To Be In Christ
There is absolutely no greater spiritual contrast we can contemplate than being "in Christ" and being "out of Christ." This is the definitive difference between being saved and being lost, between redemption and rejection, between being on the way to heaven and being on the way to hell, and between being Jehovah's child and being Satan's child.
Perhaps the best beginning we could make is an appeal to Scriptures that speak of this tremendous spiritual relationship - in Christ. Early in the book of Acts, Peter connects being in the name of Christ with the stately sphere of salvation. To the aroused and angry members of the Jewish Sanhedrin he stated plainly, positively and pointedly, "Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
In the tone triumph Paul writes victoriously in Romans 8:1,10, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit ... And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness."
The opening verse of I Corinthians has Corinthian Christians constituting the "sanctified in Christ Jesus" (1 Cor. 1:1). Again in that chapter Paul writes, "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Cor. 1:3).
In I Corinthians 15:18 Paul speaks of those who had "fallen asleep in Christ." One of the most familiar and deeply-beloved of all "Christ" Scriptures is couched in 2 Corinthians 5:17 where we read with spiritual relish, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
The Galatian letter is filled with allusions to either our being in Christ or his being in us. These expressions add up to the same wonderful blessing - a redeemed relationship with Christ Jesus our Lord. Galatians 1:6 affirms that they had been "called ... into the grace of Christ." Christ lived in Paul; Paul lived in Christ. In a passage that is powerful Paul affirms, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20).
Galatians 3:27 speaks of our being "baptized into Christ" and having "put on Christ." This is the point at which we come into the saving Christ and subsequently may speak of being in Christ. In Galatians 4:19 Paul spoke of the great need of Christ's being "formed in you again." Near the end of the Galatian epistle Paul wrote, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing nor uncircumcision, but a new creature" (Gal. 6:15).
Ephesians 1:3 sets forth the very attractive declaration that "all spiritual blessings in heavenly places" are "in Christ." In Ephesians 2:10 Paul wrote, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:13 has Paul to state, "in Christ Jesus,you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ"
In Philippians 1:1 Paul wrote about "all the saints" who are "in Christ Jesus." His bonds were "in Christ" or "for Christ," as the margin states (Phil. 1:13). The "mark for the prize of the high calling of God" was "in Christ Jesus" (Phil 3:14). "Christ in you, the hope of glory" is Paul's great affirmation in Colossians 1:27.
One of the most beautiful beatitudes in the book of Revelation reads, "And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they rest from their labours; and their works do follow them" (Rev. 14:13).
The Bible attractively abounds in such eloquent expressions as in Christ, in the Lord, and in Christ Jesus. How precious and potent is each such expression!
The Sad, Pitiful State of One Out of Christ
What it means to be in Christ is heightened and sharpened by contemplation of what it means to be out of Christ. This is the sad state of the alien; it is also the sad state of one who formerly was in Christ but has apostatized, and no longer loves and serves him, having lost his link with the Lord of life.
Several of the Pauline epistles depict one who knows not the Lord or who has rejected him after once knowing and obeying the system of truth that saves.
The Galatian epistle speaks this way in marvelous fashion. We come into Christ by baptism (Gal. 3:27). In that act we put on the Christ. By gospel obedience we become Christ's; we become Abraham's spiritual seed; we become heirs according to the Abrahamic promise (Gen. 12:3; Gal. 3:29). The implications from this leap up from Galatians 3:27, 29. If we are not in Christ, we have not put Christ on; we do not belong to him; we are not clothed with him; we are not Abraham's spiritual seed (Gen. 12:3); we are not heirs according to the Abrahamic promise. In Galatians 2:16ff Paul teaches justification "by the faith of Christ." This means that it is found in the gospel, or the "one faith" of Ephesians 4:5 and Jude 3. Justification is, therefore, in Christ - not out of Christ. This being the case, then no one, absolutely no one, is justified who is out of Christ.
Spiritual life is in Christ - not out of him. Paul so stated in precious, picturesque language in Galatians 2:20. Paul was not alive in Christ in Acts 7 when he witnessed Stephen's stoning. He was not living in Christ when he consented to his death and made havoc of the church as reported in the early verses of Acts 8. He was not alive in the Lord when he sought to imprison every Christian man and woman he could find in the Jerusalem area. He was not a recipient of spiritual life in Christ when he left Jerusalem for Damascus "breathing out threatening and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord" (Acts 9:1). He was not in the Lord when he was doing many things contrary to the name of the Christ: when he was shutting the saints up in prison giving his consent to their death, punishing them in every synagogue, attempting to make them blaspheme God, being constantly mad against them, and persecuting them even into foreign cities (Acts 26:9-11). While so engaged, Paul could not have written and would not have written Galatians in general or Galatians 2:20 in particular.
Galatians chapter four talks of the pitiful plight of the Galatians prior to their accepting and obeying Christ. Note what is said in Galatians 4:8, "Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods." Outside of Christ they did not know God. Before they were in Christ, they were pagan idolaters. They yielded service to what they thought were gods but in reality were dead idols - lifeless deities, objects that could not see, hear, nor bless them. In Galatians 4:9 Paul mourns over the fact that they were being swayed away from the Savior. They were upon the threshold of turning "again to the weak and beggarly elements, where unto ye desire again to be in bondage." The implication is plain. They were about to return to what they knew when they were outside Christ. This was the sinful sphere of weak and beggarly elements; it was the sinful state of spiritual bondage and galling serfdom.
Galatians chapter five speaks of liberty in the Lord. In Christ is freedom; in the Lord is liberty (Gal. 5:1,13). Outside of him there is bondage; there is no liberty. Those once in Christ can apostatize from him. The Galatians were about to do this. If they forsook Christ to return to Judaism, Christ would be of no profit to them (Gal. 5:2); they would fall away from grace (Gal. 5:4). Peter says the state of the apostate is worse than that of the alien who never knew God (2 Pet. 2:20-22).
To be outside Christ is to major in the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21). To be in Christ means to major in the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
By Robert L. Taylor Jr.
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