“IN CHRIST” – in CORINTHIANS
“IN CHRIST” – in CORINTHIANS
In the first epistle to the Corinthians, the first chapter and the
second verse, we first meet the phrase which we seek: “Sanctified in Christ Jesus,” and, according to the rule that has been found to be true, this proves upon examination to furnish us with the keynote of
both of these epistles.
This thought is further amplified in the thirtieth verse of the same chapter, where, as from an exalted mountain peak, we seem to scan the whole horizon of our salvation and of the work of Christ.
We are there taught that, being “in Christ Jesus,” we find Him made, of God, “
unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”
In these Corinthian epistles, sanctification in Christ Jesus is as prominent as justification in Christ Jesus has been found to be in the Epistle to the Romans.
In the latter, the death of Christ was made the most prominent;
Here, it is our life in Him and His life in us.
There, our thoughts were directed mainly to His cross and passion;
but here, it is to His Spirit, as bestowed upon the believer and dwelling in him.
Or, to speak more accurately and carefully, the thought of the apostle Paul begins, in the epistles to the Corinthians, where, as we might say, it ends in the Epistle to the Romans.
In Romans we follow Christ through His death and burial to His resurrection, when He comes forth from the grave endowed with the Spirit of life.
But the epistles to the Corinthians start — may we not say? — from His in-breathing of the Spirit into His disciples on the day of His resurrection and the subsequent induement of the disciples with the Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
We might compare the two epistles thus:
Romans:- Justified in Christ Jesus by His blood.
Corinthians:- Sanctified in Christ Jesus by His Spirit.
And, through both of the epistles to the Corinthians, the golden thread of connection is thus:-
our union with Christ by the indwelling and in-working of His Holy Spirit.
“IN CHRIST” – in CORINTHIANS
(1 Our Unity With the Lord)
In 1 Corinthians 6:17 there is the brief but grand statement which illuminates and illustrates both of these letters:
“He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.”
In this language we have represented the highest conceivable unity.
The stones of the building may be removed; the branch may be cut off from the vine, and the limb severed from the body; the sheep may wander from the shepherd, the child from the father; the bride may be divorced from the bridegroom; but you can not divide spirit asunder.
Therefore, when we are told that “he that is joined unto the Lord is one Spirit,” we have the highest possible representation of unity –
– a unity which nothing can dissolve.
In the light of this truth the whole epistle becomes luminous:
1Cor.1:27. Paul speaks of the riches of the glory of this mystery — “which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
1Cor.1:28. “That we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”
1Cor.1:19. “It pleased the Father that in him should all [the pleroma] dwell.
1Cor.2:3. “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
1Cor2:6-7. As ye have received… Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk… in him: rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith.”
Note particularly verses 8, 9, etc., as the heart of the epistle. He warns against philosophy, which holds out its false pleroma, and says: “In Him dwelleth all the [pleroma] of the godhead bodily, and ye [have the pleroma] in him” (2:9-10).
In Him we are
- seated at God’s right hand
that is said of Him as my representative;
what is true of the Head of the body, is true of the body whose head He is.
But, when we are told that in Him we have redemption,
that by Him God reconciles all things to Himself;
that in Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,
it is manifest that the fullness of God toward us is meant.
In the First Epistle to the Corinthians this unity with the Lord Jesus is exhibited as involving especially the following privileges and duties:
- A new knowledge of God, or insight into divine things (1Cor.2:1-16).
- A new indwelling of God, we becoming His temple and hence a new possession of us by God (1Cor.3:16).
- A new possession in God as our portion (3:21-23).
- A new stewardship in God, with corresponding obligation (1Cor.4:1-2).
- A new separation unto God as His holy abode (1Cor.6:11-20).
- A new sanctity even in secular toil, as a calling in which we abide with God (1Cor.7:20-24).
- A new subjection, even of the body, to His glory (1Cor.9:27).
- A new communion with God (1Cor.10:16-17).
- A new service to God, made possible by communion with Him (1Cor.1:12).
- A new dominion of love as the controlling power (1Cor.1:13).
- A new holiness and decorum in public assemblies (1Cor.1:14).
- A new victory over death and the grave (1Cor.1:15).
