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The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17-18, "Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation."

The believer in Jesus Christ who comes to see his eternal Christ-centered position in the Lord Jesus begins to experience the benefit of all that he is "in Christ." We become like the person with whom we associate.

Augustus H. Strong notes, "The believer is said to be 'in Christ,' as the element or atmosphere which surrounds him with its perpetual presence and which constitutes his vital breath; in fact, this phrase 'in Christ,' always meaning 'in union with Christ,' is the very key to Paul's epistles, and to the whole New Testament. The fact that the believer is in Christ is symbolized in baptism: we are 'baptized into Christ' (Gal. 3:27)" (Systematic Theology, p. 797).

To be "in Christ" speaks of an intimate, personal love relationship with Him. An unborn child in his mother's womb is a distinct personality while at the same time a part of his mother. Attached to his mother he draws life strength and sustenance from her. The believer retains his distinct personality while being "in Christ." We have this living intimacy with Christ.

A. W. Tozer said, "To accept Christ is to form an attachment to the Person of our Lord Jesus altogether unique in human experience. The attachment is intellectual, volitional, and emotional. The believer is intellectually convinced that Jesus is both Lord and Christ; he has set his will to follow Him at any cost and soon his heart is enjoying the exquisite sweetness of His fellowship" (That Incredible Christian, p. 18).

When the Christian begins to hate the self-centered life for what it is and begins to see and love the Lord Jesus for who He is, then he will become willing for the Holy Spirit to take self into death in order that Christ may be formed in us. There is but one place where our faith can rest, and that is in Christ where the Father has placed us.

We are perfected forever in our position "in Christ." Hebrews 10:14 says, "For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified." Jesus Christ accomplished with one sacrifice what tens of thousands of animal sacrifices could never attain. The constant repetition of the animal sacrifices is proof that animal sacrifices could never take away sins. The fact that Jesus "sat down" after He ascended to the Father is proof that His work was completed (Hebrews 1:3, 13; 8:1).

"Sanctified" in Hebrews 10:14 is in the perfect tense and signifies an act completed in the past with present and lasting results. This positional sanctification is secured by the Father’s election (1 Peter 1:2; Hebrews 10:10), our vital union with Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:2, 30), the work of the Holy Spirit in us (2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2), is instantaneous with justification (1 Corinthians 6:11; Acts 26:18), covers all believers collectively (Acts 20:32; 26:18), is once-for all, perfect and forever (Hebrews 10:10; 2 Thessalonians 2:13).

Those who have trusted in Christ need not fear, for they have been "perfected forever" (Hebrews 10:14). Believers are "complete in Him" (Colossians 2:10). We have a perfect standing before God because of the finished work of Jesus Christ, and this standing or position changes not with the circumstances of life. The believer can say that his sins and iniquities are remembered "no more." There is "no more offering for sin" (Hebrews 10:18) because there is now no more remembrance of sin! Every one of our sins are under the blood of the perfect sacrifice. When a sinner trusts Christ, his sins are all forgiven, the guilt is gone, and the matter is completely settled forever. It is now the responsibility of the believer to rest in that great fact (Romans 6:11).

Our daily Christian life and walk, or progress toward spiritual maturity might be described as our present condition as believers. It is variable; sometimes we feel up and at other times we feel down spiritually. At times, we seem to be progressing beautifully and at other times, we stumble and fail miserably (1 John 1:8; Philippians 3:12-16). The apostle Paul describes in Romans chapter seven this reality we encounter in the Christian walk.

The gap between our self-life and the Christ life is bridged by the advocacy of Jesus Christ (1 John 1:9; 2:2). Our fellowship with Him is affected by our daily life; however, our position is totally accepted, and remains the same in Christ (Colossians 1:12-14; 1 John 1:7; Ephesians 2:13-14; Colossians 1:20-22). Our sins can in no way affect our position. Yes, they affect our fellowship in the family, but not our sonship (John 10:27-30).

The Bible also describes our position in Christ as immutable. It is not affected by the chances, changes and circumstances in our daily lives. As we exercise faith in Christ, our eternal position affects our daily condition, but in no way does our daily life affect our heavenly position. The eternal position brings change in our daily life, not the other way around. This comes out clearly in Colossians 3:1; Ephesians 1:3, 17-18; 2:6, 10; 6:10; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 5:17; Acts 17:28; 1 Corinthians 2:5.

