“And when we were dead in our sins, He brought us to life in union and fellowship with Christ.” Paul the apostle writing to believers at Ephesus
“By what right have we become “a royal priesthood”? It is by the right of the atonement by the Cross of Christ that this has been accomplished. The continual inner searching we do in an effort to see if we are what we ought to be generates a self-centered, sickly type of Christianity, not the vigorous and simple life of a child of God. Until we get into this right and proper relationship with God, it is simply a case of our “hanging on by the skin of our teeth….” – Andrew Murray
Perhaps the greatest of all the doctrines regarding our Christian living is the fact of our union with Jesus Christ, which was accomplished for us by the will of our God and the indwelling of His Spirit in each of us. God himself is the initiator of this divine intervention. It all hinges on the work of Christ for us on the cross, and in us by our union with Himself. Jesus became the propitiation for our sin, the sacrifice that satisfies justly deserved wrath of God at our rebellion. With the guilt and uncleanness of our root sin of rebellion out of the way, we can be restored to union or oneness with our God. Thus, the term, “atonement,,” the restoration of “at-one-ment” with our God.
But the atonement by itself is not enough. Our restoration is not complete until our God transfers us into the life of His Son. With our union with Christ, we gain the righteousness of Christ in place of our own attempts at righteousness. Our attempts are not useful at all, so we need a righteousness sourced outside ourselves. Only by the life of Christ in us in place of our own can we gain His righteousness.
Yet our God will not overrule our will, nor will He bring us into the full expression of our union with Himself if we are not willing have it. This is why the normal Christian life requires the total abandonment of the self and the self-life: self-will, self-dependence, self-service, self-efficacy, self-righteousness, self-fulfillment, self-focus. Only by total surrender to the life of Christ within us can we live as our God intends. When we fully surrender to our God, the life of Christ Jesus begins to take over our living.
In union with Christ we are fully justified, declared to be righteous with the righteousness of Christ Himself. We are not united to Christ because we have been justified. It is quite the other way around: we are justified because we have been united to Christ, who is himself our justification.
In union with Christ we have gained our sanctification – our ability to live a righteous life. Christ by His union with us is our justification, and He is no less our sanctification. In union with Him we are not only accounted as righteous, we are also transformed into his holy image. Christ Jesus does not leave us corrupted and depraved (unsanctified). Jesus is not a partial Savior – when we are joined to Christ, we receive all of who He is for us.
In union with Christ we have a permanent connection with our God– we are no longer separated from Him; we are joined to Him. Our God is no longer out there, removed from us and distant; He always dwells within us. In John 17:23, Jesus described the perfect results of this perfect union this way: “I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one.” He was echoing what He told them earlier in that day as recorded in John 14:20, “In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”
So what difference can this union with Christ Jesus make as we go through our day today and tomorrow? To answer this, here are three questions for you to ponder:
1. What is your fixation through the day, your “magnificent obsession? If we are to realize the fullness of our relationship with our God, we must rein in our distractions. What we do not give to our God to control will control us. We must create space in our living for communion with our God. We must limit that to which we give our hearts and our attention. I have found that the more I grow in my magnificent obsession with my God, I find Him more than enough.
2. What is the object of our affection every day? Are we pursuing a love for our God that will exceed and excel all other loves? We must begin in faith to simply tell our God that we love him, and that we want to love Him more than anything else. When we do this, our God meets us with His own love. He pours this love out in us so that we may love Him above all.
3. Do we choose our God to be our constant companion every day? An intriguing party question is this: “If you could spend an entire day with one person alive or dead, who would it be?” How many of us would choose our God as the answer to that question? The Spirit of Christ Himself, the Holy Spirit of God, is alive within you if indeed you have chosen to follow Him all your being. He is in you to have you as a closest friend and dearest companion in this life and for eternity. He is inviting you to spend every day of your life consciously with Him, actively living as if He is your near and ear companion.
What are you doing with that invitation?