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Friday, February 23, 2024

Our Spiritual Union with Christ




That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:10).



Paul said he wanted to experience Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings conforming him to His death.


In this verse, Paul mentioned knowing Christ before he mentioned knowing the power of Christ’s resurrection. Every part of the Christian life is impacted by knowing Jesus in an intimate, practical way. Paul didn’t stop with just knowing Christ. He wanted to know the power that flowed from His resurrection, too. We should have a personal relationship with the Lord that releases His power into our lives and the lives of those we encounter.


Paul went beyond just knowing Christ and the power of His resurrection. Paul also wanted to know the “fellowship of His sufferings.” He didn’t desire to suffer, and neither do we. But suffering will come. Everyone in this fallen world will suffer. Some suffering comes naturally, and then there is the persecution every godly person will suffer (2 Timothy 3:12). When we suffer, God provides His supernatural comfort. The comfort we experience in our suffering is the close fellowship with Jesus to which Paul referred. God’s comfort is so sweet that suffering for the sake of Jesus seems like nothing in comparison. Paul wrote in Romans 8:18: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” 


In Philippians 3:8, Paul also wrote, “I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”


Paul had given up everything that he might “know” Christ. 


The Greek word used for “know” in Philippians 3:10 is “ginisko.” This was a word that implied the sexual union between a husband and wife. Paul did not just want to know about Jesus. He wanted to know Him and experience Him on the most intimate and personal level. Knowing Christ is not just knowing about Him. It is knowing Him deeply and personally. This relationship of “knowing Jesus” reveals to us the intimate spiritual union we have with Christ in the new birth (Romans 6:4) and the resurrection power of those who believe (Ephesians 1:19).


The suffering we experience by our allegiance to Christ could never be the depth of suffering Jesus experienced for our sake on the cross. Paul’s desire was for the results of Christ’s suffering to transform the depth of his life. While suffering for Christ may result in loss of life, it seems that what Paul meant here was death to the life we live in the flesh. This death to our flesh is experienced through faith in the truths of our spiritual union in Christ (Romans 6:11, 17-18). 


In Romans 12:2, Paul stated that we are not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed through the renewing of our minds. We are to be conformed to the death of Christ. How are we conformed to His death?


“Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:11).


We are to “reckon” (count, estimate, calculate) ourselves dead to sin and all its effects upon us in the same way that Christ is dead to sin and all its effects upon Him.  


Many people focus on the death to sin that is mentioned in Romans 6:11 and leave out the part about being made alive to God in Christ. It is assumed by some people if they will only make themselves die to sin, then a new life in Christ will follow spontaneously. That doesn’t happen. We have no power to crucify our own flesh. We can’t bring forth life from death in ourselves. Only from Christ’s death for us comes new life and the power to deny sin and fulfill the Law of Christ. We only have the power to deny sin with Christ’s resurrection power within us. If we had had the power to wash away our own sin, we wouldn’t have needed Jesus. Some believers are so obsessed with dying to themselves instead of knowing who they are in Jesus, they miss the transformation He is trying to bring in their lives. They miss the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit trying to convict and empower them to repent and trust the resurrection power of God to accomplish what only He can accomplish. 


God doesn’t need dead people trying to live for Him. They end up giving up. God needs people who have risen from the dead spiritually. They persevere and don’t give up. People who want to experience the power of God over their flesh seek knowledge of the Son of God and the new life He has given them. 


The way to be crucified with Christ and experience His new life is to focus on knowing our spiritual union with Him. Ruminating over and over on the things in our lives that we have no power to overcome instead of meditating on who we are in Christ, will not empower us with God’s power. According to the instruction in Romans 6:11, we are to “reckon“ or to “count” on the truth that our “old man” is dead and “count” on the truth that our “new man” is alive with Christ. We can “count” on the truth that the “new man” we have become in our born-again spirit desires only to live a holy life that pleases the Father. 


Without growing in the knowledge of the new person we have become in salvation, we won’t conform to the image God has of us. The Holy Spirit is the one who outwardly changes us in our flesh into people who reflect who we are inwardly in our spirits. We purposely choose to know Christ as Paul did, intimately and personally. We deny and turn from anything—any thought—any sin—any lie— that comes against our knowledge of Christ. We deny these with the resurrection power of His new life within us. 


“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:23-24).



When you know who you are in Christ through being renewed and transformed by His truth, you can put on the new person God has created you to be in righteousness and holiness.




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