A Man in Christ

“As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). This points us to two headships. In Adam all die — even so in Christ shall all live. This speaks of the resurrection, but “a man in Christ” refers to a man’s being in Christ while in the body. Our Lord said, “Except a [the] corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:2424Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (John 12:24)), showing that the death of Christ was needful before His people could be brought into the closest association with Himself.
The Two Creations
In another passage Christ is called the last Adam: “The first man Adam was made [or, became] a living soul; the last Adam  ...  a quickening spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45). Here it is as two heads of creation. Yes, we can speak of two creations, for we read that “if anyone be in Christ, there is a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17 JND). Such a one is united with the last Adam, and as to his standing before God, he has been severed from the first Adam.
Another passage will confirm this: “The first man out of the earth, earthy [or, made of dust]; the second man is the Lord from heaven” (1 Cor. 15:47). Now why does the passage speak only of two men when there have been millions? Surely because the first man, Adam, and the second Man, Christ, are the heads of two races or generations, and every human being belongs to the one or the other. All did belong to the first, but through the new creation, some, by God’s grace, are taken out of that and made a part of the second.
In the Flesh
Let us look at another expression, when the Apostle speaks of a past condition and says, “When we were in the flesh” (Rom. 7:55For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. (Romans 7:5)); “they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you” (Rom. 8:8-98So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. (Romans 8:8‑9)). Now what can the expression “in the flesh” as a bygone position be except that the Christian has been lifted clean out of that standing and has been placed into an entirely different one — in Christ?
It is true that the expression “in the flesh” is used in the Scripture and by the same Apostle with the simple signification of being alive in the body, as “nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you” (Phil. 1:2424Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. (Philippians 1:24)). But when a living man says, “When we were in the flesh,” it must refer to a position which has been left.
Many a Christian has very vague ideas of what is meant by the expression, “When we were in the flesh.” Some seem to take it to mean that sometimes we are in the flesh and sometimes we are not, and they make it to be Christian experience, the same as is explained in Galatians 5:1717For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. (Galatians 5:17): “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” But in Romans 7 there is not a word about the Holy Spirit. The converse of being formerly in the flesh is, “But now we are delivered from the law, having died in that wherein we were held” (as verse 6 should read). There is a dying out of the old position of the first creation in association with Adam and under the law, and a being brought into a new position in Christ Jesus and under grace.
Our Standing and Our Walk
The standing or position of the Christian is very apt to be confounded with his walk and ways. But the two things are quite distinct. This is seen under many figures in Scripture. We have to thank God that He “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son” (Col. 1:1313Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: (Colossians 1:13)). We are emancipated from the authority of darkness, ruled over by Satan, and are brought into the kingdom of God’s dear Son — an entirely different place. We are not simply changed in character and left in the old place, but we are brought into the kingdom of which Christ is Lord and Master.
Again, we who were the children of wrath, being also dead in sins, God has quickened together with Christ and “hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:66And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (Ephesians 2:6)). This is our place and inheritance, and, though we are still in the body, in Christ we are already there. We are not with Christ until we are actually there. But this is an entirely new position or standing from being children of wrath, when we were willful followers of our first parent Adam, and as to any life God-ward we were dead in sins. We were then in Adam, but now, if Christians, we are “in Christ.”
In Christ
“Therefore if any man be in Christ [there is a new creation]: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:17-18). The new creation here spoken of entirely refutes the thought of our being restored to the status of Adam in innocence. The status believers are brought into far exceeds this in blessedness, and it is entirely and emphatically a new creation, brought about for us by the death of the Lord Jesus, by our being quickened together with Him, and by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the new position into which we are thus brought may be summed up in two words: “In Christ.”
Now it is important to see that as this is true of one Christian, it is also true of all Christians. Thus the epistle to the Colossians is addressed “to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ”: Scripture does not recognize any middle place. As heads there are only the first man and the second Man; the first Adam and the last Adam — the Lord Jesus Christ.
With which head is the reader connected? The thought of a mortal man being “in Christ” is something entirely beyond what we could have conceived, and it doubtless seems to some to be presumption to take such a place, but if God says this of us, it is unbelieving not to own it, and dishonoring to Him who in grace has declared this respecting the believer. It may seem to some to be humility to want to take a lower place, but it is not. True humility takes the place assigned to it and forgets itself, in love and admiration of the One who has accomplished it all.
Privilege and Responsibility
Privilege and responsibility flow from relationship. If God has placed us in a position, we cannot shirk its responsibilities, nor should we think lightly of its privileges. This would be despising our birthright. Let none think that by shutting their eyes to what God has revealed respecting them, they can avoid much being required of them. “Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:4848But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:48)). The high position of the saint should affect all the details of life.
Once in that position, by being quickened together with Christ, nothing can bring them back again into the old standing of being “in Adam.” Disciplined they will be, and if need be they may be delivered by God unto Satan for the breaking them down, for the destruction of the flesh — not that they may be finally lost, but “that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. 5:5).
May all God’s beloved people know and understand better and own the high and holy position He has placed them in, and then seek grace that their state, their condition of life, should correspond to that position. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection [your mind] on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
Adapted from
Things New and Old