Who I am in Christ - 1

SERMON TOPIC: Who I am in Christ - 1

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 16 January 2022


Sermon synopsis: Some people find their identity in:
- their looks and so they fear aging. Proverbs 31:30 says that “beauty is fleeting”. Beauty should not be your primary identity; because it cannot last.
- their social status (I live in this area, I hang around with this group).
- their possessions (I drive this car, I wear this brand of clothes, my house cost so much).

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The unconverted Paul found his identity in his heritage, his personal morality and his religious zeal.

Phil 3:4-6 (NIV) … If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

But on his conversion, he realised that his identity is to be found in Christ.

Phil 3:7-9 (NIV) … But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith…

The unconverted seldom find their identity in their character flaws and their standing with God:

I’m arrogant and short-tempered

I’m a drunkard and drug abuser

I’m an incurable gossip

I’m a compulsive liar

I’m an adulterer

I’m dishonest

I don’t have right standing with God

Some people find their identity in:

their family (I’m so-and-so’s son or daughter)

their education (I went to this school or university. I have this qualification)

their job (I do this work)

their interests and hobbies (I support this team)

their citizenship (I’m South African)

their political party (I’m a supporter of such-and-such party)

their looks and so they fear aging. Proverbs 31:30 says that “beauty is fleeting”. Beauty should not be your primary identity; because it cannot last.

their social status (I live in this area, I hang around with this group).

their possessions (I drive this car, I wear this brand of clothes, my house cost so much).




Satan offered Jesus “all the kingdoms of this world” (Matt 4:8-9).

And Jesus told Pilate that his kingdom was “not of this world”.

My kingdom is not of this world… But now my kingdom is from another place. (John 18:36)

So we see that there are 2 types of kingdom:

The kingdoms of this world

A kingdom not of this world


The Bible makes it clear that the kingdoms of this world are under Satan’s dominion. Jesus repeatedly called Satan the “prince of this world” who stood condemned and who would ultimately be driven out:

John 12:30-31 (NIV) I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. (cf. John 16:11, John 12:31)

Paul refers to Satan as “the god of this world” who has blinded the unsaved (2 Cor 4:3-4).


Paul also calls Satan “the ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Eph 2:1-2)

So Satan is the prince of this world by virtue of the influence and control that he exerts over the unbelievers.

1 John 5:19 (NIV) We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

John speaks of the great dragon who was hurled down to earth and calls him “that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.” (Rev 12:9)

As Christians, we have changed kingdoms and citizenship.

Eph 2:12 (NIV) remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.

Col 1:13 (NIV) For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves

Christians have been set free from Satan’s control:

2 Tim 2:26 (NIV) and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

But despite the victory of Jesus on the cross, Christians still continue to battle Satan in the Church Age:

Eph 6:11-12 (NIV) Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Yet although we live in a world that is still dominated by Satan and his dark rulers, we belong to another kingdom that is “not of this world”.

It is the kingdom of God “within you” and not the earthly kingdom the Jews of Jesus’ day expected the Messiah to bring:

Luke 17:20-21 (NIV) Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”

Gen 12:1 (NIV) The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.”


Heb 11:9 (NIV) By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.

In this way Abraham typifies Christians, who are “aliens and strangers on earth” and who by faith are “longing for a better country - a heavenly one.”

Heb 11:13-14 (NIV) All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.


An ambassador is an official representative for his or her country, stationed in another nation… These ambassadors work to promote understanding, perhaps by settling differences or clearing up misunderstanding. (https:// vocabulary.com)

Paul calls himself an ambassador of Christ (Eph 6:19-20)

Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains.

Ambassadors are not citizens of the country where they reside.

We are “God’s elect, strangers in the world” (1 Pet 1:1, NIV)

Heb 11:13 (NIV) And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.


Stranger: one who does not belong to or is kept from the activities of a group. (merriam-webster.com)

Alien (noun):

An unnaturalized foreign resident of a country. Also called noncitizen.

A person from another and very different family, people, or place.

A person who is not included in a group; an outsider. (thefreedictionary.com)

In his prayer in John 17, Jesus said that we are IN THE WORLD…

John 17:11a (NIV) I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world


John 17:14 (NIV) I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.

This means that while we are physically present in the world — we don’t share it’s value system.




1 John 2:15 (NIV) Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

James 4:4 (NIV) You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

James 1:27 (NIV) Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: … to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.


The kingdom of God has a totally different value system to the world.

This is exemplified in Jesus’ list of Beatitudes from his Sermon on the Mount. He pronounces blessings on those who are poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and those who are persecuted because of righteousness.

In contrast the world values arrogance, power, wealth and popularity.