You and I can share the image of Jesus Christ and go "from glory to glory" through the ministry of the Spirit of God! When our minds are preoccupied with our present condition, we are not living by faith but by our feelings and appearances. This results in our becoming increasingly self-conscious and self-centered. However, our chief responsibility is to focus our attention to the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18; Joshua 1:8). As we behold in a continuous freedom from interruption the Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit transforms us into the same image from glory to glory into the likeness of God in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:48–53; Romans 8:17, 29; Colossians 3:4; 1 John 3:2). This is why memorizing and meditating on the great passages of Scripture is so important (James 1:22-25). As we look into God’s Word and see God’s Son, the Spirit transforms us into the very image of God. As believers manifest the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), they are progressively "being transformed" (the same word Paul used in Rom. 12:2) "into His likeness." Christ-likeness is the goal of the Christian walk (Ephesians 4:23-24; Colossians 3:10).

We must anchor our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. That is our unchanging position in Christ. There is no basis for faith in our changeable, unfinished condition (1 Corinthians 2:5). Only Christ can affect any permanent changes in our lives. We must draw our strength from Him and His finished work.

Our spiritual birth, or regeneration, placed us in our accepted position with God and it is from that which our spiritual condition is being completed and perfected by faith. Ephesians 2:10 says we are His workmanship created unto good works. The Holy Spirit takes our fact-centered faith in Christ and nurtures our new life.

The great principle in the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification is He uses His Word to bring needed changes in the believer’s life. It is critical that we study and come to understand the great teachings in the Bible.

It is faith in the facts of our unchanging position that gives us the daily benefits of growth in our daily Christian life. Romans 8:29 and 1 John 3:2 are great eternal truths for us to fix our minds upon.

Faith in our position in Christ will bring growth in Christ-likeness. Our attitude becomes, "I see my position in the Lord Jesus and I abide there; I rest in Him."

Cf. Romans 6:6, 11; Colossians 3:9; Ephesians 4:22; Galatians 3:27; 5:16; Colossians 3:3-4, 10; John 15:5; Ephesians 5:18.

By faith, we stand secure in the position God has already given us (Ephesians 6:14). We abide in Christ by resting in the fact He has already provided in Christ our life. Everything required for our Christian life in time and eternity is ours. He is patiently teaching us to have no faith in the old man (self), and to exercise all our faith in the new man (Christ). We are to do by faith what our Father has already done in fact. Positionally, we were separated from the old Adamic nature in our identification with Christ on the cross (Rom. 6:6, 11; Colossians 3:9; Ephesians 4:22, 24). Let us act on what we know to be the truth.

The Christian is viewed in Christ as righteous, and is treated as such by God. This positional righteousness is increasingly manifested in our daily life (2 Peter 3:18; 1 Corinthians 1:30). As we rest in our justification, our spiritual condition is affected.

Our present life is infinitely inferior to our eternal position, but our Father accepts us—not in ourselves but in His Son (2 Corinthians 5:18, 21).

The Christian who does not understand these Biblical truths becomes occupied with trying to improve in order to be acceptable to God, and that is totally impossible. The believer who is not aware of his position of acceptance in Christ gets caught up in legalism. Christ has set the Christian free to live the Christian life. When we rest secure in our position we trust Christ to manifest Himself increasingly in our daily life. The believer does not have to try to become acceptable with God because He already is! Christ makes us right with God; that is why He died for us. He has already done what we could never do for ourselves.

In our flesh, there dwells no good thing (Romans 7:18). To abide in Christ is to consent to being loved while completely unworthy of that love. We can rest in our position of complete acceptance in Christ. We do not work to improve that relationship; it cannot change because we are "in Christ." It is an eternal unchanging relationship. We are accepted in the beloved now. Everything depends upon that relationship.

If you are constantly trying to earn your acceptance with God, you will be cast down in utter defeat. John 15:5 makes this clear. Jesus said, "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."

Our source of strength is found in Galatians 2:20. "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." We can and must shift our reliance from self-effort to who we are in Christ.

Our self-efforts to live the Christian life produces an abundance of the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21), while our position in Christ fosters the fruit of the Spirit (vv. 22, 23).

Jesus said, "Abide in Me, and I in you."  "Abide in Me" is our position in Him.

Is there a method or program for getting into Christ? The apostle Paul tells us God has put us into Christ. It took place the moment you believed on Him as your Savior. What you could  never do for yourself, God did for you. "By His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:30).You are in Christ Jesus. Christ is your life. It is not left up to us to devise a method or to work it out in our own strength. It is something God has accomplished for us in Christ Jesus.

We are abiding in a position in a Person who is fully and forever accepted by God (John 17:5, 11; 14:9-11). The relationship with the Father and the Son never changes; it is one in whom there is no improvement necessary or possible. We have exchanged our unimprovable self for the perfect one in Christ. The result is growth in Christ-likeness. The result of this relationship with Him is a change in our daily life.

