Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: God’s plan for us is that we should be, “. . . transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

John 10:1-10; 14:20; 4:14; 6:50,51 Matt. 6:19-21 Eph. 2:5,6

Rom. 8:29 1 Jn. 3:8 1 Pet. 5:8

A few years ago, when the new Volkswagen Beetle was introduced, one feature that received lots of attention was the claim to be burglarproof. Volkswagen bragged there was no way anybody could steal their car. To demonstrate their point, VW hired a highly skilled burglar and called a news conference. The thief was challenged to break into the car in front of the press.

With reporters watching, and camera’s rolling, the burglar looked at the car and circled it for about ten minutes without ever touching it. Then after looking it over from every angle, he went to the front of the car, and made one powerful kick to the bumper. In a split second, the airbags exploded, the locks popped up, and the doors flew open. (“The Executive Speechwriter Newsletter”-SermonCentral.com)

If you ever had any doubts, let this story dispel them. In this world, nothing is totally secure. As Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:19-21)

This we know to be true of physical possessions, but what about our spiritual possessions? Sadly enough, many don’t realize the ever present threat to their souls. Your personal identity resides in your soul. As John Lawson once said, if your soul is stolen, that’s the ultimate “identity theft.” The most dangerous thief of all isn’t out to steal your worldly goods. After all, possessions can be replaced, but your soul cannot be replaced.

We hear, almost daily, about the threat of identity theft. According to the Federal Trade Commission, it accounts for 42% of all consumer fraud thefts in America – and it’s growing. The real tragedy with identity theft is that you may never even realize it’s happened to you until you receive bills for a credit card you never used. Identity theft can be very subtle in the beginning, and before you know it, you find yourself attempting to prove who you are.

If you think that’s scary, I’ll go you one better. It’s called “Spiritual Identity Theft,” and that pesky python from Paradise seeks to perpetrate it on you daily. Matter of fact, it’s been going on since the beginning of Human Kind. But who would want to steal your soul? Obviously, Satan would. In 1st Peter we read, “Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (5:8) He seeks to devour your soul – your likeness to Christ. He wants to derail you from becoming “like Christ” which is the essence of Christianity – to be “Christ-like.”

The religious experience of the earliest Christians was derived from and dependent upon Christ. Christian experience is more than an imitation of the life and teaching of Jesus. It’s what we experience of the Holy Spirit dwelling in the believer’s heart. The writings of both John and Paul refer to this reality by emphasizing the inclusive and corporate personality of Christ.

Paul, for instance, expresses the personal identification with the work of Christ by his use of the term – “in Christ.” The Greek word is “KREE-O” (÷ñßù). It’s akin to being “anointed” or “consecrated.” It appears to be Paul’s favorite term to describe the personal and dynamic relationship of the believer with Jesus Christ, and it appears in a variety of contexts. The word “KREE-O” is found: • 8 – times in Galatians • 34 – times in Ephesians and • 18 – times in Colossians.

Theologians call this, “Identification with Christ.” It means God has acted in such a way that our identity has become inseparable for that of our Lord. Therefore, as far as God is concerned, what is true of Jesus’ standing has become true of us.

Did Jesus die? Then so did I. Did Jesus rise from the dead? Then I, too, will rise from the dead. Did Jesus ascend to the Father in heaven? Then according to my identification with Christ, I too will ascend to heaven and take my seat by the throne of God!

This may sound like wishful thinking by boastful Christians, but in fact, it’s really faith in God’s promise. That promise is expressly stated in Ephesians 2:5-6, “. . . and even when we were dead in our sin and transgressions (GOD) made us alive together with Christ . . . and raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ.”

Of course we have not become the creators of the world, nor will we become deities, but the areas where we are identified with Christ go much farther than most would think. Union with Christ is the result of an act of divine grace, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Baptized into Christ, the Believer is incorporated into the body of Christ. This new position “In Christ” is the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to his disciples in John 14:20 - “. . . on that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” If you’ve ever wondered what that passage means, well, there it is. Christ is in the Father, and we are in Christ.

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