by Wayne Barber
In Galatians 3:26 Paul says “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” He is contrasting what Christ has done for us that the Law never could. Paul uses the word for “sons” that expresses absolute maturity, huiós—one who is a reflection of his father’s will. The word refers to one who lives in total harmony with his father. This is the word that refers to Christ all through the New Testament.
And this is our “position” in Christ. None of us has arrived at this level of maturity, but this is who Christ is in us. He is the ho huiós, the Son of God. He is the perfect Son of God. It is in Him—only in Him, when we are surrendered to His will and way—that we enjoy all the full adult privileges of sonship. Paul shows us that at the moment of salvation not only do we become sons, but we are immediately baptized into Christ. We are totally identified with Him.
“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (v. 27). If I could take a bowl of red dye and put a white cloth into it, then the cloth would be immersed in the dye, but the dye would be in the cloth. There would no longer be a white cloth; there would be a red cloth. The white cloth is in the dye, but the dye is in the cloth. We are in Christ and Christ is in us.
Now, Paul connects being “baptized into Christ” with being “clothed with Christ.” We are now dressed in the garment of His righteousness! We have a brand-new identity in Him. We are saturated with His power and presence. We are totally identified with Him no matter our race, as he says, in verse 28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek.” It doesn’t matter if we are rich or poor: “there is neither slave nor free man.” It doesn’t matter whether we are male or female: “there is neither male nor female.” Why? “For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
The garment that Christ gives us to wear brings about a behavior that is Christ! This behavior looks the same in all believers. It causes us to have the same character from within. We all wear the same uniform! It is His character in us!
Now, this begs for a question to be asked and answered: If believers are clothed with His garment, if Christ truly now lives in us, then why is it that so many believers live as if this is not true? Some can be meaner than a snake. How can people in the body of Christ be so cruel to others? This is what we must understand: believers are dressed inwardly with Christ; He has come to live in us! But for this garment, this behavior, to be seen outwardly by others, then we must live by faith, totally trusting Him and His Word.
The way we received the garment is the same way we put it on—by faith! This is why in Romans 13:14 Paul had to tell believers to “put on the garment.” Even though they had put it on inwardly, they needed to learn to put it on outwardly, by giving no provision to the flesh (see also Eph. 4:22-44).
Paul has told us already in Galatians how he now lives so that Christ can manifest His garment, His life, His character, His behavior, through His servant. He says in 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
Faith is a choice to believe and trust only God and His Word. God allows us to have a choice in the way we live. But if we choose to pamper our flesh, which is simply our will to do as we please, playing some religious game with God, we need to seriously ask whether we have been truly born again. Indeed we note that prásso\ (“they which do” in v. 21) tends to say that if a person lives habitually unwilling to allow God to change him, then that person is not a believer. A true believer may be in temporary bondage to his sin, but his sin will torment him and he will cry for deliverance.
In our next article we are going to look at what the garment, the behavior of our sinful flesh, looks like when we do not bow in surrender to Christ. The characteristics of one who does not wear the garment of Christ are always the same. It is so sad when a believer chooses to pamper his flesh! He becomes divisive in the body of Christ. He becomes a detriment to all that Christ is seeking to do. In fact, he lives no differently than the lost when it comes to his behavior toward others. We will look at this next time. What garment are you wearing?
Wayne Barber is senior pastor of Hoffmantown Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico.