OUR HISTORY IN THE LAST ADAM
Miles J. Stanford
Our history in the Last Adam, our risen Lord Jesus, begins on the only basis for resurrection life--death. Our relationship to the first Adam rendered us dead in sin, but our death with Christ made us dead unto (in relation to) sin--the one condition for newness of life.
IN CHRIST BURIED -- There, in the Tomb, we must see ourselves as dead unto Adam, but not yet alive in Christ. Our individual identity has not changed, but our relationship to the fleshly Adam has, thank God! "We were buried therefore with Him." "In whom ye were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ [on the Cross]; having been buried with Him" (Romans 6:4, ASV; Colossians 2:11, 12, ASV).
Death, our ruin, has been made the very means of our triumph over it. "Death is swallowed up in victory.... Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Corinthians 15:54, 57).
IN CHRIST RISEN -- His death and burial having done its liberating work on our behalf, we can now begin to look up -- from death unto Adam fallen, to birth into Christ risen. When the Lord Jesus Christ burst the bonds of death, He took us with Him in His glorious resurrection life.
"Just as Christ was raised from among the dead by the Father's glorious power, we also should live an entirely new life. For since we have become one with Him by sharing in His death, we shall also be one with Him by sharing in His resurrection" (Romans 6:4, 5, Wey.). Now, safely and forever on resurrection ground in Him, we can study (1) our new position of life; (2) our new nature of righteousness; and (3) our new walk of fruitfulness.
OUR NEW POSITION OF LIFE -- Whereas our old position in the first Adam rendered us dead unto God and alive unto sin, our new position in the risen Last Adam renders us alive unto God and dead unto sin. "For ye died,and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3, ASV). Formerly our Judge, now by means of His Son's death and resurrection He is free to be our Father, and we His sons. "Beloved, now are we the children of God." "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father" (I John 3:2; Galatians 4:6).
OUR NEW NATURE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS -- In our co-resurrection with Christ our Father gave us a new life with a new nature which can only bring forth righteousness. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to His abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (I Peter 1:3).
The old life is not changed, but exchanged for that which is altogether new. Paul's clearest description of this is given in II Corinthians 5:17 and 18: "Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ."
Our Father sees each of us as completely new in His Son. We have been forever freed from our relationship to the first Adam with its reign of sin and death. And He wants us to see ourselves from His point of view--new creations in Christ Jesus!
It might be helpful for us to consider further the fact that in this death-to-life transition our personal identity is kept intact. We remain the same individual while acquiring a new position, life, and nature in the risen Lord Jesus. The Father maintains the identity of each believer throughout the process of the Cross, the Tomb, and the Resurrection.
"And you, that were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in His sight.... And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses" (Colossians 1:21, 22; 2:13).
In Christ Ascended -- Being identified with the Lord Jesus in His death unto sin and His resurrection into life, we are also in Him in His ascended life at the Father's right hand. Born from above, we are to abide above.
"But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath made us alive together with Christ (by grace ye are saved), and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:4-7).
OUR NEW WALK OF FRUITFULNESS -- As newly created believers, we are in the Lord Jesus in the heavenlies, while at the same time we are in the Spirit of Christ here on earth. The Comforter is our environment in this sin-cursed world. "But ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you" (Romans 8:9). He it is who ministers the life of the Lord Jesus in us as our new life, and who develops the characteristics of that life in and through our new nature.
On the one hand, He applies the finished work of the Cross to the life of the flesh within. "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16). On the other hand, He causes the fruit of the Spirit to grow in our new life. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22, 23).
A close look at Galatians 2:20 may further clarify the distinction between what we were in the first Adam, and who we now are in the Last Adam. "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20, ASV).
There are vital distinctions here the, when seen, make a world of difference. (1) I, the old man in Adam, have been crucified with Christ; (2) it is no longer the old I that lives, but Christ lives in me, the new creation; (3) the life which I, the new man, now live in the flesh (body), I the new man live in faith; (4) this faith is in the Son of God, who loved me as a lost individual and gave Himself up for me , a sinner.
The oft-quoted words, "Not I, but Christ," tend to give the believer the impression that he as a person is crucified, and out of the picture, and now there is only Christ as his new life. He is wont to feel that he must somehow get himself out of the way, that Christ may be all. Granted, the old self must go down--but the new self must grow up.
It is true that He is our risen life, but it is also true that His is the life and nature or our newly created life. "For to me to live is Christ." "Christ, who is our life" (Philippians 1:21; Colossians 3:4). We are not to become lost in Him, but He is to be found in us. "That the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh" (II Corinthians 4:11). He lives in me, not instead of me; He is the source and motivation of my Christian life.
I am to realize and rest in the fact that it is my being, my personality, which is enlifted by the human-divine life and nature of the Lord Jesus. I am the same person, but with a new life in union with His life. By the ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit I will grow in grace and increasingly be conformed to His image.
Living Springs Press, 1971
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