If I Sin – So What?

If I Sin — So What?

Chapter Eleven

If I Sin — So What?
"If I Sin — So What?" 148 'Baptized' Into Christ! 155
Is Sin a Virtue? 149 Union With Christ! 156
Living As Children Of Light 150 'The Sinning Christian' — a Contradiction In Terms! 157
'Christianizing' The Christian! 151 Inexhaustible Resources! 158
"Christians In The Making, Not Yet Made" 152 Discussion Questions 159
Realize Your Freedom From Bondage! 153 Discussion Questions(continued) 160
"Christ In You — The Hope Of Glory!" 154    

Romans 6:1-2, Romans 6:11

"If I Sin — So What?"

"If I sin, so what! I am a Christian! I am saved by grace and grace alone. The degree of my sinning in no way affects my relationship with Christ. If I was once saved, I am always saved, regardless of my sinning. Grace covers all my sins. Did not Paul write, 'Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds'?"

Do you agree with this reasoning? Such reasoning is the reasoning of a person who wishes to sin and at the same time be guaranteed safety from sin's consequences.

During the last several days we looked carefully at Romans 5. In Romans 5 Paul pictures the greatness of God's grace–grace that is greater than sin. Sin's power is great, but grace's power is greater. Where sin abounds, grace super-abounds!

Paul anticipated those who would seek to exploit his great teachings concerning grace. Following upon the tracks of his marvelous teachings concerning grace, would be those who would make sin into a virtue. Such people would say: "Because of God's grace, why not sin? Sin is a virtue. It allows God's grace to operate!"

Paul tells us in Romans 6 that the reign of grace and the reign of sin are totally incompatible. To be saved by grace is to be saved from sinning! It is utterly absurd to reason as follows: "In the light of God's grace power to forgive, it is therefore safe–and even virtuous–to sin, for sin actually gives God a chance to exercise His great grace in forgiveness!"

Paul refutes such reasoning: "Anyone who lightly regards sin, also lightly regards God's Grace, lightly regards the meaning of union with Christ, and lightly regards the call to holy and righteous living!" In other words, willful, habitual sinning is a perversion of God's grace! It is a tragedy to presume upon the mercy of God and to pervert the grace God!

Paul's warning us against a trivial attitude toward sinning. Never take God's grace and mercy for granted! Realize the seriousness of sin, confess it quickly, and turn from it decisively. To engage in willful, habitual sinning is a total perversion of God's grace. To practice sinning is to deny the operation of God's grace in one s life. Paul would agree with John who states that he who is presently practicing sinning is he who is not in a present state of knowing Christ. (1 John 3:8)

"God, deliver me from presumptuous sin–the sin of presuming on the mercy of God. Save me from a calloused heart–a heart that is hardened to a suffering Saviour on a cruel cross, put there by sinful men like me. Rescue me from the trap of rationalization–the trap of justifying my ugly sins!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: A broken and a contrite heart, God will not despise! When I sin, break my heart, "Thou Three-Personed God!".

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148


1 John 3:4-10

Is Sin a Virtue?

Paul encountered opponents who believed that works of righteousness were unimportant. They believed that because man was saved by grace, that therefore, one's actions were unimportant.

"The argument springs from the great saying at the end of the last chapter (Romans 5): 'Where sin abounded, grace super abounded'. It runs something like this.

The Objector: You have just said that God's grace is great enough to find forgiveness for every sin.

Paul: That is so.

The Objector: You are, in fact, saying that God's grace is the most wonderful thing in all the world?

Paul: That is so.

The Objector: Well, if that is so, let us go on sinning. The more we sin, the more grace will abound. Sin does not matter, for God will forgive anyway. In fact, we can go further than that and say that sin is an excellent thing, because it gives the grace of God a chance to operate. The conclusion of your argument is that sin produces grace; therefore, sin is bound to be a good thing if it produces the greatest thing in the world." (Barclay's Daily Study Bible, Romans, p. 82-83)

To use this type of reasoning is about like saying (to use a very simple illustration) that it is a good thing for basements of houses to be filled with rain water, for this gives a chance for the pumps to show their power in pumping water out of basements!

Or it is like saying, "It is a good thing to have an accident, for the accident gives the insurance company a chance to prove itself!"

