IDENTIFICATION WITH CHRIST
It’s not a really big cross on the roof of the church that identifies us with Christ. Do you know any churches that display a cross but are far removed from God?
It’s not the big cross around the neck or the earrings that identifies us with Christ. Do you know anyone who wears cross jewelry but is far removed from God?
It’s not the fish on the back of the car, the bumper snicker, or any other displayed item.
Then it must be the vocabulary, right? Do you know anyone who says the name of Jesus, but whose heart is far removed from God? Do you know anyone who honors God with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him (Matt.15:8)?
We want to think about what it means to be “identified with Christ”, but first….
In Hebrews 11 we read about some great heroes of the faith.
But did you know that they are all merely signposts pointing to Someone else.
Please read Hebrews 12:1-3
In Hebrews 12:3 we “Consider Him…”
The climax of all meditation and pondering is God.
The old Hymn – “Redeemed”, says, “I think of my blessed Redeemer, I think of Him all the day long…” Is that true for you?
Satan goes to great lengths to keep you and me from “considering” the Lord Jesus Christ.
The prophet Micah in the Bible paints a bleak picture regarding God’s judgment against Samaria and Jerusalem– but Micah concludes correctly in Micah 7:7 “Therefore I will look unto the Lord”
Many Scriptures attest to the dangers associated with NOT seeking or inquiring of the Lord. For a key example see 1 Chronicles 10:13-14
We walk in a wilderness that often seems hopeless (maybe not as much for prosperous Americans!) That which makes the difference for true believers is this: “But, we see Jesus” (Heb.2:9)
One of the names of God that is used mainly at Christmas is a name that should stir us to humble meditation and thanksgiving – that name is “Immanuel”, which interpreted is: God with us! (Isaiah 7:14)
God is FOR us (“Since God is for us, who can be against us?”)
God is WITH us (Immanuel)
God is IN us (“Know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?”)
That is truly a mind-boggling thought to ponder – and we should ponder that more than we do.
“But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son,…” (Galatians 4:4)
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth”. (John 1:14)
Here’s an important thought –
God, Who was under NO obligation to do ANY such thing, identified with US (mere creations of His) in an almost unbelievable way – to an almost unbelievable extent.
God had no need to humble Himself to become a baby in a manger;
No need to submit Himself to human parents and other authorities;
No need to experience physical hunger and thirst;
No need to subject Himself to man’s taunts, jeers, mocking, etc.;
No need to experience the physical pain that came at the end.
No need to experience death (separation)
ALL these things He did willingly!
Please read Hebrews 2:14-18 (esp. v.14,16)
He (God) identified Himself with man (He CHOSE to do so!) and HE is not ashamed to be identified with US! Heb. 11:16 says “But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” Heb. 2:11 “For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren”,
This is absolutely amazing !
He identified with us - so that we might identify with him
Would you agree that He now wants us to identify with Him ?
A. The Christian Life is “Participation”, not “Imitation”
The real deal – the genuine…..
Imitation has the connotation of external conformity. I can imitate you, but that doesn’t make me just like you – I would simply be ‘acting’ like you. I can wear a rubber mask made from an imprint of your face, be the same size and shape as you, wear the same clothes you do, etc., but I’m still not like you! If I want to BE like you, I must lose things that are ‘me’ – my personality (“that’s just the way I am”, or worse, “that’s the way God made me”), my likes/dislikes, my priorities, etc., must change - only then will I be changing into your likeness and become like you are.
Just like dressing up a person and bringing him into the church on Sunday doesn’t make him a Christian – that’s like washing the outside of the cup but not the inside.
Suggestion - IMITATION IS WHAT SATAN DOES –
transforming himself into an angel of light (which he is NOT)
PARTICIPATION is essential, it’s the key
Not merely “like Him”, but “in Him)
[Contrast “in sin” vs. “in Him”]
Heb. 3:14 starts off with “For we are made partakers of Christ…, [if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end;]”
What’s that all about ?
We read in 2 Peter 1:2-4 “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
Please read John 15:4-5 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
He IS (present tense) our strength, our joy, our life
Col. 1:27 says “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”
B. CHRIST’S DEATH – OUR DEATH (participation in his death)
When we realized our sinfulness, and repented of and turned from our sin and turned to the Savior, did we not accept the reality of His death as our substitute?
For the wages of sin is death! (But the gift of God is eternal life)
God accepted Christ’s death in place of ours – and so did (must) we!
1 Cor. 1:22-24 “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”
It has been said that we are either dead IN SIN, or we are dead TO SIN.
The old hymn, “When I Survey” says “I pour contempt on all my pride” (root of sin)
John 10:17-18 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.” (Jesus is God!)
True conversion involves the grafting of a person into the Body of Christ – which grafting is accomplished by the Holy Spirit.