Jesus said, “What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” (Luke 16:15)


Ambassadors represent another country or kingdom (the kingdom not of this world) and it is our responsibility to reflect the “official position” of the kingdom of heaven. The message we present is reconciliation to God.

2 Cor 5:20 (NIV) We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Is that the message you present?


A tourist visits a country for their own pleasure. We are not in the world on our own business.



Jesus sends us into the world:

John 17:18 (NIV) “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”

He gives us a mission:

Matt 28:19-20 (NIV) “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

And we are told to be devoted to that mission:

1 Cor 15:58b (NIV) Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.


Their heart and interests do not lie with the country they reside in, but in the country where they are true citizens:

Heb 11:16 (NIV) Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.

As such, we realise that even life in this world is not something we need to cling to:

John 12:25 (NIV) The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Gal 6:14 (NIV) May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Our lives should reflect the fact that we are only passing through this world. This should be evident in our attitude towards money and worldly possessions:

1 Cor 7:30-31 (NIV) … those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.


Matt 6:19-21 (NIV) “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”


Ambassadors have to be careful how they act and speak because they represent their country. They have to be careful not to bring disrepute upon their homeland.

1 Pet 2:11-12 (NIV) Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

1 Pet 1:17 (NIV) Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.

Foreigners from another country are not always made welcome and are often even hated by the citizens of the country where they reside.

John 15:18-19 (NIV) “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”


So too the heroes of the faith were often mistreated:

Heb 11:35-38 (NIV) … Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.


Heb 11:24-26 (NIV) By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.

Because Satan is the prince of this world, we must expect opposition from him:

1 Pet 5:8-9 (NIV) Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.


Ambassadors have diplomatic immunity

Diplomatic Immunity is a “principle of International Law that provides foreign diplomats with protection from legal action in the country in which they work.” (thefreedictionary.com)

Because the world is Satan’s domain and we are in it, we need protection from him. God gives us this protection or “diplomatic immunity”. In John 17:15 Jesus prays, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” (NIV)

Psalm 91:14-15 (NIV) “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him.”

As we learn from the book of Job, while Satan can sometimes touch us in this world, he can only do it with God’s explicit permission and with boundaries being stipulated. Satan complained that the norm was for God to have “a hedge” of protection around Job.

Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands… (NIV)


Those from another country have different customs. Because we belong to a different kingdom, we have a different mindset and employ different methods to the world.

Col 2:8 (NIV) See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

2 Cor 1:12 (NIV) Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God’s grace.

Col 2:20 (NIV) Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules:

2 Cor 10:3-5 (NIV) For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.


Rom 12:2a (NIV) Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Rom 12:2a (J.B. Phillips New Testament) Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within…


Ambassadors are accountable to their country of citizenship and their conduct in the foreign country will be subject to judgment:

Luke 16:10-12 (NIV) “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?”


Ambassadors will be recalled to their country one day.

But they are also recalled before a war breaks out between their home country and the foreign country where they are residing.

We too will one day be recalled to our home country:

Phil 3:19-20 (NIV) Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ

Henry C. Morrison was a missionary who, after serving the Lord in Africa for 40 years, became sick and had to return to America in 1909. On the way back he began to wonder “will anyone remember us? Will anyone meet us at the boat?”

When the ship pulled into New York harbour he looked to see if anyone had come to welcome them. Thousands of people were there cheering. Bands were playing. There were signs, banners, and billboards everywhere saying, “Welcome Home”.

Henry and his wife were very excited about the crowds of people that had come to welcome them home. But when they went down to get their luggage, and came back to the deck of the ship they realized that the parade of people had already gone.

Unknown to Henry Morrison and his wife, Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), the president of the US was also on board that ship. He had gone to Africa on a much-publicized big game hunting trip.

The crowds they had seen had come to welcome Roosevelt. Morrison and his wife slowly walked away unnoticed. They took a cab to the one-bedroom apartment which had been provided by the mission board.

Over the next few weeks, Henry tried, but failed to put the incident behind him. One evening, he said to his wife, “This is all wrong. This man comes back from a hunting trip and everybody throws a big party. We give our lives in faithful service to God for all these many years, but no one seems to care.”

He was advised by his wife to pray about it. After about ten minutes of fervent prayer, Henry returned to the living room with a peaceful look on his face. He told his wife, “The Lord settled it for me. I told Him how bitter I was that the President received this tremendous homecoming, but no one even met us as we returned home. When I finished, it seemed as though the Lord put His hand on my shoulder and simply said, ‘But Henry, you are not home yet!’”

Remember too that we are not home yet and must not be discouraged if we don’t get any recognition in this world. But one day we will be recalled either in death or at Jesus’ coming.

In my Father’s house are many rooms … I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:2-3, NIV)

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