DAILY DISCIPLINE #191
By Colleen Donahue
OUR POSITION "IN CHRIST"- PART 3
What We Have By Being "in Christ"
You'll remember in the last study that when Adam and Eve sinned, we lost four things:
1. Our righteousness or right-standing with God
2. Our relationship with God
3. Our rights as his children
4. Our rulership (or dominion) over the part of the earth we live in.
Jesus came to earth to restore what we lost:
1. With Christ's death and resurrection he won back our righteousness or right-standing with God. His blood over our lives means our sins are forgiven, and our conscience cleansed. Our past gets settled.
2. Then, because God put us into Jesus on the cross, when He died, we died (Romans 6:6) -- i.e. our inherited sin nature was rendered inoperative. In this way our present gets settled in that we no longer have to keep sinning.
3. Finally when we accept Christ's offer of His Spirit, we become new creations in Christ. Our spirit (small "s") becomes the home of Christ's Spirit (Capital "S") and we can walk into the future in partnership with Jesus because we have His Spirit dwelling within us.
When these three things happen it's like a reset button has been hit for our life. We are back to God's original intention -- and as his committed children we have many rights and privileges. All these belong to us because we are "in Christ" and therefore active members of the family of God. So what do we have by being "in Christ"? Let's look at those in this study.
WE HAVE RIGHTEOUSNESS
I remember growing up that being "right" with mom and dad and being "right" with my brothers made for happy and peaceful living. I have painful memories of times when I wasn't right with them. It was horrible. We were divided, hostile, and life was anything but peaceful. And it was always only a matter of time before my parents would win.
1. Being right with God is huge. It means we can go to him anytime because the air is clear between us. And as we saw in the last study, Jesus made all this possible for us.
How do we receive this righteousness?
These are definitely verses we need to "chew on" for awhile. But you'll see two big words in these verses that are important to restoring our righteousness.
A. The first word is justification (vs 24). Christ's shed blood on the cross covers you and I so that to God it looks like it's "just as if we had never sinned." When He sees His Son's blood over our life then he can declare that we are righteous.
B. The second big word in this passage is redemption (vs 24). The word denotes that a price was paid to set captives free. All of us are a slave to the old sin nature that controls us. When God put us into Jesus on the cross, that old nature died with Him, and we were set free from having to sin. This is what the Apostle Paul means by a spiritual circumcision.
Before our death with Jesus, we can't do anything but sin. But now we have a choice.
2. Redemption is how Jesus facilitates our move from one family to another. Where are we rescued from? And where are we brought to?
3. Therefore where is our redemption found?
Ephesians 1:7 / Colossians 1:14
And where is our righteousness found?
2 Corinthians 5:21
4. This redemption is very practical. Christ's work FOR US enables God to declare us righteous. And then, because we have the righteousness of Christ, our character changes to become like Christ over time. He fills us with the "fruit of righteousness".
WE HAVE A RESTORED RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
5. When we are back on track with God, one of the first things we feel is....
Notice WHO this comes from.
It's not that God gives us a package with peace inside for us to enjoy. No, He gives us Christ, and Christ Himself is our peace.
And what does Jesus do to keep us walking in peace?
PRACTICAL NOTE: Often at night during the time we should be sleeping, Satan can inject thoughts that can keep us literally running so that we wake up exhausted. Ask the Lord Jesus to stand guard over your heart and mind. Ask Him to refuse anything that is injected by the evil one. You'll find that dreams get less and less and you wake up refreshed.
6. When you are at peace with someone, you feel a wonderful freedom just to be yourself with that person without fear of their judgment or condemnation. Who of us will be free from God's condemnation?
And why will this be so?
7. Having peace with God, and knowing that God doesn't condemn us because we are the "righteousness of God in Christ", should give us a lot of confidence. With confidence what will we be able to do?
1 John 5:14-15
WE HAVE OUR RIGHTS BACK AS CHILDREN OF GOD
All children within their earthly family just naturally receive from their parents what they need to live and grow within their family and community. Did you beg your mom to feed you? No, she had the food ready for you. Did you beg your dad for a room to sleep in? No, it was all arranged for you. Did you ask to go to school? No, they registered you in advance so that you just got on the school bus and went. Did you ask for anything from your parents as you got older and were working yourself? Probably not, but they had an inheritance waiting to help you anyway. Parents love to give, and children are naturally conditioned to receive.
