It's when believers know the permanency of their salvation that they can always depend on the guiltless position of their lives. There's nothing that will encourage one more than to know that whatever lesson we are learning, we can be self-encouraged, knowing we are to "Always rejoice in the Lord" (Phl 4:4), esp. when considering the unchanging state of our fellowship in God! -NC
The Word of God presents the illustrations of circumcision and baptism to depict how we are cut off and removed from Adam, in order to be legitimately and spiritually born in loving union with the Lord Jesus risen from among the dead.
“Ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power; In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ (on the Cross); Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead; And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Col 2:10-13).
Nor did our Father stop at resurrection, but went right on to position us in the heavenlies in the ascended Lord Jesus. “And raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” “Blessed be God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph 2:6; 1:3).
It is our privilege and responsibility to rest in Him where He is (while we are where we are—NC), because that is where we are positionally. Abide above! At the same time He abides in us down here, by the Spirit. “Abide in me, and I in you.” “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27; Jhn 15:4). Reciprocal union, the ultimate in oneness! It is the ministry of the indwelling Spirit of Christ to make these priceless positional possessions progressively experiential in our present pilgrimage (lot of ps in that one—NC).
So far so good. We are no longer in the fleshly Adam, but in spiritual life-union with the risen and ascended Last Adam. “Ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit” (Rom 8:9). Yet for all this, there still seems to be something radically wrong—“something rotten in Denmark.” Although we are not in the old man, the old man remains in us. Judicially condemned and destroyed in the death of the Cross (Rom 6:6), yet God has chosen to have the old man experientially abide in our mortal body. Why should such a thing be?
Our Father leaves the Adam-life and nature within for the same reason that He position us in Adam in the first place. It was in order that we might have a personal and responsible part in our salvation enabled by His grace to choose the Savior and thereby pass from death unto life eternal.
Now, the indwelling Adam-life plays an important role concerning our spiritual growth (and can never again effect our redeemed position—NC). Satan’s worst contributes to God’s best. The personal needs generated by the indwelling sin-life are designed by the Father to turn us from self-centeredness to Christ-centeredness.
Sin within (originally, before rebirth—NC) also provides us with a choice – which life and nature will we respond to and live by (those reborn always choose the new nature of course, due to Phl 2:13—NC)? Romans 7 defeat will also teach us the necessity of depending upon the Spirit of Christ (e.g. Gal 5:17). It is He alone who can free us from the dominion (desires—NC) of the old man and, in turn, develop in us the growth from the spotless new man.
But the real issue is not moral goodness or evil, spiritual health or sickness. The scriptural consideration concerning the Christian life is—Which man? God can accept nothing that emanates from the old man, no matter how good it may seem to be.
John Darby made it all too plain: “What would you do if you wanted to make something of a crab tree? Not nurture, prune and dig about and feed it. That, God has done with His fig tree (Israel). If you know anything at all about it, you will cut it down. Until you find out that the old man is utterly bad, and that there is no mending it, you will not give it up. If you cultivate the old crab tree you will have fair blossoms, but only bigger and sourer crab apples.”
On the other hand, God fully accepts everything that comes from the righteous source, His Son—our Life (Col 3:4). The Old man brings forth nothing acceptable; the new man brings forth nothing unacceptable. Therefore the issue of spiritual growth consists not in what is being changed, but who is being depended upon. Just who is the source of our daily life, growth and service?
Although the Lord Jesus is the sole source of our Christian life and service, there is a very real and powerful antagonist within. “For me to live if Christ” (Phl 1:21). “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin” (the unregenerate are not as captives but willful slaves, unlike the regenerate who are unwilling servants as captives - Rom 7:23, 25—NC). Civil war!
When we discover the strength and sinfulness of the old man and try to subdue and conquer Him, we soon find ourselves to be a “wretched man” in the defeat of Romans 7. When we finally realize through bitter experience and utter failure that we can neither change nor oust our malevolent old man, the faithful Spirit refers us to the completed work of the Cross.
“Ye have put off the old man” (Col 3:9). But if it has been put off, why does it continue to cover me with shame? That is the question. The answer is that he was put off judicially at the Cross (Rom 8:6) in our death unto sin and Adam (so we can know we are always cleared of guilt while we are continually learning His “walk” - 1Jo 2:6, e.g. putting off the old and on the new - Col 3:9, 10—NC). How then can we experience the reality of a positional work that was accomplished nearly twenty centuries ago?
Think for a moment. Were not your personal sins judicially dealt with back there at Calvary, and do you not experientially enjoy the saving results of that finished work today? Of course you do! Similarly, you are now to apply your faith concerning the principle of sin indwelling the Adam-life. We know that our old man was condemned at the Cross, and there we died unto—out of—its right to reign over us (Rom 6:12, 14). “Likewise, reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin” (Rom 6:11).
The Comforter’s present ministry to us is to minister the things of the Lord Jesus. He initiates nothing, but receives and administers from the Person and finished work of Christ (Jhn 16:13-15). As we count upon that work of the Cross, He applies that crucifixion experientially to the old man within. Life out of death! “For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal body” (2Co 4:19).
— Miles J Stanford