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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
What comes into your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you.
There is a secret law of your soul that you will gravitate towards your image of God. And that’s why getting a high, holy, clear, loving, accurate picture of Him is the greatest thing you can do for every area of your life.
But the second most important thing is that you can see God accurately, but He longs for you to see yourself the way He sees you.
Let’s do a little experiment. I want you to just think of a picture of yourself now coming to your mind and I want you to describe yourself just in your heart of hearts: how would you describe yourself? What are the three or four words that depict you, that you think are accurate?
Is it loving? Caring? Warm? Approachable? Smart? Gifted? Innovative? Powerful? Or is it lonely? Inadequate? insecure? Confused? Fearful? Lost? Angry? Are there old labels of too tall? Too skinny? Too fat? Loser? Never amount to anything?
As honest as you can, how do you actually see yourself? Not how you wish you did. Father, we ask now, in the name of Your Son and by the power of Your Spirit, that You will activate the gifts, our minds, and our hearts that we could hear from You today and that as we walk out of this building, by a supernatural unction of your Spirit, that You’ll take the written Word and make it the living Word and allow us, at least in some measure, Lord, in a significant measure, to see ourselves the way You long for us to see ourselves. I pray that in Jesus’ name, amen.
If you pull out your notes, what we have just talked about is something psychologists call our self-image. If you want a definition of that, it’s the mental picture of conception of one’s self. It’s a person’s idea of your self-worth. It’s the composite pictures of all the mirrors.
There are all kinds of things – your parents have the biggest impact on that. Authority figures. People in authority. When you are a teenager, your peers begin to greatly influence you. Culture. Media. In other words, there are all these mirrors that have told you, over time, who you are.
And you unconsciously believe them. Some of them, actually, you believe things about yourself that you’re not even aware of. It’s a lot like walking to a fun house and there’s a mirror when you walk in and you look eight feet tall and you look at another mirror, you look eight feet wide. And you look at another mirror and you’re one foot tall.
In other words, they are all distortions. Some of you had great homes, some of you came through horrendous homes. Some of you had traumatic experiences. Some of you were labeled early on and all those things impact us. You have a view. It’s almost unconscious of yourself. But you are living out of that.
And if most of our problems are rooted in a warped view of God, I would suggest that all the rest of them are in a warped view of yourself. This isn’t some academic exercise where we hope we get to the end and you can just think of yourself as wonderful and everything is great and you don’t have any problems. That’s not the world that we live in.
But in a fallen world, everyone has warped mirrors. I can tell you about every, single one of us – you do not see yourself accurately, nor do I. But the more that you do, the healthier you become.
The more you do, the more you are able to receive love and the more you’re able to give love. And at the end of the day, I will tell you, there are a lot of things in life, but receiving love and giving love is all that really matters.
For some, when I said, “You are smart, you’re warm, you’re innovative,” you honestly said, Yeah, I think that’s pretty true of me. For others, when I talked about, “Inadequate, insecure, loser,” some painful emotions, some memories came back.
I have some cards that we are going to look at a little bit later, and they are cards that I would say, unequivocally, not only transformed my wife’s life and my life, but it saved our marriage.
It’s a very personal series to me. My wife came from a horrendous home background and experienced rejection that I won’t go into. She never heard her father say, “I love you.” She never got a hug that she can ever remember. And that was just the beginning.
After that, like most young girls who aren’t loved well by their father, they look for it other places that built tragedy and lots of pain in her life. And then she came to know Jesus. And God loved her. And I met her a couple years later. And then a year or so after that, we got married and eighteen months into our marriage, I’m thinking, I don’t think this is going to work. She couldn’t receive love.
She was beautiful, smart, loving, caring, and passionate in her relationship with God, but when she looked in the mirror, she saw someone that was unworthy of love, who was a loser, who was rejected, who was absolutely unfit for anyone to care for her and so, she couldn’t receive my love or other people’s. And I will tell you what, sitting in a counselor’s office trying to figure that one out was painful.
By God’s grace, we had a counselor that wasn’t just good in psychology, but he was a theologian. He was a retired senior pastor, and he saw beyond all the psychological issues and saw that my wife had such a warped view of herself, she needed to see herself the way God saw her.
And so, he had her begin to write down misbeliefs that she had. A misbelief like, “I need other people’s approval in order to be happy.” And then at the bottom, stop sign. And then the truth, “I want people’s approval of me, but I don’t need it. With God’s approval, I am no longer compelled to earn love and acceptance. I am free to be me.” And then he gave her a passage about belonging and she read it over.
For two years, we would read over these cards. Because you’ll notice on your notes, there are some very dysfunctional and ugly things that happen when you have a warped view of yourself.
