"But God who is rich in mercy, because of His great love in which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together and made us sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:4-6
The phrase, "In Christ", has baffled me for years. It may be imprudent to admit my difficulty understanding such a fundamental to the Christian faith. However, I have learned typically one question is shared by many curious cohorts.
Understanding "Christ in me" was easier to understand. Christ lives in me. That makes sense. However, me living in Him didn't link with the synapses in my mortal mind.
Then, the Lord sent me to the apple orchard...
The owner of the orchard explained how apple trees are grafted to produce good fruit. It was quite educational. If an apple seed is planted from an apple I eat, it will likely produce bad fruit. He called this apple a “spitter”, rightly named because if bitten, you will want to spit it out.
To produce good fruit, a branch from a tasty apple tree is grafted onto the root of a bitter “spitter” apple tree. He visually demonstrated how these two trees are brought together to produce sweet juicy apples. The stem from the bad tree is cut and a notch is inserted into the cut. A branch from the good tree is also cut and a notch inserted. Then, like a puzzle, the two limbs are brought together, the bad tree meshes with the good tree and takes on the nature of the good tree, bearing good fruit.
This visualizes perfectly what happens when we accept Jesus into our lives. Our roots are bad and we will produce bad fruit unless we allow Jesus to come into our lives. Once Jesus lives in us, our old nature becomes new and we are able to bear sweet good fruit. This is what it means to be “in Christ”.
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
“Therefore is anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” 2 Cor 5:17
Now, let’s take a look at John 15:1-3.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.”
When reading verse three with the two verses above it, it goes perfectly with the apple tree demonstration. We have been grafted in Christ. We are a part of Him, His branch. And because of who we are in Him, we are already clean.
God doesn't discard us. Rather, He is in the business of removing our ugly branches. God is constantly removing our impurities (bad branches) and purifying us because we are in Christ.
We are constantly in a process of sanctification and pruning so we will bear all the plump juicy fruit the Lord designed us to produce in Him. No spitting or “spitters” here! We are one with Christ, we are "in Christ" and we are already clean.