“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious richesof this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)
For a long time, as a Christian, I knew that Christ lives in me. He is a Person. He gives life. He is the Life (John 11:25-26; John 14:6). But for a long time, I also didn’t really feel that He is alive in me even though I was taught many things from the Bible.
“Christianity is not a religion. It is not an institution. It is a Person. Christianity is Christ. It is all Christ Christ Christ Christ.” – John Stott
As I look back, I realize my failure to allow Christ be alive in me is a result of not knowing the following.
Cause And Effect
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23).
A normal Christian bears fruit. But instead of knowing these “fruits” are simply fruit with the root being Christ, I turned these “fruit” into burdensome “expectations” that I wanted to live up to by my human strength. I detach the fruit from the root Jesus Christ. I forgot that Christ the Spirit is the cause, and these fruit are the effects.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5).”
In the word of Oswald Chambers, be who you are in Christ, and He will do it in and through you. Remain in Him. “Apart from me you can do nothing”, Jesus says. Nothing. Nothing means nothing. He wants us to fully depend on Him. Only He is able. We are not. Only by admitting this can we live Christ (See also “An Overcoming Life“). “For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” (2 Tim 1:12)
Call and Response
Remain in Him does’t equal to passiveness or laziness. A pastor once said us a group of young people that, “Grace and effort are not opposing to each other.”. How true. Yes, there is nothing we can do to be made righteous in our own human effort, yet in the word of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, grace is not cheap. When God draws us, we respond. When God calls, we answer. If we consistently ignore our conscience, we will experience a shipwreck of faith, “Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.” (1 Timothy 1:19). Besides, God hardens those who harden their heart continuously (Romans 9:17-18). There are also numerous serious examples recorded in the Bible of believers continuously and willfully ignore their conscience, leading to sin unto death (Acts 5, 1 Cor 11, etc).
But when we fail, God does not condemn, for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). But since we do remain in Him, we experience godly grief when grieve the Spirit. Nevertheless, we can always come forward to receive grace, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
Dying to Self
“… you are not Christ’s disciple, in the sense of following him, if this is not your way of life: rejected and slain daily!” – Francis Schaeffer
A Christian life begins by “dying to self”, and this principle continues so on a daily basis (P.S. I love what Eugene Peterson says about spiritual life being a matter of learning how to die.),
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 2:12)
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Jesus’ death on the cross does not only signify His forgiveness on our sins, but also the crucifixion of our old self. One day, of course, we will also receive a physical resurrection with a transformed body, “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.” (Romans 6:8)
But here is the hard part. Death means not a single bit of the old thing remains. The Lord needs a full, but not partial, surrender.
“And He was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. ‘For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)
“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matthew 10:38)
New Life in Christ
Being dead to sin and alive in Christ also means that we have been freed from guilt and the power of sin.
“Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” (Romans 6:11-14)
“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”(Galatians 5:24)
“that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)
When Christ truly lives in us, we no longer need to try harder in our effort to please Him, for His will becomes our will and His desire becomes our desire. We now live for the will of God, “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:1-2)
Living by the life of Christ also means that we boast not in ourselves but in and of the Lord. I recall a brother saying that when Jesus died for us, He not only died for our “bad” deeds but our “good” deeds as well. Amen! “But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14)
Let Christ Increase
John the Baptist gave us a wonderful reminder,
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
If we find ourselves constantly struggling, we can simply acknowledge our inability and ask the Lord to help us. Tell Him that Lord, I cannot, but You can. God pours out His spirit in immeasurable generosity to those who ask! “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13).
The Indwelling Spirit
One is either in Christ or not in Christ. Similarly, we are either in the flesh or in the Spirit. Thankfully, all believers have the indwelling Spirit, who is Christ Himself, living in us. The question is, do we let Him live through us?
“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” (Galatians 5:17)
“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)
“So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh– for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:12-13)
“This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.” (1 John 4:13)
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
Living by the Spirit is a continuous matter. As the Scripture says, we have to “keep in step” with the Spirit, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25). It is also the Spirit who does all the things that we, in our natural flesh, cannot do,
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” (Romans 8:14)
“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” (Ephesians 1:17)
“So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” (Zechariah 4:6)
“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:16)
Christ is Everything
“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8).
“So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.” (Titus 2:12).
Hallelujah, Christ is all in all (Col 3:11). May Christ be fully manifested in our life!
“Christianity is not an imitation but His life manifested in us.” – Frank Viola