"In Christ"

Does the illustration illustrate?

Two contradictory statements were made at Bible readings by different speakers. I place them side by side and ask for your kind comments thereon.

Statement No. 1
Somebody says, slipping a letter into a book, "That is how we are IN CHRIST, hidden in Him." All I can say is that if anyone thinks that that illustrates what it is to be "in Christ," he only demonstrates his utter ignorance of the matter.
Statement No. 2
Let this Bible represent Christ, and this folded hymn-sheet represent myself. Now (putting the hymn-sheet into the Bible) you cannot see me, can you? I am hidden in Christ. That is how we are "in Christ," the accepted Man.

The former of these statements was made some twenty-five years ago; the second much more recently. Which is right? Can you think of any illustration that sets forth more perfectly the meaning of the expression "In Christ"?

I should not care to weaken the thought that we have found a hiding place in Christ. The Old Testament abounds with many beautiful expressions that present the Lord as our refuge and strong tower, and every soul that has felt the burden of guilt, or has passed through great sorrows and temptations and has fled to Him in these times of stress, knows what a blessed hiding place He is. So that we may still gratefully sing,
"Thou blest Rock of Ages,
I'm hiding in Thee."

But this is not what is meant by the New Testament term, "In Christ," and I should agree with statement No. 1, that whoever so interpreted it did not understand the full meaning of the unspeakable blessing of being in Christ. The second statement carries us further than being simply hidden to being hidden in the accepted Man, but it does not illustrate the fact at all, for the hymn book, though hidden in a larger and better book, remains what it was before, perhaps filthy and dilapidated, its condition is in no wise changed, though it is now completely hidden from the eye. That is not what God has done for us. He has placed us in Christ for His own pleasure as well as for our blessing, and that does not mean that He has hidden us out of His sight, but that He has put us where He can look upon us with satisfaction.

I cannot give an illustration which will perfectly illustrate the meaning of being "in Christ." Even the illustration sometimes used of the change of the grub into the butterfly does not fully serve, for, while in that phenomenon there is a change of condition and sphere of life, yet the life of the butterfly was in the grub before that change came about. The subject is an important one, and unless we understand something of what is involved in it we shall remain in bondage to the law of sin and death, hence I shall endeavour to comment upon it as it comes before us in the Epistle to the Romans, and it may help us to appreciate it better if we see the great contrast given there between being "in Christ" and out of Him.

To be out of Christ means to be in Adam, or in "the flesh" as our Epistle puts it, that is, to be in the natural condition in which we came into the world, a condition marked by self-will and enmity against God. We learn in the early chapters of Romans that all were in this condition, whether the degraded heathen, the proud philosopher, or the religious Jew. They were all alike in Adam because they all belonged to the fallen race of which he was the sinful and fallen head. He, too, was in them, for the life and nature that he had was in them, and they showed it by their deeds, for "all have sinned," and because of this condemnation and death came upon all, and no member of that race ever appeared to break the terrible entail that lay upon it. That is where all who are out of Christ are to this day; it was where we, who are now in Christ, all stood before the sovereign mercy of God reached us and set us in this place of favour. If I set out the condition clearly before our eyes it may help us to appreciate the great deliverance.

Adam — Disobedience, Condemnation, Death

But Christ came, the second Man. His humanity was sinless. He grew up delighting in the will of God and all His ways were pleasing to Him. He was the obedient Man. Men hated and condemned Him, but God justified Him. He justified Him in His life when He declared that He was well-pleased with Him, and He justified Him beyond all question when He raised Him from the dead. Because He was the altogether obedient One, death had no claim upon Him. His was the right to live and not die, but He died that others might live, and that He might impart to them His resurrection life. In all this He stands out in great contrast to Adam. Let me set out this great contrast that we may be impressed by it.

Christ — Obedience, Justification, Life

I have said that He died that He might impart His life to those for whom He died. It was necessary that He should die first, for only by dying substitutionally and sacrificially could He lift from us the condemnation and death that lay upon us because of our disobedience, and deliver us from the sinful nature of which that disobedience was the proof. He became sacrificially all that we were actually, that is, He was made sin for us (though He Himself knew no sin) that our judgment might fall upon Him. The eighth chapter of our Epistle puts it thus: "God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and as an offering for sin, condemned sin in the flesh" (v. 3, R.V.). If He died our death of judgment for us, we are free from that, and that brings to an end before God what we were as in the flesh. Our baptism is the figure of that (chap. 6), "Know ye not that as many as were baptised unto Jesus Christ were baptised unto His death?" Hence we are free, for he that is dead is freed from sin.

