Luis Palau Association
The Indwelling Christ

20 May 2014

The Indwelling Christ

Posted in Articles, Spiritual Growth

Galatians 2:20 is a revolutionary verse in my life: "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."

This is the very heart of Christian living, for the foundation of Christianity is the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The astonishing fact is that Jesus lives within the believer, and they become one in spirit. The apostle Paul described this as "the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:26-27).

Jesus foretold this relationship in His high priestly prayer in the upper room. He especially prayed that unity among believers would be a picture of the unity between Him and the Father. "I pray also...that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me" (John 17:20-23).

Many Christians miss out on the thrill of Christian living because they have not understood that Jesus Christ literally lives within them--a fact they could not change if they wanted to. Throughout my teens and early twenties, although I believed in Christ, I did not realize this truth. I struggled to obey Him, trying to bear fruit to the glory of God, but I did not understand that I did not have to do it on my own. I felt that Jesus was seated far away, at the right hand of the Father, and I was down here on earth.

I loved God very much and tried with all my heart to please Him, but I did not understand how and lacked the strength in myself. It was at this point that the truth of Galatians 2:20 was made clear to me, particularly through a sermon by Ian Thomas at Multnomah School of the Bible in Portland, Oregon. He likened Christ's indwelling to Moses' experience with the burning bush.

Moses had prided himself on his background, his adoption by Pharaoh's daughter, his education, and so forth. When he tried by his own strength to liberate the Israelites from the Egyptians, he failed miserably and ran off to the desert for forty years. In humility, he was challenged by God in the burning bush. God was trying to teach him that any old bush would do, as long as God was in the bush.

Suddenly I realized that I was like Moses. I had thought that my good education, my mind, my ability to communicate were everything it took to please, serve, and honor God. But my outlook began to change as I saw that, because Jesus lives in me, His was the strength to work through me. After this, my ministry began to bear fruit. I preached the same messages, but I began to see hundreds and later thousands of people come to Christ.

A related question arises at this point. If I am alive in Christ what does it mean to be crucified with him? In 2 Corinthians 4:10, Paul said, "We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body." Jesus painted the picture this way: "I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds" (John 12:24).

These two verses express the same truth. Every time my will crosses God's will, and I choose His revealed will over my own, that is the death of Jesus at work in me. That is the grain of wheat falling into the ground and dying. That is taking up my cross and following him.

Picture a gloved hand. The glove is a limp piece of leather until the hand moves into the glove and begins to mobilize it. When the hand does something, the glove could say, "I just picked up my coffee cup," but it really is not the glove doing it. In a sense, Jesus' living in us is like the hand in the glove. Jesus Christ clothes Himself and uses me for His purpose. I want to allow the indwelling Christ to mold me and use me and bend me any way He pleases, as long as He accomplishes His will.

The Three Cs

In describing how Christians are to live in Christ, Jesus used a vivid image. "I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener," he said. "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he trims clean so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me" (John 15:1-4).

To be in Christ is to obey Him gladly and to acknowledge Him as Lord. My pastor used to say that we are to live in a state of "constant conscious communion"-the three Cs. Christians must not take Jesus for granted, or our relationship with Him will suffer-just as our marriages and friendships suffer when we take others for granted.

We must be truly in touch with Him, in loving and worshipful obedience.

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