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Our real Identity: Union with Christ

Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.

God brought that verse to me today. It is so appropriate for Lent. Lent is about putting sin to death in our lives, once for all.

So I read Paul, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.”

Sounds so simple. I realized, though, that I struggle to understand what that means. What does it mean to walk by the Spirit? Do I get to a place where the Holy Spirit starts moving me around? Can I just wake up and ask the Spirit to move my feet? Is that Christian spirituality?

I don’t think that is it. So what did Paul mean when he said that?

I know this doesn’t exhaust the metaphor, but I think part of what Paul meant is that we are to walk in the realization of who God made us.

Well, what did God make us? Who are we at the very core of our being?

I think, if I understand Paul correctly, at the core of my being, I find God.

How can I say I find God at the core of my being? Let’s walk through the way this can be the case.

The Scripture readings at church this week were wonderful. We read Genesis 3, Romans 5, and Matthew 4. God used them to show me what it means to find God at the core of our being.

Genesis 3: Here we see the story we all know. Satan comes in and tempts Adam and Eve. He mixes truth with lies. The truth is, Adam and Eve really did learn good from evil when they ate from the tree. They got what Satan promised them. They just did it independently of God. Although they were created by God, they did incredible damage to their soul at that moment. They were broken beyond fixing. They knew it. They felt ashamed.

Here’s what you may not know: You were there too. You were in that garden too. All of humanity was bound up with Adam and Eve. Every person that would ever exist sprang to existence from that man and that woman.

You were there. That is what Christians have said. And your nature was ruined too. That is why you do evil things. You do evil things, because your very nature is corrupted. You aren’t born good, or even neutral. You are born opposed to God. That is why Paul says you were at by nature children of wrath (Eph 2).

Adam fell. You were there. You don’t remember, but you were there. And you fell with him. There has been incredible damage.

Romans 5: Here, we see the full consequences played out. Through the one man’s sin, condemnation was brought to everyone (v. 18). Because Adam sinned, we all inherited this disease. Much was lost in Genesis 3. We fell too, because we were there.

It goes on, though. It says “one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men” (Rom 5.18). Here, it is talking about Jesus. His act of righteousness makes us all righteous, in the same way Adam’s sin made us all unrighteous.

Did you catch that?

Just as.

In the same way.

How can that be? After all, I can see how I was there with Adam, if I physically descended from him. But I wasn’t there with Jesus.

Oh, but you were. That is the message of the New Testament. When God put His Spirit in you, He so united you with his Son that Jesus’ experiences become your experiences. You were baptized with Christ into his death, and you were resurrected with Christ. You were. This isn’t a metaphor. This really happened. Paul went as far as to say that God “seated you in the heavenlies with Christ” (Eph 2.6).

You are united with Christ in a blessed, mystical union. His merits become your merits. His work becomes your work. His death was your death to sin. His resurrection was your resurrection to life.

You are one with him. Really. Truly. Literally. That is what we celebrate when we eat at the Lord’s Table. That is what our hope of resurrection is found in.

Matthew 4: We closed with Matthew 4. We are back to a man being tempted. Satan is mixing truth with lies. He offers Jesus independence from the Father. There is a remarkable difference though. This one overcomes. This one doesn’t give in. This man is righteous.

And you are too, because you were there. You are united with Christ and you were right there with him.

At the core of your being now, for those of you in Christ, there is one that overcomes all temptation. There is a righteous person. There is a faithful person. This is the work of God, so that you have nothing to boast about.

I don’t think any of us need to be convinced we are broken. Believers and unbelievers alike will look at their lives and see all sorts of things that are messed up. The real faith comes in believing that we are so united with Jesus, that those broken things aren’t our identity. Our identity is found in our complete union with Jesus.

Walk by the Spirit today. Walk in the realization that you are truly united with Jesus. Walk as a person that knows that if we look at the core of your being, we find God there.

 

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