| Christian...You Are In Christ!|
Many Christians do not seem to understand or appreciate the radical spiritual exchange that has taken place when one is "converted from the authority of satan unto God" (Acts 26:18 ). When one becomes a Christian, he/she has moved immediately and completely from the "spiritual condition" of the left column to the "spiritual condition" of the right column.
Those who have doubts about their conversion will benefit from studying the contrasting "spiritual condition" of the unregenerate and regenerate. Christians who have a tendency to be self-depreciating and to focus on their failures, and Christians who do not appreciate their new identity "in Christ," will benefit from meditating on the "spiritual condition" of the Christian in the right column above the horizontal line, in order to recognize the "finished work" of Christ on their behalf. Some Christians respond, "Well, I don't feel like this is true about me." The question is: Are you going to believe your experiential feelings, or are you going to believe what God says about you in His inspired Scriptures?
The radical difference between the "spiritual condition" of the unregenerate and regenerate should also cause Christians to have more compassion for the "lost," compelling them to share the "good news" of the gospel with those who are deceived, duped, deluded and held captive by the devil (II Tim. 2:26). Christians need this incentive for evangelism today.
I pray that this compilation of Scriptural contrasts will especially be used of God to cause Christians to recognize and "know" (Rom. 6:6,9) the glorious reality of their "spiritual condition" and spiritual identity "in Christ." Many Christians seem to read the verses noted in the right column above the horizontal line, and have been taught to view these merely as "positional truths" truths from God's heavenly position and perspective which are not really true for the living of the Chrisitian life. They tend to postulate these as ethereal heavenly realities to be accepted "as if" they were true on God's heavenly accounting books, but they end up being not much more than "legal fiction" when applied to the actualities of Christian living in the present.
The majority of Christians today do not view themselves as "standing" in Christ, fully assured of their "spiritual condition" in the right column. Rather, they tend to focus on the experiential "behavioral expression" and view themselves to be "standing" in the left column, below the horizontal line, trying, struggling and praying to get into the right column. Others view themselves as standing astraddle the line between the columns below the horizontal line, somewhat like walking on a behavioral tightrope. Such are the skewed perspectives of a religion of "works" and self-effort, wherein Christians base their identity on what they "do" rather than on what Christ has accomplished for them once and for all.
The failure to understand one's objective "spiritual condition" causes Christians to dwell disproportionately on the subjective and experiential "behavioral expressions." Such a misdirected emphasis fosters such religious manifestations as:
* defeatism and lingering doubts of regeneration and reconciled relationship with God.
* introspective navel-gazing in order to evaluate one's behavior.
* self-orientation that focuses on one's experiences, rather than on Jesus Christ.
* an undue sin-consciousness that can lead to inordinate and obsessive confessionalism.
* legalistic keeping of rules and regulations in order to achieve "behavior modification."
* suppressionism of the "flesh" which reverses Galatians 5:16 to read, "do not carry out the desires of the flesh, and you will be walking in the Spirit."
* masochistic crucifixionism that keeps attempting to "die to self" in order to be alive in Christ. It required the cross of Christ to transfer us from the left column to the right column above the horizontal line; it does not require another cross in order to behave like who we have become "in Christ."
* constant questioning of the "will of God", attempting to find "it" apart from Jesus Christ.
* "worm theology" that fails to appreciate the glorious transference of "spiritual condition".
* personal identity based on one's behavioral failures: "I am bad, evil, sinner", instead of a spiritual identity "in Christ."
* schizophrenic duality of questioning whether spiritual identity is based on "old nature" or "new nature" (unbiblical phrases).
* paranoid uncertainty concerning behavioral motivations.
* antinomian excuses of sinful behavior.
Such destructive religious behavioral practices can be avoided when Christians have a clear sense of spiritual identity based on the "finished work" of Jesus Christ; when Christians can say with Paul, "by the grace of God I am what I am" (I Cor. 15:10). A positive personal concept of who we are "in Christ" is foundational to consistent Christian living, in that people behave on the basis of the concept of their identity. If we know who we are "in Christ" (right column above the horizontal line), then we can "behave" (right column below the horizontal line) like who we have "become" not by our own self-effort, but by allowing the dynamic of Christ in us to express His Life.
