What Does It Mean to Be in Christ?

by Roel Velema

The Bible teaches that a human being is “in Christ” or “in Adam”. Romans 5 is the great chapter that deals with this distinction. Man is either a slave or servant of the evil one or of Christ. By nature we all are slaves of satan and sin, because satan is Mr. Sin. The gospel however implies a deliverance and a transfer: “He has DELIVERED us from the domain of darkness and TRANFERRED us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). In fact we were transferred from our position “ in Adam” to our new position “in Christ”. There never was and never will be a neutral position were man lives as an independent ego, like Frank Sinatra sang: “I did it my way.”

How did that transfer took place practically? In Galatians 2:20 Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ”. But what was crucified, spirit, soul or body or a combination of those? Well, our bodies weren’t crucified because we were never crucified literally. Our soul wasn’t crucified, because our psychical make-up with our temperament didn’t change either. So the only conclusion is that our spirits where crucified with Christ and that our identification is located IN SPIRIT: “I (my ego in spirit) has been crucified with Christ”. John affirms this when he writes: “… unless one is born of water and THE SPIRIT … that which is born of the Spirit IS SPIRIT” (John 3:5,6). How did that happen? Well, Paul wrote: “But he who is joined [from the Greek: colla =glue] to the Lord becomes one spirit with him” (1 Cor. 6:17). The birth from above means that in my resurrection with Christ my spirit is joined (glued as two sheets – inseparable yet distinguishable –  to the Holy Spirit. This is the new man. Then we are in Christ and that’s God’s doing (1 Cor. 1:30). This also means that in my unredeemed state my spirit was joined to the spirit of evil which made me a slave of seen. However, when we died with Christ, this old union, this old man, was dissolved. Therefore, the old man is literally out of existence because my spirit cannot be joined at the same time with another spirit. So praise God, my sin problem has been solved, because the wrong man was thrown out and the Right Man was brought in.

To be in Christ means “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). Christ now lives His  life as me. Christ and I live in a two-oneness. Christ is the light of the world (John 8:12). Because we live in a two-oneness and He has “become to us …” (1 Cor. 1:30), WE TOO are he light of the world (Matt. 5:14). Though Christ is the Creator and we are creatures, we share the same Divine nature (2 Peter 1:3), and our identification is to live in the recognition of this fact. Ephesians 1:3-14 describes all the blessings we have in Christ. All those blessings in Christ are spiritual and not one of them is material. In Christ God doesn’t give things, but His Son. It’s futile to ask for more love or humility, because God doesn’t give things. He gives His Son as me and as my life, and Christ is love and humble. So we live in Christ by means of recognition and not the adaptation of our behavior.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God” (2 Cor. 5:17,18).
To be in Christ is to be a new creation. “All things are become new” doesn’t necessarily mean that outer circumstances or even my human expression changes. It means primarily that an inner shift in my consciousness has occurred, and that whereas formerly I saw all things in relation to just myself, and my ability, my progress, my spirituality or apparent lack of it, and the shift in consciousness is to quit looking at the “flesh” and instead to walk in the Spirit, which means that “all things are become new” WITHIN me, IN my inner outlook, and I see that in what appears to be my human weakness, my apparently “imperfect” human expression, He manifests Himself, by His own power and strength. “My strength is made perfect in weakness”. A Christian is an entirely new creation. Though the body looks the same, and though one’s personality is the same, God has birthed a new being, united spirit-to-Spirit with God through Christ, who takes on all responsibility to produce the qualities that He requires. “Yet not I but Christ” means “… because as He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17b). He, in His fulness, lives in us and as us, and we HAVE that fulness because we never see ourselves apart from Him anymore; we are one spirit with Him, one in our identity (cp. Col. 2:9,10). It’s all illustrated by the Lord that we are the branches and He is the Vine (John 15:5). The Vine is the whole plant, including the branches. Likewise we are members of His Body, which is the Church. So we are the Vine in our unique human branch form. The branch is always the receiving part, the expressing part. So the Vine is our life; He is me through the Divine nature in oneness of spirit, expressed in the flesh (soul and body). That’s what it means to be in Christ.

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