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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
The first most important thing about you, as a person is how you see God.
The second most important thing about you, as a person, is what comes into your mind when you think about yourself. That collage, that mirror of how you see yourself.
There are all kinds of fears that shape us, but there are not just fears that warp our view of ourselves. There are certain feelings. And at the top of the list of the feelings, that probably does more damage to how you see yourself and impacts every relationship and nearly all your behavior is a feeling called shame.
If you’ll pull out your notes, I want you to get an actual definition. Shame is a painful feeling of regret, self-hate, and dishonor. Brené Brown describes it as a painful feeling or experience of believing that you are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging. It’s interesting you can teach something and then have interaction and the interaction after the last service really shaped how this one came together; what people shared with me.
I had a number of really great illustrations that I shared, but they weren’t even close to the number of people sitting in this room and last night who lived with the shame that there is an abortion in your past, and you have never shared it with anyone. Or you are a man who pushed someone to have an abortion.
And when that bubbles up to the surface, there is a part of you that feels unlovable and like you are being punished. There are a number of people in this room that have an unbiblical divorce that they just got fed up and you broke away or someone left you or you have a divorce in your past and, literally, people don’t know. It was twenty-some years ago. Because, somehow, you think that marks you as a second-class Christian. That it’s the unpardonable sin.
For others, you – drug addiction, sexual promiscuity. And then you have had this major change and now you’re walking with God and, yet, there’s just parts of your past that when those things come up, certain songs you hear on the radio, man, the last thing in the world you want is a friend or any of your kids to know what you “used to be like.” It’s shame. And that shame, that does something to you. You are who you are. Some of your struggles, the drivenness, the desire for everything to look good and for your kids to be so much different than you and, man, it just shapes us. And for others in this room, it wasn’t personal things that you did, it’s some things that people did to you.
It’s interesting to meet people that look really great and find yourself in a living room or at a coffee shop and as my wife has done every year with different groups of women – and they all look great – and within, she never tells me names and she is super with confidentiality, she said, “Chip, you cannot believe the pain in our church. One woman broke down in tears as her father committed suicide and it has marked her life. I have three women out of the twenty-two that were sexually abused as children. One woman said she has never told anyone she currently has a son in prison, but she feels ashamed, and therefore…”
And what I want you to know is shame is debilitating. Shame marks your life. Shame is what keeps you from believing that you are worthy and it’s like BBs off of a tank when I talk about God as your Father and you’re adopted and you’re valuable and you’re redeemed and He paid for you and He loves you and all that is just like BBs off a tank where you feel like, I’ve got to earn it. And I’ve got to perform.
Or some of you are living in shame right now with private lives and duplicity and addictions because you medicate and you feel inferior and you are desperately afraid like all the rest of us: if someone really knew who the real you was, they would reject you.
We are going to go to a very sensitive place. Notice in your notes: shame usually results in guilt and self-depreciation. Here’s the good news: but it can also lead us to search for God and His answers.
I know what I just shared – I just wish sometimes I would have a video camera and you could see you the way I see you. After what I just shared, if you could see the faces and the body language, you know what? You would actually feel really good because you would go, Wow! I am not the only one and I was trying not to show it.
Everyone in this room has been deeply marked by shame. Some far more than others. In fact, the unhealthy things that happen when that impacts our life is we have feelings of inferiority, often, that people never see. Self-destructive behaviors.
Within the last twelve hours, I have heard of two specific suicides of people whose life was going well, they lost their job, and they just couldn’t face the future. Self-pity, passivity. Some of you haven’t taken a risk in so long, you can’t remember. Some of you, when we talk about getting in a group or using your gifts – no way. Because you are convinced that you’re not competent, that you’ll fail, and that people will think less of you – just like your parents did or that teacher did or your peers did.
Withdrawing and hiding is a very common response. For some of us, we go the other direction. I’m a driven person. I have covered my shame and my inadequacy and my insecurity by being the ultra-overachiever. I was the shame of the shortest kid in my class who couldn’t make it and I had been living most of my life at least apart from Christ with, “I’ll show you! I’ll show you what someone really short and really skinny can do if I work harder than everyone else.”
And that imprint, that imprint has taken years to transition and to understand: I don’t need to prove anything to anyone. I am loved and accepted by my Father.
There are some even in this room that, when you look in the mirror, it’s painful because you don’t like how you look. And if you’re a young woman in our world, you have been so overwhelmed with: you’re not skinny enough, you’re not beautiful enough, you’re not smart enough, you’re not anything enough.
Girls have never been more successful. GPA, college enrollment, all the rest. And they have never felt more like they don’t measure up. Teen depression, teen suicide – boys and girls – is off the charts in our day and climbing. And a lot of it is parents creating a world that you need to be a super-girl or a super-guy and have everything together and if they don’t excel at everything, and no matter how much the excel, they are driven to the next level. And all with the good intentions of parents who want them to be “successful” and when they don’t measure up, they feel shame.
