There is a great difference between being “in church” and being “in Christ.” The greatest opportunities available to a human being extend from a relationship with Jesus of Nazareth. We will explore together the freedom and hope that emerges from understanding our identity “in Christ”.
Listen to the March 1st Training audio:
How to use this study
All teaching videos and discussion guides are available on this page. You can also join in using the World Outreach Church App, or stream the videos on your Apple TV. If you’re comfortable casting video from your phone or tablet, the app will allow you to do that as well.
Host a group
If you would like to host a group, let us know below. We’ll even send you a DVD with the teaching portions of the study if that’s the easiest format for your group.
Let’s Get Started!
Each of the four sessions contains a small group video led by Pastor Allen Jackson and the discussion guide for your group.
Session 1Being a Christ-follower is the best way to be in the world. It will bring more pleasure to your life, more happiness, more joy, more fulfillment, more peace, and more purpose to your life. Being Jesus’ friend makes everything in life better and it changes eternity, too. In today’s culture the messaging has been flipped. In fact, it is deception. Even amongst Christians there is a general thinking that being ungodly is more pleasurable, happier, wealthier, and brings more contentment. The reality that Jesus makes life better needs to be understood with enough clarity that we can communicate it without apology, embarrassment, or hesitation. This is the objective for this study.
Who Are You?
How do you define yourself?
Let’s go around the room and have each of us define ourselves with three to five descriptions of who we are in the secular world. For instance: “I am a soccer mom, wife, family manager, and encourager extraordinaire.” This exercise will help us know from where we are starting this journey.
Jesus Changes Everything
No matter how you define yourself, once you make the commitment to follow Jesus, He changes everything. Your full identity is in Him. He will not diminish you or limit you but will only enhance who He created you to be. He will raise your potential.
Philippians 3:4-9 (NIV®)
4 Though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 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; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 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 9 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.
In the above scripture, Paul gives us his credentials, his resume if you will. He is making a leadership statement to the church in Philippi. But in the greatest achievements of his life he makes the statement that he considers it rubbish. Whatever we think our potential or limits are, being in Christ is so much greater. It will elevate your life beyond what you can imagine, giving you a life upgrade.
- What defines your identity?
- What do you think is your strongest personality trait, or what have others told you?
- Have you had a life detour and or upgrade as a direct result of following the Lord?
A Life Upgrade
Jesus makes every part of our life better. We have a tendency to believe the lie that being all in with Christ will limit you. This is deception to keep us from our true potential that we were created for.
1 Corinthians 1:4-5 (NIV®)
4 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way…
Ephesians 1:7 (NIV®)
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace…
When Jesus died on the cross, great power was released and the curse of sin was broken. It is now through His blood we can be reconciled to the Father. Every failure, past mistake, and weakness of the flesh can be made new in Him. By His blood we were bought, rescued out of the dominion of darkness. The blood of Jesus continually cleanses us from all sin. Hallelujah!
- Discuss what you believe to be an enriched life.
- What are the advantages of being in Christ?
Philippians 4:13 (NIV®)
13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
When Paul wrote this verse, it was not from the comfort of his home, yet, from inside prison walls. No matter the circumstances, brokenness, or discomfort, Paul understood that His strength came from Jesus.
- How have you applied this verse to your life during times of need, accomplishment, or failure?
- Where do you most need His strength today?
2 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV®)
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
- How do we escape corruption in our daily life?
- If you have experienced deliverance in your life, share a story of what God has delivered you from.
Who Are You? (This Can Be Homework)
How do you define yourself? There is no right or wrong answer. Write a sentence that describes who you see yourself to be. What is the first answer that comes to mind? It will help you know where you are beginning your journey from.
Father, thank You for Your Word. Thank You for Your great love for us. Thank You that You have provided a future for us that is good and pleasing that will bring meaning and joy and hope. I pray that by the Spirit of the Living God that the accusations that have stood against us—the criticism, the demeaning ideas, the things that have weighed us down—will be broken over our lives in Jesus’ name. Through the blood of Jesus Christ, let the freedom that is ours in Him come to our lives and begin to fill our hearts, our minds, and our emotions. We thank You for it, in Jesus’ name.