One, it builds a sense of rejection. We all deal with rejection. Some of you, it’s a huge issue; some, a smaller issue. But because we do, we become people pleasers at all cost. Some people that are overly sensitive to criticism, it’s like, “Boy, don’t you reject me too.”
For others, you withdraw to avoid. You know what? You just don’t risk. You don’t engage in certain things or certain activities because you don’t want to get hurt.
Some of your greatest success, some of your achievements, some of the reason you get up earlier and you work harder and you have made it and you have achieved and everyone thinks it’s so great – behind all of that is a scared person that you always have to, because your whole value is based on what you do and how you appear.
As we were reviewing all those cards, I thought I was being a loving, kind husband, helping my wife come through these deep issues. But when I read those cards, what I realized was I had all the same issues. I just – I was actually getting rewarded for my dysfunction.
I thought I had to please people, I thought I had to be successful, I thought I had to be an overachiever to the point that, in my twenties, I ended up in the hospital through exhaustion and then again in my thirties in the first church.
I had a doctor say, “You don’t even have an immune system right now. What in the world are you doing?” And I gave him my schedule and he looked at me and he goes, “Well, you’re an idiot.” To which my wife said, “I’ve been telling him that. He just won’t listen to me.”
So, here’s what I want you to know. We are going to go on a journey. I am going to share some of those cards with you. Because what we are going to do is we are going to take the lies that we believe about ourselves and we are going to replace them with: this is how and who God sees you.
Open your notes, because we have a command here. And the command is: this is not an option. Our self-perception is not like, “Wouldn’t this be nice?” Romans 12, verse 3 says, “For through the grace of God given to me, I say to every man among you, not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think as to have sound judgment as God has allotted to each man a measure of faith.
In other words, we are commanded not to think too high, not to think too low, but we are to think about ourselves the way God sees us. That little phrase where it says, “A measure of faith,” put a circle around it. This isn’t your personal faith. Grammatically, this is: the faith. In other words, notice the word: to think, to think, to think, and sober. All four of those are the same root word in Greek.
This is a command – you have been given a measure of the faith. This is who you are in Christ. That’s the big concept. When you trusted Christ as your Savior, you died with Him, your sins have been forgiven, the big word is you were justified. In other words, you were declared legally righteous. All your sins – past, present, and future – are forgiven. The imputed righteousness of Christ is given to you and so, as a follower of Jesus, God sees you through the lens of the forgiveness and the blood of His Son.
So, are you ready for this? He loves you just as much as He loves Jesus. That’s what the Bible teaches. It says that if any man is in Christ, any woman is in Christ – real relationship. Not in church, not in morality; in Christ. The old things passed away; behold, all things become new. It’s a process.
But what I want you to know is I don’t think most people understand what it means to be in Christ. What have you received? How do you see yourself? My observation of most Christians is we so are big on justification, and we should be. Oh, wow, yes! I am born again. I have a new relationship.
And then it kind of stops. But the average believer doesn’t know that that led to being a son or a daughter and there’s a journey. And now, you have a heavenly Father and a new standing and you don’t ever live anymore trying to earn His favor; you’ve already got it.
You have a loving, kind heavenly Father and an elder brother, Jesus, at the right hand of the Father. And He wants you to live out of a love that we already have. But getting that from here to here and out in your life, wow, that’s a journey.
So, where do we get this accurate view of God? We could go a lot of places, but I would say the book of Ephesians is probably the best that I know of. The book is a circular letter that was written to the churches in Asia Minor. And the apostle Paul had been there for quite a while.
And what he wanted to do, it’s a huge metropolitan city, a very influential city. So, it was going to be read here and all the other places. And what he is going to help them understand is, the first three chapters: this is what you have received and this is who you are in Christ.
The next four chapters, “This then, in light of what you have already received, is how you live.” And so, he opens it up; very common beginning. “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God, to the saints,” that means just the holy, set-apart people that have trusted Christ, “who are faithful in Christ Jesus, grace and peace from God our Father in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
So, there’s this general opening. Now, here’s what you need to get. The structure of this passage – I’d encourage you maybe to follow along in your Bible or your phone, whatever you use. Verse 3 all the way through verse 14 is one, long sentence. I think it’s the longest one in the New Testament.
And what happens is verse 3 is the thesis. He makes this amazing, amazing statement and all the rest of the verses in all these prepositional phrases, he is going to wind us through a journey to say: all these spiritual blessings – and I think he just went off. I think the Holy Spirit just captured him and he goes, “Here’s all that we have!”
And he just started going, “We are chosen, we are adopted, we are redeemed, we have an inheritance, we have been sealed.”
But here’s where he starts, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with” – what? “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”
In other words, now that you’re a part of God’s family, every spiritual blessing He has given to them – here’s our phrase again – in Christ.