Now God as our Heavenly Father loves that we are his children, and He loves to give us His very best. God's "best" is His Son Jesus. He doesn't give us "individual things". He gives us one person - Jesus - and then we have it all.
8. In these verses that Paul wrote to the Ephesians, we learn some important truths about our relationship with God, in his family.
Let's look more closely at these two verses.
First, we see that God chose us. Our physical parents don't choose us (unless we are adopted). They get what is formed through them by natural processes set up by God. But here we see that God actually chooses us. And WHEN did He do that? (vs 4a)
Second, God's love and choice of us made him like any star-struck father. How does He see you and I? (vs 4b)
Third, God decided in advance (before we were born physically) to adopt us into his family. WHO facilitated this? (vs 5a)
Fourth, and the crowing touch from these verses -- we learn that God's love for us, his choice of us, his view of us, and his adoption of us were all something he really wanted to do -- and -- it gave him great pleasure! (vs 5b-6)
9. You and I are the "apple of God's eye" and we give Him great pleasure! He has prepared everything in advance for us just like our earthly parents, with Jesus as the facilitator. What is left for US to do?
John 1:12 speaks of three things:
A. Belief in Jesus and therefore in God
B. Receiving Him refers to receiving our new nature - the Spirit of Jesus that He offers each of us
C. And when we believe and receive then we BECOME a child of God.
BELIEVE + RECEIVE = BECOME
10. How do we all become sons and daughters of God?
11. And who confirms that we are God's children?
Romans 8:15-16 / Galatians 4:6 / Ephesians 1:13
12. Who do we become in relationship with Jesus?
13. So, God recognizes that we are His child when He sees His Spirit (the same Spirit that Jesus had) within us. How does the world around us recognize whose family we belong to?
1 John 3:10
14. God has a rich life full of blessings for everyone of his children. It is not just for his chosen people (the Jews). God's blessings are for Jews and Gentiles (non Jews). How do God's blessings come to us?
15. The faith by which we receive God's blessing is more specifically our faith in Jesus. According to this verse, what do we receive?
16. Once again we see that God doesn't give us lots of "things". He gives us His very life to indwell our human spirit and in doing so we have everything. And this life of God within is for everybody, anywhere in the world.
17. It's from Christ's life within us that we have everything we need as God's children.
This certainly means spiritual blessings but it extends into our physical life. For what we can't see is actually more real and solid than what we can see. Everything in the physical world is decaying. But what we have in the spiritual realm lasts forever.
18. As children, probably all of us have experienced one or both of our parents promising us something and then not coming through on that promise. But this will never happen with all that God promises. He doesn't sometimes say "Yes" and then "No". What does He say to us?
2 Corinthians 1:19-20
And according to verse 20, where does God fulfill all his promises?
Once again we see this insight that when we have Christ's Spirit indwelling our own, we have all that God promises. Christ becomes those things for us.
19. John, in his gospel, brings this out very clearly. There are many ways that John tries to capture the fact that Jesus will be ALL to us. Here are five examples:
A. We yearn for satisfaction and fulfillment in life and so we talk with Jesus about this. What does He tell us?
Hunger is symbolic of man's dissatisfaction and bread is what satisfies us. We want to be satisfied and filled and that's why Jesus tells us "I am your bread!" He doesn't give us a little something to satisfy us. He gives us Himself!
B. We need knowledge and wisdom for something in our life that we are in the dark about. We don't know what to do and so we talk with Jesus about it. What does he tell us?
John 8:12 / John 9:5
When light is turned on, then we can see. And therefore Jesus within us becomes the way that we can see through situations and discern what we are to do. He doesn't give us a ray of light. He gives us Himself!
C. We need to feel safe and we don't. So we talk with Jesus about this and what does He tells us?
John 10:7, 9
Jesus doesn't hand us a weapon so we can defend ourselves. He says, "I am the door (or the gate). Come into my flock and I'll make sure you are protected." (my own paraphrase)
Then he even goes further to tell us:
Jesus doesn't hand out a little bit of safety and protection. He Himself becomes that protection for us.
