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Archive for identity

Just Like Him

September 6, 2011

We recently returned from a quick trip to Indiana to see my oldest son and his family.  I was surprised at how much my little grandson Jacob looks like his dad. When Jacob’s picture is placed alongside a photo of his father at his age, the likeness is astonishing!  I can’t help but ponder what little Jacob is going to be like. I imagine the old saying, “Like father, like son” will play out somewhat. It’s hard to fight genetics.  The same is true with believers. We are all spiritually connected to the Lord Jesus Christ and destined to be like Him.

One of the most fascinating Bible truths is captured by the little phrase “in Christ.” I suppose one could spend a lifetime in study of just this tiny two-word expression and never really begin to plumb its depths. Though we now look through that dim glass, the Bible gives us some small insights into its truth. When the Holy Spirit immerses us into Jesus Christ, incredibly but understandably His qualities become ours. In order to appreciate this character exchange, we must realize some downsides of our position in the first Adam. In Adam all die! Short line but loaded with truth.

We come into this world spiritually connected to the first man’s death. In fact, we are laden with his character traits. We are born physically fallen and spiritually separated from God. But the moment faith is placed into Jesus Christ, we change locations. We are taken out of the old Adam and placed into the new Adam. That’s a remarkable exchange! As a result we are made alive in Christ.

How is this new life received? John said in his gospel that God gives us eternal life and this life is in His Son. The moment we are placed into Him, His life becomes our life. What amazing truth! What kind of life does Christ have? Eternal life,of course! This is why we have eternal life. We have His life because we are in Him.

We also come into this world strapped with the weight of Adam’s spiritual baggage – sin. His sin is attached to us at birth. This means that before we commit our first act of sin, we are already spiritually bankrupt before God. In order to live forever with God, we must have righteousness equal to His. Who has the righteousness we need? There is only one source, God’s sinless Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Again, when we believe in Christ, we are positioned in Him. At the moment we are found to be in Him, His righteousness is placed on our account. In fact, God made Christ – who knew no sin – to become sin for us. Why? So that being in Him we might have His perfect righteousness credited to our fallen bank account. The necessary righteousness – His righteousness – comes to us the very moment that we are placed in union with Him.

Finally, having been born in Adam, we come into this fallen world as children of the devil. That doesn’t sound very comforting, but it is true nonetheless. We were painfully referred to as the children of darkness living under the power of darkness. What made it even worse is that we were spiritually blind to this fact with no hope of ever finding our way to light. God opened our blind eyes to spiritually understand the gospel and He gave us the faith to place in Jesus Christ. At that very moment the light came in and we were given eyes to see it. We became children of the living God. But how? It is important to recognize that Jesus Christ is the very Son of the living God. What does His identity have to do with us? When we are placed into Him, His identity becomes our identity. We become connected to His heavenly Father just as He is connected to Him. We become children of God. We are all sons of God through faith in Christ. When we are baptized into Christ, we put Him on like a garment. Since we are in Him, His relationship is transferred to us. By being in Him, His life becomes our life, His righteousness is placed on our spiritual account and His relationship to the Father becomes ours. My, what riches we have in Christ!

This truth is evidently what motivated Paul to over and over refer to Christians as those who are – you guessed it – in Christ. We also receive a new heavenly citizenship, the promise of a new body just like our Lord’s and we are some day to reign with Him. We are predestined to be conformed to His very image. It’s simply like father, like son. Wow! God you’re a genius!

The Struggle

August 22, 2011

“Therefore, if any one be in Christ he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

I have always been fascinated with God’s biological wonder of “metamorphosis.” The little caterpillar crawls out onto a small branch, ties itself to a stem and spins itself within a cocoon. Over a period of time, God transforms that worm into a beautiful butterfly. I recently read an article by an electronic design expert on the navigational expertise of the Monarch butterfly. While reading, I was once again caught up in the genius of the Great Architect’s design. The navigational circuits used to guide men to the moon are phenomenal.  However, they are nothing compared to the navigation technology found in the tiny brain of the Monarch butterfly. Some Monarchs leave their cocoon and fly over 3000 miles from Nova Scotia, Canada, to Mexico. Their destination is not only the same general area from which their parents came but often to the same tree. Amazing! These creatures can be blown hundreds of miles off course, only to recover and still find their path.

Before the butterfly is ready to leave the cocoon, however, a struggle must occur. The new creature must battle to free itself from its former home. This struggle plays a major role in the butterfly’s ability to fly. Because of this effort, its wings become strong enough to carry the butterfly to its destination. It has to build up its never-before-used strength in order to navigate to its new world. After the struggle, the butterfly pulls itself free from its former home and takes flight. It leaves its small stem far behind and soars to new heights and a new place.  What a fascinating miracle!

This is a beautiful illustration of what happens to a sinner who is immersed into a permanent union with Jesus Christ. At the very moment that faith is placed in Christ – unlike the butterfly – the believer becomes a new creation in Christ instantly. Old things are passed away and all things become new.  The old life – attached to Adam the first – passes away. The new life of the last Adam takes root. The old temporary life of the first Adam is replaced by the eternal life of the Son of God.  The old relationship as children of Satan is exchanged for the Son’s relationship as children of the living God. An old citizenship that connected us to this fallen world becomes the Son’s citizenship that binds us to His new world.  The old body that is growing old and destined to perish and die will someday be replaced with a new body like His glorious body. The old fate of eternal separation from God in hell is replaced with the knowledge that we are destined to soar in the clouds meeting Jesus Christ in the air and are to share in His future glory. Wow! What amazing truth!

Our new identity involves a struggle.  Like the butterfly, the struggle does not work against us, but it strengthens our spiritual muscles. The struggle begins with an ongoing battle with our sinful nature that is connected to our limited physical bodies – our cocoon. This temporary weight with its constant pressure on us to sin against God becomes an ongoing reminder from whence we have come.  The struggle intensifies with the continuous attacks upon us coming from the master of illusion, the devil.  He lives in order to ensnare God’s butterflies in his nets of worldly pleasure. He masterfully uses the lure of his world system to continuously bombard us with the desire to drink from the poisonous nectar of its beautiful flowers.

God has not left us defenseless in the spiritual battles in our lives. He has given us the gift of His Holy Spirit to live within us and give us the spiritual muscle to overcome in the daily struggle with our flesh.  God has given us the gift of His Word, His manual to help guide us through the maze of Satan’s minefield infested world system. And, finally, He has given us the power of prevailing prayer to negate the power of the evil one’s vicious attacks.  Our key to victory in this life is to keep our eyes on the prize of our heavenly goal and off the pain of the earthly entanglements.

Like the majestic Monarch butterfly, one day we will become free from our cocoon and we will fly. Our destination is programmed to be the third heaven, far above this created universe, right into the very presence of God.  Our future heavenly home is sure and steadfast. The same creator who guides the butterfly to its final destination will guide us to ours. What an amazing glimpse into God’s invisible domain.