Session 2For these next sessions we will look at twelve separate statements that either define our identity in Christ or our understanding of how He sees us. One of our goals is to dispel the lie that if we go “all in for Jesus” our lives will be limited. This is deception to hold us back and to keep us subdued and ineffective. The best life ahead is when we say Yes to all that God has for us.
#1 – You Are The Salt Of The Earth And The Light Of The World
Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV®)
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
This statement is one of great significance from Jesus to and about His followers. It is a sense of mission and purpose, for local and global purposes.
- What does being “salt” mean to you?
- What are some examples of how we use salt in the physical world?
- Now discuss light. What are its functions physically and spiritually?
- What are some ways we can be salt and light for those in your sphere of influence?
# 2 – I Am A Child Of God
You are a child of God, not a churched person, or a religionist. The Creator of Heaven and Earth—the power that brought order to our world that hangs the stars in space and keeps the Earth on its orbit—that God considers you His child! What an amazing statement.
1 John 3:1 (NIV®)
1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
Galatians 3:26-29 (NIV®)
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
- What an honor and privilege, that no matter in what circumstances we were raised–whether perfect or less than stellar–we are, in Christ, His children. Let’s discuss the benefits of being a daughter or son of the Almighty King. How does this shape your reality?
- What was/is your relationship with your father?
- Knowing God as our Father, what are some ways we can cooperate more fully with Him?
# 3 – I Am Jesus’ Friend
What does it mean for us to be Jesus’ friends? It means there is no arena of our lives where we don’t gratefully take Jesus with us. We would not want there to be any arena where He does not stand up for us. A friend loves at all times and places. Let’s look at the following scripture and gain a deeper understanding of being His friend.
John 15:15 (NIV®)
15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
- What qualities do you look for in a friend, and how do you show your friends that you care about them?
- Now let’s take a moment and discuss ways we can be Jesus’ friend.
- Where do you feel intimidated to bring up the name Jesus?
# 4 – I Am A Participant In Abraham’s Blessing
We meet Abraham in Genesis, Chapter 12, near the beginning of the story. God makes a Covenant with Abraham. The strongest agreement God makes with a human being in the Bible is a Covenant. He said, “I’ll bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you.” And through Jesus’ redemptive work, in Christ, the Bible says, “You and I have become heirs to that Covenant.” Here are the specifics of the contract, Deuteronomy 28:1-14. This covenant is a life changing assignment. It will help us understand your relationship with God and His attitude towards good things that He intends to bring to us. We are a participant in Abraham’s blessing.
Deuteronomy 28:1-14 (NIV®)
Blessings for Obedience
1 If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God: 3 You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.4 The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.5 Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.6 You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.
7 The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.8 The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.9 The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him. 10 Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear you. 11 The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your
ground—in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you.12 The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. 13 The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. 14 Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.
Galatians 4:6-7 (NIV®)
6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
- How does embracing this blessing change your perspective about your future?
- Are there current life situations you can release to God because of this promise?
Re-read Deuteronomy 28:1-14 and reflect on the blessings of God. Circle the blessings that you most need today or that you are thankful for.
“Father, thank You that You love us. Thank You that You call us to be salt and light, that You have declared us to be Your friend. You have given us a blessing through Abraham that you have established for all people. Holy Spirit, we need Your help to open our hearts and minds to all that You would have us learn and understand that You have a future for us that is good and not bad. You have a future full of Hope. In Jesus name, Amen
Session 3We are diving into week three. By now you are gaining momentum in relationship with one another. Through your discussions and prayer spiritual growth occurs. This is an exciting principle of our Christian faith. By meeting and sharing God shows up to help us see how He sees us. In our 1st two sessions, we talked about “Who are you?” from a secular viewpoint and we discussed 4 statements that either define our identity in Christ or our understanding of how He sees us.
Let’s take a moment and discuss one thing you have learned or one thing you have appreciated about meeting together.
