What does being “in Christ’ mean?
Occurring 39 times in the New Testament, the phrase “in Christ” means a believer partakes in all that Christ has done, all that He is before the Father, and all that He ever shall be. The moment a person is saved, God views that individual as being “in Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). He stands before God in all the acceptability of Christ Himself (1:6). This is positional truth; the believer’s spiritual condition can never alter this.
2 Corinthians 5:17 states, “If any man be in Christ he is a new cre ation” (JND). Here the immediate context links this statement with the work of Christ, “He died for all,” thus describing our position at conversion. Ephesians 1:3 says we are “blessed with all spiritual blessings… in Christ.” These are inexhaustible, yet possessed by all “in Christ.” However, our spiritual condition affects our enjoyment of these. I Corinthians 3:1 shows that, in spite of such blessings, believers can become carnal and careless, thus stunting spiritual growth. Even in this condition, nothing can change our position “in Christ.” The truth of 1 Thessalonians 4:16, “the dead in Christ shall rise first,” encourages us that, even if we “fall asleep,” we will be raised at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that being “in Christ” will only bring us into further blessings. Thus, being “in Christ” is a precious truth that is unchangeable; it commences with conversion, continues throughout life, and finally transports us into His glad presence to be “with Christ” forever.
In what ways does a believer’s sin differ from an unbeliever’s?
Sin always grieves God, no matter who commits it. However, when an unbeliever sins, a record is kept in heaven in view of the Great White Throne judgment. There, the books will be opened and all unrepentant sinners will be judged according to their works and punished with everlasting destruction in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:12,13). When a believer sins, it also grieves the Lord; however, the Lord Jesus endured the full punishment on the cross for the sins of every believer (Romans 8:1). If a believer’s sin is intentional and persistent, the Father in love chastises His child for his restoration. A believer filled with sorrow, repentance, and confession values the provision God has made for us: “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:1, 2). “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1:9).
What is the difference between being restored to the Lord and to other believers?
Restoration brings a thing back to its original state. Old houses and old cars are frequently “restored.” Our question deals with relationships between a Christian and his Lord or between two Christians. Restoration is necessary when relationships have been damaged. An offense will shatter a relationship. Drifting apart will damage relationships.
David prayed for restoration after his sin with Bathsheba. “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation” (Psalm 51:12). Noteworthy in this psalm is David’s confession of sin when he sought restoration. In Psalm 23, he wrote of continuing occasions when the Good Shepherd “restoreth my soul” (verse 3). He realized his tendency to stray from the Shepherd.
Christians, too, may drift apart or offend one another. Our Lord gave instruction in Matthew 18:15 for restoring a broken relationship. The two must meet together, seeking to clear up the matter between them. It is likely that, in most cases, mutual repentance, confession and forgiveness will be required. If an offense has caused damage, restitution will also be necessary.
There is no difference in the need for restoration, whether to the Lord or another saint. In both instances, the need must be acknowledged. One cannot be restored to the Lord who has not first been restored to his brother or sister (Matt. 5:23, 24).
How can a sinning believer be restored to the Lord?
Both restoration of communion lost through one sin and also restoration from a path of sin involve two principles. First, confession is essential (Jeremiah 3:13; Hosea 14:2; 1 John 1:9). More than mere words, confession means taking God’s view of our sin. Sin is not a weakness or an addiction. It cannot be justified in any way nor its responsibility transferred to someone else or to r circumstances. Its primary shame is not its being “found out…” Sin is a wrong directed against God (Psalm 51:4), destructive to one’s self, and harmful to others. Any unwillingness to forsake the sin nullifies confession. “Whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). Confession is not pleading for forgiveness, repeatedly decrying the sin, or making one’s self feel “lowly.” It is not primarily emotional; it is a statement of submission to God’s character.
The second principle is devotion. Restoration is not complete until a believer has returned to feeding on Christ. Only the power of divine life overcomes sin. By daily reading, meditation, and prayer, the believer can yield to the Spirit’s working and know the transforming power of resurrection life.