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Death in Christ is antecedent to life in Christ, and not only is this death a single occurrence but renders one to remain so concerning the curse of sin. Thus believers do not die to the sin nature but “are dead” to it; and this death intends not the absence of its presence in us, nor immunity to its effects, but rather the freedom from sin’s dominion and damnation (Rom 6:14; 8:1). The evidence of our death in Christ is the work of the Spirit’s mortification shown in our walk (Rom 8:13), all for the purpose “so we also should walk in newness of life” in Christ (Rom 6:4).
It goes without saying that the believer has eternal life. But it should be carefully observed that he is never said to have it in himself (it’s here that so many have yet to grasp the full implications of eternal life, in considering that the lifestyle effects eternal life, but the order is that eternal life effects our lifestyle—NC). “This life is in His Son” (1Jo 5:11 – and not in what we do, but what we do manifests the presence or absence of eternal life—NC). Having eternal life, we have it, therefore, only in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is this fact which guarantees to us its absolute security, assures us that we can never be lost, for whoever would rob us of it, must first pluck us out of His hands; nay more, must pluck Him from His seat at the right hand of the Father.
Christ is our life (Col 3:4). Our life is not here. This, indeed, is the statement of Paul. “Ye have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col 3:3). He had just been pointing out our responsibilities (vs 1, 2) as connected with our having died and risen with Christ. As dead with Him, we are not to act as alive in the world (Col 2:20). He has died out of this scene, has no present place in it; He is, as far as this world is concerned, a dead man. We, therefore, commence our Christian life by taking the place of death. We are buried with Christ in baptism (Col 2:12); and God’s estimate of us is that we have died. Hence our responsibility to walk accordingly, to mortify our members which are upon the earth, etc. (Col 3:5).
Scripture teaches us that the Father has so completely associated us with His Son, that He count us with Him as dead to sin (Rom 6); dead to law (Rom 7; Gal 5:23); and dead to the world (Gal 6); and hence faith accepts and reckons upon His estimate as true. We have been brought through the death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus out of this scene into a new position and place—so completely, that it can be said of us, “Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you” (Rom 8:9). Our life, therefore, is not here—it cannot be, for we have died to the world—but it is hid with Christ in God.
How blessed for us if we did but accept the full consequences of this truth! What an immense gain if we only started on the Christian life by accepting death upon all around us! How it would lift us out of our circumstances, if we looked steadfastly away from all that we see, up to where the Lord Jesus is, and remember that our life is there; that He is our Life. What power it would give us over “the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life”! We need to judge ourselves in these things, for we shall find the secret of much of our weakness and failure lies in seeking our life in the things of this world.
Having died and risen with Christ, the believer’s life-associations should be connected with the place into which he has been brought; even as Paul says, “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil 3:20). Only then—when this truth is accepted—shall we know the joy of continual occupation with the Lord Jesus at the Father’s right hand. It may be added, the object of all the Father’s dealings with us now is to bring us under the influence of this truth. If we will find our life in things down here, He must bring death upon them, and thus lead us to see through many a grief and bitter sorrow, that the Lord Jesus—and He alone—is the life of the believer. As one of old has said, “He often dims the brightness of this scene that we may behold the glory above”; and the source of that glory is in the face of the Lord Jesus (2Cor 4:6).
- Edward Dennett (1831–1914)