To understand our identity in Christ, we ought to be in the same page regarding our core problem. Our problem wasn't that we were smoking and drinking and killing and raping in our heads and in real life. Romans 5 tells us that by the sin of one man death entered... So our core problem wasn't sin, but it was spiritual death at our core.
This is another reason why Christ said that He came to give us life, and life abundant. Romans 5 continues to say that though many died through the transgression of Adam, Christ presented the solution in the form of deliverance. By Christ's doing, we have become in Him (1 Corinthians 1:30). He delivered us from darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of His Son (Colossians 1:13).
It was God's doing to transfer us from Adam into Christ Jesus. It was not our doing that we are now in Christ Jesus. We really need to believe this! When we called upon Jesus, that's when we consequently were transferred into the Kingdom of Christ.
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. - Romans 6:3-4
We used to be in Adam. We were 'baptized' into Adam, we were in Adam, and we needed to be in Christ. By the power and leading of the Holy Spirit, He brought us into Christ. According to that Scripture, we can say something more than just, 'Jesus Christ died for our sins.' No, we say we were brought with Christ in crucifixion, death, and resurrection. In other words, our old self was crucified with Christ, we died with Christ, and now, we were resurrected with Christ. By the shedding of Christ's blood, we were united with Him, as the Israelites were united with the unblemished animal sacrifice.
We were alive to sin and dead to God. Through Christ, we are now alive to God and dead to sin. This is something permanent! We are no longer shackled to sin, no longer possessing 'a good heart, and a bad heart', no longer 'an old self with a new self' - We are completely free, with a new heart, a new wineskin with new wine, a totally new self!
Our old self is dead! That's the only way to be truly free from flesh and sin - Christ has, indeed, as Matt Maher has sung, 'trampled death by death'. And that's not where it ends! For
'..even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus..' Ephesians 2:5-6
Romans 6 said we were crucified, died and we were buried.
Ephesians 2 says that we were raised, ascended and we were seated.
Christ's finished work is such a big deal because of its eternal, boundless effects! Now, we are where we are physically, but we are also somewhere spiritually. Spiritually, we are no longer in Adam, but now, we are in Christ - we are seated with Him in the heavenly places. We are raised and seated, and we are right here! We are seated in the heavenlies, and we are able to see our physical situations through the lens of our spiritual life in Christ.
So instead of seeing how things push us away from Christ, we are able now to see Christ in all circumstances and situations. He is automatically at the helm and in everything.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. - Colossians 3:3-4
Christ is, indeed, our literal life. It's not that Christ needs to be in our lives, not that Christ has to be first, but that when we believed in Christ, He became our life. Everything. He became everything. Not a priority, but in all items. He is in our life in all things, whatever we're doing and whoever we're with. There is no competition! Christ is our life in all things!
'But why, WHY do I still struggle with sin!?'
(1)The FLESH - The Flesh is the flesh. It is not your heart. It is not your spiritual nature. It is not your self. It no longer has any connection to you. The flesh is seen as world strategies. Attitudes, coping mechanisms in order to make life work.
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards (the flesh), not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 1 Corinthians 1:26
For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh - Philippians 3:3
Sarx - Different from the Old Self. Again, the Old Self is dead. Sarx is getting by, carving out an identity and attaining power, strength using world strategies, and our own efforts and strategies and definitions. We are not to put any confidence in the flesh. The flesh is an operating system. The flesh is not an OS that we have. We have Christ. We worship by the Spirit of God, and we glory in Christ Jesus. [We worship and glory. We rest and recognize the shed blood of Jesus Christ. We overcome by this blood and by the word of our testimony. Worship is our testimony.]
The flesh is in our memories in the sense that we used to operate by the flesh. The flesh comprises of unrenewed mindsets that do not conform to our new heart, alive and thriving in and through Christ. But all this is inferior now that we have everything we can ever need and want in Christ, and more than we ask for! It's not just that we are forgiven, but we are made righteous in Christ!
"..though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless." - Philippians 3:4-6
Paul had all the reason to place his confidence in the flesh, but He chooses to see all this as second-rate compared to Christ! He emphasizes the inferiority of the flesh in Galatians 3:3
'Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?'
There's no other approach to take because Christ has already finished the work! Law based living is now useless because Christ has already fulfilled the Law for you! The grace of God through Christ has already made us righteous, trumping any works to make us righteous! Grace deflates the need for fleshly, world-based living.
(2) A Power called Sin - The source of the flesh OS trying to make a comeback in our lives as followers and believers of Christ. It isn't from my nature or from my thoughts.
The power of sin is a separate force. Genesis 4:7 describes it as knocking on the door. Romans 7 states that when we do something that we don't want to do, it isn't us - it may be in us, but it isn't from us or in our nature. We are new creations, and made completely new! We don't want to sin - sin wants to sin, but you don't want to sin! This is such an important thing to realize!
And this isn's the same as, 'I couldn't help it,' or 'The devil made me do it!' This truth of our being a new creation empowers us and directs us to listen to our new hearts, our new minds that are in line with the Gospel... Sin is not your core.
It lurks. It can tempt you but it can only tempt you from the outside, in. Our inspirations and motivations come from within. Our peace comes from within. Sin is not for you nor is it something of you. We are no longer slaves, we have been totally separated from sin! We have been made obedient to the core because of Christ!
We've died to sin, and now we have been given new life, obedient to the core! Our problem was not just behavior, but identity - Christ addressed this by giving us a new self, a new identity, making us new creations as we died and were raised with Him! God is blue, and so are you!
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (You're blue!) Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions (Don't let the parasite take over from the outside in! You don't have the lusts, sin has its passions! The thought of sin did not start with me - it came from the outside! It does not agree with your new self, your new identity!). - Romans 6:11-12
Our new identity is how we can boldly say, 'NO!' to sin and 'YES' to life!
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May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift His countenance upon you and give you His Shalom. - Numbers 6:24-26