To Be In Christ

John 15:4 -- Remain in me, and I will remain in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.

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Christianity's central belief system is "Christ in you." Hence, what distinguishes a person as a Christian – and we are speaking here of one who is born from above – is that Christ dwells in them through the power of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 1:27 -- But God chose what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise, and God chose what the world thinks weak to shame the strong.

We are "united to the Lord and created one spirit with Him" upon redemption. This is how Christ dwells in the believer - through our spiritual union with Him.

1 Corinthians 6:17 -- But the one united with the Lord is one spirit with him.

BY FAITH

This truth clarifies the passage above, John 15:4. If I am born from above, Christ does abide in me - I am spiritually united to Him. However, John 15:4 instructs me to "abide in Christ." This emphasises the importance of living out of Christ BY FAITH in our daily lives.

Take note that this is accomplished BY FAITH. To begin, I must recognise that Christ resides within me. Then I must trust that I am capable of resting on Him, drawing strength from Him, and surrendering to Him. 

Why? Because He declared as much. I can rely on Him, not because of anything I do, but because He said so – and He is always faithful.

Abiding in Christ through faith is putting myself aside and completely surrendering to Christ through faith. I draw all life and resources from Him.

It is insanity to believe that if I continue to draw from myself, I can draw from Christ for everything. I am unable to. I must present myself to God for whatever “pruning” of my natural man is necessary to enable me to encounter Christ as my light and life. 

This is merely another way of stating that I must absolutely submit and abandon myself to Christ – and thereby make myself available to the Cross's work.

FAITH AND EMOTIONS

How does "living in Christ" appear now? To be sure, it is never a matter of how anything "looks" or "feels." It is a matter of believing that He is present for us to abide in; it is a matter of believing that we can set ourselves aside and trust that He is faithful regardless of our circumstances.

This is critical to understand, as it appears that the majority of us have difficulties resting in His faithfulness — we typically want to feel or have some sense that "it is working." No. When we work in this manner, we are completely dependent on our emotions, psyche, and feelings - all of which are notoriously untrustworthy. 

Jesus Christ is not experienced emotionally or through our senses. Rather than that, we must disregard all of those things – which are inherent in natural man – and place our trust in HIM. 

As we proceed, there will be an increasing awareness of Him. Again, the cause of this will not be emotional or fleshly - it will transcend us and gradually take control of our lives.

When believers place their confidence in Christ – when they abide in Christ – we often anticipate that "something will happen" – something visible or tangible. That is the natural tendency of human thought. However, what will truly occur is LIFE. 

What will actually happen is that we will gradually but steadily come to an interior understanding of Jesus Christ. We will come to understand Jesus Christ, not ourselves.

SELF - THE HURDLE

Probably the most significant hurdle to abiding in Christ through faith is our constant preoccupation with SELF. To the extent that we focus our attention on ourselves to "show Christ is truly present" or to "watch ourselves to prove Truth," we will remain stagnant in Christ. 

The evidence IS CHRIST - in other words, Christ is not ourselves. Each believer has a split between Christ and himself – between spirit and soul – and it is only through the work of the Cross that we can perceive and experience this division. It is at this point that the freedom to truly abide in Christ becomes increasingly tangible in our experience.

The presence of Christ in us does not result in myself being the focus of my existence. It does not result in a life marked by the phrase "yet not Christ, but I" - but rather by the phrase "yet not I, but Christ." Such a way of living is alien to normal life and thinking. However, it is the Truth and the one purpose for which God created the believer.

IN HIS SON

God has given everything He has to give in His Son – and nothing else. Failure to recognise this explains why we become frustrated with God's apparent inaction or disinterest. No. The complete purpose of God for the believer is revealed only as we abide in Christ and encounter Him.

Colossians 2:3 -- in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

LAW AND GRACE

Abiding in Christ will produce what Paul declared in Galatians 2:20. This is not "the law of sin and death," but "the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus."