Or it is like saying, "it is a good thing to have a serious illness, for the illness gives the doctor a chance to prove his medical skills!"

Or it is like saying, "it is a good thing to break a parent's heart, for it gives the parent opportunity to exercise his love and grace in forgiveness!"

One can only conclude one of two things about the person who continues to sin, even though such a person makes a profession of faith. Either that person has never been seized by God's grace and been genuinely converted to Christ or that person has allowed his relationship with God to die, by re-introducing a life-style of sinning into his life. Either the person was never saved or if he was saved, he has lost his vital relationship with God. In either case, such a one needs a new vision of the costliness of God's mercy!

"O God, thou art a Great Liberator! I am free from sin, not free to sin! Help me to feel the exceeding sinfulness of sin order that I might experience the wonderful salvation of the Saviour!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Spiritual color-blindness results in seeing 'Blacks' as 'Whites'. I determine always to see sin in all its terrible blackness!

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Ephesians 4:17-24

Living As Children Of Light

One man who obnoxiously practiced sin was asked if he had no fear of God. Replied the man, "Oh, there is no need for fear, for God is in the business of forgiving!" What presumption on God's mercy! What perversion of God's grace! The one who keeps on sinning is the one who is submitting to the reign of death, not to the reign of grace. Such a person who practices sin has neither known Christ nor seen Him, according to 1 John 3:6! Or if he did once know Christ, he has succumbed to the reign of death after having once tasted of the goodness of God! The person who practices sin, has either never known Christ initially or if he once knew Christ, he has allowed sin to establish its reign once again in his life.

It is unthinkable for a man who is in true union with Christ to entertain a thought of liberty in sinning, under the pretense of God's grace! He who wishes to have liberty to sin and at the same time be guaranteed safety in Christ, is he who wants "to trade on the mercy of God to make it an excuse for sinning". (Barclay's Daily Study Bible, Romans, p. 85)

Paul asks, "If we died to sin, how can we live in it any longer?" (Romans 6:2) Decisively, in a moment of time, at the point of conversion, 'we died to sin', that is, we died to the reign of sin and Satan. We were transferred or translated acted from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. No longer are we tyrannized by Satan, and held captive by his power. We are not under his dominion, but we are now under the dominion of Christ who is the Lord of righteousness, peace, love and holiness. We are no longer 'in' Adam, but we are now 'in' Christ. The rights, privileges, and powers of Christ now belong to us. We have been turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. Our citizenship is not of the earth–fleshly–but our citizenship is in heaven–spiritual. We are fellow-citizens with the saints, and members of the household of faith. (Ephesians 2:19) We are no longer in the rule, reign, and territory of sin. Sin shall no longer have dominion over us. We have been transferred from Satan's camp to Christ's camp!

Romans 6:1 can be paraphrased as follows: "Therefore, in light of the knowledge of our new position in Christ, being what we are, dead to Adam and dead to sin and its reign and rule, how can we live any longer in sin? As members of the Kingdom of righteousness, it is unthinkable to practice sinning!"

"Grant me the filial awe I pray, the tender conscience give; Quick as the apple of the eye, O God, my conscience make! Awake my soul when sin is nigh, and keep it still awake." (Hymn writer of I Want A Principle Within)

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The tender conscience deals toughly with sin!

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150


Ephesians 4:25-32

'Christianizing' The Christian!

Romans 6:11 reads, "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord".

'Reckon'–that is, realize your new position and status in the kingdom of God, as children of the Light. Allow your thought patterns to conform to your new position. Christianize your thoughts. Also allow your emotion and feelings to be reshaped according to the sentiments of the kingdom of God. Realize your full and unconditional acceptance by God. Sense God's unconditional love for you and let your heart rejoice with joy unspeakable. Allow your emotions to be fully Christianized. As a member of the Kingdom, now under the control of the King of kings, allow your will to be fully surrendered to righteousness and holiness. Set your will against the temptations of sin and Satan. Give no opportunity to the devil. Reckon yourself to be dead indeed unto sin and sinful practices. Establish holy habits. Set your will to do God's will. Allow your will to be surrendered only to God. Make a full surrender of your will to God. Let your will become fully Christianized.

"You are citizens of the Kingdom", says Paul. "Now act as citizens of the Kingdom through a daily surrender of your mind, your emotions and your will to God!"

