Summary: What it means to be in Christ instead of in sin
"But God who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved;) AND HATH RAISED US UP TOGETHER, AND MADE US SIT TOGETHER IN HEAVENLY PLACES IN CHRIST JESUS" (vv. 4-6).
Notice the phrase "IN CHRIST JESUS." This speaks of the believer’s spiritual union with Christ.
Our union with Christ is seen in . . .
1. The church’s description as THE BODY OF CHRIST. In 1:11-23 Paul writes that the Father "gave [Christ] to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body. . . ."
2. Jesus’ statement, "I AM THE VINE, YE ARE THE BRANCHES" (John 15:5).
What happened PHYSICALLY to our Lord Jesus Christ has happened SPIRITUALLY to believers:
1. Jesus physically ROSE from the dead; we have spiritually risen from the dead.
2. Jesus physically ASCENDED into heaven; we have spiritually ascended into heaven.
3. Jesus physically SAT DOWN in heaven; we have spiritually sat down in heaven.
One day every Christian will physically rise, ascend, and sit down in heaven, but right now this is only true of us spiritually.
Notice that this passage refers to these things in the past tense:
"HATH quickened us together with Christ";
"by grace ye ARE saved";
"and HATH raised us up together";
"MADE us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus".
What does the phrase "THE HEAVENLY PLACES" mean?
Some translations say "the heavenly realms," "the heavenly sphere," "the heavenly world," "the heavens," "the heavenlies," and "heaven."
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:2 that he was once "caught up to the third heaven." The first heaven is the atmosphere. The second heaven is space. The third heaven is the dwelling place of God. The third heaven is the same as "the heavenly places."
Ephesians 2:6 describes every Christian as seated in heaven with Christ. What does that mean for us right now?
I. THE CHRISTIAN NO LONGER BELONGS TO THE WORLD—HE BELONGS TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
A. The Christian once belonged to the world.
"And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sin; wherein in time past YE WALKED ACCORDING TO THE COURSE OF THIS WORLD" (Ephesians 2:1-2a).
Paul is not talking about the PHYSICAL WORLD. He is not talking about the RACIAL WORLD. The world here refers to THE MENTALITY OF LIFE APART FROM GOD.
The Bible presents the world as being the enemy of God and the Christian:
• The Bible commands, "DO NOT LOVE THE WORLD." "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15).
• The Bible commands, "DO NOT CONFORM TO THE WORLD." "Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. . . ." (Romans 12:2).
• The Bible commands, "DO NOT BEFRIEND THE WORLD." "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James 4:4).
Suppose that in a certain community lives a man and his wife who love each other very much. Across the street lives a man who develops a hatred for the woman’s husband. One night he invades their home and kills him. Although he is arrested, a loophole in the law allows him to escape punishment, and he is released to return to the community. Now imagine that in a few short weeks you see the widow and her husband’s murderer walking down the street together. Her hand is slipped into his arm and she looks smilingly into his face. She says to him, "I’m so happy." What would you say about a woman like that? Surely you would brand her as disloyal to her husband’s memory and unworthy to bear his name.
We must never forget that this godless world hated Jesus enough to kill Him. The person who walks hand in hand with a system headed by our Lord’s enemies is disloyal to Jesus Christ.
B. The Christian now belongs to the kingdom of God.
1. The Christian is in the world, but he is not of the world.
Christ "gave himself for our sins, THAT HE MIGHT DELIVER US FROM THIS PRESENT EVIL WORLD" (Galatians 1:4).
God "hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and HATH TRANSLATED US INTO THE KINGDOM OF HIS DEAR SON" (Colossians 1:13).
In 1 Peter 2:11 Peter writes, "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as STRANGERS AND PILGRIMS." We do not belong to this world.
In Philippians 3:19 Paul talks about those "whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things." But, he writes, "OUR CONVERSATION IS IN HEAVEN" (v. 20). That means our citizenship is in heaven.