Over the weekend of 8 and 9 July, Pastor Kong Hee taught the church what it means to know one’s identity in Christ and how to be in the Holy Spirit.
In the familiar parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15), the younger son returned home after squandering his father’s inheritance, thinking that perhaps he could be hired help. He did not realise his identity as a child of the father, and that love and forgiveness can be found in that relationship.
Senior pastor of City Harvest Church, Kong Hee opened his sermon last weekend with this parable, explaining that when the younger son finally discovered his identity, it radically changed his view about his life and the way he lived. It empowered him to rise above his situation, and brought him immense inner joy and freedom.
The older son in the parable also failed to understand his identity—he viewed himself as a worker in his father’s house who needed to earn his reward, and not as a beloved son. He did not appreciate the depth of his father’s love for him and the privileges he already enjoyed. Despite being the firstborn son, he did not feel a sense of belonging. At the end of the story, he became very angry and bitter with his family.
“Is this the story of your life?” Pastor Kong asked the congregation. “One of the greatest revelations we can have is to know who we are in God, understanding our true identity and the authority that comes with it”.
RECOGNISING THE LION OF JUDAH WITHIN
The pastor used the story of Simba from The Lion King to further illustrate his point. Having believed he had caused the death of his own father Mufasa, Simba ran far away from home to hide. He met a warthog and meerkat, with whom he lived a simple happy life but one without any purpose. Meanwhile, his homeland was suffering under the rule of his evil uncle Scar.
One day, he saw his own reflection in a body of water and memories of his father came flooding back. The now grown-up Simba had a revelation: he realised that he looked exactly like his father. He was created to rule and reign over his land. The point of The Lion King was that Simba eventually realised his true identity and fulfilled his destiny. The more he knew who he was, the more he could move in power and authority.
At the climax of the story, Simba roared powerfully and the whole savannah shook. This symbolised the power within him to be the rightful ruler of the land.
Similarly, every Christian must have a revelation that he or she is created in the image and likeness of God. “When you roar, every demon will flee because you have the Lion of Judah living inside of you,” the pastor said.
Knowing one’s true identity and the authority one has in the name of Christ is a major theme in the Bible. After their sins are forgiven, believers step into the Kingdom of God, into an ever-increasing loving communion and union with God. This continues until they are so full of God that they are restored in His likeness and image. In Jesus, a brand-new life has begun for everyone who receives Him (2 Cor 5:17).
“I want you to have a revelation of your true identity in Christ and you will live the most glorious life for God,” Pastor Kong encouraged the church.
Reading a series of verses in Ephesians 2, (V4-6, 10, 13, 18), he preached that Jesus Christ is the source of every believer’s identity. The New Testament emphasised that Christians are to live in Christ.
What does it mean to be in Christ?
TO BE IN CHRIST: TO LIVE WITHIN THE SPHERE OF CHRIST’S CONTROL AND POWER
Galatians 2:20 reads, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
While Christians are planted in God, God Himself also lives in them. Pastor Kong urged the church to recognise that what gives every Christian the authority and victory in life is not their own merit and talent, but who they are in Christ (Eph 6:10)
“You are only as strong and powerful as you are in Christ. Outside of Christ is a different story,” Pastor Kong pointed out. While Ephesians 1:3 records that “God has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ”, the pastor explained that these blessings will only come to those who are in Christ. One must live within the sphere of His control and power.
To those wondering why they fail to receive blessings in their lives unlike the other Christians around them, the pastor explained, “If you put yourself within the sphere of His control and power, there will always be supply (Phil 4:19).”
When Christians start to live fully in Christ, they will function at a new level of power. “When you stay in Christ, the ‘power of attorney’ works,” Pastor Kong said. This means that if Jesus lives in them and they stay within His realm of control and power, they have that same power to cast out demons and perform mighty miracles (Mk 16:17-18).
TO BE IN THE SPIRIT: TO LIVE WITHIN THE SPHERE OF THE SPIRIT’S CONTROL AND POWER
“It is not only knowing who you are in Christ, but also who you are in the Spirit,” Pastor Kong continued. He shared that he loved being a Pentecostal because “we celebrate the Person of the Holy Spirit.”
Reading Romans 8:1-2, the pastor noted that everything God the Father does, He does it through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit—the Trinity is equal and inseparable. When Christians are born again, they belong to Jesus and have the Holy Spirit within them.
“The Christian life is essentially the life in Christ and in the Spirit,” Pastor Kong taught. The deeper one abides in Christ and lives in the Spirit, the more one would be transformed. Without Jesus and the Spirit, it would be impossible to become a true disciple of Jesus.
To be in the Spirit is to live within the sphere of the Spirit’s control and power. Something happens when one intentionally lives in the realm of the Spirit.
Romans 8:5-6 reads, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” The Holy Spirit is the key to having a life free from fears and anxieties—which is essential to mental wellness. He gives believers the rest in their souls, the easy yoke and light burden by changing the way they think.
The Holy Spirit renews one’s mind through the word of God as the Bible was inspired by the Spirit Himself. When the believer lives in the Spirit, his thinking becomes clearer and he experiences peace and joy in his mind.
The Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead—He is the Giver of the resurrected life. In Romans 8:11, Apostle Paul reminds Christians that the same Holy Spirit lives in Christians and is the one who gives them life. He will bring health and healing to their mortal bodies.
“As long as you stay in the realm of the Spirit, He will always give you the strength and energy to fulfil your calling”, Pastor Kong said. “He will sustain your health to do what you are created to do”.
Reading from Gal 5, Pastor Kong showed the congregation what walking in the Spirit does. He first explained that living in the Spirit means surrendering to the Spirit and obeying Him. The Holy Spirit will then change the believer from deep within, transforming them to become more Christlike. They will also have victory over the flesh, overcoming things such as pride and anger (Gal 5:16), and start to develop the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23).
As the believer grows to become more like Christ, he also begins living the righteous life. “This is important because this is the whole goal when you become a Christian,” Pastor Kong preached. “You become so full of God until you’re restored in the image and likeness of Jesus in His love and in His righteousness.”
Many Christians read Matt 6:33 and focus on “all these things will be added to us”, forgetting that they need to first seek God and His righteousness. The pastor reminded the church that the walk is progressive. The more Christians allow the Holy Spirit to empower them to live a righteous life every single day, the more they will reign in life (Rom 5:17).
He also encouraged them that God has an abundance of grace for His believers every day, to help them live in righteousness, overcoming every sinful tendency and habit.
In conclusion, Pastor Kong reiterated the importance of finding one’s true identity in Christ, so that one can learn to live and walk in the Spirit to live a victorious life. By the Spirit, Christians can overcome any temptation and sin because they are joint heirs with Christ.