Because we died to the reign of sin when we were transferred to the reign of grace, we are to put away all sin from our lives. Positively speaking, because we are members of the Kingdom of righteousness we are to live as children of the Kingdom of God. Righteousness , peace, love, holiness–these describe the new life-style of the children of the Kingdom. We must no longer live as children of the darkness, but we must live as children of the light.

As members of the Kingdom of truth, one's attitudes and thoughts and actions must all be constantly changing for the better. Every thought must be captured and brought under the authority of Christ. This means learning to know the 'mind of Christ', thinking Christ's thoughts after Him. Every emotion must be brought under the control of Christ. This means feeling Christ's compassion with Him, sharing in Christ's sufferings for His world. Every decision of the will must be made under the direction of Christ's Lordship. We must be co-laborers with Christ in realizing Kingdom purposes in a world which needs to be redeemed. As members of the Kingdom of God, our emotions, thoughts, and decisions must evidence Kingdom citizenship. As a Christian, have your thoughts, emotions, and decisions been Christianized?

"O God, you have called me out of the 'world of sin', now take the 'sin of the world' out of my heart! You have separated me from outward sins, now separate me from inward sin! You have called me a saint, now make me saintly! I believe in the possibilities of Your grace!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: He who has made me a citizen of the Kingdom, shall make me a soldier of the Cross!

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151


Philippians 2:12-13, Philippians 3:12-17

"Christians In The Making, Not Yet Made"

Following the decisive step of putting off the old nature and putting on the new nature (Ephesians 4:22-24), there must be a daily and progressive renewing of the believer's attitudes and thoughts. To the extent that the heart is regularly renewed, to that same extent will one's behavior increasingly become Christianized.

As a believer in Christ, say to yourself: I am not merely dead to the reign of sin, I am alive under the reign of grace; and grace is a tremendous power. All the dynamic of the reign of grace is upon me, and is working in me, and will bring me to perfection. The whole object of grace is to destroy sin and all its works within me. I am under the dominion of grace and grace is out to destroy any remnant of sin left in me. How can I possibly continue to sin when I am under the dominion of grace? As a member of the Kingdom of truth and grace, it is my responsibility to bring my will, my emotions, and my mind under the lordship of Christ. I must seek increasingly to conform my mind, emotions, and will to the standards of the Kingdom. I am a Christian in my position before God. I must now cooperate with God in order to Christianize my total life–to bring it into conformity to holy standards.

It is possible to become a Christian in a moment of time, and yet it takes a lifetime of patient practice to become fully Christianized in thoughts, actions, and relationships.

It is our part to work at being Christians, being careful to do those things which are compatible with our professions of Christianity. It is God's part to work within us, helping us to know the right and to do the right. Even the great apostle Paul confessed: "I don't mean to say I am perfect. I haven't learned all I should even yet, but I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be". (Philippians 3:12, Living Bible)

"We are only Christians in the making; we are not yet fully made", was a popular phrase of E. Stanley Jones.

Someone said that believers are simply "Christians under construction". Too often persons become citizens of the new kingdom of truth, but after becoming citizens, still act and react as citizens of the kingdom of dark-ness! Their actions, thoughts, and decisions have not been fully Christianized. Although they are 'free' in Christ, they act as if they are still in 'bondage' to Adam!

"O God, I see now that Truth subjectively experienced is Jesus Christ who will enter my heart immediately upon true confession and belief. Truth objectively understood is the Word of God (Bible) which can only enter my heart gradually through a lifetime of prayerful and disciplined inquiry. I am a Christian, and I am becoming 'Christianized'! Glory!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The Person of Truth–the Holy Christ–will lead me progressively to the Propositions of Truth–the Holy Scriptures! There is no thrill 1ike the I thrill of becoming'!

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John 1:11-12, 1 John 3:1-3

Realize Your Freedom From Bondage!

When one hears the voice of Christ and learns of the person of Christ, listening and learning lead one to a decisive experience in Christ. The old life is exchanged for the new life. The selfish life is exchanged for Christ's indwelling life. There is a decisive act of the will. The old self if surrendered to Christ. Christ gives one a new life. The old garment of sin is removed decisively (Greek aorist tense, Ephesians 4:22, Ephesians 4:24), and the new garment of Christ-like living is put on.

