Who We are in Christ
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Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone 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, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.


Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. - 2 Cor. 5:16-21


To understand who we are in Christ we must first understand who we aren't in Christ. This is important to understand because only after a Christian understands that he has nothing to merit's God's favor will he also realize God's favor does not rest on his merits. For if we believe God loves us based on our merit, then the days will come when we will believe that His affection has diminished because our works are small, or that His care has vanished because our deeds are wrong. If you believe God has blessed you because you somehow managed to bribe Him with your deeds than I would remind you that God is in debt to no man (Job. 41:11, Rom. 11:35).


“Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’? But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’? He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’” Luke 17:7-10


There is nothing we can do to earn a seat at God's table, as this parable points out, even when we've done all that is commanded of us (which we hardly even do that much) we still do not earn a seat at God's table let alone His family. If we do what is commanded of us we've done nothing more than was we ought to have done.


In the old testament our righteousness is compared to filthy rags (Isa. 64:6). Paul in the new testement compared his best deeds to dung (Phil 3:8). This means at our best, our righteousness is compared to filthy rags (not even clean rags but filthy rags!) or dung (poop!) before God.


What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. - Rom. 9:14-16


Like I said before, it once scared me when I learned I was at God's mercy. God is just to not have mercy nor compassion on you, ever. THAT HOWEVER is NOT what is in His heart.


“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. - Matthew 5:3


The word poor here means bankrupt, having absolutely nothing to contribute, nothing to offer God. Please take note God considered such a spiritually bankrupted person as "Blessed" and even points out that the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.


But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. - Rom. 5:8


Understanding that our gracious God loves us fully despite our sin shows that He does not account our good works as a condition for Him to show us His affection.


There is no part of that verse where our merit plays a part in provoking God to send His son to die for our sins. It's important to realize this otherwise when we feel we have failed or frustrated God in any way we begin searching for ways to make amends, we search scripture for some spiritual discipline or sacrifice that will once again make us right with God because we no longer want Him to be "on strike".


Understanding our salvation completely rests in the hands of God, that His favor for us is not merit based, let's now look closer at the heart of God who has mercy on whom He'll have mercy, and compassion on whom He'll have compassion (Exo. 33:19).


Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you,

And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.

For the Lord is a God of justice;

How blessed are all those who long for Him. - Isa. 30:18


God is on the edge of his chair to give life for whomever would choose Him.


Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. - Luke 12:32


God has chosen gladly, in His heart it was a delight to give us the kingdom. Not because we've earned it, He gives it as a free Gift to all who would accept it, and as we see here that brings God joy! Infact it is that Joy, not our earning it, that provoked God to send His only begotten Son to die for us.


fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. - Heb. 12:2


and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. - 1 John 2:2


God paid your debt that you couldn't, don't reject it by trying to pay yourself, not only is the debt to great for you to pay but you would also be wasting the satisfactory payment He already paid thus mocking Jesus' finish work on the cross.


God's ways are not our ways. God's default is not our default, while others must earn our love, God loves us by default. When God created man in the garden, He said "it is good" which in the original Hebrew meant it was pleasing to Him. On the contrary, we actually have to earn God's wrath, but thanks to Jesus Christ the Father's wrath has been satisfied and therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. With God's wrath satisfied He once again looks at us and says "it is good".


Like we discussed in the previous chapter, in addition to Jesus becoming sin for us, we became the manifestation of His righteousness. We are walking trophies of God, displaying His accomplishments. This verse bears repeating.


He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. - 2 Cor. 5:21


Jesus became sin and He had to. For God to justly punish Jesus He had to assume full responsibility and ownership of our sins. Otherwise how could God justly poor out His wrath His anger on someone not deserving of it. Jesus did not take AWAY the sins of the world, more accurately put, He took them.


Likewise God has imputed His righteousness on us, therefore giving us ownership of His righteousness. We aren't simply borrowing a garment of righteousness from God covering sins we still have, For those in Christ Jesus our sins were owned by Jesus and we have taken ownership of His righteousness, as we read in 2 Cor. 5:17.


Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. - 2 Cor. 5:17


Like me, many of us struggle with feeling forgiven. However, as we read in 1 John 2:2 Christ died for those who did not seek Him and even those who will never seek Him. God died for us while we were His enemies. It's interesting that when we share Christ with a non-believer we give them a grace filled invitation to God's tender mercies. We tell them about the relief found in the cross of Christ. We share with them how His yoke is easy and His burden is light. However once Christians we start tacking on new rules and stipulations to that good news increasing the burden on ourselves that Christ Himself already bore thus setting a new standard we must keep before we once again allow ourselves to approach God, even though the original invitation to us was the same as the invitation we give to a non believer, “come as you are.” These sneaky new regulations and criteria set forth in our minds in order for us to approach the Almighty are not from God. God came to set us free, not to put us into further bondage (Luke 4:18). It's important that we understand God's mercy was completely reliant on God's own character on His attributes and not on ours, not on our works nor our merit. Merit based living has passed away, new things have come! We should now approach God in a new way.


Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. - Heb. 4:16


When you knock on someone's door you don't know or don't know that well you may ask for permission to come in, if you even want to. When its a friend you knock, they answer with greetings and you come in. When it's distant family you knock, they answer with greetings and you come in. When its your parents you don't knock, you let yourself in knowing the greeting is always standing. (Granted these are ideal situations and obviously aren't the case for everyone).


Our relationship with God is one more intimate than any earthly relationship. Afterall we are God's temple, God Himself dwells within us (1 Cor 3:16). When we come before God we do so as children (John 16:26), not only do we have direct access to the throne of God but we can come before it boldly confident that any and all of God's wrath was fully and satisfactory poured out on Jesus Christ on the cross. Therefore God is pleased when you approach the throne. He already knows you need to and He welcomes it. It's your judgement of yourself getting in the way, not His, He already satisfied all judgement on Jesus. As John states:


Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; - John 3:21


Our confidence waivers because our own heart condemns us, not God.


For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. - John 3:17


It's no wonder that Satan is known as the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10), it's a tactic that works.


The disciple John referred to himself as "the disciple that Jesus loved" on at least three occasions (John 13:23, John 19:26, John 21:7). At first read this may seem arrogant but it's not. John is stating a fact and has a good grasp on who He is in Christ. It is also John who proclaims and reiterates to us that we also are children of God! I imagine he wants us to share in the same joy in this that he has.


See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. - 1 John 3:1


"and such we are.", John realized the excitement of being given a seat at the table of God as one of His children. Not that he earned it, John does not think this, but he realized the gift is his based entirely on the free gift of God in Christ and it's true.


If your heart insists on condemning you take courage knowing your own judgement against yourself does not reflect the judgement of God for God is greater than our hearts and knows who belongs to Him regardless of our judgement against ourselves. (1 John 3:20).


Perhaps you have said yes to Jesus and in Christ you are a child of God but are struggling with feeling forgiven. Maybe you feel you first need to get things in order before approaching the throne of Grace. You are wrong. Approach the throne first, it's only there "that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. - Heb. 4:16"


Let's look at the prodigal's son's approach to the throne (read Luke 15:11-32). He left his father, squandered all his inheritance on sinful things and out of his guilt hired himself out as a swine feeder, even envying the food he was feeding the swine. Once "he came to his senses" (Luke 15:17), he prepared a speech for his father petitioning for just enough mercy to become as one of his father's hired men. However as his son approached his fathers dwelling his father, who had clearly been keeping an eye on the horizon since he seen him coming from a long way off (v. 20) came running out to him full of compassion embracing him and kissing him. The prodigal, unaware of the situation, began his speech anyways.


And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ - Luke 15:21


The father cuts him off and doesn't even let his son finish. I love that.


But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’..." - Luke 15:22-24a


Don't miss it the next part, what did the father do when his son came back to Him?


...And they began to celebrate. - Luke 15:24b


There was nothing in the prodigals speech the father didn't already know and honestly it didn't matter. There was nothing the son could say or do that was a condition of the father's acceptance.



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