Misconception of who we are

Series: An edited adaptation of the book Prayer, Power, and Proclamation by C.L.Peppler published by Chrispy Publications in 2009 (ISBN 978-0-620-43583-3). Part 6:

For anyone born again of the Spirit of God, in the name of Jesus, then Sonship/daughterhood defines who we are and servanthood defines what we do.  You are not a slave, but a child of God.


The account of the transfiguration describes Jesus setting off for Mount Hermon from a place called Paneas. In his day, people also called this little village Caesarea Philippi, but today we call it Banias. The waters from the melted snow on Mount Hermon come to the surface in Paneas. Many pagan cults and religions regarded this source of the Jordan River as a sacred site. They called it Paneas, because worshippers of the pagan god Pan had built a temple there. When Jesus visited this village, it must have been the location for several shrines and temples. It was here that he asked his disciples,”Who do people say I am?” Then he asked them who they thought he was and Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”. (Matthew 16:16-17) I wonder how Peter would have responded if Jesus had asked him, “and who do you say that you are, Peter?” Perhaps we need to ask ourselves this question.

When I was a teenager, Peter Sellers starred in a comedy called ‘The Party’. He played the part of a bumbling, accident-prone Indian, complete with sandals and turban. After doing something particularly outrageous, a woman indignantly asked him, “Who do you think you are?” He looked at her pityingly and responded, “Madam, in India we don’t ‘think’ who we are, we ‘know’ who we are.” Do you know who you are? It seems to me that many Christians suffer from a deep misconception of who they really are. On the one hand there are those who think they are ‘little gods’, but fortunately they are in the minority. The majority of Christians believe themselves to be servants of God, if not slaves of the Almighty. What about you – who do you think you are?
Do you see yourself as a son or as a slave?
Here is the truth. For anyone born again of the Spirit of God, in the name of Jesus, then Sonship/daughterhood defines who we are and servanthood defines what we do. There is a distinct priority order here: who we are determines what we do. More accurately, who we perceive ourselves to be determines what we are prepared to do.
John 13:3-5 records that “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” Because Jesus knew who he was, the son of God, he was prepared to serve his disciples in the most menial way. So what are you – son or slave? Consider the following texts:

Ephesians 1:5 “he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” Instead of arguing about God’s predetermination of all things, perhaps we should simply note that God has predestined us to be HIS SONS AND DAUGHTERS!

1 John 3:1 “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” What a powerful and decisive statement.

Galatians 3:26-4:7 “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father”. So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” Note the final verse “so you are no longer a slave, but a son.”

The distinction between a son and a slave mentality is profound. A slave is not an heir, but a son is. A slave does not own, but is owned. A son has a vested interest in the family affairs, but a slave does not. A slave is obliged to obey his master under penalty of punishment, but a son obeys his father because he loves him. Slaves jockey for position and status, but sons know who they are, and that status cannot compare to their privileged position. Slaves focus on getting, because they have so little; sons focus on giving, because they have so much. Slaves have only masters, but sons have a father. Sons are responsible and accountable. Sons are motivated by love, not by fear. Sons measure themselves by the quality of their relationships, not by their performance. Slaves do the minimum required, while sons invest the maximum, for their field of endeavour is their inheritance. A slave defines who he is in terms of what he does. A son determines what he does because of who he is.

If you regard yourself as a slave in God’s household, then this will influence your behaviour in church. You will tend to want others to tell you what to do. When you do it, you will most likely do just enough to avoid a negative reaction from your pastor. You will want others to acknowledge and thank you. In all probability, you will expect God to do things on your behalf. If he does, then you will praise and applaud him. If he doesn’t, then you will most likely sulk or actively rebel. To you the commandments in the Bible are laws designed to prescribe your life and limit your freedom. Please understand I am not trying to be unkind here; I just want to give you the opportunity of evaluating how you see yourself. This is such an important issue!

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Christopher Peppler

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.