D. You have been diagnosed with something that can kill you. You have already gone to the doctors and they have dispensed medication and treatment. Now you go to Jesus to ask Him what to do. And what does He tell you?
Jesus doesn't dispense a pill or a treatment like the doctors do. He gives us Himself, assuring us that we will rise to life both now and in eternity.
E. We want to know how to come to God and please Him with our life. And so we go to Jesus to talk this over and what does He tells us?
-Jesus doesn't hand us a map. He says, "I am THE WAY." He's going to be side by side with us through our entire life.
-We seek to know the truth about God and again Jesus doesn't give us a bit of truth to meditate on. He gives us Himself because He is THE TRUTH.
-We yearn for real life here on earth and then beyond. Jesus doesn't hand us a lot of wonderful trips, opportunities, and experiences. No, He tells us "I am THE LIFE". When we have Jesus we have it all.
To close this section on our rights as God's children - which Jesus got back for us -- we have to talk about our inheritance. In the Kingdom of God this works differently from on earth.
On earth, it's usually when our parents die that we receive an inheritance to help sustain us through our life on earth. But in the Kingdom of God it's when WE die that we receive our Heavenly Father's inheritance. When we die with Christ, and receive his Spirit we become eligible to receive every spiritual blessing in the Heavenly places. Then when we die physically, we receive a home in Heaven, while we wait for God's new heaven and earth to be recreated as our final home. This is where we will partner with God in the development of his ever expanding universe.
20. First, we have to be a child of God to receive an inheritance. And if we are God's child, what does this qualify us to become?
Romans 8:15-17 (especially vs 17)
According to verse 15 and 16 you'll know if you are a child of God when God's Spirit indwells your own spirit, and affirms within that you are a child of God.
21. Paul restates these truths when he wrote to the Galatians.
Galatians 3:29 / Galatians 4:6-7
22. A child of God -- having God's Spirit within -- naturally cries out to God as his father. If this is the case, then you know that you are an heir. What do we have the hope of inheriting?
It should be added that Paul is speaking of an eternal life with God. In truth, all of us will live forever, but not all will spend it with God.
23. How are we qualified to share in the inheritance of God's people?
24. So God himself rescues us from the dominion of darkness and brings us into the Kingdom of His Son where we find redemption. What (or who) does God give us on earth that is a deposit guaranteeing all that we will receive in the future?
Ephesians 1:13-14 (especially vs 14)
25. Part of our inheritance starts even while we live on earth. God in Christ loves to give us good things right here and now.
Proverbs 8:18 / Proverbs 10:22
WE HAVE DOMINION OVER THE EARTH
When we are righteous with Christ's righteousness, walking in peace with God, full of God's Spirit, and part of God's family, then we are ready to fulfill the purpose God made us for. Every one of us is a king or queen in God's kingdom ruling over the affairs of a family, a business, a community, a classroom, a school etc. It's not that we rule over each other, rather we become God's managers in the arena that he places us. To do this successfully it's important that we learn to walk by Christ's indwelling Spirit. For too long we've operated by doing whatever popped into our mind. But now, being "in Jesus" we must move in partnership with Him -- not ahead or behind. This will take time and practice and Jesus knows this. In the words of the prophet Amos: "Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction? (Amos 3:3)
26. The question we need to answer is how can we know the mind of Christ so we can stay in step with Him? How does the Apostle Paul answer?
1 Corinthians 2:16
Don't miss what Paul is telling us. WE ALREADY HAVE THE MIND OF CHRIST! Jesus, by His Spirit, resides within us. Once again we see God's principle at work. He doesn't give a little bit of knowledge or insight. We have His Son and therefore we already have the mind of Christ.
27. Where then do we miss it? I suggest two ways. The first way is:
A. Running ahead
If you are like me, (or how I used to be), you tackle most things like this: you size up all the information, think through the pros and cons, make your decision, and then work to carry it out. We do this all the while Jesus stands quietly by waiting to be included. We can learn a lot from King David in this regard. What three things did he ask God for while waiting to get God's mind?
And what did he confidently proclaim?
