…” He wouldn’t let me. He wouldn’t let me.
Why would anyone turn down a hundred and twenty-five to a hundred and fifty dollars’ worth of groceries? He needed it. I knew he needed it. I heard him talking with his wife. Why? “I can do this myself. I don’t need your help. I don’t need charity. I, I, I, I, pride, pride, pride.”
How in the world could people turn down the gift of salvation? How come? “Well, I want the benefits. I want a little help. But I am going to be in control.” Guess what, that guy got to stay in control. Bless you, buddy. And not only that, he hurt my feelings. He did!
Listen to your laughter as you hurt God’s feelings. Are you willing to receive God’s best? Or are you so smart and so wise in yourself that you are going to stay in control?
It is by grace that you are saved, yes, but notice, “through faith.” The source is one hundred percent grace; write that down. But the reception is through faith.
This is: all of your salvation is a gift and it is apprehended or received by your action of faith. You trust. You believe. You transfer. God, I need Your help! I am desperate!
My dad came to faith and overcame his guilt when he said, “I can’t do this and my insides and my anxiety and I can only chew so much gum.” I bet he went through fifteen hundred packs of gum the first year. He wasn’t smoking; he wasn’t drinking. He had to do something. Yi, yi, yi.
I shared the gospel. He started reading the Bible. And I still remember, he said – he was a Marine. I love Marines. He said, “Chip, well, how do you get this Jesus?” I said, I didn’t know at the time. I was a Christian, but I was uninformed. And I said, “I just started reading the Bible, Dad.”
And so, he gets up, five a.m., reads the Bible for an hour every morning. More than most Christians. And he kept reading through the gospels. He goes, “I’m not sure, but it has something to do with faith.” I said, “Dad, I think it has everything to do with faith.”
And my father, big Marine, advanced degrees, this family that, on the outside looked good – educated, polite, all the kids do well in school, all the kids do well in athletics. Externally, like a lot of you all, we looked squeaky clean. And behind it, an alcoholic father, an enabler, a rebellious child, a compliant child, an eating disorder, and a rescuer.
And my dad got on his knees at the end of his bed with the four laws and, God has a wonderful plan for my life. And he said, Lord Jesus, I have sinned against you. I have done many things wrong and I have killed thousands of people. I can’t imagine how You could forgive me. But Your Word says that You died in my place and so I am asking You right now, will You forgive me and come into my life right now?
And my dad could whip not taking drinks, but he could never get rid of his guilt until he trusted Christ. And then a journey started. An amazing journey with a lot of ups and a lot of downs.
Can I ask you: have you ever trusted Christ? Not just believed it’s true, but have you received Jesus as your Savior? And if you haven’t, today is the day. Don’t walk out of this room, or don’t turn off your video until you just bow your head and say, “Am I going to be like the guy at Costco or am I going to receive this free gift?”
The result: no condemnation. No condemnation. “Therefore, there is no condemnation” – what? “for those who are,” underline the little two things, “in Christ Jesus.” There’s no condemnation. There’s no guilt. All your guilt has been paid for.
Now, here’s the key. Here’s what you’re asking, right? If there is no condemnation and I don’t have any theological guilt, why do I still have guilt feelings? Write two words under, in your notes. Write the word condemnation and write the word conviction.
We could call it, instead of condemnation, you could actually call it guilt if we were thinking theologically. Let’s just go with condemnation. The goal of condemnation, you do something wrong, condemnation says, “I am a bad person.”
The author of condemnation is the enemy. He is the accuser of the brethren, Revelation 12:10. The goal of condemnation is to make you feel unworthy, a terrible person, that makes you not want to get around God, not want to pray, and not make things right. That’s condemnation. That’s not from God.
Conviction, the author is the Holy Spirit. Conviction is not: I’m a bad person because you’re a son or you’re a daughter of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Conviction is: I had a bad behavior or a bad thought. I have sinned against God or someone and the Holy Spirit is pointing this very specifically out.
Over here, God is: Your attitude toward one of your kids of unforgiveness is wrong and that will produce poison in you and destruction in your relationship. Confess it to Me; make it right with him. That television show, that site that you logged on, that third glass of wine, that eating that you have – I have already spoken to you about your attitude toward. It will be very specific; the author is the Holy Spirit.
The goal is that you specifically know what happens and the response, “if you confess your sins,” it just means agree with God. You don’t hide. You don’t excuse. You don’t complain. You don’t blame. “It’s not my fault.”
You are right! I have a terrible attitude toward my son. You are right! I was harsh with my husband or my wife. You’re right! Actually, I would call it a white lie, but it’s a lie. You’re right! I didn’t do this at work when I said I did. I lied in the meeting. Will You forgive me?
Poof! And the Holy Spirit will draw you close to the Father because the goal is to reconnect your fellowship with God. When we mess up in God’s family, He doesn’t kick us out of the family. He brings it to our attention so He can draw us back close to Him so that we can get the very best and become the most Christ-like son or daughter. Does that make sense? Condemnation. Conviction.
Now, what many of us do, He shows us something, we bury it. We just bury it. We feel guilty and our warped view of God, you think God is down on you so you don’t pray and you don’t apologize to your wife or your son. And you don’t deal with the issue. And you push it down. And then you push it down.
And then, because, when you have guilt, real guilt, it does something in your soul. But three or four beers or a couple shots or a joint or some shopping or, in my case, work – covers it over for just a little while.
But you always have to come back and face you. And pretty soon, you can live a life where your conscience, that little antennae God has given you to say right or wrong, yes or no, becomes seared and bent. And that’s why many, many Christians can, literally, feel no guilt and, yet, their finances demonstrate they are in complete disobedience to God. They can feel no guilt and, yet, be sexually active or logging on to pornography in direct disobedience to God.