Rom. 11:24 speaks of being grafted contrary to nature; Grafting is a radical process !
That which was cut off has no more source of life from the old trunk/roots and no more fellowship with the old buddy branches. The relation to the old is severed so utterly, so completely, so permanently, that for it, the old no longer exists. Rather, there is now a fusion which results in new (in type and kind) life – from a new Source!
The truth of the Gospel is not ONLY that our penalty for sin was paid, but there was SO much more intended by God (the true “Full Gospel”)
e.g. – Rom. 6:1 “Shall we continue in sin…”? No. Why? Because the cross makes a radical, crucified difference in how we live.
The cross death is intended to terminate the carnal life which is enmity against God.
Eph. 2:15-16 says “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby”:
God did not intend to merely straighten up, or patch up, the old man.
Gal. 5:14 “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Is the old nature capable of this?)
Saul may refuse to hew down Agag, but not Samuel !
1 Sam. 15:3,9,33
3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not;
9 But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and allthat was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.
32 Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past. 33And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.
Jesus spoke of not putting new wine into old wineskins
Matt. 9:17 – or – Mark 2:22 – or – Luke 5:37-38
Matt. 12:43-45 There was a person possessed by a demon who cleaned up his house – but it was the same old house – empty of the Spirit who’s presence alone is able to keep the demons out and bring about transformation rather than mere reformation; and seven demons came and occupied it – making matters even worse than before.
Do you remember John 3:14? “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up” which looks back to the account found in Numbers 21:8-9 where Israel was sinning against God – (the sin was that they spurned the manna that God had sent to give them life (21:5) – so they died!
People today spurn the One that God sent to give us life – therefore they will die.
God was sending judgment against Israel – people were dying – and a remedy was offered – a pole upon which a brass serpent was placed. The instructions were – whoever looks to the serpent on the cross would not die, but would live. John says this account was prophetic of the Savior who must be lifted up on the pole and whoever looks to Him will not die, but rather will live.
Question – why a serpent? (I don’t think there is any typology regarding the Savior here). Could it be that there was a foreshadowing of the fact that our (participation) old nature, characterized by the old serpent, was put to death – and as we see our old, carnal nature die on that tree, we live – and we now live differently because we know we should have died.
There is another truth here as well –
The serpent brought about the sting of death to mankind.
God has dealt with that – the old serpent’s death was sealed by the cross!
The cross has but one purpose – death!
We who are “in Him” died “with Him”
Did Israel change? No – consider 2 Kings 18:1-4 “Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did. He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.”
See Romans 6:1-7 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death….we have been planted together in the likeness of his death...,Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.”
Gal. 6:14 speaks of the cross “through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world”
You might consider that Joseph was “buried” in prison (Gen 39:20) before “arising” to become a “savior” (Gen 41).
C. CHRIST’S RESURRECTION – OUR RESURRECTION (participation in His life)
Not only did we die in Christ, but in Him we also arose !
We cannot rise with Christ unless we died with Christ.
Resurrection life REPLACES the old life !
Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ…..NEVERTHELESS…..”
Col. 2:12 “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised HIM from the dead.”
Rom. 6:8-13 “Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ, being raised from the dead, dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”
There is a close correlation here to being born again/anew
Our identification with Christ is pictured in baptism in Rom. 6:4 “raised to walk in newness of life.
Old things are put away (crucified) & all things become new
Resurrection is God’s power overcoming death !
Once “self” is dead, this new power enables that which was impossible before - e.g. loving our enemies, doing good to those who despitefully use you,
These are not “natural” things – they are super-natural
There is availability of power to walk the new life –
With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible
Rom. 8:2 says “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”
The kingdom of God is not external – Jesus said it is within you (Luke 17:21) That is the realm where we see this resurrection power at work.
D. CHRIST’S ASCENSION – OUR ASCENSION
We need a proper perspective
Col. 3:1-3 “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
We are heirs – joint heirs with Christ
“It is not death that will bring us into our heritage in Christ – it is faith !”
Eph 2:4-6 “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:”
It is the present spiritual reality (which will be more fully realized later)
Heb 11:1 – faith is SUBSTANCE !
In Christ, we are already ascended into God’s presence
Heb.4:16 we may NOW come boldly to the throne of grace..
We need to possess our possessions
All the promised things are ours NOW – in Christ
Joshua & Caleb possessed the promised land as young spies (10 did not). God told Joshua “all the land… have I given you” ! It was already theirs – they just needed to possess it!
Deut. 9:23 “Likewise when the LORD sent you from Kadesh-barnea, saying, Go up and possess the land which I have given you; then ye rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God, and ye believed him not, nor hearkened to his voice.”
Josh 1:1-3 “Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.” So, our physical death brings us more fully into this present reality
2 Cor. 5:8 “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”
Rev. 3:21 “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”
Who are the overcomers? Those with faith
1 John 5:4-5 “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?”
In the “ascending” we may also see the mounting up with wings as eagles (Is.40:31) -
RISING ABOVE – circumstances, trials, etc.
