Have you ever being in situations where you were out of someone's favour? Something you did or did not do, got you on their wrong side? Once, my wife Lai Ling corrected my youngest child Deborah when she was about 2 years old. My daughter pouted and refused to look at nor respond to her mother for a while. Lai Ling was out of favour with her. Well, there is one person you definitely don’t want to get on the wrong side. And that is God.
In the book of Exodus from chapter 5 to 12 recorded how Moses told Pharaoh to set the Israelites free. But Pharaoh and his officials harden their hearts and resisted God. They kept on resisting God until it reached the full wrath of God. The Egyptians were ultimately judged by God who declared a death plague upon all their firstborn. They were judged because of their obstinate and continual rebellion against God. They were out of God's favour.
On the other hand, the Israelites were given the Passover Lamb in chapter 12:1-13. The Passover lamb was to be sacrificed and its sacrifice will bring salvation to the Israelites from the judgment of God. The Passover Lamb of course typified to “the” Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice on the cross brings salvation to all who trust in Him. For more in-depth explanations, refer to my blog articles on The Purpose of Passover Lamb (Parts 1 & 2)
In the midst of this judgment, truths were revealed about the significance of our relationship with Christ and the favour of God. From this passage of Exodus 12:21-30, we will discover here what it means to be outside of Christ and outside of faith. And why it leads to being outside of God's mercy.
"OUT" OF CHRIST
Exodus 12:21–23 (NIV) 21 Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning. 23 When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.
The Israelites were to mark their houses with the Passover Lamb's blood. In a triune fashion and in an outline of the cross, the front door’s 3 lintel were to be marked with blood. And they had to remain in the house for the duration of the night. They were safe as long as they remained under the covering of the Passover lamb's blood. Only those who were "in" their houses were protected from the destroyer, an angel of death.
Those who are not "in" Christ will be out of God's mercy. Out of God's protection. Out of God's favour.
The instructions God gave provide a symbolic insight into a key spiritual truth. Just as the Israelites found shelter in a house marked by blood, so too we find shelter in Christ who bears the marks of His shed blood. As the Israelites in the houses were protected from God's judgment, so too believers who are "in" Christ are protected from God's coming judgment. Those who are not "in" Christ will be out of God's mercy. Out of God's protection. Out of God's favour.
To appreciate what it means to be out of Christ, we first need to understand what it means to be in Christ.
What does it means to be "in" Christ?
There are deep spiritual truths about being "in". The Bible declares that "in" Adam all sin and all die. All humankind was a part of Adam. For we were in Adam. We were there with Adam when he chose to sin. Hence all die in Adam's sin. On the other hand, "in" Christ, all live. 1 Corinthians 15:22 (NIV) For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
The foundation to be "in" Christ is to trust in Christ, to have faith in Him.
So what does it mean to be in Christ? The foundation to be "in" Christ is to trust in Christ, to have faith in Him. Romans 10:11 (NIV) As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
Just as the Israelites had to trust God to protect them within their houses marked by the lamb's blood, so too we must trust in Christ to save us from our sins. Further, being "in" Christ means more than just trusting Christ. Ephesians 3:12 (NIV) In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
There is a tangible link between us and Christ through the Holy Spirit who now resides in us.
There is a tangible link between us and Christ through the Holy Spirit who now resides in us. God in us. Through that link we are spiritually included "in" Christ. It is a state of being. Let us imagine a baby joey inside the mother kangaroo's pouch. The joey is trusting the mother enough to lie in the pouch for safety and nourishment. And the joey is also physically "in" the mother. In the same way we are trusting Christ and in Christ.
What is the significance of being "in" Christ?
In Christ we receive eternal life. John 6:40 (NIV) For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
In Christ, we receive forgiveness, redemption, atonement, justification, sanctification, and finally glorification. Ephesians 1:7 (NIV) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.
All the benefits of salvation accrue to us. That is as long as we remain in Christ.
