|Photo courtesy of Mattox|
for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are walking like mere men?
To understand this verse it is important to know that Paul is admonishing the Corinthians church and at this point is basically telling them that they are not living like who they really are. Therefore, the question arises, "Who are we in Christ?" I will say that there have been many, many people who have done an amazing job at discovering what the Bible tells us about who we are in Christ. People like Bill and Anabel Gillham, the folks at Grace Life International, and my former pastor and good friend Paul Crews have all gone to great lengths to share with believers about their true identity in Christ Jesus. This short series is not meant to supplant anything these wonderful teachers have put forth. On the contrary, they deserve credit for enlightening me about the subject and I pray that this is a small addition to the foundation they have laid in many people's lives.
If we look at 1 Peter 2:9 we find that the first thing that we are in Christ is a "chosen race." Depending on your preferred translation it may read "chosen generation" or some other similar phrase. No matter the particular wording we can be sure that the Word is telling us that we have been hand picked by God for His purposes. This has massive implications if we look to other passages to add clarity to the idea of being chosen by God. For instance, if we look at Romans 8:29-31 Paul tells us this,
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
There is so much in this short passage that it could easily be a sermon or a post all in itself, but I want to point out a few things concerning the nature of God's choice of us. First, we are told that He "foreknew" us. That means that God knew you and made His choice of you long before you were even a sparkle in your father's eye. God didn't wait until you were grown up to see how you would turn out and then think to Himself, "Hey, this Christian fella seems alright. I think I'll choose him to be one of my children." He knows us, not only in our mother's womb as David would write, but even before He set the foundations of the earth in place. From and earthly point of view God picked us sight unseen. He didn't take us for a test-drive or wait to see how we performed in the minors. He picked us long, long ago. Not only that but since He predestined us, He also called us. That means that God has given each of us a special calling for Kingdom purposes. We each have a part in the Body of Christ and a valuable and crucial part at that! Furthermore, it is He that justified us. He is the one who makes the call regarding our calling and eternal fate, no one else. When you add all of this up we are left with the same conclusion that Paul comes to, If God is for us, who is against us? Paul goes on to ask another question in verse 33,
Who will bring a charge against God's elect?
This statement should bring with it an incredible degree of assurance. First of all, because it was Christ who make the way for our justification and He is God then Satan has no jurisdiction over our heart, mind or soul. One of his most cunning strategies is to remind us of our past sins and failures, things that have been forgiven and cast into the sea of forgetfulness, removed as far as the east is from the west. No man or spiritual principality can ever hold those things against us because the One God of the universe has said they are forgiven. The flip side of this is also important. God can bring charges against us. One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of our sins. If that conviction comes from Him then there is no doubt that it needs to be dealt with. However, once it is, it is done, over, finis, kaput. The beautiful conclusion to this passage begins with yet another question that Paul answers in glorious fashion,
Who will separate us from the love of Christ?
The answer? Nothing. Nothing will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. When we have been chosen by God we are sealed for good and nothing in this world, seen or unseen will ever change that. The mystery lies in the fact that this is not because we are lovely or loveable. It is because of the unconditional nature of God's perfect and holy love. God loves us because we are His and it is His nature to love.
Look also at Ephesians 1:5 which states,
He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.
Here again we find that we have been predestined to be God's children. Also, we see that it was because of His "kind intention." Not having anything to do with our merit or goodness but solely because it was His divine choice. The word "adoption" in the verse also has far reaching implications that we will soon see as 1 Peter 2:9 continues to unfold. For now let me just encourage you that it means we are brought into God's family forevermore.
Brothers and sisters, dear friends in Christ, you have been picked by God to be part of His people and His family. This is who we are. We are not second rate, outcasts. We are a chosen race, and chosen generation, set apart for His will and Kingdom purposes in this world and the next.