After one becomes a Christian, he needs to learn to think and to feel and to act like a Christian. That means that he must realize that he is no longer under the reign of sin, but now under the reign of grace and truth and righteousness and holiness. He needs to learn to enjoy the power of the Kingdom of God–power to live above yielding to temptation and sin. We died to sin when we became members of the new kingdom of grace, so how can we live any longer in sin? As members of the kingdom, realizing who we are, we can never be found saying, "If I Sin–So What!"

We said in the last devotional that, although many Christians are 'free' in Christ, they act as if they are still in 'bondage' to Adam! Martyn Lloyd-Jones illustrates this well: "Take the case of those poor slaves in the United States about a hundred years ago. There they were in a condition of slavery. Then the American Civil War came, and as the result of that war slavery was abolished in the United States. But what had actually happened? All slaves, young and old, were given their freedom, but many of the older ones who had endured long years of servitude found it very difficult to understand their new status. They heard the announcement that slavery was abolished and that they were free; but hundreds, not to say thousands, of times in their lives and experiences many of them did not realize it, and when they saw their old master coming near them they began to quake and to tremble, and to wonder whether they were going to be sold. They were free, they were no longer slaves; the law had been changed, and their status and their position was entirely different, but it took them a very long time to realize it. You can still be a slave experimentally, even when you are no longer a slave legally. You can be a slave in your feelings when actually in respect of your position you have been emancipated completely. So it is with the Christian". (The New Man, Exposition of Romans, Lloyd-Jones, p. 23)

"O God, forgive me for acting and thinking like a slave, when in reality I am a son–a son of God! Help me to accept and enjoy my 'rights' as a son!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: What I am positionally–a child of God–I will learn to enjoy experimentally!

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153


Ephesians 1:1-14, Colossians 1:27-29

"Christ In You — The Hope Of Glory!"

We have made a serious study of Romans 6:1-2. Now for several devotionals we must look closely at Romans 6:3-11. The theme of this great passage of Scripture is 'Union With Christ'.

Christianity is not difficult, it is impossible, if we seek to live it on our own steam! Christianity is Christ in us, living His life through us.

The very 'core' of Christianity is 'union with Christ'. 'Christ in you, the hope of glory' is the theme of Christianity.

Man needs not an ideal example, but an inward empowering. Christianity is not a creed, but a life; not demands but resources; not a religion but a dynamic relationship. Mere religion is a dead weight to the soul, but relationship with Christ is a "living power to carry the soul". (A Man In Christ, James Stewart, p. 169)

"'Christ in me' means Christ bearing me along from within, Christ the motive-power that carries me on, Christ giving my whole life a wonderful poise and lift, and turning every burden into wings. All this is in it when the apostle speaks of 'Christ in you, the hope of glory'…  It means feeling within you, as long as life here lasts, the carrying power of Love Almighty; and underneath you, when you come to die, the touch of everlasting arms." (Ibid, p. 169-170)

Paul used the phrase 'In Christ' many times in his writings. "Take the long, typically Pauline sentence at the opening of the epistle to the Ephesians; within that single sentence 'in Christ' (or some derivative) occurs a dozen times. It is indeed the most characteristic phrase in the apostle's terminology." (Ibid, p. 155)

What does the phrase 'in Christ' declare? "We are declaring that Jesus is no mere fact in history, no towering personality of the past, but a living, present Spirit, whose nature is the very nature of God." (Ibid, p. 154)

Jesus is much more than an example to follow or to imitate. He is a person with whom to commune through His indwelling, empowering Presence. If Jesus is Example only, then man who is weak is the inevitable subject of bitter despair. There must be an indwelling and empowering by the Divine Presence if Jesus' way of life is to become man's way of life!

Union with Christ speaks of two things: (1) Transference of Position (from being 'in' Adam to being 'in' Christ); (2) Change of Condition (from being 'in' sin to 'becoming' a saint in heart and in life).

"Just as the roots are 'in' the soil, and as the birds are 'in' the air, and as the fish are 'in' the sea, so let my soul be 'in' Christ. For it is in Christ that I find my natural habitat. As my lungs are made for the physical atmosphere, so my spirit is made for the spiritual atmosphere!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Today, 'in Christ' I can live a 'supernaturally natural' life!