The responsibility of the Christian is not to strive and labor to behave according to God's expectations; rather our responsibility is faithful receptivity of God's activity. All that was required on our part in order to be transferred to a regenerate "spiritual condition", from the left column to the right column (above the horizontal line), was faith our receptivity of God's activity on our behalf in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Paul explains in Col. 2:6, "As you received Christ Jesus (by faith), so walk in Him (by faith)." Faithful receptivity of the provision given to us spiritually in Jesus Christ is all that is required to "behave" (right column below the horizontal line) like who we have "become" (right column above the horizontal line). Such behavioral follow-through comprises the "obedience of faith" (Rom. 16:26) which allows God to be glorified by the expression of His all-glorious character in the behavior of man.
| 2012/1/15 9:59||Profile|
| Re: Christian...You Are In Christ!|
This was a very fruitful and well-researched article. The link provided has a lot of great scripture references and from what I've discerned, the exegesis of the verses is spot-on and the contrasts of the Adamic-state vs. the Christ-state accurate. The light God has been giving me on the laws of the Spirit of Life and Sin and Death parallel what the author is putting forth. I also see a correct order emphasizing walking in the Spirit and subsequent flesh denial, and not the reverse, which most believers seem to juxtapose.
Paul Frederick West
| 2012/1/15 10:33||Profile|
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Praise the Lord, Paul.
That is a great report and I am glad the Lord blessed you with that.
I really think when we all see ourselves the way we should (in Christ), our conversations will turn from the petty to the inspirational, encouraging and edifying.
Most are very edifying, by the way. :-)
| 2012/1/15 10:41||Profile|
| Re: Christian...You Are In Christ!|
I agree there is a great need for clarity in this age. That is not to suppose that there have not been times when it was not just as desperately needed, but it seems we live in an age of unprecidented confusion. Obviously this heart felt burden is provoked by what you see and hear or you would not have shared it. Confusion lies in both camps. The regenerate and unregenerate. I do agree that many will linger in defeat where Christ reins victorious. When those born of Christ take their eyes off of Him, their efforts will most certainly be fleshly. For those born of Christ, I believe the Spirit will convict them of such things in the on going process of sanctification. Sometimes quickly, sometimes not. There is a lot of freedom in this area and sometimes we must go around the block many times as we are conformed to Christ. Yet we know that the spirit indwelling us will convict us of fleshly motive and bring us back to our senses and the good conscience. This in no way should ease the conscience of the true believer from things they have not let go of, but it should bring comfort, rest, and thankfulness, to know that God is faithful in confoming us to His Son.
I have a great appreciation for what I feel you (Pilgrim, James) are trying to help the body with in her discernment of such short commings on her part. The bride needs encouragement and clarity in her position. She is placed according to God's providence, into this age of great confusion to ready herself for her Groom .
My greatest concern is for those who enter the race unqualified. Without their entry fee paid by Christ, they may run along side the other runners, but they have not received their number. They can wear the most expensive running shoes and running attire, wear the sweat bands and hats, drink from the water tables and grab the quick energy fruit, but they have no legitimate entry. They can even run with the front of the pack, but they can never make it to the finish line, for they were never conditioned for the race to begin with. If the unsaved are not told the truths of regeneration, they will grab a truth from the right column and never understand the crime they have commited by commandeering it in the flesh. What can only be spiritually discerned, must now in it's pilfering, be established by the flesh. So a new order of those claiming Christ, without the Spirit, have been raised into this generation. This will bring confusion to the body, as it obviously has, and no doubt points us to the great need before us, to speak hard truths to the lost who believe themselves in Christ.
| 2012/1/15 12:06||Profile|
| Re: Christian...You Are In Christ!|
If we know who we are "in Christ" then we can "behave" like who we have "become" not by our own self-effort, but by allowing the dynamic of Christ in us to express His Life.
