Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Implications of Being in Christ - Part 5

Here's what we have learned so far in this series of what it means to be in Christ.

1. We have learned that when we trust Christ as Savior, we are placed into Christ by the Holy Spirit. Our body and spirit are then part of Christ. He is in us; we are in Him.

2. He has become our Federal Head which means He represents us. Just as assuredly as Adam made us sinners, Jesus makes us righteous. His perfect obedience is counted as our obedience.

3. We died with Him to the law. The law no longer has jurisdiction over us because its demands have been met both by the death of Christ to pay the required death penalty and by the life of Christ that He lived on our behalf.

Today we want to consider the fact that when we died with Christ, we died to the world and its system. Some passages of Scripture you might consider as you read this are: Galatians 6:14; Colossians 2:18-23; Colossians 3:2-3; 1 John 2:15-17

In Galatians 6:14 Paul says that the world has been crucified to him and he to the world. There are two aspects of this world system that we want to consider. The first is the world's religious system of self-improvement and the second is the world's system of desire and temptation.

First then the world's system of religious self-improvement. In Colossians 2:20, Paul tells his readers that they have died to the basic principles of the world. What does he mean by this? Well, the first thing he wonders is why they are still subjecting themselves to religious regulations. By this he means regulations that stem from human design. Jesus said something similar in Matthew 5:19. he said that we should not teach the commandments of men as though they were God's instruction.

Why do we create our own regulations for religious purposes? I think there are a couple of reasons. One is so that we are capable of keeping them. The commandments of God are difficult. He goes way deep into the inner man and asks for not only outward obedience but for proper internal motivations. He says that hatred is murder and lusting is adultery. Who can keep those kind of commandments and still stand? So we create our own because we think God certainly could not require such difficult things of us. We lower the standards to our level, to a series of behaviors and habits that are pretty easy to accomplish if one puts ones mind to it.

The second reason we create our own religious observances is because we believe that making it to heaven is a product of our behavior. Instead of accepting the free gift of eternal life based on the merit of Christ, we try to make check lists so that hopefully God will see how well we have done and let us into his kingdom. The problem is that the checklists are ours and not his.

Paul tells the Colossians in 2:23 that these things all have the appearance of wisdom. But the problem is that they do nothing to solve the real problems. They do nothing to put restraint on our old human nature. They are part of a self-imposed religion, not the God ordained religion.

The point is that we are to consider ourselves to have died with Christ and that makes us dead to all of the competing systems of religious performance that would attempt to make us look good before one another in pride or to make us look good before God. We should reject any attempt to put ourselves under such man-made systems. Rather, we need to come to God His way. He tells us that the debt has been paid and salvation is being offered as a gift. To those who accept his offer, God provides complete forgiveness, the crediting of righteousness to our record and an eternal position as an heir of God and joint-heir of Christ.

Next time we'll consider the other aspect of the world system to which we have died and that is the system of temptation and lusts.

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