We are looking at the sermon series Freedom in Christ using the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians. Freedom is something believers are to experience in life. There is a journey of discovery that God the Father invites us to join “IN CHRIST”. On this journey, we grow in understanding our Christian identity, we are set free from sin and satan; the effects of these can be seen in various forms of addiction, guilt, shame or blame. And yet freedom in Christ is not only experiencing victory over bondage but also reaching the fullness of our potential as believers. It is important to remember this key verse – “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:10).
The “IN CHRIST” theme is a main emphasis in Ephesians, where Paul stresses the importance of Christ as the foundation for our freedom. Paul gives us a Big Picture view of God’s plan for the world, beginning and ending with Christ. Because of Jesus’ death, Jews and Gentiles can now receive the gift of forgiveness for their sins against God and others. The life of a believer is completely founded upon the theological truth of being found “IN CHRIST”. Our liberty from sin, death and satan are empowered by our experience and understanding of this truth. The first part of our study of Freedom in Christ has to do with right thinking about what God has accomplished for us.
In the Beginning
The origin of mankind is both a wonder and mystery. We know that God created Adam and Eve in light of several passages of Scripture, Gen 1:28-29, and Gen 2:18. They highlight our significance and purpose in creation, all our needs were provided for us giving us a safe and secure home where we found our belonging. There was unbroken fellowship between God and mankind and each other, our spirit and soul and body were in harmony and we only knew the perfection of freedom; nothing negative affected our thoughts or emotions or choices.
And yet we know that mankind was deceived by Satan and disobeyed God with devastating results. Spiritually we died and are unable to live in the full presence of God; no more Eden. Mentally we struggle with a diminishing knowledge of God and damaging thoughts. As well, we wrestle with all kinds of negative emotions. And lastly, we are now plagued with too many competing choices for our attention. Our beautiful experience of freedom is now filled with sin and shame and rejection from God and we have come under the influence of the schemes and strategies of Satan. The unity we enjoyed with God and each other was lost the moment Adam and Eve engaged in disobedience.
Spiritual Blessings in Christ
By way of introduction to our freedom, Paul writes one long sentence of praise to God, a most beautiful doxology, found in Ephesians 1:3-14. In this passage, we have some of the most important doctrinal words relating to our spiritual blessings “IN CHRIST”, where this phrase occurs 11 times… Our spiritual blessings “IN CHRIST” are in heavenly places. For the most part, blessings in the Old Testament were seen in practical ways. Whereas in the New Testament our blessings in Christ are often of a spiritual nature – “in heavenly places”. What does this mean for believers? The Christian’s freedom begins with that which is already DONE IN CHRIST, and through our faith in Jesus, are able to rest in the finished work of Jesus and our position “IN CHRIST in heavenly places”. In other words, our freedom IN CHRIST - in heavenly places - is a fact of new life out of which we experience growth. Our position “IN CHRIST in heavenly places” is complete; we don’t grow into sons and daughters of God – we are children of God when we come to faith in Jesus. The foundation of our freedom is not based on something we do or don’t do, it is our spiritual blessing IN CHRIST in heavenly places.
· Our Christian freedom begins with the revelation of what God has done for us; We are CHOSEN IN CHRIST. What does this mean? Just as God chose the nation of Israel as his treasured possession (Deut 7:6-8) because of his love and faithfulness, he has now chosen us to be his children. We are chosen before the creation of the world (Eph 1:4) which again reminds us that our freedom has been on God’s mind a long time. We are chosen (Eph 1:11) IN CHRIST and Paul gives us some descriptive words related to our freedom in heavenly places; hope, the praise of his glory, salvation, the promised Holy Spirit, inheritance, redemption. All of these phrases reveal aspects of our freedom IN CHRIST as believers.
· Paul uses another word picture to lay a foundation for our freedom as Christians – ADOPTION. Adoption, makes more personal the idea of being chosen IN CHRIST (Eph 1:5). Adoption takes time and money, consideration, involves love and planning. Once adopted the child has the full rights as any member of the family. All the privileges and resources of the family come to bear upon the newly adopted one. This is again a picture of great freedom. God in his love thought about each one of us as his child. It was to his pleasure and enjoyment that we were adopted.
· Next, we see Paul speaking of our REDEMPTION IN CHRIST. In Paul’s day to redeem meant to buy back a slave from captivity. In doing so, it was an act of choosing, possibly adoption, but also paying the price for one’s freedom. Redemption is a powerful word that describes our freedom from guilt, power and consequences of sin: it means to redeem, liberate, free, deliver, exchange, convert, to buy back. Our redemption is only possible IN CHRIST, we cannot buy back our freedom and innocence from the effects of sin; it requires the blood of Jesus resulting in the forgiveness of our sins. This is a spiritual blessing in heavenly places whether we feel like we are forgiven or not.