Galatians 2:20 -- I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

God's law is a written manifestation of God's living righteousness. However, because humanity is corrupt, our nature is in conflict with God's law. Thus, while the law is holy, just, and good, when humanity is confronted with God's law, we are shown to be unholy, unjust, and terrible. 

This demonstrates that the issue with humans is not in what we "do." It is inherent in who we are. The Adam race is completely lawless. The law of God constantly emphasises this. The law reveals that we are hopeless within. We are depraved. In summary, you cannot rehabilitate a lawless creature by enforcing the law.

REVELATION OF CORRUPTION

Personally, if I attempt to live by the law, I shall live under the constant revelation of my corruption - for that is what the law reveals. It will make no difference what we DO — the law will reveal who we ARE. There is no way out. 

As Paul repeatedly explains, the law's objective is to silence every utterance and to portray the entire human race as guilty before God. Take note that the law does not convict us. No. Rather than that, the law simply displays the actual state of the children of Adam as corrupt and LAWLESS. 

In other words, the law establishes our guilt. Thus, once again, if you attempt to live before God according to the letter of the law, you will be perpetually guilty.

PRISON OF OUR ADAMIC NATURE

What we see here is that if we do not place our faith in Christ, the law of God will entrap us inside ourselves. We will continue to live in the prison of our own nature, constantly attempting to be good but constantly being exposed as corrupt. 

In certain ways, God's law will correlate - negatively – to our fallen nature. The law will disclose failure and condemnation in every level of our fallen nature. Not only will this be true regarding God's written rule, but it will also be true regarding our own consciences – our consciences will condemn us of our faults. Without faith in Christ, we shall be without hope.

Of course, it is conceivable to be so misguided that we believe the law is demonstrating our righteousness - simply because we believe we obey it. However, those who hold this perspective must constantly deceive themselves to sustain the illusion. 

Regrettably, some continue to do so till the end of their life. However, God has endowed His spirit with the ability to dismantle and destroy such beliefs - if we will only open our hearts to Him in search of the Truth.

SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS

Be subtle in your self-righteousness. Believers can develop a standard of behaviour and righteousness inside themselves that is not necessarily written down – but functions in their mind and conscience. 

It is feasible to live within the confines of this law – and the condemnation it produces. And, in fact, that is the only alternative available to those who lack trust in Christ.

The Christian church has always had legal systems. Often, these systems are not referred to as "law." However, any standard of living created as a method of approaching God or discovering true life is LAW. 

This standard could be one of outward behaviour or one of interior behaviour and condition. However, it IS THE LAW. It is about our righteousness (self), or rather, our lack of it.

WHO IS JESUS NOW?

The only way out of this hopeless position is through Jesus Christ. However, the solution is not only what Jesus DID — it is Who Jesus IS – right now. Naturally, what Jesus has accomplished is embodied in His Person. However, we must abide IN, live IN, and encounter the Living Christ who presently resides in believers.

Jesus Christ did not come to bring a more just system of law to the world. He did not come to endow us with the ability to obey God's rules. Rather than that, He came to let what we are in Adam to die in Him – allowing us to be raised as a new creation in Christ Jesus. 

And yet, the new creation in Christ Jesus is not only a creature endowed with the ability to obey God's law. No. The new creation is not subject to the law, but rather to the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, who has set me free from the law of sin and death. 

In Christ, we are delivered from all systems of law and brought into LIFE. We abide in the Person of Jesus Christ via faith - He is distinct from us – and as we abide in Him, we get the freedom to live for God.

The Christian life is not a legalistic walk. It is a Christ-centered walk. This will not contradict God's rule - for Christ's life is holy. However, we will not be following a system. We shall be cohabiting with another person.

Any of us can walk according to the law and live under the law – but be mislead into believing that what we are doing "IS" life in Christ. However, if we are receptive to God – open to Him even in the midst of our deception – God will bring our false stance to a full collapse. 

The law will accomplish its purpose - exposing our sin and disbelief – and we will know that only Jesus Christ is the answer. Yes, He is the only way to salvation, but He is also the only way to LIFE.

