“The Son of God Who Loved Me”

Returning to our next phrase in Galatians 2:20, “… the Son of God who loved me…”  We can never overemphasize or overadvertize the love of God.  It is the essence of God’s off-the-charts character.  It is a love of overwhelming depth, compassion, and power.  It is literally who God is, as the Scripture simply but boldly says, “God is love” (I Jn 4:8).

So how does the “Son of God who loved me” intersect with living by faith?  When I dwell on the depth of God’s love, I am energized to live the life of faith that I wrote about last time.  Realizing that God rescued me totally on the basis of His great love – not on anything I have done – frees me to live by faith; not by self effort, or self saving, or self made rules that prove my worthiness to Him.

When we underestimate God’s love, we sense a need to work for His approval and acceptance.  We sense a debt that we need to repay.  We live in fear of whether or not we have done enough.  We might call it living by faith, but we are really living by fear; striving to hit a moving target of God’s approval.

But God’s love erases all fear.  His love strengthens my faith in this way.  Because I know how deeply God loves me, I know that He would never lie to me.  I know that all of His promises are true.  I know he would never send harm to me.  I know He would only have my good in His mind and plan.

Do you see how understanding the depth of God’s love strengthens your faith in Him?  It energizes your faith to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God will keep His promises; not just because God is not a liar, but also because He loves you.  And one of those promises is that Christ has come to live inside you and me.

“… and delivered Himself up for me.”  As we come to the last line of Galatians 2:20, we find that God’s love is what sent Jesus to rescue us.  Christ delivered us by giving Himself in our place.  He is our substitute.  Christ, our substitute, is what the atonement is all about.

Christ dying in our place, “bearing our sins in His body on the cross” (I Pet 2:24), put us in right standing with God.  His death in our place justified us and we have been declared righteous.  But did you know that this concept of Christ our substitute extends beyond our justification?  It is a radical concept that we will discuss next time.

The Life I Now Live

Continuing in Galatians 2:20, “… and the life which I now live in the flesh…”  That is, the life I am living on the “outside” which includes not just my look, but my personality, will, mind, and emotions also.  It is the life that you are “seeing” when you look at me.  This life “… I live by faith in the Son of God…”  I am now living the life you see by faith in the Son of God.  Why “by faith”?

The Bible teaches us that Christ is living His resurrection life inside us.  The original version of us – still visible if you are only looking at the “outside” – has been replaced by a righteous version, a version infused with Christ’s resurrection power.  But I only experience this co-resurrection life with Christ by faith.

The short answer to why this life is lived by faith is because it reflects something spectacular that is happening on the “inside”.  I don’t always feel it.  It doesn’t always inform my experience.  And I definitely cannot see it.  I can’t measure this inner life.  I can’t weigh it or analyze it by any other physical means.  I can only experience it by faith.

God has designed this world with both tangible and intangible realities.  Or another way to say it is concrete and abstract realities.  Concrete or tangible realities are what I can see, hear, smell, and touch.  If you are wearing a white shirt, you can tell how soft it is by the feel.  You can tell how clean it is by the smell.  And of course, you know it is white by your sight.  It is a tangible reality.

But we also live in a world of intangible reality.  Things that are just as true and real, but we cannot experience them with our senses.  If you are a believer, there beats inside you – under that white shirt – a new heart; a righteous heart.  A heart of flesh that has replaced your old heart of stone.

Now this new heart is such an abstract reality, that even if a surgeon opened up your chest, he still could not find it.  But it exists; it is a reality just as sure as something tangible because God said it.  Yes, the reason I believe the abstract reality of my new heart and Christ in me and every one of the promises about my new identity is because God said it.

This is why our faith is so critical.  We are believing something we cannot feel based on believing the promises of God.  And the beauty of all this is that the longer I believe it, the more I live into it as if it were true, and the more I make choices in keeping with my new righteous nature; the more I actually do “see” it, “feel” it, and “experience” it.  This is the life of faith.

And this faith is “… in the Son of God…”  It is not faith in faith itself.  It is faith in a person.  Faith in Jesus, the Son of God.  Faith in the Christ who lives in you.

Well, we will stop here with still more Galatians 2:20 to go.

If It Is No Longer I, Then Who?

Let’s begin our journey from the theological to the practical regarding “Christ in you” with a stop in Galatians chapter 2.  “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Gal 2:20).

“I have been crucified with Christ…”  Since you are standing here alive, not dead, what part of you was crucified with Christ?  Who died?  The original version of you.  The sin-controlled version of you.  The old self lost in sin.  The old man living under the debt, the obligation, the power of sin.  “Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin” (Rom 6:6).

“… and it is no longer I who live…”  How can that be?  Who or what is the “I” that is no longer living in this body?  This still looks like me, both inside and out.  I have the same hair color and the same personality quirks as before.  So how can this be “no longer I who live” here?

Short answer and speaking personally, the original version of Jay no longer lives in this body.  As we saw above, the original Jay was crucified with Christ.  So it begs the question, if the original Jay is no longer here, who is?

“… but Christ lives in me…”  Ah, we are back to the “Christ in you” theme.  Let’s allow this to sink into our heads, and to drive deep into our hearts, and to literally saturate our being.  It is no longer the original “I” living inside, but Christ Himself has taken up residence in me.  And this is not just a piece or remnant of Christ living in us.  No, it is the full experience.

In Colossians chapter 1, Paul explains that Christ is the “fullness of deity” (Col 1:19); fully and completely God.  Paul follows this triumphant worship and identification of Christ as God with the truth that this “fullness of deity” lives in you (Col 1:27).  Does that make you a god?  No!  God is off the charts in His deity, His sovereignty, His power, His omniscience, and His holiness.  What it does make us is a vessel, a container, a repository of God’s righteous nature.  This is the Christ that “lives in me”.

We are halfway through Galatians 2:20 and ready for the next step; “… the life which I now live…”  We will see what that life looks like next time.

“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.