Who Am I ?
Article by Bill Petri
The most important thing we can do for ourselves is to realize what God's grace has accomplished in our lives. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of God's grace is our identification in Christ. If the professing church could grasp its identification it would never again ensnare itself with the law, never again would it confuse itself with Israel, and never again would it try to attain what God has already freely given to it. Just what has God given us, and what has He made us? This is perhaps the most important question you can ask yourself.
We need to start from the beginning of our Christian life to answer these questions. In 1 Corinthians 15 verses 1-4 we read the saving gospel for this Dispensation of Grace. It simply states that if we believe and trust that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and that He rose on the third day, we are saved. This salvation has no work to perform in order to receive it. If it involved work we would mess it up and never have life with God. I want to take each of these three components and discuss what they have already accomplished for us. We can only find this liberating message through the pen of God's grace Apostle - Paul. This message was a secret kept hid in God until Jesus Christ revealed this good news to the Apostle Paul. (Eph.3:1-9, Gal.1:11-12).
1Co 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
The first element of our gospel is that Christ died for our sins! Notice, it does not say that sin is still an issue. Our
verse emphatically states that Christ died for my sin. The penalty for sin was paid. Christ died for it. If you search your
Bible you will never find Paul talk about future sin. The reason he does not is that sin has already been dealt with. If Christ died for all sin, to put away sin once and for all time, how can sin still be an issue? The reality is that many in the professing church still try to make sin the issue with God.
Hence, many churches go back to the law to fix what they perceive to be a sin problem. By doing this they are denying the very reality of Christ's sacrifice for sin. If Christ died for all sin, do we not already have a forgiveness of sin (Col.2:13)? Because all sin has already been forgiven and dealt with at the Cross of Christ, sin can no longer define our relationship with God. This is why Paul can state in Eph.1:4 that we are "holy and without blame" before Him. This is why 2 Corinthians 5:21 can state that we in the Body of Christ are righteous in Christ! Think about it, if sin is still in the equation and the wages of sin is death, then no one would have eternal life. The death referenced here is not physical; it is spiritual. Rom. 6:23 compares the wages of sin to the gift of God. The gift is eternal life. Hence, the death would be eternal separation from God (Rev.20:15). Notice, because we are holy, and without blame, and righteous all "in Christ," we have eternal life. Hence, our salvation is totally "complete in Him" (Col.2:10).
In order to accomplish this amazing fact, God made us to be a "new creation" (2 Cor.5:21). Furthermore, because I am a new creation I have a new relationship with God, a relationship where I am an adopted (Gal.4:5) son of God who is a joint heir with none other than Jesus Christ (Rom.8:14-17)! Therefore, I can only be "accepted in the beloved" (Eph.1:6). All of this can never be undone because I have been made "dead to sin" (Rom.6:2,11). This is all true because I have been identified with Jesus Christ's crucifixion.
Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Our sin is truly nailed to the cross and we bear it no more, just as the wonderful song It is Well with My Soul states. This is why Romans 3 can only talk of sin which is past. Today all sin is past, because all sin was paid for 2000 years ago. Sin does not condemn a person today, unbelief does. Unbelief is us still trying to accomplish by our own work what Jesus already did. In order for a sacrifice to be applied I have to accept the sacrifice. Unbelief fails to accept it. Is this not the way the professing church conducts itself - in unbelief? It is so busy trying to deal with sin that it fails to believe that Christ already took care of sin. We don't see Bill Gates running around trying to convince people he knows how to make money, it is just a state of reality for him. So too the state of all members of the Body of Christ is the reality that sin has been dealt with. If we spent our time talking about this reality, rather than trying to accomplish what Christ already finished, maybe local churches would be more effective.