Here's the problem: that will bring about destruction in your life and your relationships, and it will break God’s heart. And the whole story of the prodigal son was he is just looking for sons and daughters just to come back, are you ready for this? It’s amazing the weight that comes off, I blew it. But it can’t be a secret. You’ve got to confess it to God and to someone safe where healing occurs.
And then the exciting part is embracing the beauty of God’s re-creation. Notice, there’s another reason: “For we have been saved by grace,” well, the reason, “for you are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for you to do.”
Circle the word workmanship. We get our word poem. It’s the picture of a tapestry, it’s the picture of an artist or a potter. And He has made something magnificent. You now, in Christ, are not only wanted and secure and valuable and competent – you are beautiful!
And God says, From the foundations of the earth I created you. And then, yes, there was disobedience and you were separated from Me. Now I have rescued you and so on two counts, one, I made you. Your eye color, your height, your personality. All of that, I actually dig it! I love it! Like, I am the author! And, now, your inner qualities, I see you through My Son, Jesus. You’re beautiful. You’re this tapestry that is being woven.
And the backside has a lot of knots and there’s a lot of problems and there’s a lot of struggles, but I just want, the front side, it’s getting more and more and more beautiful, and that’s what I see.
Jot down, if you will: you are His masterpiece. And then notice: you are uniquely gifted and beautiful in your inward character and your outward appearance in God’s eyes.
As you go to the back page, there’s a very specific way for you and me to see ourselves.
The top two lies that we believe in this area is that, “I am a bad person, my past mistakes and guilty feelings confirm that I am dirty, ugly, and unlovable.” You would be shocked how many people in this room feel that way. I’m a bad person. Not, I’m a good person in God’s eyes who does some occasional bad things. I’m a bad person. I feel ugly. I feel unlovable.
Guess what, when that’s the view of you, you talk about problems in every relationship. And people that have been abused emotionally, or especially sexually, this is how they see themselves. It’s a lie.
The second lie is: “If only I could be as beautiful and talented and morally pure as,” you fill in the person, “then I would be happy.” So, where we go is we compare ourselves with someone else. I feel ugly, I feel dirty, I feel unworthy, but if I looked like her. If I could do that. If I could play the violin. If I could play the piano. If I was a CEO. If I made a lot of money. If I, if I, if I, if I…
And then you go down those paths and the saddest people are the ones who achieve! It’s like the interview I heard for the quarterback of the Super Bowl. He said, “Everyone thinks when you win the Super Bowl, it’s going to be this awesome thing. It never delivers what we thought it would.” He said, “My advantage is, as a follower of Christ, I knew it wouldn’t.”
But here’s the truth you review: My soul, the real me, my physical appearance, my natural talents, and my personality, in their unchanging aspects – this isn’t saying we can’t improve – but my soul, the real me, my physical appearance, I’m not going to get over six feet. I can’t change my eye color.
I have a personality. There are strengths to it and weaknesses to it. But in their unchanging aspects, are beautiful in God’s sight. Are you ready? He is my Designer and Maker. Why? Listen carefully. You are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.
As we close, I was trying to figure out how to communicate and process this and I jotted something in my journal that, at least, maybe will give some of you some hope.
And here’s after this passage in studying it, I wrote, “I confess, Jesus, that so very often I think and emote and ponder all of this like some theoretical truth or mathematical equation, that You died for my sin and in my place. You rose from the grave. You conquered death, sin, and Satan. And now what is true of You is true of me. And by faith, I have put my trust in Your work on the cross, and resurrection.
“And indeed, all that is one hundred percent true, but the reality, that correct doctrine doesn’t reach into my heart and the depth of my heart and being and emotions until I grasp afresh: You, the fully human man with human pain and grief and exhaustion and anguish. It’s not God the Force. It’s God the Person.
“You voluntarily suffered this pain, emotional nearly a breakdown, relational betrayal, desertion by Your closest friends, and the worst of all, the rejection by Your Father. And in that moment, You allowed all my sin and the sins of everyone else to be placed on You and the anger of the Father was justly toward evil.
Not just the principle or the philosophy, but real evil in each one of us and You did all that to bring Chip Ingram, one human being, made in Your image, fallen, insecure, fearful, guilty, and completely unworthy into a safe, secure, eternal relationship of incomprehensible love and acceptance, filled now with purpose and power and gifts. And to think that my older brother, the Lord Jesus, says without any shame, He’s my friend.
“I confess so often I fail to remotely grasp this new life and the reality of this process, but even when I faintly begin to even get a glimpse, it births some overwhelming gratitude and I have this compelling desire to obey You and to honor You because of Your love, not because of my guilt. And I want to love others more and more and treat them the way You do, regardless of how they look or what they have done or what they believe.
“Please enlighten me further that the eyes of my heart might know You, Jesus, better and better and better as You are, and as a result, I might see myself more and more as You see me.”
It’s a journey, folks. You don’t have to live a guilt-ridden life. You’re not guilty anymore.
Will you bow your head and let me pray for you? Holy, holy Father, I would ask You in this moment for those who have not received Christ and accepted Your gift, that in their seat or on their screen or as they are listening driving somewhere at some time, that in this very moment they would turn to You with all their heart, and in desperation admit their need, confess their sin, and ask You to come into their life right now and forgive them and purpose by Your power and Your grace to walk with You. And, Lord, I pray that You would allow the fact that there is no more guilt for those that are in Christ Jesus to sink in like never before. In Jesus’ name, amen.