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.”
When we begin our life of Christianity, we begin a life as a part of the ‘in' crowd. This is a figure of speech of course. Yet as the opening verse reads, we are ‘in Christ'. If there is anything difficult at all about living the Christian life, it's about the life itself!
What does it mean to be in Christ? When living for God seems difficult or confusing, it's mainly for two reasons. One, we don't want to submit our ways to God, or we don't know what to do. But being in Christ is simpler than we think.
A Simple Illustration
If you will, imagine an empty box with a lid and a marble. Right now we have two separate, distinct, and individual items. Now take the lid off the box, place the marble in the box and place the lid back on the box.
Where is the marble? It is in the box, right? If you shake the box, you will hear the marble striking the sides of the box. But what happens to the marble? Nothing other than the fact that it's in the box. No change takes place other than you can no longer see the marble because it's hidden by the box! Many think life in Christ is just that simple. This is why.
A Hidden Life
“For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
When we accept the gift of God and submit to His commands, we become new. Yet that newness comes at a cost. We can observe this in nature.
When a caterpillar begins its new life cycle, it spins a cocoon and seals itself in. It is hidden from the world for a time. Inside, it does more than just roll around like the marble in the box.
It will undergo a transformation. The old self dies as a new creature is formed. Some cells are replaced, others are modified. Once the transformation is complete, the creature that emerges does not look as before or is even called by its old name. It is now a butterfly or moth.
The life that was hidden by the cocoon is the life of sin we once lived. That new life should replace us with Christ-likeness because he now lives in us. This is if we allow the transformation to take place fully and completely.
What Happened To My Transformation?
Unfortunately, we are sometimes taught that once we accept Christ, we are changed and can go on in faith that he will finish the work. We begin thinking like the marble in the box. We bounce around in hope that we are living a life pleasing to God. Yet we feel less than secure.
The question that we should be asking ourselves is, “Are we truly in Christ?” Are we the new creature we should be? After all, the verse says old things are passed away and all things become new. Is this our experience? If not, something is missing!
We Must Change Before We Can Enter
“And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”
In this illustration, a person invited to a wedding showed up, just are we are often told to do. Just show up and God will do the rest! Well, that's not what Jesus said. What made those who entered in chosen? How did the caterpillar become a butterfly? A change had to take place!
Who Is Responsible For Change?
Walk through the doors of your nearest college. Are you in college because you walked into the building? Physically, yes. But are you considered a college student and member of the future graduating class? Not yet! You need to matriculate! You need to fill out admission forms, take exams, select a schedule, attend class, do the requested assignments, take more exams, write papers, etc.
Being in Christ is more than simply accepting him. We need to do something afterward. No matter how much we want something for nothing, not even salvation is free. Many say it is, but the context is that salvation is free for us to receive. But Christ paid the ultimate price for it.
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
And we will offer something up to keep it.
We Must Walk In To Be In
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
You see, it's not enough to simply ‘show up'. Some people show up and feel good, yet walk away unlearned and unchanged. Others show up to learn, but leave cold and emotionally detached. The marble in the box.
We must be engaged emotionally and intellectually. Like anything, to receive the most from it, we need to love what we do and learn all we can about it. As the butterfly entered into the cocoon, we must take action, walk, to be in Christ!
Being In Christ Is A Journey
At least 29 times, Paul admonished the Church to walk. He said to walk in love, walk worthy, walk after the spirit and not the flesh, walk in newness of life, walk by faith, and so on. Nothing happens if we wait. We are given the map. We need to follow the path to God by walking it out!
“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:”
Life in Christ takes effort. This is not because the life itself is difficult. It is because we are always at war with ourselves, with our flesh as in Romans 8:1. Yet as we walk daily, we build stamina, strength, and wisdom. The Holy Spirit is here to help us accomplish this.
1 Thessalonians 4:1:
“Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.”
Put On The Lord And Walk Worthy
“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”
Our warfare is not carnal. We do not fight against others. We war against spiritual wickedness in ourselves. It works in and through us, if we allow it by fulfilling the lusts of the flesh.
Remember the wedding guest? They obviously walked to the door of the wedding place. Yet the guest was not clothed for the wedding! See? We must be active in our walk with God. We must put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Then we are clothed for the wedding.
Afterward, we must take the journey to where the wedding will take place. By walking the path of righteousness, checking our direction by the Word and yielding to the holy Spirit, we will find ourselves in place and ready when the King checks the guests and the bridegroom bids us to enter in!
1 Peter 5:14:
“Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.”