This analysis is not, of course, exhaustive, but it serves, so far as we
have carried it, to communicate to us how truly all the thoughts of
these epistles revolve about the phrase we are considering, and the
thought which it embodies.
Christ is here represented as the sphere of sanctification and personal holiness.
Being in Him, we have in Him unity with God by the Holy Spirit, which Spirit becomes the new element or atmosphere of that life of which Christ is the sphere.
We have thus a new knowledge of God and a new indwelling of God in us;
We thus possess God and are possessed by Him, separate and subject unto
Him, so that even our bodies partake of His life and immortality.
As Romans deals largely with what we are by our entrance into God.
In Corinthians we are confronted with what we are by God’s entrance into us.
In Romans – it was the new sphere of life;
In Corinthians, it is the new atmosphere of life. There, we in Him; here, He in us.
“IN CHRIST” – in CORINTHIANS
(2 Our Privilege In and Through Christ)
In Second Corinthians, the same great thought is further expanded and enlarged.
Take, for instance, the first chapter, from the twentieth to the twenty-second verses, where we are taught that in Him:-
We are established, anointed, sealed, have the earnest or foretaste of our
The dominant thought here is the privilege we have in and through Christ.
Paul makes very emphatic and prominent:-
- Our transformation into His image (2Cor.3:18);
- Our new creation in Christ Jesus (2Cor.5:17);
- Our separation unto Him (2Cor.6:14–7:1);
- Our unselfish liberality as the fruit of our union with Him (2Co.8ff and 2Cor.9ff);
- Our abundance of revelation in Him (2Cor:12ff), etc.
In these two epistles to the Corinthians:-
- We have Christ as the sphere of our holiness, and privilege in Him;
- We have in Him everything else, and the very anticipation of heaven itself.
- We have conformity to His likeness,
- We have cleansing from sin, power over sin,
- We have fellowship with God,
- We have revelations of the bliss of paradise, even while upon earth.
“IN CHRIST” – in CORINTHIANS
(3 The New Creation IN Christ)
If, in these two epistles to the Corinthians, any thought overtops the rest, it is that of the new creation in Christ Jesus (1Cor.5:17), where the word “creature” should undoubtedly be rendered “creation.”
Compare Galatians 6:15. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.
The parallel passage is in Revelation 21:5, where God says: “Behold, I make all things new.”
Here that is true of the individual which is there to be realized of the whole creation. We enter into Christ Jesus, and we have in Him the entrance into a new world, ourselves becoming a part of that new creation.
Here that is true of the individual which is there to be realized of the whole creation.
We enter into Christ Jesus, and we have in Him the entrance into a new world, ourselves becoming a part of that new creation.
A careful comparison of 1 Corinthians 6:17-7:1 with Revelation 24:3-5) will show how closely these two passages correspond….
Here, also, we see how and why Christ becomes to us the sphere of new power in becoming the sphere of new life.
A sphere contains an atmosphere, and that atmosphere may be quite different from that which is outside; it may have different qualities, and be capable of supporting life in a far higher degree.
So, what we could NOT do, outside of Christ, becomes both natural and possible in Him, because we have new appetites, new desires, and new affinities.
The old passions, habits, bondage, are displaced by a new life, capacity, and freedom.
To clearly apprehend all this wonderful truth of being IN Christ and freely enter into this privilege, is the ideal condition of a disciple.
The idea of a new creation suggests to us also the kindred idea of a new adaptation, or affinity for God, on the part of the believer.
In order to enter into Christ Jesus and to exist in the new atmosphere which we find in this new sphere of life, that atmosphere must become our element.
There must be changes, which correspond to structural changes, which must take place in our very mental and moral constitution. This is what we call the new birth, or regeneration.
So far as we are concerned, the act by which we enter into Christ is the act of repentance and faith
REPENTANCE being the leaving of the old sphere of life behind us,
FAITH being the entrance into the new sphere.
But there must be a divine act, corresponding to our human act — an act of regeneration on God’s part, corresponding to the act of appropriation on our part; otherwise, even if it were possible for us to enter into the new sphere, we should find ourselves unable to live or
abide in it.
This is the mystery of the new birth.