In this session we will unpack four more statements that describe our relationship to God and help us to understand our identity in Christ.
Let’s pray that our hearts and minds are ready to receive all that God has for us.
# 5 – I Am Righteous
Righteousness may seem like a big religious word, but it simply means we can stand in the presence of God without fear, guilt, or shame. The Bible says that every one of us has three unavoidable appointments: One is birth and the other is death, and after death, judgment. We cannot delegate or cancel them. We are going to stand before the Creator of all things and answer for what we have done in the body.
39 Everyone who believes in Him is declared right with God.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV®)
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Our bodies do not define our existence. When our body wears out, our spirit is eternal. This is an opportunity to be prepared for the time when our body is no longer functional. We are born with an expiration date, and death is a part of our life. It is a part of the journey and it is not the end of our existence. We do not have to stand in front of God owning everything we have done, because through the blood of Jesus our sins are forgiven. If we are willing to humble ourselves and repent, we can be cleansed. We have an enemy who reminds us of our failures, inconsistencies, inadequacies, and bad choices. We have to learn to say to him, “Do you know who I am? I am in Christ. My past does not define my future.”
- Can we live anyway we want? Discuss.
- What should we do when we mess up??
- It is only “in Christ” we can have access to righteousness. Let’s Pray together in faith and ask Jesus to be Lord of our lives.
Lord Jesus Christ: I believe that You are the Son of God and the only way to God, and that you died on the cross for my sins and rose again from the dead. I choose to turn from my sin. I now invite You into my heart and life. I want to trust You as Savior and follow You as Lord of my whole life. Amen.
# 6 – I Am A Citizen Of Heaven
Philippians 3:20 (NASB®)
20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;
1 Peter 2:11 (NIV®)
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.
The Bible says that we are aliens and strangers on earth–that we are in this world, but we are not of this world’s system. Ultimately Jesus is going to establish His Kingdom on earth, with His values, but that day has not yet come. We live in a sin-filled world. Not only do we struggle with sin and the temptation of sin, but also sin impedes our lives. All around us we see the impact of sin, and it reminds us that our citizenship is in Heaven. We have another set of values, objectives, and goals. We are striving for something different than people who are not in Christ. Let us make the declaration, “I am a citizen of Heaven.”
- The definition of “alien” is, “coming from another world.” Reflect on what it means to be in this world, but not of the present world order. How does this playout in day-to-day life? What are some of the struggles we may face?
- What are the benefits of choosing to be an “alien” on earth in this present world order?
# 7 – I Am Chosen By The Creator
Every one of us knows what it feels like to be left out, rejected, or to have somebody overlook you. That is a part of the journey. It is very important to understand that the Creator of all things looked across the span of human history and He chose you. Nothing is hidden from Him. He knows the worst thing–thing you pray never sees the light of day, and He still chooses you. God loves you!
John 15:16 (NIV®)
16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
- What rejection have you had in your life?
- No matter the rejection in your life God has chosen you, flaws and all! His love does not stop when you mess up or fail to please Him.
- What are some ways you seek approval from things or people instead of God?
- How can you redirect your thoughts to find your identity in God’s unshakeable love instead?
# 8 – I Have Been Justified
The technical definition of justified is to be acquitted, forgiven, deemed not guilty. We do not receive this because of something we have done. In Christ, He exhausted the curse through our godlessness and our rebellion that we might have the fullness of His blessing. We have been justified, in Christ.
Romans 5:1 (NIV®)
1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ
- What do we gain through justification?
- Christ does not identify you by your past anymore, and neither should you. Where in your life do you need to accept God’s forgiveness and forgive yourself as well?
Father, thank You that You love us, chose us and that You have made provision for us. Thank You that You have made it possible that we live triumphant lives defined by You, the Creator of all things. Help us to live in the awareness of Your great care and concern for us. We want to serve and honor You with all of our days. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Session 4This is our final session. So far, we have learned what God thinks about us and who we are in Him. These past three weeks, we have also shared our lives with one another—growing closer to the Lord and finding strength in community. Discuss the possibilities of doing another study together. For study ideas go to wochurch.org/small-group-studies or find them on the WOC app. In this session, we will look at the last of our twelve statements that either define our identity in Christ or our understanding of how He sees us.
