Reckoning On Our Union With Christ

I once threw away a personal check made out to me for the sum of $10,000. However, I knew immediately that this “check” was not credible … nor creditable. A few weeks after it arrived in the mail, the sender wrote, confessing this impulsive gesture. But I kept the check for a while as a novelty until I deposited it … in the trash.

Imagine, though, if you had something of much greater value that you have failed to appropriate. “(God’s) divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness … ” (2 Peter 1:3 ). We who have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph. 1:3). These blessings were purchased at infinite cost (1 Pet. 1:18,19), yet are provided freely to God’s children. However, in the ministry of biblical counseling we have often encounter struggling believers who have not discovered how to “cash in” on their spiritual privileges.

To “appropriate” something is to receive what is intended for you, available to you, and offered to you. When lost sinners receive Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord, they are “appropriating” Him as such (John 3:16-18). They receive salvation, eternal life and countless benefits as His people.

In a similar way, those who are children of God–yet living in defeat–need to appropriate Christ as their LIFE (Col. 3:4).

We rejoice that Christ died for us and fully paid for our sins once for all. (Heb. 10:10). Yet we are prone to overlook the wonderful reality that we died with Christ, “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin” (Rom 6:6). Although we still have the world, the flesh, and the devil to contend with, we are fully equipped for fruitful living through our union with Christ in His death and resurrection.

Depend upon the fact that through our death and resurrection with Christ we have been set free:

  • from sin’s dominion,
  • from the law’s condemnation,
  • from the world’s values (Rom Ch 6,7; Gal 6:14b).

“And of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace…” (John 1:16). How can we live out this new quality of life in daily experience? We must reckon these spiritual realities as ours in Christ. “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:10,11 emphasis added). In verse 11, the verb “reckon” [in Greek] is a present tense imperative. So, reckoning is not automatic or unnecessary, but a present tense opportunity and responsibility! Appropriate this identification. Endorse this revelation as true and “cash in” this spiritual check!

A century ago Jessie Penn-Lewis counseled about the birth-pangs of this appropriation:

‘But I have reckoned thus, and it seems nought but reckoning a lie,’ cries some longing heart. Ah, soul, maybe your eyes are in the wrong direction. You are looking within, occupied more with your ‘reckoning’ than with the work of your Saviour. The Holy Spirit will not bear witness to your ‘reckon, apart from the object of your reckoning. Look away to Calvary. The Lord Jesus died on your behalf, and as your Representative carried you with Him to His Cross. Are you honestly determined to part with every known sin, and willing for the death with Christ to be wrought out in your experience? Then from this crucial moment see yourself as nailed to the tree with your crucified Lord. Relying upon the Holy Spirit, and in faith in the word of God, ‘Let not sin therefore reign’… Hidden in Christ upon His Cross, and joined to Him in His life, your part, O child of God, is the continual choice of your will … Do not struggle with aught that comes to you, but hand over all to Him Whose life you share, and you shall find that He is able to deliver and to keep you day by day.[1]

To “reckon” is to consider this not only biblically true, but personally true.

Are you in Christ? Have you counted on this spiritual identification with Him by faith? The apostle Paul did so and declared, “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ …” (Gal 6:14a). Hallelujah for the triumph of the Crucified One!

Our Father, we turn from boasting in anyone but You. Thank You for the profound truths of our spiritual union with Christ. We accept this testimony of the rewards of Calvary and ask You to make them effectual in our lives by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Christ’s name, amen.

[1] Jessie Penn-Lewis (1861-1927), The Cross of Calvary p. 28.

For further consideration of this theme, see the Grace Note on “The Selfer’s Prayer.”

Copyright 1998, 2019 by John Woodward. Revised from 1998 edition. Permission is granted to reprint for non commerical use if credit is given to the author and Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version (copyright by Thomas Nelson).