Everyday I pray with Paul, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you
the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened;
that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the
saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His
mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand
in the heavenly places…” I pray this because I want my church and my family to have these three things:
• Wisdom: I want to make right plans. I want my church members making right plans. Plans that are in step with God’s calling and future for them. I want us all to see through God’s eyes how things will work out in the future.
• Revelation: I want to know and see what’s unseen, and I want those I pastor to have the same vision. When I
pray, I imagine a veil being torn or pulled back, so that we see what is designed for our lives, and how we will
impact those around us.
• Understanding: I want to connect the dots. Paul uses a word that means to put together the pieces of a puzzle
until the picture is complete. I want our puzzles to be put together, so we see the whole picture.
Everyday we need to pray for wisdom, understanding and revelation. Everyday we need to thank him for the mind of Christ. We need to think his thoughts, to have his insights, to see his plans so that we can be successful in this life and stay on track with him.
What does that entail? The Holy Spirit breaks down the business of wisdom, understanding and revelation in
this verse. First, he says we are to know the hope of our calling, the riches of our inheritance and the greatness
of the power at work in us.
The Bible is the revelation of the will of God for our life. We are who the Bible says that we are; no one else
defines us. We are who the Bible says that we are.
The Bible is a book of identity. Identity always proceeds behavioral change. The first three chapters of Ephesians are all about our identity in Christ. The Holy Spirit doesn’t begin with rules. He doesn’t start out with
how we are to behave. He begins with our identity.
As parents, we can see this play out in practical ways as our children grow and mature. The first two to three years, parents spend their time pouring love and acceptance into them. They want their children to know they are their sons and daughters. The discipline they need doesn’t come until after that period of time.
Behavior change doesn’t come before identity. The Holy Spirit reminds us that identity comes first because whenever we put behavioral demands before identity formation, all we do is burden people’s hearts.
The Bible starts with who we are, loved and accepted, and then sets about changing the limited view of our
identity. Our identity then unlocks the behavioral changes necessary to grow in Christ.
Here are two illustrations to help us get a better grasp of this: my uncle Richard had a very large farm in Iowa. It was 1,000 acres. On the farm, he had huge pigs. Uncle Richard used to say that you can hose off the pig, put a bow on its head, shampoo it, you can even put perfume on it, but if you turn your back they will go back to the life they love. They love dirt. They love the mud. They love to get messy. They will go back to the mud and the slop.
On the other hand, if you take a lamb or a sheep, and cover them with mud, they don’t like being dirty. They are uncomfortable and will shake it off or they’ll try to lick it off. They will do whatever they can to be cleaned up. Why? Because their nature doesn’t like dirt.
When we come to Jesus, we receive a new nature. We are pulled out of the pig pen, transformed into a lamb of God and receive the Christ nature. We leave behind the pig nature. Our new nature—like a lamb—likes to be clean. We won’t need people telling us to stop sinning. Our new nature does that. It says, “I don’t like doing that.” Stop and think for a minute: is sinning, once we are a Christian, fun? If we are honest—the truth is no, it’s not. What happens when we choose to continue sinning, is that we stop listening to the new nature.
Sin is no longer fun because have developed a restored conscience. We are convicted when we err, but that doesn’t mean our friends, coworkers or idolized celebrities are in the same state. They don’t have the new nature if they haven’t come to Christ. We have to stop telling pigs they have to clean up, and be like us when they aren’t like us. I say that with love, and a farmer’s heart.
Getting back to what Paul said: the Bible tells us all about our new identity in Christ. It shows us who we are. Identity unlocks destiny and character change.