If any man be in Christ, he is by necessity a new creation. He must be born from above, born again, born of the Spirit, enabled to breathe the new atmosphere and live in the new element. Whether the human act or the divine act has the precedence, we are neither concerned to inquire, nor are we capable to determine.
There is a profound mystery about the whole subject upon which the Word of God sheds no decisive light; but the paradox is not a contradiction, nor does the mystery involve an absurdity. It is sufficient for us to know that we shall never enter into Christ save by our own consent, and to know with equal certainty that we shall never enter into Christ without God’s new creative act.
Here we must leave the mystery, while we bless God for the privilege.
“IN CHRIST” – in CORINTHIANS
(4 Stages of Development)
It will be seen by any thoughtful student of the Holy Scriptures how grand and important is the truth which thus meets us in these two epistles to the Corinthians.
The indwelling of God in Christ is the full, final, and most complete argument for, and exhibition of, that doctrine of separation, which runs from Genesis to Revelation,
throughout the entire Scripture.
We may say that there are at least seven stages in the development of this doctrine:
- Separation by covenant, as when Abraham was called out from his country and his kindred ( see Genesis 12:1-7).
- Separation by divine fellowship, so exquisitely presented in (Exodus 33:14-16) . Moses represents the fact that God’s presence goes with His people as the one fact that separates himself and the people from all the others that are upon the face of the earth.
- Separation by ordinances. See Leviticus 20:24-26 where three times God addresses His people as a separated people, and makes the ceremonial distinction and difference between clean and unclean beasts, fowls and reptiles, to be the outward sign of this separation.
- Separation by vow, as in the case of the Nazarite, in the sixth chapter of Numbers, where four conditions are made prominent:
- The suppression of appetite
- Indifference to public custom
- Absolute withdrawal from death or corruption
- Supreme loyalty to God over all human kindred.
- Separation by obedience as presented in the entire book of Deuteronomy (see Deut.7ff).
- Separation by wedlock or espousal. See Jeremiah 3:14: “I am married unto you.” Compare Ezekiel 16.1ff Compare also Ephesians 5:25-33, where this doctrine of the divine espousal of His people in Christ is expanded and applied.
- But, when we come to the epistles of the Corinthians, we have the last and greatest of all the modes of separation: Separation by the indwelling of God in the believer by the Holy Ghost, which makes man God’s habitation, temple, holy of holies!
There are two ways in which a man shows himself to be the owner of a house:
First :- by purchase;
Second, :- by occupation.
He buys the dwelling, and then he enters into it and lives in it.
And these are the two ways in which God is represented as making the believer His specialdwelling-place:
First :- you are bought with a price
Second :- the Spirit of God dwells in you.
There can be no separation more unmistakable than this:-
We have been purchased by redeeming blood for the habitation of God through the Spirit, and through the Spirit God actually does indwell in every true believer.
The indwelling of God should insure the holiness of the believer.
Walter Scott wrote of a certain acquaintance: “I cannot tolerate that man; and it seems to me as if I hated him for things not only past and present, but for some future offense which is as yet in the womb of fate.”
The Holy Ghost’s inhabitation should leave no possibility of actual sinning nor room even for the thought of sin. And where is such cleanness of soul to come from, apart from Christ?
“By no political alchemy,” Herbert Spencer tells us, “can you get golden conduct out of leaden instincts.”
The power to set the heart right, to renew the springs of action, comes from Christ through the Holy Spirit.
We thus reach the second stage of ur journey through these paths of God’s truth in Corinthians.
We here find Jesus Christ our Lord presented as the sphere of the believer’s holy living
— his sanctification as well as justification,
— his higher salvation from sin as well as from sin’s penalty.
Salvation is not by character, but it is not independent of character.
Heaven is not and cannot be the home of saved souls, if it be not also the abode of sanctified souls.
God could have nothing less than a clean house where He lives.
Nothing defiled or defiling can enter there; and He, whom the Epistle to the Romans shows as the secret of our entrance into a justified state,
is here In Corinthians revealed to us as in-breathing the very Spirit
and life of God,
whereby we are made partakers of the divine nature,
and thereby possible partakers of the divine bliss.