The incarnation is the most important fact of our post-cross history. The trinity in us is the reality we are meant to be living in. God is not somewhere else. He is not more concentrated in special days or in places like churches. God is in you. It is you who irrigates the world with His spirit and life.
Christ in us means the fullness of the Godhead bodily dwelling in us just as it was in Jesus. This is more than salvation. It is the gospel of the Kingdom and the community of God’s presence in which we find our real identity and grow progressively into who we really are as agents of the new creation.
Compared to this, an attachment to the law and religion as the mediator of God’s life is primitivism. Satan’s plan in precipitating the Fall was to put us into denial of who we were: Sons of God. This is the common theme in his contemporary ploys: Get people striving for what they already have through assorted rites and pieties. Addiction to such externalities sucks up energy and insulates Believers and the world from the direct mediation of Christ’s spirit and life – a directness of life that is waiting to be released by the sons and daughters of God. Sons living as themselves instead of dependent consumers of churchism.
Martin Davis writes, “According to Torrance (1996:238; cf. Radcliff 2016:93), it is the role of the Spirit to open us up within our subjectivities for Christ, so that ‘we find our life not in ourselves but out of ourselves, objectively in him’. Thus, it is important to be clear that, while the objective union with Christ is essential for humanity to be ontologically transformed and thus healed of its sin and corruption, union with Christ does not depend upon subjective human appropriation, for ‘this would throw us back upon ourselves to achieve salvation, an impossible task’ (Radcliff 2016:92).” (1) Davis is saying that our enjoyment of God’s continual presence and transforming work depends not on disciplines like ‘keeping close to Jesus’ but in being open to the Spirit as the Spirit corrects and leads us into the fullness of what God has gifted us in Christ. Union with God is our state of being (ontology).
DIVERTING LIFE OR ABSORBING IT
We could, if we like ignore the incarnation leaving it as a construct and never accepting it as the reality of God in us. Some do. They do because for them the law is still operative and they live in its externalities.
Due to this obsession, Christ has not come in their flesh. The flesh has come in the flesh. This ‘flesh’ is not outright wickedness. But it is the dead flesh of religion. We cannot live in the Spirit if tied to the law because the spirit is not external. The Spirit is the manifestation of Christ within us, expressing Himself outwardly as our life.
‘What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!’ Rom 7.24 NIV.
The mystery, paradox and genius of the incarnation is that we are infilled with God and manifest as ourselves – our real selves. Thus no longer theoretically sons of God we grow practically into our real design in the spirit of sonship that is ours. Genuinely alive because we are one with our Father in spirit and in truth. It is union with Father that makes us sons and grows us by the Spirit in the spirit of sonship. This is another way of saying Christ has come in our flesh.
If we are tied to the law we have not been born again. The new birth is our switch from the externalities of Adam and Moses – a position of separation from God to a new state of being – in which the trinity and we are woven together as one.
In the carnal nature of the self, we attempt to realise our personhood through selfishness, manipulation, control and religion. This is the natural medium of the law and of the ‘beast.’ Such carnality can surface in religious organisations to manifest - if not in the persecution of life-givers but in a sad tendency to micro-manage and control. This an attitude that stifles initiative and smothers others with gratuitous help. Such attitudes can surface in those who fear the vitality, freedom and initiative that is in others and not in them. They see it as a threat to themselves, particularly when it has eluded them because they are contained in the invisible bottle of the law.
If living in the incarnation (the Spirit of Christ) will make you an excellent worker, living in law will make you a poor leader addicted to small ideas, micro-management and control. Legalism is the seed of a juvenile work culture.
GLORY TO GLORY
The incarnation means that we are in Christ and Christ is in us. The Spirit of God is interwoven into our being so that we progressively emerge into our authentic selves as sons and daughters of God. Genuine sons and daughters are never merely religious operatives. They are fully human, fully alive, fully enterprising in every sphere of endeavour. They are good at what they do. Martin M Davis writes,
“In human terms, our identities as ‘persons’ are determined not only by our existence as distinct individuals, but also by the relationships in which we live and move. In union with Christ, notes Deddo (2007:144), we are most truly ourselves, for this union ‘is a continual relationship with Christ at the deepest levels of our being, not a confusion of ourselves with Christ’.
In union with Christ, as Purves (2015:125) argues, we do not ‘become Jesus’, that is, personal identity is not lost. Rather, distinction of persons is maintained, while a personal ‘exchange’ takes place (2 Cor 8:9). In union with Christ, we remain ‘who we are’, but our humanity is established and fulfilled in Christ without confusion. As Deddo (2007:145) notes, salvation is a ‘relational reality’. Union with Christ is a ‘dynamic relationship’ of mutual giving and receiving that ‘determines the essence of who we are and who we are becoming’. (2)
IT IS LIFE
This is entirely different to every variety of legalism and every soup of religion. Incarnation is not an anointing but a life. It is your new covenant life. It is the life that means that you are no longer in Adam or Moses but in Jesus. This is the life in which by the Spirit of Christ, God is manifest as you and as us. This is the difference between new creation life and confusion. The difference between Babylon and the Kingdom of God expressed in you where you are. It’s the difference between the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of religion. (1) Davis, M., 2017, ‘T. F. Torrance: Union with Christ through the Communion of the Spirit’, In die Skriflig 51(1), a2313. https://doi. org/10.4102/ids.v51i1.2313