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154


1 Corinthians 1:26-31

'Baptized' Into Christ!

When we speak of being 'in' Christ, we are reminded that once we were 'in' Adam. We are transferred from Adam to Christ.

As we were once united to Adam, so now we are united to Christ. It is the Spirit who unites (baptizes) us in Christ.

'Baptism' refers to baptism of the Holy Spirit when He incorporates the believer, plants the believer, engrafts the believer into the Lord Jesus Christ.

As long as we remain united with Him, abiding in Him (John 15), our final salvation is guaranteed, for everything that happened to Him happens to us. All the blessings which Christ receives, we receive because we are 'in' the Beloved!

Perhaps the most glorious aspect of Salvation is that the believer is 'in Christ' and Christ is in him.

The teaching of Romans 6 is not the place to go to formulate your doctrine of water baptism. It is 'union with Christ' that is the main doctrine of this section of Scripture.

'To drink' of the Spirit (verse 3) is to enjoy the union and incorporation of the Spirit. Our oneness with Christ is the focus of attention.

"In salvation we are not merely forgiven and not only justified. The doctrine of salvation includes the basic truth that we were in Adam, but now in Christ, that we are taken out of the one position and put into another." (The New Man, Exposition of Romans 6, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, p. 38)

"The glorious thing about salvation is that I am taken out of Adam, that I have finished with him, and am dead to sin. I am in Christ, and all the blessings that come to me come because of my union with Christ." (Ibid, p. 38)

"We are saved by this tremendous action of God through the Spirit, who takes us out of Adam, incorporates us, implants us, baptizes us into Christ ," (Ibid, p. 39)

We are baptized into the whole of Christ with all the benefits and blessings which belong to Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:30 says that Jesus Christ is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. This means that Jesus is everything that we need! When we are in union with Jesus, we are in a position to receive everything that is available in Jesus. "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known." (1 John 3:2 NIV) The possibilities of 'union with Christ' are limitless!

"O Christ, I see now that my 'legal ' position is immediately changed at conversion, but my actual condition changes gradually through growth. You call me a 'saint ' at the moment of faith; you make me a 'saint' over a lifetime of living faithfully. Thank you for your powerful, yet patient, work in me!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will practice receptivity, for I enjoy only those gifts and graces of Jesus that I am presently able and willing to receive.

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Romans 6:3-11

Union With Christ!

Romans 6 teaches us that the believer experiences a transfer of position–from Adam to Christ. It also teaches that the believer experiences a change of condition–from sin to sainthood. It is 'union with Christ' that makes possible this change of position and change of condition.

We are trying to understand what 'union with Christ' means. Perhaps it is something that can only be experienced rather than analyzed. less, we must try to understand Paul's teachings in Romans 6 (and other places) regarding 'union with Christ'.

First, 'union with Christ' in His death, burial, and resurrection 'means to be identified with Christ's attitude to sin'. (A Man In Christ, James Stewart, p. 196)

Second, 'union with Christ' in His death, burial, and resurrection means involvement in Christ's mission of compassion and Christ's obedience to the Word.

Third, 'union with Christ' means participation in Christ's amazing power.

Fourth, 'union with Christ' does NOT mean the end of the Christian's personal effort, cooperation and striving.

Fifth, 'union with Christ ' will ultimately consummate in total redemption (including the body) in heaven.

We must now begin to look at each one of these five statements regarding 'union with Christ'.

Union with Christ 'means to be identified with Christ's attitude to sin'. (Ibid, p. 196) Not only is the sinner's position changed, but his condition will also be changed. God's grace which imputes Christ's righteousness to the sinner is the same grace which imparts Christ's righteousness to the sinner. Not only does one receive a right standing with God, but one receives a new nature from God. As one is positionally changed from a sinner to a saint, one is also imparted the holy nature of God which is the basis for developing actual saintliness. One cannot long be reckoned righteous unless there are actual fruits of righteousness in his life. The grace that saves one from sin is the grace that delivers one from sinning. Union with Christ means receiving the very nature of Christ. The least that can be said as a result of receiving the nature of Christ, is that the converted one is delivered from a practice of sinning. "Be ye holy, for I am holy", says God.