One of the purposes & blessings of redemption is to disentangle us from the fleshly (the kingdom of darkness) to quicken & release the spirit of man – to rise above the carnal/fleshly and to fellowship with God in His kingdom.
E. CHRIST’S VICTORY – OUR VICTORY (participation in HIS victory)
At no time in our Christian pilgrimage are we free from peril.
Temptations of every kind are all along the path.
And the longer we walk, the more subtle the dangers ! (Selah)
God’s way of victory over sin is NOT through:
Suppression of sinful desires, nor thru
Eradication of the old nature
But thru Crucixion (death) – painful separation - we are to reckon ourselves dead to sin !
Jesus faced Satan in the desert and was the victor
John 12:30-31 “Jesus answered and said, ‘This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out’.”
Heb. 2:14-15 “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
Col. 2:14-15 “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”
Is. 25:8 “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.”
1 Cor. 15:54-57 “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The “real” victories are over the “real” enemies
Eph. 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places…..”
Rev. 12:7-12 “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them.”
Victory implies battles
Remember Israel’s entry into Canaan
God had given them the land
God had promised victory
BUT… Israel had to (1) FIGHT and (2) DRIVE OUT
2 Cor. 10:4 “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;” -weapons, which are not carnal, but mighty…….
Armed in the panoply of God (Eph. 6:11,13), in God’s power, victory is ours !
Rom. 8:35-39 “What shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Christ’s victory over the power of darkness (see the contrast in Col. 1:13)
One key to victory may be “confidence”
Satan tempted Jesus – “if” you are the Son of God… (Matt. 4:3,6)
Satan tempts us - “if” you are really a child of God….(Rev. 12:10)
1 John 5:4 reminds us that “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”
It is not always easy to define “the world”
John 12:31 speaks of the prince of this world
Eph. 2:2 speaks of the course of this world
2 Cor. 4:4 speaks of the god of this world
1 Cor. 2:12 speaks of the spirit of this world which is contrary to the Spirit of God
1 Cor. 7:31 speaks of the fashion of this world which is passing away
1 Cor. 2:8 speaks of the wisdom of this world – which crucified the Lord of glory
Note 1 John 2:15 “Love not the world nor the things that are in the world”
(It doesn’t say love it less, or love it little – it says not at all)
1 John 2:16 defines “the things that are in the world” – lust and pride
But… according to Galatians 5:24 “they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts.”
A worldly spirit is seductive - Worldly mindedness is cancerous
But… You are not of this world
Note John 17
v.6 – taken OUT OF the world
v.14 – not OF THE world
v.15 – kept from the evil of the world
v.11 – left IN THE world
v.18,20 – sent INTO the world, to preach UNTO the world
v.14 – and as a result, HATED BY the world (yea, all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution)
John 16:33 Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation …” Jesus went on to say, “… but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
The relationship of the church to the world is perhaps like that of Samson & Delilah. She never became ONE with Samson – loving and looking out for him. The world is not looking out for the church! Delilah seductively found Samson’s weak points, undermined him, took away his strength and power. Has not the world done that to the church?
Hyphenated identifications are dangerous. Mexican American, Irish Americans, African Americans, etc. As we see it, a person can be a Mexican who is living/working/visiting America OR he can be an American who used to be a Mexican. To become an American is to stop being a Mexican.
Israel lived in Goshen. Perhaps they became Israeli-Egyptians? But Egypt didn’t see it that way – Egypt never saw them as Egyptians ! When God delivered them from that land, and into another – They were not to become Israeli-Canaanites ! ! ! They were to drive out the old and become Israel ONLY.
When a person becomes a believer, that person is not to be a “worldly Christian”. Rather we leave our old citizenship behind and now, according to Hebrews, Our citizenship is in heaven – we are truly not American-Christians or Chinese Christians, but simply Christians (or maybe heaven-ites)
F. HIS APPEARING - OUR APPEARING
Col. 3:4 “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”
G. HIS WORK – OUR WORK (participation in His work)
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 15:58)
“For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.” (1 Cor. 3:9)
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10)
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;” (Eph 4:11-13)
“Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.” (2 Tim. 2:21)
“We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth.” (3 John 1:8)
“And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.” (1 Cor. 12:6)
“Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” (John 4:34)
“But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” (John 5:17)
“Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” (John 6:29)
“I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.” (John 9:4)
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” (John 14:12)
“But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” (Acts 10:35)
“…that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.” (Acts 26:20)
“Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense.” (Romans 14:20)
“Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Heb. 13:20-21)
Credits: The idea and basic outline and some of the content for this study came from the book “Bone of His Bone” by F.J. Huegel. The book was published by Zondervan but has no date nor any copyright information.