Monday, October 14, 2013

What Does It Mean To Be In Christ?

By Kristen Leigh Evensen
Lately, this seems to be the million dollar question.
Our life group is currently studying through Ephesians. We meet every Thursday night to unpack a handful of verses in Paul's letter, to discuss, share and pray. Nine young women, hungry for the Word, sit thoughtfully in a circle, meditating on how the Gospel changes hearts, minds, and the entirety of our lives.

We find ourselves astounded. Curious. Overwhelmed. Filled with joy. Perplexed. Altogether engaged in living out the riches that we have received by being in Christ Jesus. What it means to be "in Christ" is so simple...yet so complex. Thank the Lord He allows us a lifetime of grace to understand this truth, while we seek to live our lives with Christ as the center.

I deeply desire for my identity in Christ to translate not solely to my head, but ultimately to my heart. What about you? This would mean that every day we are becoming increasingly more caught up and in tune with our identity in Christ.

Being in Christ is the reality of the believer--yet so often we do not live as though we believe our identity in Him to be true.

See if any of the following scenarios resonate with you:

I pray for peace/patience/love/joy when all are already mine to claim in Christ (Galatians 5:22-23). 

I grasp for earthly recognition when I have already been accepted in Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16). 

I put my hope in beauty and material things, even though my eternal inheritance is in Christ (Colossians 1:11-12). 

I strive to perform for God when He has already lavished His grace upon me in Christ (Ephesians 1:7-8). 

I compare the gifts I have been given to others' gifts, though I am God's workmanship, created in Christ (Ephesians 2:10).

I try to defeat sin and be perfect in my own strength, when in Christ I already have victory 
over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:56-57).

I listen to the enemy's lies when, in Christ, I have been given the whole armor of God: the Word of truth, the Holy Spirit and the Gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:10-20).

Do any of the above statements sound like you? If so, please know that God's lavish grace is sufficient for our weaknesses! He longs to transform us, day by day, into the image of Christ by making our identity in Christ our living, breathing reality. He does this through the working of His Spirit within us.

It is my prayer that all those in Christ actually live like we believe it! So what exactly does it mean to be in Christ? Here are three thoughts:

ONE: To be "in Christ" means to be united to Christ. Christ becomes the representative of all who believe in Him by faith. Though once we were estranged from God, Christ reconciled us to the Father by His blood on the cross. His unstained record becomes our record, as He represents us to the Father and intercedes for us (think of a trial--Christ comes before the Judge (God) pleading for us, His perfect record exchanged for our sinful one). We are no longer of the world, or of the flesh, because we have been united to Christ, our representative.

This means freedom from guilt, materialism, idolatry, striving--we are no longer of the world! The list goes on and on!

TWO: To be "in Christ" means to partake of the life of Christ. A "partaker" is one who shares in, claims a portion of, and has something of the nature and character of another. Think about that: You partake of Christ's very life, which was perfect on earth and is now exalted in heaven! Because Christ is our representative, our lives share in His life; we are holy, blameless and without fault in the sight of God. We also gain an assured inheritance in eternity.

This means that all of Christ's riches are ours to claim: love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, self-control, hope and on and on! We need not live like paupers; we have the riches of Christ.

THREE: To be "in Christ" means to have His Spirit dwelling within us. In Christ, we partake in His life, which means the Holy Spirit dwells within us. Our struggle with sin will not be over until Christ comes again, but we have the Spirit as a guarantee of what is to come--Christ-likeness and the total defeat of sin and death! God works in us through the Spirit to will and work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).

This means that we can submit to the Spirit's work in us, trust Him to lead us, and believe in His truth above all other lifeless versions the world has to offer us. 

I don't know about you, but after reading about all my benefits in Christ Jesus, my earthly battles and narrow mindsets seem so temporary and insignificant. I want to defeat them with the truth! Will you claim with me the life of Christ and ask God to impart to us a deeper knowledge of His love?

Heavenly Father, Thank You for uniting us to Christ! You made a way which we never could do ourselves. Strengthen us to live like we believe it. Help us to know more deeply the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, and to be more like Him every day.

Amen. 

Which of these truths about being in Christ do you need to claim today?

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