What Is It To Be "In Christ"?
By Mark I. Bubeck
To overcome the adversary, Satan, the believer needs courage. He must not be fearful; yet, he must be sure that his courage is resting upon that which really makes him invincible. Ephesians 6:10 says, "Be strong in the Lord." That little phrase "in the Lord" is one of the most important we will ever come to understand. It is the very cornerstone to our knowing that we are invincible in spiritual warfare.
The phrases "in the Lord," " in Christ" or their equivalent appear over forty times in the book of Ephesians alone. Such repetition lets us know that it is not just a convenient cliché. Every Christian is inseparably united with the Lord Jesus Christ. We are placed by God into oneness with His Person and work. Christ’s work belongs to every believer by right of intimate union. Second Corinthians 5:17 states concisely and decisively: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" Being "in Christ" is a doctrinal fact, an absolute truth that grants to the believer a new stance. The old bondage and fear of Satan has been broken. All of Christ’s victory has become ours.
What does it mean to be "in Christ"? What is there about this relationship that makes us invincibly strong? How can we use this truth in warfare prayer? How can it make our resistance to Satan victorious?
First, being "in Christ" means that we are in the mighty victory of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. What a great source of power for victory His name represents. Philippians 2:9-11 conveys to us something of the power we have by being in His name:
"Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
His is a name "above every name" – that speaks of a place of security and invincible strength. "Every knee shall bow" in submission to the power of that name. Satan himself and all of his kingdom are included.
It is important daily to pray the security and strength of His name over your personal life, your family, and the call of God upon your life. It is in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that we are strong and invincible.
To be "in Christ" also means we are united to Christ in all of the victory that He achieved in His redemptive work. At the moment of conversion, God puts the believer into all the victory Christ achieved in His incarnation. One of the most astounding truths about the redemptive work of Christ is that in the Person of Christ, God Himself became a human being. The humanity of Christ remains one of the great wonders of eternity. It was in His incarnate form, as one of us, that our Lord Jesus Christ achieved our redemption and totally defeated the kingdom of darkness (Heb. 2:14-15).
First John 4:2-3 states: "This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world."
The truth concerning God’s entering the world in the Person of Christ, the truth that God was in Christ, that God Himself became a human being is a great defeat, a devastating threat to Satan’s kingdom. John tells us that is a truth so threatening and devastating to the kingdom of darkness that fallen beings will not freely admit that Jesus Christ has come in human flesh.
Victory over Satan belongs to us through our union with Christ in His incarnation. It is experienced by those who appropriate and use that mighty truth against our enemy. Can you not see how defeating it is to your adversary if you focus the truth of your union with Christ in His incarnation against Satan and his kingdom? Our hope for the daily favor and blessing of God upon us while we yet live on this earth is uniquely related to the truth that we are included in the perfect worthiness of Christ in His humanity. He always lived a human life that was worthy of God’s best blessings. Though tempted in every way, He remained without sin. He was always in fellowship with the heavenly Father, always utterly holy and worthy of God’s best. As we walk in this world, His worthy human life belongs to us. It is ours. God sees us in Him. We do not expect those manifold blessings of God day by day because of how good and successful we are in living a perfect life. No, we expect His blessings because our incarnate Savior lived a perfectly worthy life, and we are "in Christ."
To be "in Christ" also means that we are in the work and victory won by His death. The sufferings and the death of our Lord Jesus Christ are equally vital to our invincible position of victory in warfare praying. "Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death" (Heb. 2:14-15).
In redemption’s plan, God puts believers into the death of Christ with all of its victory over our enemies. It remains for us to aggressively lay hold of our union with Christ in His death and apply it as a part of our responsibility in invincible warfare. This is conveyed to us in passages like Romans 6:11-12: "In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires."
The fact that we are commanded not to let sin reign in our mortal bodies is evidence that even believers can have this problem. If believers do not appropriate and apply their union with Christ in His death, sin in its various expressions will rule. We are responsible to "count," to affirm as truth the fact that we are dead to sin’s reign. We are united with Christ in His death. Because of that doctrinal fact we are dead to the rule of sin but alive to God’s reign.
The cross and the blood of our Savior are a great threat to Satan’s kingdom. In the cross, Jesus Christ brought Satan’s kingdom to nothing. As believers aggressively apply the death of Christ, claiming all of its benefits to their personal lives, to their families, and to their ministry for the Lord, they too become invincible with Christ in His death. "And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross" (Col. 2:15).
To be "in Christ" suggests further victory in that it means we are in His resurrection. The same mighty power that raised up our Lord Jesus Christ from the grave belongs to us and is ours. No wonder that long after he had become a believer, Paul would write to the Philippians and say, "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead" (Phil. 3:10-11). Being "in the Lord" means that mighty power of the resurrection is ours to be known and used to make us invincible in our warfare.
To be "in Christ" has further application to our being seated with Christ in the heavenlies. "And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in heavenly realms in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6). After His resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ was "seated…at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way" (Eph. 1:20-23).
The ascension of Christ into glory was the sealing moment of His finished triumph, a portrayal of His supreme victory "far above all rule and authority." Being seated with Christ there, our "in Christ" position is a truth demonstrating our "in the Lord" authority to resist the devil and to defeat him. We are united with Christ in all His ascended authority and power.
One final thought needs to be stressed. To be strong, invincible "in the Lord," means we know and apply the truth that we are united with Christ in His watchful headship over His Church. He is our great High Priest and the glorified Shepherd of His sheep. How beautiful it is to be able to know that we are united to our living Savior, who is building His Church; to know that He has said, "‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid’" (Heb. 13:5-6).
There is much in those little phrases "in Christ" and "in the Lord" to help us know that it is God’s will we be invincibly strong. Satan’s roaring never need frighten us if we are "in Christ."
– Taken from Overcoming The Adversary by Mark I. Bubeck, Moody Press, copyright 1984. Used with permission.