What Does it Mean to be in Christ?
In order for a person to abide in Christ
, he or she must first be in Christ
. Although these two concepts are related, they are not exactly synonymous.
Let's discover what the Bible says about being in Christ.
- In Christ, you are reconciled to God. "And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation"
(II Corinthians 5:18).
- In Christ, you are a new creation. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (II Corinthians 5:17). "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10; also see Galatians 6:15).
- In Christ, you are dead to sin and alive with Him. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free ... If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:32,36). "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord"
(Romans 6:11). "Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)" (Ephesians 2:5).
- In Christ, you are free from condemnation when you walk in His Spirit. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death"
- In Christ, you are a child of God. "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:26). "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not" (I John 3:1).
- In Christ, you have salvation. "Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory"
(II Timothy 2:10).
- In Christ, all the promises of God are in effect. "For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us" (II Corinthians 1:20).
- In Christ, you have righteousness, wisdom, sanctification, and redemption. "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus"
(Romans 4:10). "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (I Corinthians 1:30). "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (II Corinthians 5:21). "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace" (Ephesians 1:7).
- In Christ, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" (I Corinthians 6:19). "And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us" (I John 3:24; also see 4:13).
- In Christ, your life is hidden with His life. "Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings" (Psalm 17:8). "Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Corinthians 1:8). "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory" (Colossians 3:3-4). "We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not" (I John 5:18).
- In Christ, you partake of His glorious inheritance. "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together"
(Romans 8:17). "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3, also see 1:11). "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints"
(Ephesians 1:18). "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son" (Colossians 1:12-13).
- In Christ, you have a holy purpose and a high calling. "And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus ... For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:6,10). "According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Ephesians 3:11) "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14). "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (II Timothy 1:9). "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the
praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light" (I Peter 2:9).
- In Christ, you are loved and fully accepted by the Father. "Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:39). "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved"
(Ephesians 1:4-6). "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us" (I John 5:14).
- In Christ, you have eternal life. "And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life" (I John 5:20).
- In Christ, you have a firm and secure foundation. "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock"
(Matthew 7:24). "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise"
(Ephesians 1:13). "Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving" (Colossians 2:7).
- In Christ, you are changed into His likeness. "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Corinthians 3:18). "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).
- In Christ, you are a partaker of His divine nature. "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (II Peter 1:4).
- In Christ are all the treasures of wisdom. "In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3).
- In Christ dwells all the fullness of God. "To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation" (II Corinthians 5:19). "For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell"
(Colossians 1:19). "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9).
- In Christ, believers are reconciled into one Body. "So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another" (Romans 12:5). "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us"
- In Christ, you are victorious. "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us" (Romans 8:37). "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place" (II Corinthians 2:14). "And he said unto me, 'My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.' Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (II Corinthians 12:9).
In Christ, you are complete! "And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power"
(Colossians 2:10). Everything you need for life and godliness has been taken into account (see II Peter 1:3). The Spirit of Christ fills you, furnishes you with spiritual resources, satisfies your deepest needs, and brings the Father's destiny for you to completion. Nothing else is lacking; everything else gets in the way. All you must do is abide in Christ. Yes, it's that simple (yet profound)! Confusion comes in when man's religious traditions pollute the childlike simplicity of the Gospel. "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ"
(II Corinthians 11:3).
A Word to Those Who are Not Abiding
It is important to note that a person can be "in Christ" yet not be "abiding in Christ." How so? Well, when we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior, God places us in Christ
and gives us the witness of His Holy Spirit in our hearts. "Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts"
(II Corinthians 1:21-22). Those who are "in Christ" are on the path to salvation and have access to every spiritual blessing through the Holy Spirit
, Who abides in the hearts of those who are born again
(see John 14:16). The Holy Spirit is the key to salvation, for we "are kept by the power of God [Holy
Spirit] through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time"
(I Peter 1:5), and "we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith"
(Galatians 5:5). Jesus abides in us by His Spirit, and asks us to abide in Him.
Abiding in Christ
, however, means to wait upon (trust in) the Lord and bear spiritual fruit. Abiding is neither a wasteful idleness nor anxious striving. Abiding is drawing supernatural strength from the Lord's presence and walking in the leading of the Holy Spirit
. Hebrews 4:10 tells us that entering into God's rest means to cease from your own works.
This is why a person who is "in Christ" isn't necessarily abiding. Many Christians get caught up with the cares of the world and strive to please God in their own works. As a result, they are often greatly deficient in agape
(the love of God), joy, peace, and the other fruit of the Spirit. This is a dangerous place to be, for such people may soon fall away because they lack root (see Mark 4:17).
Jesus said that "every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes"
(Luke 6:44). Truly, spiritual fruit will be the definitive evidence that you are a true disciple of Jesus
. Just as figs do not grow on a thornbush nor grapes on a bramble bush, so spiritual fruit can only come out of a genuine relationship with Jesus. To believers who are striving and not abiding, Jesus says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light"
One final illustration comes from the generation of Israelites which Moses led through the wilderness. On the way to the Promised Land, the nation of Israel followed a cloud by day and pillar of fire by night (both representing the presence of God). "And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents"
(Numbers 9:17; also see Exodus 40:36-38). When the cloud moved, Israel moved with it; when the cloud stopped, they set up camp. That generation was "under the cloud" (I Corinthians 10:1), just as we are "under the cloud" of God's protection (salvation) if we are in Christ. Staying in the center of God's will (abiding) is the safest place to be. Those who did not go with the cloud or fell away through unbelief were left behind in the wilderness. "For if
ye turn away from after him, he [the Lord] will yet again leave them in the wilderness; and ye shall destroy all this people"
Ultimately, abiding in Christ
is the key to bearing spiritual fruit and keeping our lamps full of spiritual oil (the Holy Spirit). It is also the means whereby our faith
can stand firm in the midst of tumultuous times. Jesus said, "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock"
Psalm 1:1-3 says, "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."
Truly, those who draw their strength from the Lord will weather the storms of life and come forth as a fruitful tree with deep roots.
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