Part 1: Introduction | Part 2: Pictures | Part 3: More Pictures | Part 4: Even More Pictures
With the broader understanding of our union with Christ that these metaphors give us, we’re in a position to understand and appreciate the results that this union brings to our spiritual life and health. The New Testament mentions several.
What things result from our being in Christ?
Well, to begin with, there’s a whole bunch of stuff that doesn’t happen—or rather, stops happening. Let me present two of them as pairs—what stops happening, and what starts happening.
Condemnation Becomes Acquittal
We started out life in serious trouble. We had received a sentence of guilt—of condemnation—from our first father, Adam. (You think that’s not fair? Well, there are some things to consider about that.) And shortly we had confirmed that guilt by demonstrating our own sinfulness—selfishness, rebellion, and eventually all the rest of it. As time went on, our guilt just kept on accumulating—even among the best of us. And as Jesus noted in his metaphor of the vine and the branches, the fate of unattached branches is to be gathered up and burned (Jn 15.6).
But with our grafting into the vine that is Christ, all that changes dramatically. Where there was condemnation,
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death (Ro 8.1-2).
You have been declared not guilty in God’s courtroom because the penalty for your crimes has been paid—completely—by Christ, and you are in him.
But that’s only half of it. If you’re a bajillion dollars in debt, and some rich person pays that debt off completely, that’s great—you’re debt-free!—but the truth is that you’re still broke; your net worth is precisely zero.
What you need is some assets.
Bankruptcy Becomes Wealth
Our standing as “in Christ” doesn’t stop with paying off the old debt, forgiving our accumulated sins. It goes infinitely beyond that.
Since we’re “in Christ,” we are identified with him—and that means that his righteousness becomes ours.
He has made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2Co 5.21).
Wow. That “some rich person” not only paid off our debt, but he made us cosigners on his own bank account. We have access to all the riches of righteousness available there.
And now we have access to all kinds of other things that were infinitely out of reach before. We have what Paul calls “newness of life”—and his description of that life is radically different from how we used to live:
4 But as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything (2Co 6.4-10).
More briefly, he says that we’re a “new creation”:
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2Co 5.17).
Paul summarizes all this up in a simple statement:
If Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness (Ro 8.10).
Yes, we continue to sin, because there are stumbling blocks along the way of life, and because our fallen nature has not yet been eradicated (Ro 7.18-25). But there is a simple path to forgiveness and a promise of restoration (1J 1.9).
So we ought to walk—and we can walk—even as Jesus himself walked (1J 2.6)—because we are in him.
Photo by Wylly Suhendra on Unsplash
Wondering. If we are to walk even as Jesus Himself walked because we are in Him, then should we not conclude that we should serve as He served (John 13:12-17), love as He loved (15:12), and do the things He Himself did (14:12)?
Dan Olinger says
Sure–with the standard disclaimers that we are not called to do his unique works.
Which works do you suggest are unique to Jesus?
Dan Olinger says
Off the top of my head, creation, providence, atonement, session, judgment, kingship.
Indeed! Helpful. Thank you. But do you then things that Jesus’ disciples should do “the works” He did like healing, deliverance, and even raising the dead (as His earliest followers in fact did)?
Dan Olinger says
I’m a cessationist, for reasons I’ve often delineated elsewhere, including on this blog.
I often note in my teaching that the miraculous gifts seem to be clustered around outbreaks of special revelation (Moses/Joshua, Elijah/Elisha, Christ/apostles) and seem to play the primary role of authenticating those revelatory outbreaks. I deduce, then, that with the cessation of special revelation, confirmatory miracles would cease as well, having no confirmatory purpose.
That is not to say that God can’t or doesn’t do miracles at his pleasure. I think, for example, that I saw God heal a child on whom a group of elders laid hands and over whom they prayed. But I see no biblical basis for individuals today to have the gift of miracles or healing; and I find that view confirmed by the fact that those who claim such gifts don’t go down to Shriner’s Hospital and give a whole bunch of people a delightful day. 🙂