Turn in your notes and let’s get to the answer, because shame is powerful and debilitating, but grace is more powerful. So, what is God’s antidote to shame? From the first time that shame entered the planet, it happened in a garden. And it was true shame, not false shame.
It was the shame of knowing the right thing to do and wanting to be God, wanting to usurp God and believing that if you would do this thing, that you would be just like God. And God has dealt with shame in that first garden then the way He does now.
First, He asked a question to get you and me to be honest. “Have you eaten?” Have you done something wrong? Second question, face your shame, “Who told you that you were naked?” And then finally, He covers their shame and He forgives. And even repairs and starts a journey of healing.
The Bible’s promise is that if, “Any man or if any woman is in Christ, you are a new creation. The old things,” literally, the tense is passed away. They are gone. “Behold,” it’s a process, “all things become new.”
God’s antidote to shame is the gospel. His antidote to shame is that God the Son came and lived a perfect life, died in your place, rose from the dead, and offers healing and restoration. But how does that work? That’s easy to say. How does that really work? And if it’s true, why are there so many Christians whose lives don’t seem to be that much different or that privately are still living with shame after years and years and years of being a follower of Christ?
The apostle Paul is going to show us exactly why that is and how it can be different. In the book of Ephesians, the context is he has reminded that Ephesian church and us of this dramatic new standing with God, that we have every spiritual blessing in Christ, and then in one long sentence, verses 3 to 14, he said, “Remember, you are chosen; you are wanted.” He said, “You are adopted. You have a Father.” He said, “You are redeemed; you are valuable. You are secure. You have been sealed with the Spirit.”
All these amazing things he says, “These things are true of us.” And then he does something. Because I don’t know about you, some of these things I have known have been true of me for years and years and years and years and yet, I still try to overachieve. I still have the same old things. And I’m guessing you do too.
So, how do you get things from your head, truth that you agree with, to truth that is not just with you but in you. The apostle Paul models something for us. Look at verse 15. “For this reason” – what reason? “since all these things are true of you,” the apostle Paul writes, “ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus, and your love for all the saints,” notice how many times he talks about the power of prayer, “I haven’t stopped giving thanks for you.” Focus on the change and what has happened in your life.
“Remembering you in my prayers, I keep asking,” present tense, continually, “I keep on asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father,” here’s his request, “may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation.” And spirit of wisdom is insight. Insight and awareness. It’s that “ah-ha” moment that God would, by His Spirit, as we pray for others and pray for ourselves, would take these truths about adoption and about redemption and, Oh! This is how it actually applies to me and my history and my shame and my failures.
And not only He would give me the spirit of wisdom, but a spirit of revelation. In other words, the word just means that the truth would be unveiled. That you would see it like never before. And the goal is that you would know God better.
Please put a box around the word know in your notes. There are two primary words in Greek for know. This is one of them. It means an intimate, personal experience. We know by way of personal experience. He is praying that all those truths will go from their head to their heart so they would know in their soul, in their emotions that how they would view themselves would completely change, because they would begin to actually believe and experience: God is my Father. I am actually wanted. My dad didn’t want me, but God does. I am actually valuable. I was called a loser, but God says I am valuable. And those things would go from here to here because we would see God for who He is.
But that’s only the first prayer. Notice the second prayer. “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.” You might write above that, grammatically, it’s actually that the eyes of your heart, having been enlightened. It already occurred.
The moment that you receive Christ, the eyes, not just of your intellect, but of your heart, the understanding ability of what God has done in your life, it begins and it’s a process. He is praying that the eyes of your heart, having been enlightened – why? “In order that you may know,” and then he is going to give us three things that you may know.
Guess what you should do with the second word know – put a box around it, that’s right. This is the other word for know. This is a word for facts, completely objective. Ironclad, it’s data, it’s true. Two plus two is four. E=mc2. This is just absolute facts. First, I am praying for an experiential knowledge of what is true of you. Second, I am going to pray that three specific facts are true of you, that you could go, “Yes! That’s true.”
Number one fact: the hope to which He has called you. And in your notes, just jot: my salvation. By the way, when the Bible talks about hope, it’s not like we do in English.
We hope our kids turn out right. We hope if we are single we meet the right person. That’s called wishful thinking. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We hope it doesn’t rain when we’re having a picnic.
But the word hope in the Bible means: an absolute certainty. In other words, the blessed hope is Christ is returning. There’s a new heaven, a new earth, a new life. My hope is in Him means it will never change.
And so, as a fact, not – he wants you to understand and believe that this calling, this new relationship, it’s certain. There is confidence. Your past has been put behind you.
Second fact is that the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints. It’s a fact. Now, did you notice, earlier we studied, we talked about our inheritance. Put a circle around the word His. Who is it talking about? He wants you to know the fact that not only is your hope absolutely secure, but he wants you to know the riches, the glorious riches of God’s inheritance in you.
I have tried to explain this for many years – there’s a sense of awe that I can’t get other people to grasp and I can’t put it into words until this morning. And I was thinking of this this morning as I was praying.