Are we then left without any standing and life? Certainly not; we are now in Christ. He is the last Adam, the life-giving Spirit, raised up from the dead. And the risen Christ imparts His own life to all those who have believed on Him. He has become the Head of a new race, and all who have been justified by His blood are of that new race. They have, by the infinite grace of God, the life and nature of the Head, and the life they have, as identified with their glorious Head, is a life that is free from sin. They have "justification of life," as Romans 5:18 puts it. The life of Adam could never have evolved this new life. It is a life in absolute contrast to it.

In Adam In Christ
Disobedience, Condemnation, The Death of Christ Obedience, Justification,
Death. Life.

With the two great races into which mankind is divided, and their condition and destiny, before us as in this diagram, we shall all feel most thankful to God for the grace that has transferred us from the one to the other. But this could only be because Christ died for us; only thus has the way to life been opened up, and to enter experimentally into this we must accept the death of Christ as our death. This we acknowledged in baptism, but it must be maintained. We must "reckon ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin" (we have passed out of the Adam square) "but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (we are now in the Christ square).

Let us consider these two lives and their natures and characteristics. We have read in the Old Testament the history of the Adam race; there was no good in it. Nothing brought this out more clearly than its culminating sin when Jesus came. When it saw Him, the absolute manifestation of God in fullness of grace, it spat in His face and nailed Him to a gibbet. That was Adam; it was the whole race showing its enmity against God. No good can come out of such a race. If any individuals in it were to be blessed at all, they must be taken out of it; they must be transferred from Adam to Christ. The Adamic race loathed the beloved Son of God, and cried, "Away with Him." Which do you loathe and which do you love? I can understand every ransomed soul saying, "I loathe the man of sin and shame that would not have Christ, and I love Him, for He loved me and gave Himself for me. Then you loathe yourself and you love Christ! You have passed in your affections from self to Christ. Your heart has travelled out of the Adam square into the Christ square. Thank God for that, for as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.

Let us not pass hurriedly or lightly over this matter. I will put before the reader the features of these two lives, that we may clearly see their fundamental difference.

Out of ADAM come To the CHRIST race belong
Evil Thoughts Love
Adulteries Joy
Fornications Peace
Murders Long-suffering
Thefts Gentleness
Covetousness Faith
Wickedness Meekness
Deceit Temperance
Lasciviousness And they that are Christ's
An Evil Eye have crucified the flesh
Blasphemy with the lusts thereof
Pride (Galatians 5:22)
Foolishness
(Mark 7:21-22)

None of us, whose hearts have been reached by the Gospel and purified by faith, would hesitate for a moment between these two. We reject the bad and embrace the good; then we can thank God that in His sight we are out of the one and into the other; we are in Christ, where there is no condemnation.

It is quite possible that someone will say, "While all my desires and affections are in the Christ square, I find I still live as to my actions in the Adam square, and I long that it should be otherwise." So far, so good. Lay hold of the fact that God has put you where you desire to be and that there He would have you to live. Moreover, He has given you the power that belongs to the sphere where your affections are. "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8:2). This great principle of the Spirit of life is not in Christ personally only, it is the animating principle of all who are in Him, it is the Spirit and power of the race — the Holy Ghost, just as the law of sin and death holds and enslaves the Adam race.

A celebrated aviator has stated that the law of gravitation has no longer any terrors for flying men, because of the perfection and power of their motors. The perfect machinery in their aeroplanes sets them free from the law of gravitation, and carries them above it by its power. This is a good illustration of what I am now seeking to elucidate, though of course sooner or later the airman's power fails and the law of gravitation exercises its irresistible pull. But within the Christian there is the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of life, a greater power than the law of sin and death that would hold us down and chain us, as to our experience, in the Adam square, carrying us free of it, so that we may rejoice in the blessing of being in Christ, and breathe the pure air that is there, and manifest from day to day the beautiful features that belong to the life and nature that is ours.

Thus are we IN CHRIST as to our position by the grace of God, and in the enjoyment and power of it by the Holy Spirit, and God can find His delight in us as the life of Christ is manifested in us.