What It Means To Be “In Christ”

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

The Bible teaches that believers are “in Christ,” so how do you know if you are or are not in Christ? How can we be “in Christ?”

Not His

The Bible teaches that believers are “in Christ,” so how do you know if you are or are not in Christ? How can we be “in Christ?” To begin with, whoever has never been brought to repentance and faith in Christ does not have Christ in them. They might have Him in their mind or read about Him, but He does not dwell in them, nor do they dwell in Him, and that’s a serious problem. Whoever does not have the Son, does not have eternal life (1 John 5:12), and that means the coming wrath of God (Rev 20:12-15). It’s just that simple. In fact, unless you’ve put your trust in Christ, you’ve never received the Holy Spirit, and He is the One who reveals Who Christ is and why you need Him.

Not in Christ

Someone who is not living like Christ may not have Christ in them, or at least, they are suppressing the Holy Spirit and not reflecting Christ-likeness. The Holy Spirit always seeks to glorify Christ, but when our actions don’t reflect Christ’s presence, we are not really being “in Christ.” If we are doing things before others, only to be seen, we’re not doing this for Christ. We’re doing it for selfish reasons; to receive rewards on earth from the accolades of others. That’s not being in Christ, because whatever we do, we should do for the glory of Christ (1 Cor 10:31). To act in a way that is contrary to Christ, is to not, at least in the visible sense, not have Christ in them. Those who are abiding in Christ and abiding in His Word will more likely be “in Christ,” because when you take in the Word of God, you take in the Son of God, declared to be the Word of God (John 1). That means Christ and His Word dwell in you. That’s partly what it means to be “In Christ.”

In Christ

In Romans 6:11, the Apostle Paul mentions the phrase, “in Christ,” saying, “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” His point is that we have a new nature and our old man or woman of sin now chooses to serve Christ and be “in Christ,” rather than turn back to the former things. Of course, we will sin after salvation, but we will sin less…and less, over time. Paul said that, “if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness” (Rom 8:10). Of course, that dead corpse tries to resurrection itself, as even Paul struggled after conversion (Rom 7), but our nature has been changed (2 Cor 5:17). We have near hearts…hearts bent more toward pleasing God and others, than pleasing self. Of course we will still sin, but we will (or should) sin less!


There are many perks to being a child of God. For example, the Bible teaches that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1). Jesus was your Advocate in the Heavenly Supreme Court, and you were found not guilty in Christ. There’s no more condemnation having over your head. And now your family has grown considerably. You and I have many new brothers and sisters in Christ, and even “though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Rom 12:5), so even the Body of Christ, the church, is “in Christ,” however, that does not mean everyone “in” the church is in Christ. Paul always acknowledged those who labored for the Lord, as being “in Christ” (Rom 16:7-10). These saints are “those sanctified in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor 1:2), but only “because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor 1:4). The best way to be in Christ is to be in His Word and be filled with the Spirit, and serve alongside the other saints as we’re commanded to do (Heb 10:24-25).


The Apostle Paul might have seemed to be hard on the Church at Corinth, but he did said good things about them, like “you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor 1:30). The believer can look around at the death and destruction differently because we have hope outside of this life. So, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor 15:19), but the good news is that “Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor 15:20). We have the hope of resurrection, but only because of Jesus Christ (2 Co 5:21). We will see our departed loved ones who died in the faith once again. It will be a heavenly reunion unlike anything we can describe, but that is only if you’ve put your trust in Christ. Outside of having faith in Christ, do you really think that “that you will escape the judgment of God” (Rom 2:3)? If you are in Christ, you will be spared the wrath of God. That’s why today, I pray that you put your trust in the Savior. Today is the best day to do that (2 Cor 6:2). Wait too long, and die in your sins, you will be without hope of salvation (Heb 9:27). That makes right now the best time to put your trust in the Savior.

Here is some related reading for you: What Does it Mean to be “In Christ?”

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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