But here is our problem. We were born sinners; how then can we cut off our sinful heredity? Seeing that we were born in Adam, how can we get out of Adam? Let me say at once, the Blood cannot take us out of Adam. There is only one way. Since we came in by birth we must go out by death. To do away with our sinfulness we must do away with our life. Bondage to sin came by birth; deliverance from sin comes by death—and it is just this way of escape that God has provided. Death is the secret of emancipation. “We... died to sin” (Romans 6:2).
But how can we die? Some of us have tried very hard to get rid of this sinful life, but we have found it most tenacious. What is the way out? It is not by trying to kill ourselves, but by recognizing that God has dealt with us in Christ. This is summed up in the apostle’s next statement: “All we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death” (Romans 6:3).
But if God has dealt with us ‘in Christ Jesus’ then we have got to be in Him for this to become effective, and that now seems just as big a problem. How are we to ‘get into’ Christ? Here again God comes to our help. We have in fact no way of getting in, but, what is more important, we need not try to get in, for we are in. What we could not do for ourselves God has done for us. He has put us into Christ. Let me remind you of I Corinthians 1:30. I think that is one of the best verses of the whole New Testament: ‘Ye are in Christ’. How? “Of him (that is, ‘of God’) are ye in Christ.” Praise God! it is not left to us either to devise a way of entry or to work it out. We need not plan how to get in. God has planned it; and He has not only planned it but He has also performed it. ‘Of him are ye in Christ Jesus’. We are in; therefore we need not try to get in. It is a Divine act, and it is accomplished.
Now if this is true, certain things follow. In the illustration from Hebrews 7 which we considered above we saw that ‘in Abraham’ all Israel—and therefore Levi who was not yet born—offered tithes to Melchizedek. They did not offer separately and individually, but they were in Abraham when he offered, and his offering included all his seed. This, then, is a true figure of ourselves as ‘in Christ’. When the Lord Jesus was on the Cross all of us died—not individually, for we had not yet been born—but, being in Him, we died in Him. “One died for all, therefore all died” (2 Cor. 5:14). When He was crucified all of us were crucified.
“Of him are ye in Christ Jesus.” The Lord God Himself has put us in Christ, and in His dealing with Christ God has dealt with the whole race. Our destiny is bound up with His. What He has gone through we have gone through, for to be ‘in Christ’ is to have been identified with Him in both His death and resurrection. He was crucified: then what about us? Must we ask God to crucify us? Never! When Christ was crucified we were crucified; and His crucifixion is past, therefore ours cannot be future. I challenge you to find one text in the New Testament telling us that our crucifixion is in the future. All the references to it are in the Greek aorist, which is the ‘once-for-all’ tense, the ‘eternally past’ tense. (See: Romans 6:6; Galatians 2:20; 5:24; 6:14). And just as no man could ever commit suicide by crucifixion, for it were a physical impossibility to do so, so also, in spiritual terms, God does not require us to crucify ourselves. We were crucified when He was crucified, for God put us there in Him. That we have died in Christ is not merely a doctrinal position, it is an eternal fact.
The Lord Jesus, when He died on the Cross, shed His Blood, thus giving His sinless life to atone for our sin and to satisfy the righteousness and holiness of God. To do so was the prerogative of the Son of God alone. No man could have a share in that. The Scripture has never told us that we shed our blood with Christ. In His atoning work before God He acted alone; no other could have a part. But the Lord did not die only to shed His Blood: He died that we might die. He died as our Representative. In His death He included you and me.
We often use the terms ‘substitution’ and ‘identification’ to describe these two aspects of the death of Christ. Now many a time the use of the word ‘identification’ is good. But identification would suggest that the thing begins from our side: that I try to identify myself with the Lord. I agree that the word is true, but it should be used later on. It is better to begin with the fact that the Lord included me in His death. It is the ‘inclusive’ death of the Lord which puts me in a position to identify myself, not that I identify myself in order to be included. It is God’s inclusion of me in Christ that matters. It is something God has done. For that reason those two New Testament words “in Christ” are always very dear to my heart.
The death of the Lord Jesus is inclusive. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus is alike inclusive. We have looked at the first chapter of I Corinthians to establish the fact that we are “in Christ Jesus”. Now we will go to the end of the same letter to see something more of what this means. In I Corinthians 15:45,47 two remarkable names or titles are used of the Lord Jesus. He is spoken of there as “the last Adam” and He is spoken of too as “the second man”. Scripture does not refer to Him as the second Adam but as “the last Adam”; nor does it refer to Him as the last Man, but as “the second man”. The distinction is to be noted, for it enshrines a truth of great value.
As the last Adam, Christ is the sum total of humanity; as the second Man He is the Head of a new race. So we have here two unions, the one relating to His death and the other to His resurrection. In the first place His union with the race as “the last Adam” began historically at Bethlehem and ended at the cross and the tomb. In it He gathered up into Himself all that was in Adam and took it to judgment and death. In the second place our union with Him as “the second man” begins in resurrection and ends in eternity—which is to say, it never ends—for, having in His death done away with the first man in whom God’s purpose was frustrated, He rose again as Head of a new race of men, in whom that purpose shall be fully realized.
When therefore the Lord Jesus was crucified on the cross, He was crucified as the last Adam. All that was in the first Adam was gathered up and done away in Him. We were included there. As the last Adam He wiped out the old race; as the second Man He brings in the new race. It is in His resurrection that He stands forth as the second Man, and there too we are included. “For if we have become united with him by the likeness of his death, we shall be also by the likeness of his resurrection” (Romans 6:5). We died in Him as the last Adam; we live in Him as the second Man. The Cross is thus the power of God which translates us from Adam to Christ.