"O God, I cannot be both united to sin and united to the Saviour at the same time! I will either hate the one and love the other or the other way around! I am called to holiness. Now make me holy in my nature. Destroy all sin in my life!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: What God has called me in name, He will make me in reality–a holy man!

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1 John 1:7, 1 John 2:1-2, 1 John 3:4-6

'The Sinning Christian'–a Contradiction In Terms!

One who is united in Christ cannot practice sin. (1 John 3:6) 'The sinning Christian' is a contradiction in terms. Neither Paul nor John (1 John 2:1-2) deny the possibility, and many times the reality of an occasional isolated sinful action in the life of a person who is in union with Christ, but both Paul (Romans 6:1-2) and John (1 John 3:4-6) declare that "No one who lives in Christ keeps on sinning". (1 John 3:6)

The one who is united to Christ is the one whose spiritual condition is increasingly improving. As Christ hates sin, so the believer in Christ increasingly learns to hate sin. How shall one continue in sin if he has died to the reign of sin in his life? He no longer practices rebellion and willful transgressions against God's known laws and God's revealed will. Whatever Christ hates, the believer learns to hate. He who has the mind of Christ within him, is he who understands increasingly the hellishness of sin. It is sin that smashed the most beautiful life of the universe on a cross!

He who continues to identify with Christ's death, burial and resurrection is he who increasingly becomes sensitized to sin's presence in his life. Christ's death and resurrection signaled finality to the destruction of sin's reign. Therefore, to identify with Christ's death means to reckon oneself to be dead to sin's reign in his own life.

What is the essence of sin? The essence of sin is pride and unbelief. The manifestation of pride is seen in man's attempt to usurp God's authority and disregard God's laws. Making oneself god instead of submitting oneself as servant to the True God is the very essence of sin. Doing that which is right in one's own eyes instead of doing that which is right in the eyes of God, is evidence of human rebellion and sin. Man is called to surrender and submission. Instead, man assets himself in rebellion and self-will.

To enjoy the holiness of God means that one learns to abhore and to forsake sin in his life. Sin and holiness are totally incompatible!

A believer in union with Christ has the divine perspective of grace. Grace accepts the sinner and delivers the sinner from a practice of sinning. Grace transfers one from the Kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of light, from the reign of sin to the reign of righteousness. He who is in union with Christ realizes the cost of God's grace!

"O God, when I fall in sin, let me always 'fall toward the Cross'. Help me honestly to confess, and gladly grasp your saving Hand of restoration. Put me quickly back on the path that leads to heaven–the 'path of holiness'! In Jesus' saving name! Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: If (or when) I sin, I have One who speaks to the Father in my defense–Jesus the Righteous One! His speaking is my healing! (1 John 2:1-2)

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John 15:1-11

Inexhaustible Resources!

Union with Christ means involvement in Christ's mission of compassion and Christ's obedience to the Word. Christ was moved with compassion for the lost, and so will those who are union with Christ. Christ learned obedience by the things which he suffered. The believer in Christ will also walk obediently. 'I delight to do thy will', is the soul-cry of the true believer.

Union with Christ means participation in Christ's power. Notes James Stewart, "To be 'in Christ' means that Christ is the redeemed man's new environment. The human body, by the acts of eating and drinking and breathing, is continually drawing for its strength upon the resources of its physical environment. So the Christian spirit, by prayer and worship and surrender, makes contact and keeps contact with its spiritual environment, which is Christ; thus the soul draws for its strength upon the supplies of power which in Christ are quite inexhaustible. 'I can do all things', it says 'through Christ which strengthens me'. Faced with the strain and stress of the moral struggle, surrounded by stubborn hereditary foes, torn sometimes on the rack of almost unbearable temptation, it lifts its head and cries, 'Thanks be unto God which always causeth us to triumph in Christ'." (A Man In Christ, p. 198 )

Union with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection does NOT mean the end of the Christian's personal moral effort, cooperation, and striving. Those who are 'in Christ' presently have standing and position in Christ. We have been transferred from the Kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of light. From that moment on it is our responsibility to walk by faith. We have become united in the Vine; as branches we are now to stay attached to the Vine and grow as healthy branches. We have been saved from sin; we are now to serve righteousness. The light has come to us; we are now to arise and shine in the world. We have been separated unto Christ; we are now to separate ourselves from worldliness in our daily life-style. Because union with Christ on the earthly plain is not experienced without opposition from Satan, this union must be maintained by faith, prayer, watchfulness and obedience. It is a dynamic union; not a static state. It is a voluntary union, not a coercive union.