Abiding in Christ entails preparing a Christian to live on a day-to-day basis. Being in the Person of Christ is the believer's very LIFE. He is the source of all a believer requires. And to go once more to what Paul declared in Galatians 2:20.

Galatians 2:20 -- I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

THE LIFE IN THE VINE

Jesus' description of Himself as the Vine and His followers as the branches is an excellent illustration of what it means to stay in Christ. 

The Vine provides everything for the branches. Jesus, the true VINE, repeatedly proclaimed this Truth: I AM the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Light, the true Bread, the Good Shepherd, the Door, and the Resurrection–and, of course, the TRUE VINE. 

John in the book of Revelation summarises this and refers to Jesus as "the Alpha and the Omega; the Beginning and the End." Paul stated that God has freely given us everything in Christ. However, these designations are not simply "name tags" that He wears. 

Rather than that, Christ is everything that these realities imply TO and FOR us. Alternatively, Christ is OUR LIFE, and therefore ALL IN ALL. Nothing exists apart from HIM; nothing exists apart from HIS LIFE.

John 1:4 -- In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind.

1 John 5:11 -- And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

John 11:25 -- Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies..."

Thus, the branches are alive only as a result of the Vine's vitality. Take note that the Vine does not provide the branches with a life of its own. No. The branches' existence is dependant upon their oneness to the Vine. 

As such, it is in Christ. We are not given a "thing" or a "power" to own or use - we are not given the things of God as a result of Christ. No. Christ is given to us. 

We are united to Him; we have been baptised into Him. Everything that is given from Him – and we live out of Him if we stay in Him through trust.

LIFE AND FRUIT

What is true of the Vine's life is also true of the Vine's fruit - because the fruit is the result of that life. So, the fruit that the branches produce is not just of the branches; it is also of the VINE; the fruit is the consequence of the Vine's vitality pouring into and through the branches.

This is what Paul understood as the revelation of Christ caught him. This is the fruit of our spirit as a result of being in Christ.

Galatians 5:22-23 -- But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.

We can say the same thing about everything divine in the Christian experience - because everything divine flows out from Christ, who is THE LIFE. Nothing of God exists apart from Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 -- So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away – look, what is new has come! And all these things are from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and who has given us the ministry of reconciliation.

A COMPARISON

Again, God has freely given us everything in Christ. There is nothing that God will ever have to offer mankind apart from the Person of Christ. In comparison, there is nothing in natural man that God has incorporated into this age's new creation. 

When it comes to the new creation, the natural man is dead. Under the Cross, God has put aside everything inherent in man –and for the believer, "all things are OUT FROM GOD."

There is no way to exaggerate this tremendous Truth: Christ is everything "for" the believer; Christ is everything "in" the believer. When we depart from this fundamental truth, deceit begins to sneak in. 

All is provided in Christ – Christ is everything – but it also includes four cautions against looking to other things, experiences, and sources – yet when Christians do this, they ALWAYS believe what they are doing is OF GOD!

If Christ ordered us to abide in Him, it follows that it is conceivable for us to fail to abide in Him - even as believers. In such a situation, Christ continues to dwell inside us. However, we shall be like the Galatians, who had no impact on Christ. 

In other words, to the degree to which we remain in Christ by faith, His life will be active in us. However, if we do not, His life will be ineffective in us; indeed, there will be a withering–until we repent and return to Him.

THE FRUIT OF THE VINE

As Jesus said in John 15, the branches are incapable of self-sufficiency. The branches cannot survive independently of the Vine because they lack life in and of themselves. Similarly, branches cannot yield fruit on their own. They lack the vitality necessary to bear fruit. 

However, it is God's desire that the branches produce fruit. Jesus instructed us how: According to our Lord, the branches needed to accomplish one thing to produce fruit: Abide in Him through faith.

Can we see how this serves as a foundation for so much? Sure. It is a visual representation of the Christian life. What we are discussing is fundamental. Christ is the source of our life. We cannot live apart from Him. That covers everything.

