God Moves Inside

So let’s keep going on this new Father-child relationship and explore a thought that takes it up to an entirely new level.  The dynamic of your new connection to the Father is so much more than just a new name on your “new birth” certificate, or the joy of a father-daughter dance, or working together as father and son on your Pinewood Derby car.

No, what is incredible, unusual, and powerful about this new life is that God is not just a father standing in line next to you at an amusement park, He is literally living inside of you.  As great as our best earthly father connection can be, God living inside us brings us so much more.

That the God of the universe indwells His children is a prominent theme throughout the New Testament.  We generally think of God’s indwelling in terms of His Spirit living inside.  And He does.  But throughout the New Testament, Christ and the Holy Spirit are often used interchangeably to describe God’s presence inside you and I.  Let’s start with the Spirit.

In the last supper discourse of John chapters 13-17, Jesus promised the Spirit to His disciples.  “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Gr. Paracletosone called alongside to help), that He will be with you forever;” (Jn 14:16).  What does Jesus mean by a Helper, coming alongside to help?  And what is “be with you forever”?

Jesus continues in the next verse, “this is the Spirit of truth (i.e. the one who we now refer to as the Holy Spirit), who the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you” (Jn 14:17).  Did you catch the subtle addition to the Spirit’s “helper” duties?

The Spirit is not just coming alongside to help – though He certainly does that – but look at the end of verse 17.  He is coming to be in you.  What in the world does “in you” mean?  Is God in the form of the Holy Spirit actually coming to live in me?  Can God become that personal; to live inside each of us who are His children?

Let’s continue.  “You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you.  But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him … But since the Spirit of Him who raised Christ Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you” (Rom 8:9,11).

The Spirit who dwells in you is not just chilling out inside you.  He is active. He is working.  He is “giving life to your mortal body”.  He is giving you life.  He is giving you spiritual life.  He is giving you righteous life.  He is opening the flood gates that allow the righteous life of God to literally flow into your mortal body, into your earth-suit, into your physical being.

In short, the God who moved inside isn’t silent and still.  He is active – and as we will see next time – active on your behalf.

God’s Beloved Child

So how can we know for sure that our separation has ended?  Is this really the message of God’s Word?  Let’s move now from our picture of the study door being flung wide open to the Scriptures.  This idea that our separation from our Father has ended is completely wrapped up in our identity as God’s child.

“You are sons of God being led by the Spirit of God.  For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow-heirs with Christ” (Rom 8:14-17).

Look at how many times in these four short verses our identity as God’s child is highlighted.  “Sons of Godadopted as sonswe cry, ‘Abba! Father!’children of Godheirs of God.”  What a glorious picture of our sonship.  What an incredible list of identifiers.  Our connection to God is fully formed because of our new relationship with the Father.  We are literally a child of God Himself.

This adoption as sons and daughters is all fueled by God’s great love for us.  “See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are” (I Jn 3:1).  God’s great love has brought us into the fold, and it is a love from which we can never be separated.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor power, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:35, 37-39).

Your connection to God – your identity as His child – is final and secure because it rests entirely on God’s love.  It does not rest on your obedience, your effort, your feelings, your experience, or any other created thing.  Your secure connection fully stands on the foundation of God’s love; a love that sprung into action when God poured out His grace upon you and me.

This love and grace was expressed to us in the highest way possible when Christ died in our place.  Jesus took on our sin, our guilt, and our punishment in His death.  And it was this expression of love that opened wide the door to God’s holy place and welcomed us in as the beloved child of God.

A Light Under the Door

A word picture that came to mind after my last post may help illustrate the difference I am talking about in how we address our connection to God.  Many “gospel centered” writers – though certainly not all – paint the following picture of our connection to our heavenly Father.

Let’s say that you are standing in the hall of a great house.  Your Father is patting you on the head.  He says, “You are totally accepted by Me.  I love you.  I will always love you.  There is nothing you can do to lose my love.  You are approved by Me.  Your sins are completely forgiven.  There is nothing more you need to do to “earn” my favor.  Christ did it all when He died in your place on the cross.”  It is a beautiful and true message.

Then your Father proceeds down the hall and enters His study.  He shuts the door and you see a sliver of light shining into the hall from under the door.  You are left to figure out your next steps based on His commands, instructions, etc.  And there you are, on your own to live the life.

Now let’s think of another scenario, a picture that I believe illustrates the New Testament message.  You have received the Father’s message of forgiveness, approval, acceptance, and love.  But you are not left standing in the hall.  No, the study door has been flung open and the light pours out into the hall.  And you hear the Father calling your name.

You rush into His holy chamber and in an instant you are on your Father’s lap, crying “Abba Father”.  Yes, this is where you belong.  And the Father lovingly cradles you and says, “I don’t want you left in the hall.  I want you right here.  In fact, I want you so close that I, the Maker of the Universe; I, the Creator of the World; I, the Sovereign over all sovereigns, am coming to live right inside of you and you will live your life inside of Me.  I in you, and you in Me.”

That is the connection you have with your Father.  It is a connection that is unbreakable.  It is a connection that is unshakeable.  It is a connection that is full of power, energy, righteousness, and everything you need to live the Christian life.

It is a connection we will continue to explore in the days to come.  But for now, let me leave you with a few truths to dwell on, and to ask yourself, “Do I really believe this is true?”

You are not divine, but you contain the Divine.  “You are a partaker of the divine nature” II Pet. 1:4.

You are not deity, but you contain the Deity.  “We have this treasure in earthen vessels” II Cor 4:7.

You are not the Christ, but the Christ lives inside you.  “In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” Jn 14:20.