“Christ in You”

Last time, in our presentation of the Spirit’s indwelling, I made a brief reference to the idea that Christ and the Holy Spirit are often used interchangeably in the promise of God coming to live in us.  Today, we will look at some references to “Christ in us”.

[Jesus speaking] “In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (Jn 14:20).

“And since Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the Spirit is alive because of righteousness” (Rom 8:10).

“The mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has now been manifested to His saints, … which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:26-27).

In this last reference, Paul calls “Christ in you” a mystery.  And we understand that.  After all, who can really get their arms around all that is meant in that one powerful phrase: “Christ in you”?  But just because it is a mystery does not in any way make it less than a true and real fact.  “Christ in you” is an undeniable reality for those who are in Christ; for those who have trusted Christ and accepted His offer of forgiveness for our sins.

The mysterious part of “Christ in you” does not scare us away.  Just the opposite.  We run toward it.  Why?  Because we do not understand and embrace this mystery by human logic.  We embrace this mystery by faith.  “I bow my knees before the Father … that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (Eph 3:14,16-17).

The promise of the New Testament is that Christ already dwells inside you.  The encouragement of the New Testament is that we can feel, we can experience, we can live into the reality of this indwelling by faith.  Christ’s life inside us can be part of our practice and experience, not just a theological concept or idea.

There is much more to be said about how we move from the theological to the practical in our daily walk regarding this promise and we will get there in the weeks ahead.  Until then, may “Christ in you” be the reality you walk in today.  He is at home in you.

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.