Now we must be certain of one thing: The Vine does not provide the branches with the "ability to produce fruit." Neither does the Vine provide the branches with the "ability to follow God." No. The Vine distributes HIMSELF to the branches - our connection with Christ conveys Christ Himself to us; resurrection life. 

Christ IS God's strength. He is LIFE; He is our life. So, as previously said, the branches produce fruit ONLY FROM the Vine. The fruit is the manifestation of HIS LIFE — inside and through the branches. The branches merely demonstrate the Vine's existence via the fruit produced.

PRUNING

Naturally, simultaneous with the experience of staying in Christ, there must be a "pruning" - a pruning of everything which would obstruct life in Christ. This is the work of the Cross of Christ. The natural man's power must be shattered for significant progress to be made in producing the fruit of Jesus Christ.

Another way of saying this is if we are to live our lives out of Christ, we cannot live our lives out of ourselves. So, when Jesus speaks of "pruning" in John 15, He is referring to a divine activity – the work of the Cross – that will crucify our self-ownership and provide us with the chance to fully dwell in Christ.

While it is possible to live apart from our religious selves, doing so results in the production of a religious body. It may seem attractive for a while. However, it is of a fictitious vine. "Whatever is born of the flesh IS FLESH."

BEARING FRUIT

Fruit is the final result of a living process - it is the product of life. If the life is natural, carnal or fleshly, even religious fleshly, the fruit generated will be of the same kind. However, if the life being discussed is resurrection life in Christ, the fruit produced will reveal His life.

Therefore, it is critical to recognise at this time that the fruit that a branch bears is not indicative of the branch's longevity. No. The fruit is produced by The Vine's life - the life of The Vine flows through the branch and bears the fruit of The Vine on the branch.

And when we speak of "conforming to His image" and "Christian character," we are referring to the fruit of Christ's life being worked out through mankind. Humanity exemplifies Christ - produces His fruit – but the fruit is not produced by our natural self. 

We are the source of nothing and are unable to act. Rather than that, the fruit emanates from Christ. Only through faith does He become our source.

Have we realised, for example, that sanctification is Christ shown in and through His people? Have we realised that Christ is also visible in and through His people as "the fruit of the spirit"? 

Both are synonymous. What? Do we believe there is the fruit of the Vine, who is Christ, and then another fruit of the spirit? That is absurd. Jesus Christ lives in a believer by His spirit. Christ is the fruit.

Paul said plainly that Jesus Christ is our sanctification. He stated:

1 Corinthians 1:30-31 -- He is the reason you have a relationship with Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

It should come as no surprise that sanctification is the manifestation of Christ in His people - because, once again, He is THE LIFE. However, many of us were taught that sanctification is defined by "holy living." 

Or that sanctification occurs when God "acts upon us" to conform us to the image of Jesus. No. Sanctification is the manifestation of Jesus Christ in Christians - holy life will manifest.

This Truth is mirrored throughout the Bible. Consider the phrase "Holy Spirit." This phrase refers to "the spirit set apart for God." Or, more precisely, "the spirit through which one is connected to God." 

However, how does the spirit bring a person into God's family? As Paul put it, "Whoever is united to the Lord is one spirit with Him." Thus, we are God's because Christ is present in us via the Holy Spirit.

WHO IS A SAINT?

This is why the most often used word for a believer in the New Testament is "saint." Saint, sanctification, sanctify, and holy are all derivatives of the same root word. A "saint" is defined as "a person who has been sanctified," or "a person who belongs to God." 

So, when we speak of sanctification, we do not mean that we should become like Jesus. Rather than that, it is our being crucified out of the way so that Jesus Christ may be seen. And if He is seen, that is FRUIT for the glory of God. He is the source of our sanctification.

Posts on similar topics: 

  1. Christ In Us
  2. The Seed Is Christ
  3. Conformed To His Image

Blessing and Grace to you all.

Godwin.


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