17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come the old has gone, the new is here!
18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 NIV (italics supplied)
These few verses in Corinthians give us an insight into the redemptive work of Jesus that brings us reconciliation with the Father. Paul starts out by reminding his readers that if they are in Christ they are a new creation and the old is gone. Notice that he doesn’t say that the old is covered up or lurks around in the shadows but says that it is gone.
Before we go any further into the passage of Scripture we should look at some of the other blessings of being in Christ. Romans 8:38-39 tells us, “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (italics supplied)
It would do us all good to sit down for half an hour or so and contemplate the ramifications of these verses for our assurance and trust in the power and willingness of God to redeem us. Most of us cannot even imagine such an unconditional love that would literally go to the far ends of the earth to find us and love us in spite of our indifference and rebellion.
But God’s love is not just an abstraction for us but has demonstrated in Christ how much that love really costs Him. “In Christ we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.” Ephesians 1:7 (italics supplied) It is not only that God loves us but He demonstrated the depths of that love through the death of His Son on Calvary’s cross so that our sins can be forgiven.
Here’s the question. Why did Jesus have to die? Why couldn’t God simply have said, “I forgive anyone who wants forgiveness and let’s call it a day.”
The answer goes back to the Garden of Eden where God declared that if Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of good and evil they would surely die. God was talking about much more than physical death, He was telling them that once they disobeyed and put their own desires and wants above their relationship with God they would separate themselves from Him and without their source of strength, power, love and closeness they would perish spiritually.
Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree and in doing that they separated themselves from God. Genesis tells us that the moment they ate their eyes were opened and they realized what they had done and they fled and hid themselves from God.
Sin is like a cancer that digs deep into the heart and soul of humanity and eats away at our sense of love, fairness, compassion, joy, and wisdom. The result of Adam and Eve’s sin is that we have all been born with a sinful nature and rebellion in our hearts. Since we all fall under sin and sin is rebellion against the love of God, we cannot be in the presence of our God because of this sin. The power and glory of God would literally kill us on the spot. So how do become right with God again?
God says if we sin, we die, but God doesn’t want us to die. However, God cannot go back on the reality of His own word—death must happen. What God did is die for us. He becomes our substitute for the penalty of sin and takes our sins upon Himself and carries them to the cross paying the ultimate sacrifice and penalty for all our sins.
In place of those sins He offers us His righteousness. It is the great trade. He gives us eternal life, forgiveness, redemption, oneness with God, and we give Him our death warrant. “For our sake God made Christ to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” 2 Corinthians 5:21 (italics supplied)
Philippians 4:19 gives us a wonderful promise of what it means to be in Christ. “My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (italics supplied) And not to be outdone Philippians 4:7 “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (italics supplied)
There are many more texts about being in Christ Jesus but we can get the point from the few verses we have just looked at. To be in Christ Jesus is to be in a saving relationship with Him. It means we are to have no fear about our future because we have assurance that we are saved for all eternity because Jesus paid the price of our sins and we have become new creatures in Him.
There are no works, no obedience, no striving to be better when we are in Christ. Instead it is resting from all our efforts to be good and putting our full trust in His merits and love.
How do we know that we are in Christ? It is when we realize that all our working, all our striving and reliance upon self is never going to get us closer to God. When we give up on our own performance and say, “God I can’t be all that I should. I can’t live this perfect life, I give up trying to do stuff to make you love me more.”
That is when we put our trust and faith in Jesus and cry out, “I need you God!” That is what it means to be in Christ. People say to me, “It can’t be that simple?” Yes it is. When we decide to put Jesus first in our life and put our faith in Him we are in Christ. You are a new person, born again, and the old that condemned you has passed away.
Next post we will continue our study into 2 Corinthians 5:17-21. If you have any questions on these verses either leave a comment after this post or email email@example.com and I will try to answer the questions in the next few posts.
* What does it mean to be in Christ? It’s when you are so in love with Him that you are willing to give your life for Him. These people who are currently experiencing persecution for their faith in God, and many even unto death, this is being in Christ. They need our support and prayers. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…