So if we truly want Christ's mind on day to day issues, we must learn to wait on Him. Again King David gives us some direction on how to do this.
When we seek to know the Lord's mind and He walks with us in our decisions, what do we find happening to us?
I am not talking here about hours behind closed doors waiting until we "hear from God". Satan will be happy to oblige us with a "voice from God". What I am suggesting is a looking up to Jesus in the normal course of the day and including Him in our thoughts and decisions until this becomes our norm rather than the exception. This is how we are meant to walk with Jesus. The more we pause to look at his face, the quicker we'll be able to see his eyes guiding us.
28. The second way we miss operating with Christ is:
B. Lagging behind
This is when we know Christ's mind on something and we don't obey it. If we know Jesus has given us instruction, either through His word or through the voice of our spirit, then it's important that we act on it -- not someday but NOW. What is the common thread in all these verses?
Genesis 6:22 / Joshua 11:15 / 2 Kings 18:6
When we learn to obey Jesus instantly when we "hear his voice" within, then what is certain for us?
James 1:25 / 1 John 3:22
I wanted to obey Jesus immediately when I heard his voice but I was always distrusting myself that "I heard right". Then I discovered that King David had the same problem and came to this conclusion:
Even if I wasn't 100% sure about something that Jesus was guiding me to do, I would say to Him; "Lord, I think this is what you want me to do. I'm going to step out in that direction. If I have heard you wrong please block the way. But if it's what you want, please open up the way for me to keep walking."
So that was how I committed my way to the Lord, trusted in Him, and allowed Him to act through me. That simple advice from King David is exactly right.
That is the first way that we take dominion over our part of the earth. We stop acting independently, and practice putting our mind together with Jesus until we wouldn't even want to act independent of Him.
TAKE YOUR POSITION
29. Our life with Jesus begins by sitting -- not walking or trying to "do" something. That's because Jesus has already "done" everything needed to make us "right". And when He had finished His work of cleansing us from our sins, what did he do?
30. Because we are "in Jesus" where are WE today?
31. That's why Ephesians opens with this statement:
We are invited right at the start of our Christian life to sit down and enjoy what God has given us rather than try to attain it for ourselves. From start to finish the Christian life is based on being utterly dependant upon the Lord Jesus. "Sitting down" is an attitude of rest and the only way we can receive all the Lord wants to give us.
This principle of being seated with the Lord Jesus in the Heavenly realms means that we rest the whole load of ourselves, our work, our future -- everything on Him. We let Him bear the responsibility, and we cease to carry it ourself.
This is the second way that we take dominion back over our part of the earth. We take our position with Christ at the right hand of God and we look down from an exalted position where we see things more clearly. In any battle, we always have the advantage when we have the high ground.
32. The Apostle Peter writes that from Christ's position next to God, who is in submission to Him?
1 Peter 3:22
And because we are "in Christ", who is in submission to us?
Reread: 1 Peter 3:22
33. If sitting describes our position with Jesus in the Heavenly places, then walking describes the practical outworking of that on earth. Unless we bring "the Heavenlies" into our day to day life it will be without meaning. What does this mean for us?
Ephesians 5:1-2 / 1 John 2:6
34. Of course this is an impossible, high standard. So what is the answer to meeting God's exacting demands? First, we'll find that God puts in us the desire to do his will.
35. And then the secret to having the power and the ability to do God's will, will be found in:
Ephesians 3:20 / Colossians 1:29
This is the third way that we take back our dominion over the earth: We sit forever with Christ so that we can walk continuously before men. Our walking is not based upon our own efforts but on God's working mightily within us. He does not give us the strength to deal with things. He gives us Christ who deals with all for us, with us, and through us.
STAND YOUR GROUND
36. In taking dominion responsibility over our part of the earth, we must realize that there is a real enemy wanting to keep God's will from being done "on earth as it is in Heaven."
Ephesians 6:12 / 1 Peter 5:8
37. Through the cross Jesus waged war against Satan and his forces. By the resurrection, God proclaimed Jesus the victor over the entire kingdom of darkness. We died with Christ. We rose with Christ. Therefore we have the victory that Christ won for us. We don't need to fight for victory but only to stand our ground against all the challenges.