The plan of God has always been to restore the unity and oneness we possessed in the beginning, a perfection of freedom. One of the main themes of Paul writing to the church in Ephesus was all about our unity “IN CHRIST” and the effects of this oneness upon the Body of Christ. The foundation for our freedom is IN CHRIST IN HEAVENLY PLACES, therefore we must learn to live on earth, think and feel and make choices, with this understanding. Ephesians 1:3-14 is full of our spiritual blessings. Our freedom in Christ has already been given to us because of the riches of God’s grace IN CHRIST. We must take time to meditate on them and understand how they relate to you personally. Spiritual blessings will have different spiritual affects upon God’s children because we all have different stories and experiences of life. I am here to tell you that freedom begins with what Jesus Christ has accomplished for us. It is hard to understand but our freedom is first a spiritual thing, a heavenly blessing, that we must accept by faith in Jesus Christ.
I believe all of us can relate to areas in our thoughts, emotions and or choices where we see ourselves not free, feeling guilty and powerless to change. Maybe we try harder to change. Maybe we just get depressed and give up. Or maybe we seek counselling. Maybe we engage in more spiritual activities. All of these activities are not the beginning point of freedom. Freedom as believers has to be applied from a place of agreement and understanding our spiritual blessings IN CHRIST.
The question “who am I?” as a Christian is not based on my thoughts or emotions but on what Jesus Christ has accomplished for us. I have included a list compiled by Joyce Meyer entitled – Knowing Who I Am IN CHRIST.
By means of application let’s read this together.
Let’s take these Scriptural truths home with us knowing that they form the foundation for our freedom IN CHRIST.
Knowing Who I Am IN CHRIST - by Joyce Meyer
Not sure who you really are? Read this list of Biblical truths that reveal who God made you to be.
I am complete in Him Who is the Head of all principality and power (Colossians 2:10).
I am alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:5).
I am free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).
I am far from oppression, and fear does not come near me (Isaiah 54:14).
I am born of God, and the evil one does not touch me (1 John 5:18).
I am holy and without blame before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:16).
I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5).
I have the peace of God that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
I have the Greater One living in me; greater is He Who is in me than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).
I have received the gift of righteousness and reign as a king in life by Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17).
I have received the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, the eyes of my understanding being enlightened (Ephesians 1:17-18).
I have received the power of the Holy Spirit to lay hands on the sick and see them recover, to cast out demons, to speak with new tongues. I have power over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means harm me (Mark 16:17-18; Luke 10:17-19).
I have put off the old man and have put on the new man, which is renewed in the knowledge after the image of Him Who created me (Colossians 3:9-10).
I have given, and it is given to me; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, men give into my bosom (Luke 6:38).
I have no lack for my God supplies all of my need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
I can quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one with my shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16).
I can do all things through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:13).
I show forth the praises of God Who has called me out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).
I am God’s child for I am born again of the incorruptible seed of the Word of God, which lives and abides forever (1 Peter 1:23).
I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ unto good works (Ephesians 2:10).
I am a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
I am a spirit being alive to God (Romans 6:11; Thessalonians 5:23).
I am a believer, and the light of the Gospel shines in my mind (2 Corinthians 4:4).
I am a doer of the Word and blessed in my actions (James 1:22,25).
I am a joint-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17).
I am more than a conqueror through Him Who loves me (Romans 8:37).
I am an overcomer by the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony (Revelation 12:11).
I am a partaker of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4).
I am an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).
I am part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people (1 Peter 2:9).
I am the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).
I am the temple of the Holy Spirit; I am not my own (1 Corinthians 6:19).
I am the head and not the tail; I am above only and not beneath (Deuteronomy 28:13).
I am the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).
I am His elect, full of mercy, kindness, humility, and long suffering (Romans 8:33; Colossians 3:12).
I am forgiven of all my sins and washed in the Blood (Ephesians 1:7).
I am delivered from the power of darkness and translated into God’s kingdom (Colossians 1:13).
I am redeemed from the curse of sin, sickness, and poverty (Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Galatians 3:13).
I am firmly rooted, built up, established in my faith and overflowing with gratitude (Colossians 2:7).
I am called of God to be the voice of His praise (Psalm 66:8; 2 Timothy 1:9).
I am healed by the stripes of Jesus (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24).
I am raised up with Christ and seated in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 2:12).
I am greatly loved by God (Romans 1:7; Ephesians 2:4; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4).
I am strengthened with all might according to His glorious power (Colossians 1:11).
I am submitted to God, and the devil flees from me because I resist him in the Name of Jesus (James 4:7).
I press on toward the goal to win the prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward (Philippians 3:14).
For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
It is not I who live, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20).