“What does it mean to be ‘in Christ’?”
Well I’m sure we all know what it means to be “in debt.” To be “in debt” describes the man or woman who has placed themselves in a position of obligation. If a person or a business lets debt get out of hand they may soon find themselves “in bankruptcy” – i.e. “the state of being completely lacking in a particular quality or value.” A person can thus be “bankrupt” in many ways: financially, morally, even spiritually.
This is the condition every person without Christ is currently “in.” (See Rom. 1:1–3:21 if you have any doubt!) God demands absolute purity in His Presence: “holiness,” says scripture; “without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14). I’ve got no holiness… have you? No? Didn’t think so. We are all completely bankrupt of any holiness.
So, when we each reach that day when we stand before Him we find ourselves filthy… unholy… unable to enter the glorious afterlife He has prepared for us!
Imagine a surgeon coming to the operating room in greasy auto mechanic overalls! What sort of reception do you suppose he would receive?
But scripture tells us there is a solution to our enigma… to our filthiness of heart and mind and soul. That solution is Christ! Christ has stepped forward to remove our filthy clothes, to scrub us up with His own Spirit of holiness and make us wholly clean, then clothe us with new clothing… pure and white… His own clothing, “garments of righteousness.” (Isa. 61:10; Rom. 3:21-22).
Scripture tells us to get into the habit of ongoing bathings, of daily “putting on Christ” (Col. 3:10) and walking anew “in Him,” steering clear of grimes and grease. The Christian walks around “in Christ,” (2 Cor. 5:17; Rom. 8:1) in “newness of life” for now Christ has made this possible.
As we do, He works in us more and more the desires and behaviours of holiness. Not only are we clothed in Christ, but we are also actually becoming new creations… new creatures “in Christ Jesus.”
Not only is the believer “in Christ,” but now also Christ is within the believer! (John 14:20 17:23). “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). The Christian thus lives both in relation to and in relationship with Christ Jesus. As Martin Luther once noted, “The moment I consider Christ and myself as two, I am gone!”
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