The believer’s standing (position) is the way the Father sees him in His Son, as perfect in Him. But his state (condition) is the way the Father sees him in his daily walk, which is sinful and erring and needs to be developed and improved.
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand” (Rom 5:1, 2). “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand” (1 Cor 15:1). “That I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state” (Phil 2:19, 20).
Nearly all the false doctrines that teach some form of human works or merit for salvation are based upon Scriptures that deal with the believer’s state and have nothing to do with salvation at all. God’s Word would not be complete if it did not teach both the sinner how to be saved and the believer how to conduct himself after he is saved. Many of the difficulties in understanding the Scriptures would disappear if we would always ask: is this verse about our standing or our state?
One notable instance of this principle of Bible understanding is found in the first epistle to the Corinthians. In the first chapter, Paul refers to them as saints who “are sanctified.” But in the third chapter he says they are “carnal”, or fleshly. As to their standing, they are sanctified in Christ Jesus—perfect in Him. But in their actual earthly walk, or state, they were carnal. In their standing they are safe, as secure and perfect as the work of the Cross can make them. But in their state they need exhortation and growth.
Again, in Colossians 2:10, “And ye are complete in Him.” This refers to the perfect standing which the believer has in Christ. It cannot be improved upon; it is already “complete” in Christ. Yet in our walk we cannot say that we are sinless, for “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves” (1 John 1:8).
The Father looks upon every believer as if he were already in heaven, as far as his standing in concerned. This blessed truth is brought out in Ephesians 2:6, “And hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” But as far as his earthly state is concerned while he is waiting the home-call, the believer is admonished thus: “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth” (Col 3:5). So we see that the believer is said to be both in heaven and on earth. “Standing and State” is the only explanation of this. Much more of the Word is given to instructions for the believer’s state than to his standing. His standing is heavenly, eternal and perfect. His state is earthly, temporary and imperfect. - Unknown