Likeness To Christ
The essential thing for holiness of life is to have a standard and then to live without deviation by that standard. The Lord Jesus Christ has set that standard for us.
"I am the vine, ye are the branches He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5).
There is a threefold thing that He shows us here: oneness in Christ, likeness to Christ, the fullness of Christ. We thought together in the last chapter of oneness in Christ through our positional sanctification.
The sinner is living in the wicked, infernal trinity: satan, the world, and the flesh. The Christian has passed by way of the Cross through faith in the atoning blood of the Saviour into a totally new position, a totally new sphere, a totally new trinity. He is in Christ, in the Church, and in the Spirit, and thence he is called a saint by God. He has been made one with Jesus Christ through the baptism of the Holy Spirit by which he was brought into the Body of Christ.
We said earlier that the most important question that can ever be put to a human being is this: Where are you? You are either in the dark, infernal trinity over which satan presides, or you are in that glory-lighted trinity over which Christ rules.
If you are still in satan's trinity, are you going to remain there? Oh, that this day there might be someone - if there is a single one who is not in Christ Jesus - who would put faith in the blood of the Saviour, for that is all that is necessary. And the moment you do it, you become a part of Him, and He becomes a part of you - oneness in Christ through positional sanctification.
Where we are determines what we are. So that is the question with which we come today: What are you, now that you are in Christ?
Likeness to Christ Through Progressive Sanctification
This thought takes us again to John 15, with which we are all so familiar. Oneness in Christ demands likeness to Christ; the branch that is in the vine must bear fruit. The branch that bears no fruit is worthless and is taken away.
"Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away" (John 15:2).
What a solemn thought that is for every one of us who is a branch.
The second thought is that no branch can bear fruit of itself. There is absolutely nothing in the branch itself that is productive of fruit; nothing that the branch is, nothing that the branch can do, can make it produce fruit; only the sap of the vine produces fruit. so the branch has nothing to do but to abide in the vine.
"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me" (John 15:4).
Third, fruit-bearing is progressive. These verses speak of the branch that bears "not fruit," the branch that bears fruit, the branch that bears more fruit, and the branch that bears much fruit."
"Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit" (John 15:2).
"Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples" (John 15:8).
There is nothing static in spiritual experience; every real Christian is a growing Christian. The purpose of fruit-bearing is to glorify Christ. The branch does not bear fruit to glorify itself; it bears fruit to glorify the vine. But only the "much fruit" glorifies the Father. Anything short of that, although it may bring Him joy and please Him, fails to glorify the Father fully.
Now, what is fruit? It is Christ in His outward manifestation.
"I in you ... I in him" (John 15:4-5)
(continued with # 9)