It saddens me to no end when I talk to many dear Christians who think they have to perform in order for Christ to love them. Their Christian lives become very futile, and depressing. The more they try to perform righteousness the more unrighteous they appear. The minute someone places themselves back under the law they have failed to recognize their identity in Christ! The Christian message then becomes a message of bondage, not the message of liberty it was intended to be. Does not 1 Tim.1:9 state that the law is given to the unrighteous? Christians who fail to understand that they have been given the righteousness of God by Jesus Christ will always try to do the law to get to God. It is like the man who makes his last mortgage payment, and then spends the rest of his life trying to convince the bank that he has mortgage payments to make. He can never enjoy the fact that he is the sole owner of his home, so too, Christians who fail to understand God's grace can never enjoy the total forgiveness of sin that Christ has attained for us.
The second part of our gospel is that Christ was buried.
1Co 15:4 And that he was buried...
On the surface we could easily overlook this aspect of the gospel. It is the burial however that identifies us with Christ. Romans 6:4 states we are buried with Christ, "by baptism, into his death." Ephesians 4:5 states very clearly that there is only one baptism today. 1 Corinthians 12:13 clearly defines this one baptism as a Spirit baptism which places us into Christ. Hence, the burial of Christ establishes the fact that God deals with us based on our identification "in Christ!" According to Col.2:12 we are buried with Christ. We are so identified with Jesus Christ that the Spirit Himself has sealed us (Eph.1:13-14) so that we can never be anything less than what Jesus Christ has made us. God the Father identifies us as Christ, because everything about us is only ever found to be in Christ. If I put coffee into a thermos I only see the thermos, not what is in it, and so too is our relationship with Jesus Christ. We are IN CHRIST! Hence, the Father sees only Christ when He looks at a member of the Body of Christ. Hence, we are justified, never to lack anything before God according to Rom. 8:30. Because we are justified we are also sanctified (1 Cor.6:11).
What joy this should bring to our hearts and minds. If we are justified before God, and we are sanctified before God, we can then state that we are reconciled to God (2 Cor.5:18). Therefore, we are fully redeemed (Gal.3:13). The seal of the holy Spirit is indeed our guaranty that this wonderful state can never be undone. Believe it or not, this wonderful message of God's grace gets only better. Scripture tells us that because we are justified, we now have "peace with God."
Rom 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have
peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
God is not angry with His Son, is He? If I am "in Christ," and the holy Spirit keeps me in this wonderful condition, God the Father cannot be mad or angry with me. We have peace with God. Peace from His anger or wrath, peace from His righteous judgment, peace from despair and anguish. We can only be the recipients of God's mercy! This indeed is good news for all saints. It is a shame that the professing church cannot grasp this reality. Instead, the professing church tries to attain by their own merit what God has so freely given to us. Christians today are so busy trying to measure up that they cannot see past their religion and self-imposed sacraments and that their work has already been accomplished for them. They fail to rest in this marvelous grace which has been bestowed upon us. If Christians could grasp the magnitude of the Apostle Paul's message of liberty and freedom, this world would never be the same. Christianity would become a message of liberty freeing millions from the despair of their own failures. So many people spend their lives trying to attain by their performance a standing before God, not once realizing that their standing can never be of their own merit (Rom.4:2-4). The flesh then becomes the focus of the poor confused Christian who fails to realize the totality of the victory over sin that grace has won!
Col. 2:11-13 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:  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.  And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
God's answer to the flesh is the "circumcision made without hands." Circumcision is the idea of the cutting away of a fleshly part for the sake of cleansing. God performed a circumcision on each believer the precise moment he became a believer. He cut away our flesh which was dead and contrary to the new man God made us. Hence, our old man, and therefore our flesh, was buried with Him. "Old things" are indeed passed away, and all things now have become new. Faith reckons the flesh dead, and because he is dead, we have no more dealings with him, as one cannot have a relationship with a dead man. When people talk of the daily surrender of the old man, or flesh, they in essence have resurrected a dead man. When they speak of yielding or submitting themselves to God, they recognize the old man as alive to be yielded or submitted. When people say they crucify the flesh daily, they recognize the flesh as being alive to be crucified. Simply put, they have placed themselves back under a Performance-Based-Acceptance system. The issue then becomes one's ability to do something. The problem is that our verses above state that the flesh was put off, crucified and put to death by the one baptism in this age of Grace. We then are risen with Christ, made alive in our Spirit, made a New Man, made free from sin, made free from the law of sin and death. What victory Grace has wrought for you and me! We then are placed into an Identity-Based Acceptance system. This has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with our identity in Christ! Hence, our condition is stated by Paul as being a state of completeness, lacking nothing in Christ!
