Series 19


Things Hard to be Understood
by Francis Dixon

(Scripture Portion: Colossians 3: 1-17)

Many Christians become discouraged in the early stages of their Christian life, and even lack the assurance of their salvation. Often this is because they do not understand the teaching of this study. It is most important that every believer should know the difference between his standing and his state; between his position and his condition.

There are at least seven lines of truth expounded in God Word, all of which relate to the believer; they might be called “Things that differ” – and happy is the Christian who can distinguish these things! These are: (1) the difference between law and grace; (2) between faith and works; (3) between believers and professors; (4) between the old nature and the new nature; (5) between salvation and rewards; (6) between the Judgment Seat of Christ and the Judgment of the Great White Throne; (7) the difference between the believer’s standing and his state. What do we mean by the believer’s standing and his state?

1. Our STANDING is what we are in Christ before God; our STATE is what we are in experience, in our walk, in the world, before others.

By nature God sees us all “in Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:22); we are all linked by birth and blood to Adam, the federal head of the human race. But, when we were born again we were taken out of Adam (the head of the old creation), and placed in Christ (the head of the new creation), and we were therefore given a totally new standing – “in Christ”. Look up 2 Corinthians 5:17. Our standing, therefore, is all that we are in God’s reckoning by virtue of our union with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Our standing in Christ is absolutely perfect; just as He is perfect, so God reckons us as perfect, because we believe in Him and belong to Him. But as to our state, how far from perfect that is! See in the following scriptures, side by side, our standing and our state:-

  1. 1. Romans 1:7 “Standing: = “saints” — State: = “in Rome”
  2. 2. 1 Corinthians 1:2 “Standing: = “sanctified in Christ…saints” — State: = “in Corinth”
  3. 3. Galatians 5:1,7 “Standing: = verse 1 — State: = verse 7
  4. 4. Ephesians 1:1,3 “Standing: = verse 3 — State: = verse 1
  5. 5. Colossians 3:3,8,9 “Standing: = verse 3 — State: = verses 8-9

So far as his standing was concerned the Prodigal was a son; but so far as his state was concerned, he was in the far country – Luke 15:11-24.

2. Our STANDING will never change, it cannot improve or deteriorate, and it can never alter; our STATE is constantly changing, though it should be improving all the time.

This is wonderful! Once we are born again (John 3:3), and baptised into Christ
(1 Corinthians 12:13), nothing can ever alter this – 2 Corinthians 5:17. Our standing is secure; our state is always changing. Sometimes we experience victory, and sometimes defeat; sometimes we experience joy, but sometimes gloom; sometimes we experience peace, and sometimes anxiety. Why? Because we have within us two natures – the old Adamic nature and the new divine nature. (This will be the subject of our next study). But our standing in Christ is for ever settled, and nothing can ever alter it.

3. Our salvation and our acceptance before God depend upon our STANDING, and not upon our STATE.

Our salvation does not depend upon what we are in ourselves, but upon what Christ is and what He has done for us. We are saved (Acts 16:30-31), accepted (Ephesians 1:6), and justified (Romans 5:1), because we are “in Christ” (Ephesians 2:6-10) – and nothing can alter that (Romans 8:1). When God shut the door of the ark Noah and those with him were safe – not because of their state, but because God had placed them there and had shut the door. Thus, we are safe “in Christ”.

4. Every believer has exactly the same STANDING, though each has a different STATE.

In God’s sight every believer is reckoned as a saint (Romans 1:7), and as already sanctified (Hebrews 10:10,14); but often we do not live like saints and do not live sanctified lives. This should humble us and exclude boasting. The state of Christians differs very much. Some are growing, some are still babes (2 Peter 3:18; 1 Corinthians 3:1)); some are spiritual, some are carnal (1 Corinthians 2:15; 3:4); some are disciplined, some are disobedient (Matthew 11:29; Galatians 5:7); some are surrendered, and some are unsurrendered (Romans 6:13; 2 Timothy 4:10); some are zealous, and some are lukewarm (Colossians 4:12; Revelation 3:15-16).

5. Our STANDING comes from the fact that we are partakers of the divine nature and have that new nature within; our STATE comes from the fact that we still possess the old nature.

Look up John 3:6; Romans 7:18; Galatians 5:17; 2 Peter 1:4. Although we receive a new nature when we are born again, we do not lose the old nature. (This we shall see in our next study).

6. All the blessings that have been bestowed upon us by virtue of our STANDING in Christ are ours to enjoy now in our experience.

We have been “blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3), and these blessings are ours to enjoy now. As to our standing, we are sons of God (John 1:12), heirs (Romans 8:17), justified (Romans 5:1), kings and priests (Revelation 1:5-6), and temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). Now we are to live like sons, enjoy our riches, rejoice in our justification, go about like children of the King, and let the Holy Spirit preside over our bodies. In other words, we are to “possess our inheritance” (Obadiah 17).

7. While our STANDING and our STATE will never entirely correspond while we are in the body, God’s will is that there should be an increasing correspondence day by day.

One day, when we see the Lord, our standing and our state will exactly correspond – Romans 8:29; 1 John 3:2. In the meantime, we are to be transformed day by day, more and more into the likeness of our Lord, as indicated in 2 Corinthians 3:18.