# 9 – I Am Free Of Condemnation
None of us is perfect, and we have an adversary whose goal is to remind us of our weakness and failures. Our enemy’s objective is to kill, steal, and destroy and to make our faith inactive. We have to learn to say to the enemy: “That’s right. That was a season in my life that I didn’t make godly choices, but I have humbled myself and repented, and I stand now in Christ.” If you are practicing sin and ungodliness, you need to repent. The scripture says, “If you live like this, you will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” If you will humble yourself and repent, the Bible says, “God is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We can lead our lives free of condemnation. When you are reminded of your failures you can say, “In Jesus, I’ve been set free. I’m sorry you remember my short comings, but God has delivered me.”
Romans 8:1-2 (NIV®)
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
- What is the “timing” word in the above scripture?
- Will we still have to struggle with sin, and if so, what do we do about it?
# 10 – I Have A New Life In Christ (Sin Is No Longer My Master)
We have a new life in Christ, a new future, a new set of boundaries, a new set of invitations. There are some things we have escaped, and new opportunities have opened up in front of us. We are not limited to our frailty, weakness, intellectual or physical limits. God has gifts for us and invitations that He uniquely created us for. The overwhelming characteristic of that new life is that sin is no longer our master. Christ is our Master. There is a new authority; our habits, thoughts, and behaviors of our past don’t have to control our future. When tempted or facing challenges, we can use wisdom and ask Jesus to help. We will still have struggles, but less and less so.
Romans 6:1-4 (NIV®)
1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
- Why does the scripture say “or don’t you know”? Why is this an important statement?
- Discuss a time when God gave you the “gift” of repentance (awareness of need to change). How did it change you?
#11 – I Have An Inheritance With The Saints
God qualifies us for His inheritance, we do not qualify ourselves. It’s not about what we do but who we are in Him that makes us eligible. God launched a search and rescue mission on our behalf, and He has declared us participants in His eternal Kingdom. With this declaration comes an inheritance, one that doesn’t fade or diminish. There are no factors that can influence your inheritance as a child of God.
Colossians 1:12-14 (NIV®)
12 … and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
- Have you ever “qualified” for an earthly inheritance? What were the ramifications of the inheritance? Briefly discuss your experience.
- What do we gain with the promise of Christ’s inheritance?
# 12 – I Have Access To The Throne
We have access to the Throne of God. We can speak to the Creator of all things, the God of the universe. We live in an egalitarian society, which means every person is equal before the law. This has clouded our thinking about the Kingdom of God. It’s not a democracy. For a long season, with God’s people, if you wanted to offer a sacrifice to the Lord, you couldn’t offer one on your own. If you needed to make a sacrifice to the Lord, you had to take it to the priest and the priest would take the sacrifice and offer it to the Lord. But today under the New Covenant, we are not bound to this law. We have an intermediary, Jesus Christ, our High Priest. The Bible says that He lives to make intersession for us—that when we offer a sacrifice, He takes it and presents it to the Father. We come respectfully, in the fear of God, understanding the sacrifice that has been made for us. We are not left alone. We have an Advocate.
Hebrews 4:14-16 (NIV®)
Jesus the Great High Priest
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
- Discuss the privileges of having access to the Creator.
- When does He empathize with us?
- Discuss the difference between sympathy and empathy.
- When we feel inadequate and unworthy, how does He tell us to approach Him?
- Where do you need His mercy and grace the most today?
Thank You for Your Word—its truth, power and authority. We pray that the Spirit of the Living God would help us to be aware of who we are in Christ—that not one characteristic would be lost to us but that these truths would grow with increasing measure each day define our future. We choose to believe what You say about us and to cooperate with You. Thank You that You love us and have our future in Your hands. In Jesus’ Name, amen.