A distinction of vast importance to the right understanding of the Scriptures, especially of the Epistles, is that which concerns the standing (position) of the believer, and his state (condition).
There is much ignorance about this in the Church today, resulting in considerable confusion… what is the difference and why is this important?
Standing is the result of the work of Christ, and is perfect and entire from the very moment that Christ is received in faith. Nothing adds in the smallest degree to the believer’s title to God’s favor, nor to his perfect security. Faith alone gives a believer his standing in God’s sight, and before Him, the weakest, most ignorant, most infirm and fallible man on earth, if he be but a true believer on the Lord Jesus Christ, has precisely the same title as the most illustrious saint.
What is the standing of the believer?
John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
1 John3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
1Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
Revelation 1:5-6 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 2:4-6 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
1John5:1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.
Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
1John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
Hebrews 10:19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
Ephesians 5:30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
Every one of these marvelous things is true of every believer on the Lord Jesus Christ. Not one item in this glorious inventory is said to be gained by prayer or by diligence in service, or by church going, or by alms giving, or self-denial, or holiness in life, or by any other description of good works. All is the gift of God, through Christ, through faith, and therefore belongs equally to all believers. The very instant that the brutal jailer of Philippi believed on the Lord Jesus Christ he became a son of God, a joint heir with Christ, a king and a priest, and the owner of an incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading inheritance.
How believers receive their standing
1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Colossians 1:12-14 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
2 Timothy 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
Hebrews 10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
State refers to the day-to-day walk of a believer. It is determined by daily choices regarding obedience or disobedience, as well as the manner of living of the believer. State often affects the believer’s joy, peace, and contentment while on earth.
Colossians 3:8-9 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
Philippians 2:12-15 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Colossians 3:12-25 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.
Philippians 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
The believer is not exhorted to work for his own salvation, but to work out, in service and testimony, what God works in him.
Our position in Christ is perfect, His own righteousness having been imputed to us. Our condition is quite another matter; our behavior is often far from perfect. God accepts us on the basis of our position in Christ, but He patiently, relentlessly, works in us to bring our condition into conformance with our position.