Christ in Us
by Lynn Metier
“Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
Last month we briefly looked at some of the incredible blessings believers have “in Christ”, but this is only half of the spiritual picture of our lives. The other mind-boggling reality is that the Almighty God, Creator of the universe, dwells within every born again Christian! Because the true and living God is a Triune God, this means that we are indwelt by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (John 14:23; 1 Corinthians 3:16).
But what does this mean to have God living within us? First of all, it means that we now have more than just a physical existence, for we have received eternal life. God is the Source and Supplier of all life in every form and at every level of existence (John 1:3,4). But, while physical life is a gift from God, spiritual life is the gift of God (Romans 6:23b). Twice Jesus proclaimed Himself to be “the life.” (John 11:25, 14:6) Thus when a person is “born of the Spirit” (John 3:6,7), he/she receives the very life of the Risen Jesus! This means that God dwelling in us IS eternal life.
“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3) The only way to truly know someone is to live with that person. But Jesus, as Son of Man in human flesh, now dwells in heaven (Mark 16:19), and the other two-thirds of the Trinity exist only as Spirit (John 4:24, 14:17). So in order for His saints to be able to know Him in more than just a superficial way or in only an intellectual sense while we’re still on planet earth, God lives within us. Of course, He already knows all about us; in fact, He has always known us better than we know ourselves (Psalm 139:1-6,13-16). So the arrangement is definitely for our benefit; but God is glorified through it, as it reveals how gracious, gentle, and long-suffering He is with us. In fact, Paul wrote to the Colossians that “God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27) The previously unknown divine truth that after His death, resurrection, and ascension Jesus would choose to live in His people – which includes Gentiles – was revealed to the apostles, and seen as glorious. Furthermore, that fact that God now dwells in believers provides us the assurance of salvation and certainty of heaven.
So one purpose and benefit of Christ’s living within us is eternal life. “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11,12) Again, this eternal life is the life of the eternal Son of God within us! “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life – the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us” (1 John 1:1-2). All of this, of course, describes Jesus Christ, God Incarnate. And John continued: “that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (v.3) This points out another reason for and benefit of Jesus living within us, and that is true, spiritual fellowship, both with other believers, and with God Himself. Since God is three Persons in One and is complete and perfect in Himself, He desires that perfection and entirety in His children through unity with Him and each other.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20) While this verse is often used to picture salvation, it really portrays Christ’s desire for a prolonged, intimate relationship with His people. Even though we cannot lose our salvation, and even with the Triune God residing within us, it is possible (and frequently occurs) that we lose fellowship with God because of sin (Psalm 66:18). But take heart, saints, “because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4b) There is a dual truth here. Not only is Christ in us superior to the devil who seeks to tempt and devour us (1 Peter 5:8), but Christ in us is also more powerful than our old sin nature (our flesh) which is still in (and of) this world. “And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life… (and) He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:10-11) In other words, Christ in us gives purpose and meaning to life, enabling our lives to be fruitful (John 15:5). Jesus declared that one reason He came was to give us life “more abundantly” (John 10:10b). Abundant life means more of Jesus – His grace and reality (John 1:16,17), His mind (Philippians 2:5-8) and heart (John 15:13) in us. This is a lifetime process to be “conformed to the image of” Christ (Romans 8:29), and it takes place as “Christ is formed in you” (Galatians 2:19).