Along with that, there are many other blessings we receive in Christ such as a new identity, a new power and authority. Yet for all the above, we do not own as a personal right. It is not ours, although we experience all its benefits. We have it only because we are in Christ. All the benefits of salvation accrue to us. That is as long as we remain in Christ.
We cannot walk away from Christ and still claim the benefits of salvation. The forgiveness of our sins is effective only as long as we remain in Christ. Do you realize that to claim that God has forgiven you is technically incorrect? God forgives you because you are in Christ!
Have you ever realised that there is no forgiveness for those outside of Christ? No matter how sorry they are? God forgives you only because you are connected to Christ. God forgives for Christ sake, not yours. God forgives because of Christ's righteousness, not yours. The only reason God forgives you, is because you are in Christ. And God continues to forgive you, because you remain in Christ. Romans 8:1 (NIV) Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
Some Christians have failed to understand this carefully. They think that they are fully forgiven, pardoned, justified, atoned. Past tense. Done deal. So I cannot lose that status no matter what I do. They imagine that it is a certificate to do anything. How many of us realise that in the court of law, we can be pardoned, forgiven, even justified. Past tense. Done deal. Yet if we go out and commit another crime, we will be back in the same court and thrown into prison.
In the same way, God would be just to condemn us when we sin again. Yet because we remain "in" Christ, God always forgives us our sins when we repent. Once we understand this principle, we understand why the Bible urges us in Colossians 2:6 (NIV) So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him,
Being in Christ is not a permanent once for all state. It is an on-going state of being that requires your choice.
Being in Christ is not a permanent once for all state. It is an on-going state of being that requires your choice. Consider a bomb shelter. As long as you remain in the bomb shelter you are protected. But if you choose to walk outside, the protection no longer is effective. In Christ, we remain in God's favour. Out of Christ, we are out of God's favour.
In Christ we can go where we cannot, but Christ can. In Christ, we gain blessings that we do not deserve, but Christ does.
In Christ we can go where we cannot, but Christ can. In Christ, we gain blessings that we do not deserve, but Christ does. In Christ, we are called sons of God and given the standing of sons. In Christ, we are given Kingdom authority. The authority to cast out demons and establish the rule of God.
The late Dr Paul Yonggi Cho shared from his experience as a young pastor where he was one day called to cast a demon out of a woman. At that time, he had little experience casting out demons. The woman was obviously possessed. She snarled at him and mocked him when he tried to cast out the demon. He tried everything he could to cast out the demon but to no avail. This went on for several hours and Yonggi Cho was exhausted. Then it dawned upon him that he had tried out of his own strength. He had tried using formulas. Yet he was fearful of the demon. He had to trust in Christ and the authority that he had in Him. With that revelation, he started to rebuke the demon with the authority that he knew was in Christ and in His Name. The demon left quite quickly after that.
In Christ, we walk in the blessings, power and authority of God.
"OUT" OF FAITH
Exodus 12:24–28 (NIV) 24 “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. 25 When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. 26 And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ 27 then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’ ” Then the people bowed down and worshiped. 28 The Israelites did just what the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron.
To remain in Christ, we have to maintain faith in Christ.
By faith, the Israelites followed God's instructions and were protected from the destroyer. Unlike the Israelites, the Egyptians had no faith in God nor His commands. They were "out" of faith. To remain in Christ, we have to maintain faith in Christ.
How are you keeping your faith in Christ? How do you know whether you are continuing to have faith in Christ? True faith in Christ is characterised by a number of elements such as:
On-going relationship with Christ. What sort of relationship do we have with God? Are we talking to Him, listening to Him? Is there any desire to relate with God? When there are people that you do not trust, you have no desire to relate to. In my wedding, I had to invite relatives that were not on talking terms to each other. There was zero relationship between them. We had to make sure they were not on the same table.