Look and see what God has already accomplished for you and in you. Your old sinful self was crucified with Christ and that you no longer live. Your old sinful self has died, and you no longer have a life. You have received His all-sufficient Life in exchange for your old corrupt self. Now the Christian life isn't yours to live. God does not depend on you to live His Life for Him. He knows that it impossible for you to live His life, so He gave you His life. You do not live for Him - He lives for you.
The Holy Spirit begins to open your eyes to this existing reality when this message of Gospel is preached of what God in Christ has already done in you and for you.
Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."
This message of the Gospel of the finished work of God in Christ is the only possible message that contains the power of God for total and complete salvation for mankind. No other message contains the power of God to bring about perfect and continual obedience.
| 2012/1/15 14:06|
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The chart is comprehensive. I've managed to squeeze it down to a 15-page word document to print off. I see tremendous potential in this project by James A Fowler. His aim is to move us past our "legal fiction" and ethereal bible talk into the realm of real life existence.
What surprised me, when browsing over it, is how little of it addresses elements of behavior in comparison to elements of identity. That made me realize that if God's people could maintain the same balance, they would be affective in counteracting the fundamental crisis in our society: the search for identity, meaning, and purpose.
| 2012/1/15 15:40||Profile|
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Great Post! I must admit that I've had difficulty in understanding the Identification otherwise known as Positional Truths of who I am in Christ. It is human nature to base one's idea of who they are on what they do. If you ask someone who they are, they usually start by telling you what they do for a living. A person will always behave in a manner consistent with who they see themselves as. If someone has a "worm theology" notion of who they are (just a sinner saved by grace), they find it nearly impossible to live a victorious overcoming life. The reason "worm theology" has taken root in the church is because it appears to be so humble. If God translated me out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light of His dear Son, to confess that I am still in darkness is an insult to God. Yes, I still sin on a daily basis but my spirit man is one with God's Spirit. So it is more true to say that I am holy and occasionally fail in practicing holiness because I am no longer "in Adam" but am "in Christ". Our spirit after regeneration is perfectly holy since we are in Christ. Our souls are being progressively sanctified as we are led and yield to the working of the Holy Spirit. Our bodies will be redeemed at the second coming of Jesus when we shall put on immortality in the twinkling of an eye. We will only become sanctified in behavior by looking at who we are in Christ (the second Adam who is already made perfect).
| 2012/1/15 16:25||Profile|
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Absolutely outstanding post, and YES, it is definitely needed in this day n age. The absolute expression of what Christ has done for us at Calvary, completely.
We all need to meditate on it, I believe this is what Paul did after his conversion when he went to the backside of the arabian desert.
It is necessary, Moses went through it on the mount various times to be renewed in thinking, in mind, in whom he was actually in subjection too and why.
| 2012/1/15 17:05||Profile|
| Re: Christian...You Are In Christ!|
Thank You Pilgrim, Your excellent comments and the excellent ARTICLE, 'SPIRITUAL CONTRASTS', BY CHRIST IN YOU MINISTRIES!
I bookmarked that website for future reference.
Salvation is truly a gift from God to all who receive it by FAITH, believing and accepting by faith what God has already done for us, as WRITTEN IN THE HOLY SCRIPTURES.
Praise be to GOD for all HE has done for us, who walk with Him by faith, trusting His Word is true.
And the many responses this thread give witness to this fact.
| 2012/1/15 18:10||Profile|
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That is another great post Pilgrim. I am still working on all those questions by James Fowler and actually discovering more freedom in Christ than I had previously known.
In this post and looking at the spiritual contrasts, I am understanding that if we focused more on our identification with Christ and what He did for us then maybe all of us here on SI would begin to see that we have the most important things in common. Christ! Do any of us have every doctrine down perfectly? None of us have finished the race yet. Can we forbear with one another?
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 1Cor 13:2
| 2012/1/15 18:37||Profile|