Understanding The Bible
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BY THE AUTHOR
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
STANDING AND STATE OF BELIEVERS
A DISTINCTION OF VAST IMPORTANCE TO
THE CORRECT UNDERSTANDING OF THE SCRIPTURES,
especially of the epistles, is that which concerns the standing of the believer and his state, or his POSITION and CONDITION. The believer's position is what he is in Christ. His condition is what he is daily in actual conduct.
In some instances the epistles refer to the believer's position in Christ, and in other instances reference is made to his actual condition in life. The believer's exalted position may be said to be the result of his justification, while the condition of his life and walk depends upon the work of the Spirit of God in sanctification.
There are three kinds of people:
natural, spiritual, carnal.
You can tell them by their attitude toward the Bible, 1 Cor. 2:14-3:1.
Our relationship to Christ determines whether we are regenerate or unregenerate, 2 Cor. 5:17.
Our relationship and adjustment to God in the Holy Spirit determines whether we are natural, spiritual, or carnal. In 1 Corinthians 3:3, Paul describes carnality, not as dancing or card playing, but "they walked as other men."
This is the result of the work of Christ and is perfect and entire from the very moment Christ is received by faith. Nothing in the after-life of the believer adds in the smallest degree to his title to God's favor or to his perfect security. Faith alone confers standing in God's sight and before Him the weakest, most ignorant, most infirmed, and most fallible man on earth, if he be but a true believer in Christ, has precisely the same title as the most illustrious saint, Eph. 1:3; 1 Cor. 1:3-5.
The Ephesians were probably the most spiritual Christians and the Corinthians, the most worldly. But in both these passages, God gives them all things; thus our standing before God is the same regardless of our state.
THE TITLE OR STANDING OF THE BELIEVER IN CHRIST
A son of God, 1 Jn. 3:2
Possessors of an inheritance, 1 Pet. 1:4-5; Eph. 1:11
Chosen generation, royal priesthood -- peace with God, 1 Pet. 2:9; Rom. 5:1-2
Boldness of access, Heb. 10:19
Made alive, raised, and seated with Christ, Eph. 2:4-6
Baptized of the Holy Spirit, 1 Cor. 12:13
Made a kingdom of priests, Rev. 1:5-6 R.V.
Blessed with all spiritual blessings, Eph. 1:3
Heirs of God, Rom. 8:17
Complete in Him, Col. 2:J.O
Possessors of eternal life, 1 Jn. 5:13
Accepted in the Beloved, Eph. 1:6
Sealed with the Holy Spirit, Eph. 1:13; 2 Cor. 1:22
Called saints, 1 Cor. 1:2
Temples of the Holy Ghost, 1 Cor.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN STANDING
What the believer's actual stats or condition of life may be is quite another matter. Certainly it is far below his exalted position in Christ. It is the constant exhortation of Scripture to the believer to bring his walk more and more into conformity and harmony with his exalted position in Christ. This constitutes the constant effort also of the indwelling Spirit of God in His work of sanctification.
Note the following contrasts:
|1 Cor. 1:2-9||1 Cor. 11:18; 3:1-3; 4:18; 5:2|
|1 Cor. 6:11||1 Cor. 6:7|
|1 Cor. 1:7||1 Cor. 3:3|
|Mt. 16:17||Mt. 16:23|
|Col. 2:10, complete in Christ||Col. 2:20, living after world|
|Col. 1:12-13||Col. 3:8-9|
|Eph. 2:6, seated in heavenlies||Rev. 2:4, backsliders|
Men are too smug in their Christian
living; that is why the level of the average Christian is so very low. Many
people use 1 John 1:8-9, "If we confess our sins," instead of living in
Romans 6, 7, 8, deliverance from sin through the new life in Christ.
The Divine order, under grace, is first to give the highest possible standing and then to exhort the believer to maintain a state in accordance therewith.
|Rom. 6:6||Col. 2:20|
|Mt. 5:14||Mt. 5:16|
|2 Tim. 1:9||Phil. 2:12-13|
|Eph. 2:6||Col. 3:1|
|Col. 3:4||Col. 3:5|
|Eph. 5:8||Eph. 5:8|
|1 Thes. 5:5||1 Thes. 5:6|
|1 Thes. 5:9-10||1 Thes. 5:11|
|Heb. 10:10||Jn. 17:17|
|1 Cor. 1:30||1 Thes. 5:23|
|Heb. 10:14||Phil. 3:12|
|1 Jn. 4:17||1 Jn. 2:6|
All the after-work of God in the believer's behalf--the application of the Word to his walk and conscience (Jn. 17:17; Eph. 5:26); the chastisements of the Father's hand (Heb. 12:10; 1 Cor. 11:32); the ministry of the Spirit (Eph. 4:12-14); and the final transformation when He shall appear (1 Jn. 3:2)--all are intended simply to bring the believer's character into perfect conformity to the position which is his at the instant of his conversion. He grows in grace but not into grace.
God is interested in bringing our actual condition into harmony with our perfect position or standing in Christ. Though Christ is in you by the new birth, yet Christ has to grow to maturity in you. Colossians 1:27, "Christ in you, the hope of glory."
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