Eph 1 (NASB)
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8which He lavished on us.
Col 1 (NASB)
13For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
I used to try to penetrate deeply in to what those "IN CHRIST" passages mean. In fact it was brought up in one of the discussions here.
Now I do not do that anymore because I believe it has to be understood in its plain sense, it needs no parsing.
Forgiveness is not found anywhere floating in the air but it is found specifically in one location - in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ - who has become our righteousness, sanctification and redemption - 1 Cor 1:30. He is God's gift to us - for us. He brings us to Christ so that we may benefit in his work of paying for our sins. Jesus is The Righteous One.
So when we are bothered that we are thoroughly not righteous, we point to Christ in the face of the Law and even in the face of the accuser of the brethren.
These IN CHRIST passages I observe has a way of pushing you to believe - and to believe what? - Precisely the same thing - that IN CHRIST I have righteousness, sanctification and redemption. To confess this is to believe also what the Scripture says - that indeed IN CHRIST we have the forgiveness of our sins who gave himself as ransom for us all.
The other question, is this - am I IN CHRIST? This is one of the reasons why these IN CHRIST passages had a way of mystifying me.
I was told I am in Christ if I believed. This is true but what happens when I doubt if I even believe?
According to Philip Cary in his paper - "Why Luther is not quite Protestant", Luther looked at his baptism when faced with such doubts.
We need to rely on another Scripture that in our Baptism according to God's word - Rom 1:1-6, God has placed us IN CHRIST. That is what happened. God applied Jesus death to us forgiving us of our sins, in that means of grace. The effect of baptism then if God's Word is to be believed, is not confined only at that point when we were baptized but its effect is for the rest of our lives. The forgiveness is all of our sins not just some.
May our hearts always confess, "yes Lord God, IN CHRIST I have your forgiveness of sin, Jesus has already paid it on my behalf". Amen.