Now, I need to make a quick disclaimer here. Everything I am going to talk about from here on is written to those that are in Christ. If you happen to be visiting or if you’re checking out Christianity, I’m going to talk about: this is how God sees those who are in Christ. This isn’t true of the whole world.
Now, what I will tell you is is that He is pursuing you and He wants you and He loves you and you need to hear, if you would like to join His family, this is the relationship He wants for you. But this is not how God feels about everyone.
The fact of the matter is is that we were all rebels. We were all hostile to God. And until we understood that we needed forgiveness and we turned to Him and received forgiveness through Christ, these things aren’t true.
But notice what He says about those of you that understood and humbled yourself and realized: I need help. He says, “Just,” what’s the spiritual blessing? Verse 4, “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love, He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed upon us in the Beloved.”
As you look at that, you notice there are a few key words. One, every spiritual blessing begins with this – it’s – He chooses you. In other words, you might write in your notes: God wants me.
Some of you know someone that you want to date or you want to marry. Some of you are looking for someone to fill a position and you want this kind of person. This word is used negatively: the FBI has a top ten list that they really want and they are pursuing.
If you want them, what do you do? Your pursue them. Here’s what I want you to know; this is an amazing thing. God wants you. He wants you for Himself.
I remember as a kid – I grew up in the suburbs so it was lawn, driveway, lawn, driveway, lawn, driveway. This is a touchdown, this is a touchdown. And the big kids would play. And it was tackle. Stupid, I know.
And I was always three or four years younger. And I was small and I was skinny. And so, they would pick up sides and I would get down to the last two guys and it was just, “Choose me! Choose me! Choose me! I’m a stupid, young kid. I’ll dive on the concrete! I’ll make you laugh! I’ll try and tackle the big guys. I’ll do whatever you want. I just want to belong. I just want to be on the team.”
And that desire is in you and me, just the teams change, don’t they? I want to be on that team, I want to be in that fraternity. I want to be in the group that lives in that section of town. I want to have…I want to be in the group whose kids go to that college. I want to be someone that, when they look at me at the gym, I have that kind of body. I want to belong; I want to be wanted.
Do you realize so much of our lives is doing crazy things to want to belong to other people that, honestly, they don’t care too much about us? And God says, I want you. I care about you.
I hear Christians that have been Christians for a long time and a series of circumstances will happen and if it’s good, they go, “Wow, that was really lucky!” Really? There’s no order? There’s no plan? It’s just life is about chance? You were just lucky? Instead of: “A sovereign God orchestrated these circumstances in this way.”
And then there’s another group that something happens and it’s like, “God predestined that that car, that color would be in this spot and my whole world has been planned for me and I’m a robot. Everything is predestined.”
So, let me give you a good definition of predestination and how it applies to this passage. Predestined means God has determined beforehand that those who believe in Christ will be adopted in His family and be conformed to the image of His Son.
The theological concepts are two-fold and I just want to touch on this, because I don’t want your mind going places rather than why this passage was written. The sovereignty of God – the Scripture clearly teaches that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and in control from eternity past to eternity future. He knows the beginning from the end. Right? That’s just a truth. That’s a reality.
You read this book from the beginning to the end, God is never surprised. By contrast, or actually, in parallel, the responsibility of man. As you read through, Scripture equally teaches that men and women are responsible and culpable for their actions, they must choose to accept or reject a relationship with God.
So, it’s not like everything is all lined out and your choices don’t matter. We hold these two truths in tension and when we do, it produces a couple things. One, reverence for God’s Word. When the apostle Paul, who wrote all about this idea of sovereignty and responsibility, when he got done, he didn’t have an argument. He broke into praise and said, “Oh, the depth of the riches of both the knowledge and the wisdom of God. How unsearchable are His ways and His paths beyond finding out.”
And so, what we know is it does a couple things. One, reverence for God’s Word and then humility with each other. And just all for the unsearchable wisdom of God.
Here’s what I want you to get. Often, when people go through Ephesians, they want to argue about: is it more responsibility or is it more sovereignty? And can you imagine getting a love letter from someone overseas and arguing about: now, is this blue ink or black ink? Because I can’t quite tell. And miss the point: it’s a love letter.
The purpose is: I want you, I love you, and here are the implications. This wasn’t written for people to debate. This was written for people to know that the awesome God who spoke the galaxies into existence sent God the Son and He died in your place. And when He did, you cannot just be forgiven, but He wants you and whosoever will.
The Scripture says God is not willing or desiring that any should perish, but all would come to a knowledge of the truth. And he says, Ephesians, I chose you just like I chose Israel, and I chose Israel not to reject other nations. I chose them so they would be a light to share it with other people.