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Galatians 3:26-28 gives us insight into the phrase "in Christ" and what it means. "In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have cloth...
My answer comes from an example given by Watchman Nee in "The Normal Christian Life". When we step into an airplane we are seeking to be transported from one place to another by a means (vehicle) that is greater and more powerful than ourselves. It is the plane and not ourselves that provides the power. Rom. 8:2 says "For the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the Law of Sin and Death." While we are in the Spirit (plane) we experience the freedom from the effects of the law of sin and death. (gravity) As in the plane, so in the Spirit, if we step out of the plane or Spirit, we will experience the downward pull of either gravity, or the law of sin and death. Temptation is that which is designed to draw us out of the Spirit (plane).
My understanding of being in Christ is this: When you're born again, you have Christ in your heart. Colossians 1:27-28 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: With Christ in your heart, there is hope of entering into the glory. This also agrees with John 1:12 John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: When you receive Him, you have the power (authority) TO BECOME the SONS of God. 'Sons' here give an idea of maturity, as different from 'children'. Another scripture is: John 3:3-5 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. At the point of being born again, you can SEE the kingdom; but there has to be a progression to be able to ENTER. So, there is hope of entering into that glory, or sonship when you are born again. And that glory is the experience of being IN CHRIST. 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. ALL hinges become new - not some things, as CHILDREN of God experience. In maturity, you reach the full stature of Christ: Ephesians 4:12-14 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; Christianity is a race, the starting point being when you are born again. You are a new born babe, and should desire the sincere milk of the word in order to grow...till you become a mature son. And this is the litmus test you can use to test if are IN CHRIST: 1 John 2:3-5 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected:hereby know we that we are in him. If the love (agape) of God is PERFECTED in you, then you know that you have 'arrived' 1 John 2:3-5 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected:hereby know we that we are in him at your destination - IN HIM (Christ).
The simple answer is that to be ‘In Christ’ is to be indwelled by the Holy Spirit. It is a state of being unique to the believer, significant of being sanctified, or set apart, from the rest of the non-believing world. You can plainly see this in John 17:20-21. Jesus’ reference to ‘these’ in verse 20 is to those men whom the Father chose in John 17:6 to be set apart, the elect, but it is clear from verses 20 and 21 that all you have to do is believe. You do not have to be one of the chosen to be indwelled by the Holy Spirit, In Christ and empowered to be ‘born again’. (God does not wish that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance – 2 Peter 3:9). I put ‘born again’ in quotes because I feel very strongly that the Church is misguided in its use of this term. I have made the case for this point elsewhere on this site in answer to the question: “Does 1 John 5:18 mean that we will no longer be able to sin?” https://ebible.com/questions/9228-does-1-john-5-18-mean-that-we-will-no-longer-be-able-to-sin#answer-16665 1 John 5:18 says that whoever is born of God, ‘born again’, does not sin (NKJV); and if translators were honest with the Greek words in 1 John 5:18 and 1 John 3:9, they would not use the words “make a practice of sin” or “keep on sinning” because the Greek words are the stark opposite of practicing sin. Translators use the words “keep on sinning” and “practice sinning” because it is the only way to reconcile the verses if you believe a person is ‘born again’ from the moment you believe and are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. Spiritual birth is a process, not unlike the human birth cycle. You have conception when you first believe and are indwelled by the Holy Spirit (you are In Christ), then gestation where you live out the Christian life until you reach the actual birth itself. Once you have been ‘born again’ or ‘born of God’ you have attained to perfection. I argue this case in my responses to Steve Nearman’s answer to the same question on 1 John 5:18: https://ebible.com/questions/9228-does-1-john-5-18-mean-that-we-will-no-longer-be-able-to-sin#answer-16717 Reaching perfection, or being completed, or ‘born again’ does not take place until the resurrection at the end of this age, after the Lord Jesus returns for His Church. It is then that we will no longer “miss the mark” of God’s nature, which cannot lie nor be tempted by evil. It is the totality of God’s plan to redeem a Creation that is lost in sin, to restore it to a Creation that will be void of sin – holy and blameless, just as He chose us to be (Eph. 1:4). It does not happen until we are glorified at the resurrection. Until then we are ‘In Christ’, indwelled by God’s Holy Spirit, but we are not ‘born again’.
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