Union with Christ will ultimately consummate in total Redemption–including the body–in heaven. Heaven will be a place where we become more and more like God, and yet we will never become gods. Eternal growth in Christlikeness–that is what makes heaven so glorious!

"Just as the branch receives its sap from the vine, so let me receive my strength from thee, O God! Thou art the Vine. All life resides in thee alone. I am the branch. All life is received from thee. I do not grow by tense trying, but by simple trusting! O the bliss of abiding in You!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Just as the branch surrenders itself to the vine for continual life, so I will surrender my little life to God to receive His inexhaustible Life!

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Discussion Questions

  1. How would you respond to a person who said the following to you: "If I sin, so what! I am a Christian! I am saved by grace and grace alone. The degree of my sinning in no way affects my relationship with Christ. If I was once saved, I am always saved, regardless of my sinning. Grace covers all my sins. Did not Paul write, 'Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds'."?

  2. What attitude should a believer have regarding sin–its commission and its practice? (Note Romans 6:1, 1 John 2:1-2, 1 John 3:4-9)

  3. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Anyone who lightly regards sin, also lightly regards God's Grace, lightly regards the meaning of union with Christ, and lightly regards the call to holy and righteous living!"

  4. Is it possible for a one-time believer to fall back into a pattern of sinning, resulting in him losing, not only his fellowship with God, but eventually his relationship with God? What Scriptural basis can you cite to document your viewpoint on this controversial issue? (Note 1 John 3:8)

  5. One can only conclude one of two things about the person who continues to sin, even though such a person makes a profession of faith. What are those two things?

  6. How would you refute the argument of the person who says that, because man was saved by grace, his actions are unimportant?

  7. Give your interpretation of the following statement: "He who wishes to have liberty to sin and at the same time be guaranteed safety in Christ, is he who wants 'to trade on the mercy of God to make it an excuse for sinning'."

  8. When one, through spiritual conversion, is transferred or translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, what lifestyle can he expect to live as a 'child of light'? (Note Romans 6:2, 1 John 2:3-6)

  9. What does it mean for a believer in Christ to become Christianized in his mind, emotions and will? What is the difference between a spiritual Christian and a carnal Christian? Do you identify with the following prayer: "O God, you have called me out of the 'world of sin', now take the 'sin of the world' out of my heart!"

  10. Meditate on the following statement: "To the extent that the heart is regularly renewed, to that same extent will one's behavior increasingly become Christianized". What can you do, as a believer, to daily renew your heart?

  11. Explain the difference between the Truth subjectively experienced, and the Truth objectively understood.

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    Discussion Questions (continued)

  12. How do you interpret the following 'Affirmation': "What I am positionally–a child of God–I will learn to enjoy experimentally!"

  13. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Christianity is not difficult, it is impossible–if we seek to live it on our own steam!"

  14. Share as many Scriptures as you can to document the truth of the following statement: "Christianity is not a creed, but a life; not demands but resources, not a religion but a dynamic relationship". (Note John 10:10, John 14:6, 1 John 1:7, Ephesians 1:18-20, Ephesians 3:16-19)

  15. 'Union with Christ' speaks of two primary realities. What are those two realities?

  16. When you are in union with Jesus, you are in a position to receive everything that is available in Jesus. According to I Corinthians 1:30 what are some things you receive from Jesus Christ?

  17. Describe in at least five different ways what 'Union with Christ' means.

  18. Describe what the following statement means to you: "God's grace which imputes Christ's righteousness to the sinner is the same grace which imparts Christ's righteousness to the sinner".

  19. Quote Scriptural support to document the Truth of the following statement: "The sinning Christian is a contradiction in terms".

  20. What is the essence of sin?

  21. Through what means can the sincere believer find victory over his moral struggles and his unbearable temptations?

  22. When the believer is enjoying 'union with Christ', does this mean that he no longer needs to exercise personal moral effort and striving to live the Christian life? What is God's part and what is the believer's part, in living the Christian life? Is the Christian life the result of the believer 'trying harder' or 'trusting more' or both?

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