Those who obey His commands live in Him, and He in them. And this is how we know that He lives in us; we know it by the Spirit He gives us.
1 John 3:24
At first glance this looks like another set up for a performance trap. If I don’t do things perfectly all the time, I’m not in Christ. If I’m not in Christ, I’m not saved. If I’m not saved I am up an unsanitary tributary without a means of propulsion (you know that place). This is going downhill fast, time to apply the brakes.
“Therefore, is anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come” 2 Corinthians 5:17. Paul describes a new species of being that comes into existence when one enters into a relationship with God. Perhaps your experience was like mine. When I got up the next morning and looked in the mirror, I saw the same old same old. I didn’t look new and improved on the outside, but inside my spirit was alive and well for the first time. When I didn’t see any radical difference I doubted my experience was real. My problem was I used the wrong yardstick.
1 John reveals the measure to employ to assess your relationship, or lack of one, with God. It isn’t determined with an appraisal of your outward actions or appearances; it is spiritually discerned. To understand and evaluate from a spiritual perspective takes a new skill set every believer must develop. Before we came into fellowship with Christ we depended on logic that was influenced and driven by our flesh. The spirit-we didn’t even know we had one, let alone have a clue how to be directed by it. Our souls (minds, wills and emotions) and our bodies controlled our decision making processes. Neither voluntarily relinquishes that control. The war is on! What is disconcerting about our spirit is, it knows our true motives. It won’t hesitate to reveal our real intentions which aren’t always pretty or selfless. We can do all the right things for the wrong reasons and fool everyone, except God. How do we get off the treadmill that gets us nowhere fast?
Here’s an exercise to do. Imagine for a few minutes that you are literally in Christ and that He is in you. What does that look and feel like to you? When you’re in Christ, are you concerned about sinning? If not, why not? Christ doesn’t do anything that violates God’s laws. You may protest, “This is just my imagination, it’s not reality.” Not according to the apostles John and Peter. They taught that this is our position right now. Use your imagination to develop a picture of your new environment. Ask Holy Spirit to literally help you see this truth. I’m not an expert in quantum physics, but according to those who are, we are only here in this realm about fifty percent of the time. We move between dimensions so fast our natural senses cannot discern the difference. The more highly developed our sensitivity to the spiritual realm is, the easier it will be to see our new environment. Old behaviors and thought patterns will fade away. They don’t fit our new lifestyle any longer.
This is a process. Our souls and our flesh won’t take the back seat without a fight. Knowing this, we can extend grace to others in the developmental process. Don’t expect perfection from them or even from yourself. I’m not saying that “anything goes.” What I am saying is cut others and even yourselves some slack. When we recognize the reality of where we are in Christ it changes the dynamics of our thoughts and actions. In Him the struggle is over because He has already overcome the world, the flesh and the devil. Enjoy your new digs!