The Life of Christ in Us
The spiritual life is really the life of Jesus Christ that has been reproduced in the believer. Christ’s life is “resident in, reigning over, and released through the human life” (Jack R. Taylor). “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” (Galatians 2:20).
Our hearts have become Christ’s dwelling place, and this truth grows more real in our awareness and experience as we lay hold of it by faith (Ephesians 3:17). Paul reached the point where he so identified his life with Christ’s life that he was able to say from a prison cell in Rome, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). This is the goal of the Christian life—a growing understanding of our union with Christ both in our thinking and in our practice.
Jesus summed it up in these simple but profound words in John 14:20: “You in Me, and I in you.” The “you in me” refers to our relationship with Christ by virtue of our life in Him. The “I in you” speaks of our fellowship with Christ by virtue of His life in us. The former relates to our position or standing; the latter relates to our practice or state. Our relationship with God is actual—it was determined by our spiritual birth in Christ. Our fellowship with God is potential—it is developed by our spiritual growth in Christ.
These spiritual truths have been well summarized in this way:
- Jesus Christ gave His life for you . . . [Salvation]
- so that He could give His life to you . . . [Sanctification]
- so that He could live His life through you. [Service]
We cannot produce biological or spiritual life; we were created to receive spiritual life and to display it (John 15:1-8). Nevertheless, Scripture exhorts us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). This involves an ongoing process of walking in fellowship with God in obedient response to the light of His Word. Growth in our apprehension and application of our identity in Christ is not uniform. As in nature, so also in the spiritual life—there are spurts of growth followed by periods of relative dormancy. There are no experiential shortcuts on the path to maturity in Christ.
When we succumb to temptation in thought, word, or deed, we are living beneath the dignity of the new identity we have received in Christ Jesus. When the light of Scripture reveals areas of sin, we must respond to the light by confessing our sins so that we can continue to enjoy fellowship with the God of light and holiness. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
From a biblical point of view, it is not normal for Christians to live in defeat, especially when cleansing and fellowship are so readily available. As we abide in Christ, His life in us can qualitatively affect every aspect of our earthly existence, including our family, work, thoughts, attitudes, and speech.
Taken from Ken Boa’s Handbook to Spiritual Growth.