And I thought, What does this really mean? And then I thought, Chip, you got to adopt two kids. Yeah. You have your estate plan done. Yeah. When you die, those two kids like your other two kids are going to get an inheritance. But how have they been your inheritance? And I thought: for whatever amount of money I am going to leave them is so miniscule compared to my inheritance. I have had two young men become my sons. I have watched them grow up and change. They have brought joy to me that is inexpressible. I watched them go through ups and downs and then marry well. I have watched one write songs that people all around the world worship Jesus through. And another one learn a skill that he heals people’s bodies and tells them about Christ the way he does.
And them, between them, they have given us five grandchildren. And what I realize is my inheritance – they are so wonderful. Are you ready for this? What if you believed that’s how God saw you?
What if you believed that, yes, you get an inheritance, but what it – it’s an absolute fact the heavenly Father, the Creator of the world goes, You are My treasure. And, yes, you have your ups and your downs and you have failed and you have had struggles and My Son has taken care of that. And there is coming a day, not only today when you change and you grow and it brings me such joy and you talk to Me and we get connected. But then there is going to be a final day where you and I, forever and ever – and there will be no sin, there will be no shame. And you are My treasure. He says, That’s what I want you to believe as a fact.
The third thing is the incomparable great power – who? For us who believe. And then he describes this power and he literally takes out his thesaurus because he just can’t communicate clearly enough the extent of the power that is inside every genuine follower of Christ.
He says, “That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ,” and then he gives us three specific: if you want to think about power, this is awesome! Let me give you three examples of how great, how surpassing, this actual power is inside every, single believer the moment you receive Christ.
He says it’s the same kind of power that was exerted in Christ when, one, He was raised from the dead. And not only that, but seated at the Father’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Where is that? Far above rule, authority, power, and dominion. That’s, in the Jewish mindset, those were these classes of angels and principalities.
And every title that can be given. In this world or in the world to come. Second, “And God placed all things under His feet,” that’s authority. He’s at the right hand of God, this is the authority. And third, “He appointed Him,” Jesus, “to be head over everything of the Church, which is His body,” us, “the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.”
He is reaching, reaching, reaching. Are you ready for this? This first word that I put in bold: power. Guess what word we get in English: dynamite. It’s dynamis. He says: this power that dwells in you, when you feel like, I can’t break through the shame. I can never change and I can never learn to be patient enough. I’m not a good parent. I’m never going to – I can’t break this addiction. He says: this power is the power like dynamite that has capacity and potential.
The second word is working and we get our word energy. It’s an operational power. It’s not just capacity, but it’s the kind of power that makes things happen and brings about change.
The third word is mighty. And the word mighty here is used of bodily strength or muscular force. And the last word is strength and it’s power to overcome obstacles, resistance, or control.
It’s literally the apostle Paul goes, Do you have any idea not only who you really are, but what God has actually given you? Now, here’s the question: how do you access that? If you’re thinking much with me right now, if that is really true of every, single person here whom the Spirit of Christ lives in, or anybody watching or listening someday, somewhere – how do you access that to overcome shame, the fear of punishment, the fear of rejection, the fear of death? That’s where we’re going to go.
He’s going to explain it very, very clearly and then I’m going to take this passage that we just taught and I want to now help you see: what does this truth look like in your life and mine everyday world?
How do we overcome true and false shame? We are living in a day when shame is viewed as a psychological term and any shame that you have is not your fault. There is true shame.
True shame is the kind of shame of your past failures, your moral lapses, your greed, your immorality and mine, our manipulation, our lies, the way that we use people. Stuff that we have done or are doing. We should feel, we should feel a sense of regret, a sense of: I blew it. A sense of: I don’t measure up.
But there’s also the shame that is false shame, cultural standards, ones your parents or the culture put on you. Ones even that the Church – the Church has made a lot of people feel shameful. Religion in many ways, regardless of the background, has tried to control people through shame and get them to behave in certain ways by shaming them into it.
Well, how do you break through of that? Number one, you receive Christ. We talked about it last week. “As many as receive Christ, to them He gives the” – what is our word? “power to become children of God, even those who believe in His name.”
I’m just, I want to pause just for a moment here. In a church like ours that talks a lot about discipleship, that talks a lot about spiritual growth, there is a danger that you can come here and you can sit and you can learn and you can think, I’m on this gradual journey and I am putting some of these things into practice, but you even start to agree with what is true, but you have never crossed the line.
You have to be born again. There has to be a certain day, at a certain time when you say, It’s not about me getting some self-improvement with a little Jesus help. I have sinned before a holy God. I am in desperate need.
But Christ has paid the penalty for my sin. At this moment in time, I am telling You that I don’t measure up, I am placing all my faith on Christ, and I’m asking You to come into my life to save me and I want to follow You the rest of my days. If you have never crossed that line, can I encourage you? Today is the day.
Don’t let it go by. There is no power and everything I am talking about does not apply to anyone that is outside of Christ. Not because God doesn’t want you. It’s we want God on our terms.