S. Lee Homoki
Dr. C.I. Scofield, in his reference Bible and through his booklet, “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth,” popularized the use of the phrase Standing and State. This has been a tremendous asset to believers to help them understand the difference between their perfect position in Christ and their not so perfect execution of their new life in Christ.
Ephesians 4:1 shows us the two principles of the believer’s Standing and State and their relationship to each other. We are told that the believer’s walk (state) must be brought into proper adjustment to his vocation (standing). As a matter of fact, the whole Epistle to the Ephesians is so constructed, so as to illustrate this principle. The first three chapters have to do with the believer’s Standing or position “in Christ” (count the number of times the phrase “in Christ” is found), and the last three chapters have to do with the believer’s State or walk of the Christian way of life! (See the references to “walk”.)
The believer’s Standing is the way God sees the believer in Christ: as perfect and complete. The believer’s State is the way God sees the believer execute or walk the Christian way of life—sometimes sinful, erring, and inconsistent with his high and majestic position in Christ.
THE BELIEVER’S STANDING
The Standing or position of the believer in Christ is the result of the finished work of Christ. The believer, through faith (Eph. 2:8), is placed “into” Christ at the moment of salvation as a result of the Holy Spirit’s baptism (1 Cor. 12:12-13), and is “accepted in the beloved” (Eph. 1:6). This position cannot be improved upon, nor can it change. Thus, the believer (even the worst believer—1 Cor. 1:2, 30) is eternally secure and sure of Heaven (Rom. 8:1, 38-39).
Being positionally in Christ (our standing), the believer becomes an “heir of God and joint-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17). This means that the believer possesses what Christ is and has! For example: Eternal Life (1 Jn. 5:11-12); Righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21); Sonship (Gal. 3::26); Election (Eph. 1:4); Destiny (Eph. 1:5); Sanctification (1 Cor. 1:2,30); Resurrection (Jn. 11:25-26); Adoption (Rom. 8:15); Perfection (Col. 2:10; Heb. 10:14); and Glorification (Rom. 8:30). We must realize that since Christ can never cease to possess or be these things, our Standing or Position in Christ guarantees that we can never cease to possess these things. Our “life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). Hallelujah! We STAND in Christ (Rom. 5:1-2; 1 Cor. 15:1; 1 Pet. 5:12).
THE BELIEVER’S STATE
As a result of our position “in Christ,” we are “new creatures” (2 Cor. 5:7), but sometimes we do not act like a new creation wherein the “old” has passed away and all has become “new.”
The believer’s walk or state may or may not be in conformity to his position, He is, therefore, exhorted to “grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18); to “walk in love” (Eph. 5:2); to “walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8); and to “walk circumspectly” (Eph. 5:15). Dr. Scofield said, “The beggar is lifted up from the dunghill and set among princes… (1 Sam. 2:8), and then exhorted to be princely.
In order to enable the believer to maintain a state that is compatible with his standing, God has made further grace provisions such as: the Word of God (Jn. 17:17; Eph. 5:26); discipline (1 Cor. 11:32; Heb. 12:10); the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9; Gal. 5:22; Eph. 5:18); the trials of life (1 Pet. 4:12-14); and the means of restoration to fellowship when we sin (Rom. 6:11; 1 Jn. 1:9). When a believer sins, it does not affect his standing, but, rather, his state.
Some have failed to understand the principles of Standing and State and have erred greatly in that they have taken the issues of the believer’s Standing and State (Example: 2 Cor. 5:17; Phil. 2:12; 1 Jn. 2:6), and made them a test for salvation or a condition to gain or maintain salvation.
It is not likely that, in this life, our Standing and State shall ever be equal. However, that is the objective of the Christian way of life (Phil. 3:12). Someday, we shall be transformed into the likeness of Christ (1 Jn. 3:1-2).