The reality of it all is that my identity changes me, not my performance. We can see this made crystal clear by the following chart:
Saved by Grace (Eph.2:8)
Dead to Sin Rom.(6:2,11)
Righteous (2 Cor.5:21)
Without Blame (Eph.1:4)
Indwelt by Christ (Col.1:27)
Hope in Heaven (Col.1:5)
Indwelt by the Father (Eph.4:6)
Peace with God (Rom.5:1)
Indwelt by the holy Spirit
All of this is given to us by our identification with Christ. The list above just begins to scratch the surface of what I am in Christ. The reality of what Christ has done is so incredible that it is hard to even express it in words.
The third element of our gospel allows things to just get better.
1Co 15:4 ... and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
This third part of our gospel talks of life from death. Because Jesus Christ is raised from the dead, and I am "in Christ," we too are raised from the dead (Col2:12). Hence, we are now alive with Christ (Col.2:13). We know that Christ ascended into heaven after His resurrection. Inasmuch as Christ has already ascended, the same is true of all members in the Body of Christ, we too ascended with Christ (Eph.2:6). This glorious truth is a fact about our position in Christ! Hence, we are citizens not of Canada, or any other country, but we are citizens of heaven (Eph.2:19). Furthermore, this then makes us ambassadors of our heavenly position (2 Cor.5:20). The reality in God's perspective is that we are already seated in heavenly places (Eph.2:6). We have been made new creatures in order to function in these heavenly places (2 Cor.5:21, 1 Cor.15:49-52).
Hence, we have been made victorious over sin, failure, misery, and even Satan himself. Does not Col.1:13 state we are delivered from his darkness and that God has given to us glorious liberty. We have been made more than conquerors in Christ (Rom.8:37). We have been made rulers of a heavenly government all predicated on the resurrection of Christ.
Eph 1:20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
Eph 1:21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
Eph 1:22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
Eph 1:23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
Notice that the phrase used here is "to the church." All the government positions that Paul just mentioned are given to the Church! All these positions are ours to rule over, with Christ as our head. God the Father has entrusted us to be His instrument of reconciliation in regards to His magnificent heavenly government. In order to have His government ruled without sin He has given us a new nature (Col.3:10). A nature that will never sin, a nature which can never do wrong because it is "in Christ." We in every sense are indeed "His workmanship" (Eph.2:10). We the members of the Body of Christ will fill this government. This is our future, it is our destiny. Paul states in Eph.1:3 that we have been blessed with all spiritual blessings, in heavenly places.
We truly are heavenly creatures longing for the day when we are given our new bodies and we assume this glorious calling.
Our simple gospel motivates us to live a life of which God would approve. Grace motivates everything we do when we understand what it is accomplishing.
2Co 5:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
2Co 5:15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
Is it any wonder that love would constrain us. With all that God has given to us, how could we not respond in love. We no longer live for ourselves, but rather we live for Him who freely gave us all these marvelous truths we have been studying. Grace is not just a method of Bible study; it is the embodiment of everything we are. The more we understand about our identification, the more we can only love our Lord Jesus Christ. Love then becomes our motivation in all our actions. The more we understand this sensational message of grace, the more we will be motivated to live a life with which God would be pleased. Let us be as the Apostle Paul and:
Phi 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.