We learned last time that our old nature died with Christ. So what is to take its place as the controlling principle of my life? Remember, when you embraced the gospel message of Jesus Christ, you became a son or daughter of God. And an incredible outcome of that is this, “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ ” (Gal 4:6).
The controlling principle of your life, if you will, is God’s Spirit – the Spirit of His Son – living inside you. In the New Testament, the Spirit living in you and Christ living in you are interchangeable. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the live 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).
The old you is gone. Christ is living His life through you. I don’t think you can get a much more powerful “controlling principle” than Christ Himself living His life through you. This is the promised land. This is Canaan. This is what Israel in the land of Canaan in the Old Testament represents; us experiencing the indwelling Christ by faith.
I first came across this idea of three types of people represented in the exodus story in a book by Major Ian Thomas, The Saving Life of Christ. Let me quote his description of Canaan:
“It is this enjoyment of Christ’s indwelling which is represented by the land of Canaan – the land of promise and of plentiful provision. Canaan in the Bible is not heaven. It is Christ Himself, and right now, living His victorious life through me. Indeed, it is only the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who is capable of living the Christian life.”
“As Romans 5:10 declares, He not only reconciles you to God by His death, but He saves you moment by moment by His life; that is to say, He died not only for what you have done, but He rose again to live in you, to take the place of what you are. His strength for your weakness! His wisdom for your folly! His drive for your drift! His grace for your greed! His love for your lust! His peace for your problems! His joy for your sorrow! His plenty for your poverty! This is Canaan!”
Wow! So if this is the path – a radical transformation from lost and dead in our sin to Christ literally living His life through us – why the wilderness? The short answer is that the transition from lost in sin to fully experiencing Christ in us is not automatic. In fact, as we know from both our life experience and the teaching of Scripture, it is a process. It is a process of growing faith and trust; of growing belief in the promise of Christ to live His life through us. And it is a process that can include some detours into the wilderness.