God the Father has already made us complete in Christ (Colossians 2:6, 7, 9, 10). In Christ, we are already new creations, born anew and complete in Him. We are to rest in that completeness (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10, 27; Romans 13:14; Galatians 4:19).

As we confidently rest in the Lord Jesus, our daily life begins to reflect what we already are in position. Resting in our eternal position frees us from the futile and sinful self-effort of trying to make our condition the basis of our security. Condition centered life is not an exercise by faith. It is self-centered effort (Galatians 3:26; Romans 8:17; 1 John 3:2). It produces a lot of activity and uses a lot of energy, but it is fleshy. The believer who is trusting Christ does not rely on outward appearances (1 Corinthians 1:7-8, 30; Colossians 3:3-4; Romans 3:26; 5:11; 8:1-2, 29-30, 35-39; Jude 24; 1 Peter 3:18; John 15:16)

Keep clearly in mind that God the Father has already done the work of sanctification on our behalf (1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 5:23, 24). He has sanctified us positionally because we looked to Him for salvation; He will sanctify us experientially as we look to Him for growth in Christ-likeness. Every believer is already separated unto God in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30; Colossians 2:10; Acts 26:18). Our sanctification is perfect, once for all, complete, eternal (Hebrews 10:10, 14; 2 Corinthians 5:17). As we rely upon and abide in that positional sanctification, there is growth in our present progressive sanctification.

Donald Grey Barnhouse said, " . . . the moment we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior from sin, not only does the Godhead come to well within us, but we  are said to be in God. There are scores of references which speak of the believer as being in Christ." Moreover, we do not have to go through life living according to our condition. "It is possible for us to know that condition altered, to realize day by day when he shall come to complete that perfection. That life is ours, and that position is ours as children of God, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ. Sons? Yes, but to sum it all up in one word, we are 'in Christ'" (Life By the Son: Practical Lessons in Experimental Holiness, p. 47, 59).

The Holy Spirit is at work in our lives to conform us to Christ (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; John 17:7). Let's cooperate with Him every day.

When we became believers in Christ Jesus, we became member of God’s family, and coinheritors with Christ. All that He is and all that He has become is ours (Romans 4:25; 6:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 6:4, 8, 6, 11).

From the moment we put our faith in Jesus Christ as our personal Savior we were "made to sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6).

We are now in Christ, and how can we be in Christ, and yet not be perfectly sanctified?

When we "reckon" on Christ, we see it clearly, believe it, and count upon it; we receive it and appropriate the practical reality of it with thanksgiving (Colossians 2:7). That which we reckon on becomes experientially ours. As we exercise faith in the completed work of our Savior, the Holy Spirit applies it to our sinful self-life. As we exercise faith in the completed work of our Lord, the Holy Spirit applies it to our daily life, and we overcome sin, and are conformed to the image of Christ.

Key Scriptures

2 Corinthians 5:17-18, 21; Hebrews 10:14; Colossians 2:6, 9-10; 3:10; Romans 6:1-11; Galatians 2:16, 20; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 2:10; 3:14-21; Philippians 3:10-16

Abiding Principles and Practical Applications

1.  We are perfected forever in our eternal position "in Christ." Therefore, there is only one place where our faith can rest, and that is in Christ where the Father has placed us.

2.  We have a perfect standing before the LORD God because of the finished work of Jesus Christ. Our sins can in no way affect our position or standing before God. They affect our fellowship, not our sonship.

3.  Believers in Jesus Christ are being progressively transformed into His likeness. Our job is to yield to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.


For Further Study

Our Eternal Position in Christ 
Christ Our Refuge
Our Eternal Sanctification by the Blood of Jesus Christ
Everything in Christ 
Christ Our Sanctification
Romans 3:21-26 Our Perfect Union with Christ
Romans 6 The Christian's Identity with Christ 
Seated with Christ in Heaven
Romans 7:14-8:4 A Saint's Struggle with Sin
Jesus the True Vine John 15:1-11
Christ Our Righteousness
Sanctification in Christ 
No Condemnation in Christ Jesus





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Unless otherwise noted "Scripture quotations taken from the NASB." "Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE" © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://www.bible.org/. All rights reserved.

Wil is a graduate of William Carey University, B. A.; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Th. M.; and Azusa Pacific University, M. A. He has pastored in Panama, Ecuador and the U. S, and served for over 20 years as missionary in Ecuador and Honduras. He had a daily expository Bible teaching ministry head in over 100 countries from 1972-2005. He continues to seek opportunities to be personally involved in world missions. Wil and his wife Ann have three grown daughters. He currently serves as a Baptist pastor and teaches seminary extension courses in Ecuador.


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