Ephesians 6:11,13, 14a
38. Today we don't fight FOR victory, we fight FROM victory. We don't need to struggle to get ground that is already ours. Why do we have overwhelming victory?
39. Our power for standing comes first because we are "in Christ" and seated with Him at the throne of God. If we are not sitting with Christ we can't hope to stand before the enemy. But if we operate from this position of rest, what will be certain?
Deuteronomy 28:7 / Joshua 1:5
40. Satan's goal is not so much to get us to sin, as to get us to lose peace by assaulting our rest in Christ and altering our walk in the Spirit. He wants to disrupt that at all costs because he knows that once we lose our peace, we are vulnerable and easy prey. Satan also knows that a mind directed by Christ's Spirit within us only leads to.......
41. Because victory belongs to Christ, it also belongs to us. We maintain His victory by standing and God gives us all the equipment necessary to stand. List the six pieces of equipment.
42. Rather than asking the Lord to help us overcome, we should praise Him because He has already done so. In Christ we are "more than conquerors". Reread and memorize:
43. What is Jesus doing for us when we are in the midst of our battles on earth?
44. The difficulties may not alter. The lion might be roaring as loud as ever. But in Christ what is true?
1 John 5:4
45. The Apostle John goes on to ask us a question: "Who is it that overcomes the world?" Then he gives us the answer:
1 John 5:5
46. Overcoming here on earth requires our sitting with Jesus at God's right hand, walking according to the Spirit's direction on earth, and then standing firm in Christ to hold the victory that Jesus has already won. Then, to be effectively used by God on earth we must use the authority of Christ's name.
John 16:23-24, 26-27
47. The name of Jesus on earth was the carpenter's son from Nazareth. But now, the name of Jesus represents the power and dominion given to Him by God. It is a name above all names. What happens when that name is used?
48. Since God has committed all authority to His Son, there is power in His very name. And it's that name that we are given to use.
John 14:13-14 / John 15:16 / Reread: John 16:23-26
In other words, Jesus has placed God's authority in OUR hands to use in having dominion over the earth. All the work of saving men, speaking to men's hearts, and working miracles of grace for them, Jesus does through any of us who act in His name.
This is the fourth way that we exercise dominion over the earth: God speaks to His Spirit within our spirit to direct us in a work. We then act by Christ's power and authority and not by our natural powers. To use His name for God's work is something Jesus can honor and commit Himself to.
Our union with Christ is vital to doing God's work of having dominion over His creation called earth. That's because He doesn't ask us to do things we can just do in our own strength. He asks us to do things that can only be accomplished when we do them in the power of His Son. This is the work that brings God all the glory.
1. Jesus came to earth to restore what we lost when Adam and Eve sinned (i.e. their decision to live by their own knowledge of good and evil rather than by God's knowledge).
2. Jesus gained back our "righteousness" or right-standing with God.
A. By his shed blood, our past is forgiven, and our conscience is cleansed
B. By our co-death with Jesus on the cross, He dealt with the sin nature we were born with that keeps us sinning. We now no longer have to sin.
C. By offering His Spirit to indwell our own, we are back on track to live out the purpose of our life, and to have the power to do that.
3. Christ's work FOR us means that we can have a restored relationship with God and be at peace with Him.
4. Because Jesus restores our relationship with God we can now take our place as children of God with all the benefits that come from being part of God's family.
5. Jesus triumphed over Satan at the cross and because of that we can take dominion over the earth in the place God has put us. We do this by:
A. Knowing the mind of Christ and walking with Him in a partnership -- not ahead or behind.
B. We take our position in the spirit next to Christ at the right hand of God. Our Christian life starts when we sit down with Christ in the Heavenly realms.
C. Our being seated with Christ in the Heavenly places, enables us to walk in the Spirit in our life with people on earth.
D. We maintain the victory Jesus has already won by standing our ground. We fight FROM victory not for victory. In Christ we have already overcome.
E. Jesus gives us the authority of His name to use in defeating our enemies and fulfilling our purpose.
6. In union with Christ we are enabled to live and work for God by the power of Christ's Spirit within us in such a way that God gets all the glory.
|Daily Discipline Table of Contents