Thursday, May 27, 2010

What does it mean to be in Union with Christ?

1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Rom 6:1-2

In the past, my family and I went to a very law driven, legalistic church. Case in point, on Sunday nights the pastor would start out by saying "look around, see who's not here"; as if your very salvation depended on you being in church on Sunday nights. We didn't know any better.

After this, we ended up going to a church that was very much "Grace" driven. It was a breath of fresh air. We finally started to learn that God actually loved us and wasn't looking to strike us down for every miscue or bad thought. But eventually, we started to realize that if all you relied on was grace, licentiousness would rear its ugly head. Parties where alcohol was served was common place, (I'm not saying there's anything wrong with a glass of wine, but this was certainly more than that). People just "accepted" things that were going on in Christians lives because they were "sorting" out their relationship with God.

Being in union with Christ is not about being beaten over the head with the law, and it's not about licentiousness; it's about as much as is humanly possible, understanding the phrase, "Be ye holy, for I am Holy". We're not supposed to drag each other down, but we are supposed to try to live as much as we can the Christian life. "By your fruit they will know you".

"Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection." Rom 6:3-5

3-5. At this point Paul begins to relate the secret of living a holy and sanctified life, a life which is characterized by being dead to sin. The secret of sanctification is not found in some sanctimonious formula or some deeper or mystical experience with the Lord. The secret is found in three words: (1) know (vs. 3); (2) reckon (vs. 11); and (3) yield (vs. 13). We must be vitally aware of these words as we seek to understand the relationship between justification and sanctification. (Liberty Bible Commentary Vol. II p. 366)

Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Rom 6:3 Know that being baptized with Christ into His death means we are dead to sin.

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom 6:11 As we are dead to sin, likewise we are alive in Christ.

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. Rom 6:13 Yield yourselves unto God.

So, how do we do this? How do we live a Holy life? How do we live above legalism, yet keep ourselves from licentiousness? Glad you asked. This is where John 15 comes in:

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

5"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15:1-7 NIV

A gardener prunes bushes so they will bear more fruit. The ones that bear no fruit are useless to the gardener, they just take away nutrients from the fruit bearing branches, which is why they are cut off. But the ones that do bear fruit are carefully pruned, so they can bear even more fruit, which is why Jesus allows things to happen in our lives so we will learn to lean on Him more.

"You are clean through the word I have spoken to you. Abide in Me and I in you" John 15:3-4a It's God's word that keeps us in union with Christ, living out our daily lives in touch with Him, and feeling His Spirit indwelling us. As He tells us in vs. 5-7, if we don't live in His word, we cut ourselves off from the vine. The branch cannot live without the vine. If the branch cuts itself off, no nutrients flow, the branch withers and dies, and is cast away. However, if the branch stays connected to the vine, the nutrients flow and the branch bears fruit for years to come.

And as Jesus said, "By your fruits, they will know you". If Jesus is a grape vine, and we abide in Him, we cannot produce lemons, it's physically impossible.

Being in union with Christ is being in His word. It's about praying to the Father and seeking His will for our lives. It's about producing fruit. It's about feeling that feeling of our first love, Christ's Spirit flowing through our veins, on a daily basis; and never wanting a day to go by that we don't feel it.

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