Dependence upon Christ. Do we seek to lean on God for strength and encouragement? Do we look for God’s grace to be fruitful? As Jesus reminded us in John 15:4-5 (NIV) 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
Obedience to Christ. Obedience is an indicator of the quality of our faith in Christ. Those whose faith is stronger will be more obedient to God's commands. Our obedient reflects that we are in Christ. John 15:10 (NIV) If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
Our obedience reflects how much we love God. How much desire do we have to obey God? My wife and I chose to remain in Australia, rather than return to Malaysia out of obedience to God’s call to serve God in Australia. For we had previously determined to return to Malaysia to serve God there. I had also wanted to return in order to win my parents to Christ. Instead, we had to trust God for their salvation. In God’s goodness, my parents came to Christ some years later.
In our church we have an extensive ministry to overseas students. Many of these students end up in our church and grow spiritually under our ministry. We often remind these overseas students at the end of their studies. We tell them, “Don’t stay just because your friends do, or life seems better here. Don’t go home just because your friends or family do. Seek God and obey Him.”
What is the condition of our faith today? Is it in need of resuscitation? Is it in need of a triple bypass? It starts with making a decision. A decision to place our trust in Christ. Let us keep in faith.
"OUT" OF GOD'S MERCY
Exodus 12:29–30 (NIV) 29 At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. 30 Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.
Judgment came upon the Egyptians because they were not in God's mercy. They were "out" or outside God's mercy. The reason why we do not face God's judgment is because of His mercy covering over His holy judgment.
The concept is demonstrated by the mercy-seat at the ark of covenant. The mercy seat is sprinkled with the blood of the Passover lamb each year by the high priest. The mercy seat is placed on the cover of the ark of covenant and covers over the stone tablets with the 10 commandments. The 10 commandments represent God's Laws. The Laws represent the holy standards of God. Without the blood on the mercy seat there would be judgment for breaking God's Laws.
When the Philistines captured the ark of covenant, they kept it for 7 months. In which time God brought diseases and death until they could not take it any longer and returned it to the Israelites. They abandoned the ark in Beth Shemesh. 1 Samuel 6:19 (NIV) But God struck down some of the men of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they had looked into the ark of the LORD. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the LORD had dealt them,
What happened? The 70 men in Beth Shemesh opened the ark. They removed the cover which the mercy seat was upon and exposed God's Law. Without mercy there will only be judgment. So 70 men died immediately. In the classic movie Indiana Jones and Raider of the Lost Ark, it depicted what happened when the Nazi found and opened ark of covenant. It showed that angels of death were released which killed every person who looked. Of course, it was a fictional dramatization by Hollywood. Nevertheless, they caught some truth about the wrath of God.
When we are "out" of God's mercy there only remains holy judgment.
When we are "out" of God's mercy there only remains holy judgment. John 3:18 (NIV) Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
As long as we remain in Christ, we will not face God's judgment.
Those who come under the blood of Christ will be spared God's judgment and instead receive mercy. A long as we have faith in Christ, we will remain in Him. And as long as we remain in Christ, we will not face God's judgment. But for those who deliberately give up their faith in Christ, they are no longer in Christ and they will face God's judgment.
Does this mean that apostasy can happen? Hebrews 6:4-6 (NIV) 4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6 if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.
God promises never to let us go. But we can choose to let ourselves go.
Heb 10:26-38, 2 Peter 2:18-20 are other clear Scriptures warnings us about the dangers of apostasy. But what about Scriptures assuring us that God will never let us go? That we are save in Him? God promises never to let us go. But we can choose to let ourselves go. We can choose to walk out of Christ by unbelief, by denying Christ. So let us never walk out of Christ, for we will walk out of God's favour. Instead let us continue in Christ. Let us grow surer, by deepening our relationship with God, depending on Him, trusting Him and obeying Him.
To be “out” of Chris means total exposure to God’s holy judgment. There is no mercy available to cover over. God desires us to be in Christ and to remain in Christ. But the choice remains ours. Let us choose this day to resolutely remain in Christ. It takes faith on our part!
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