Because of the fear of blasphemy, or making ourselves out to be something too great, I think that Christians often shy away from realizing, and declaring, the union we have with Christ, in Christ, because of Christ. Yet, the reality is, because of what Christ has done for us as His free gift to us, we have an amazing place with and in God.
Yes, we have to be careful that we never fall in to the trap of making our standing in Christ about anything we did, because we have done nothing to deserve or earn it. But, likewise, I believe that we need to be careful against belittling what He did, and who that now makes us as born again new creations, because we are trying to avoid anything sounding blasphemous. The reality is, because of what Christ did for us, we are forgiven, redeemed, born again, made new—and we are the body of Christ, the temple of Christ, the children of God, joint heirs with Christ, the bride of Christ, God’s own special people, His holy nation, His royal priesthood. We are forgiven, and we have the righteousness of Christ. This is all because of what He did, not because of anything we did, but it is true about us, as believers, just the same!
The danger is in going to far in trying to remember our fallen status, and actually degrading the work Christ did on our behalf by still identifying with it. We did not do the work, but the work has been done, none the less. He said, “It is finished.” The blood of Christ is enough. The work has been done, our sin paid for, and we have been transferred from the domain of Satan into God’s Kingdom. We are citizens of Heaven, serving our King here on Earth, and we are in union with Christ.
Reading in Acts this morning during Family Worship, Christ’s words to Saul on the road to Damascus jumped out. He didn’t say, “Saul, why are you persecuting my people?” He said, in Acts 9:4, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" Elsewhere, in Luke 10:16, when He is sending them out, He says, “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
We are His body. The body of believers is His body, and He is the head. It is, I believe, in a way not easy for us to understand, far more of a true picture than we realize. Through the eyes of the Father we are so united with Him that when one of us is persecuted or rejected, it is as if Christ Himself was persecuted and rejected.
I know that this is hard—and the minute that we start to let any personal work become involved in why we have our identity we have fallen in to error—but we can’t afford to, in the effort to be humble and to exalt God, lose sight of just who we are in Christ—because failing to declare all that He has done for us is actually failing to lift up the full message and failing to give Him the full glory. The danger in losing sight of who we are in Christ, and who He calls us to be with Him, here, is that we begin to miss the identity and authority and place we carry as God’s children, children of the King, citizens of another Kingdom, in the midst of this dark and fallen world which lies in Satan’s sway. The reality of our identity with Him goes both ways—when we are persecuted it is Christ who is persecuted . . . and when we go forth (surrendered, obedient, and Spirit-led) against darkness, it is Christ going forth in, through, with, and as us! I believe the demons tremble at this reality, and work to make sure Christians don’t realize it. No wonder the Bible doesn’t tell us to fear the devil, but rather that if we simply resist him he will flee! (I know that this opens a whole new set of questions about obedience, submission, quenching the Spirit, etc., and those are all worthy of talking about and seeing how they impact our walk, but I am focusing on the bigger point and picture here.)
I believe that the proper perspective and posture which develops from keeping this in balance is that:
1) with other people, we are tender and loving and humble because we recognize that Christ has done all the work for us and we, like them, were helpless to do any of it ourselves . . .
2) but against the forces of darkness that would seek to steal, kill, and destroy us and our loved ones, we stand in authority and boldness because we know who we are in Him—we are children of the King, and He goes with us, and nothing can separate us from it, and the devil better never forget it!
It is, I believe, good to remember who we were and what He did, because it awakens in us love, gratitude, and worship for God—and it keeps us humble and on guard. But, we have to be careful to not let remembering who we were cloud who we now are! It is not arrogant to embrace and rejoice in who we are, as long as we give glory to the One who made us this way (and as long, obviously, as it springs from God’s Word). It is, in fact, dangerous to not receive who we now are and our union with Christ, because we become in danger of saying that His work on the cross is not enough, that more is required—and that can lead to either works and arrogance; or to a dismal, hanging head attitude that is no threat to the devil whatsoever, and no glory to God (though we think we are glorifying Him to be that way).
Let us never forget, that as Saul set out to persecute believers, Jesus asked why he was persecuting Him . . . He loves us that much, and identifies with us that much, and it is an amazing truth to chew on and mull over.