Part 16 of 25
Learning to Live by Christ Life within Us
The successful Christian life, as measured by rest and peace enjoyed in soul, depends upon one thing – the resurrection life of Christ within the believer, enjoyed by faith. Christ is the Christian who is ever-present within the believer’s spirit – yet we must trust Him.
Most of us have enjoyed the initial good feeling that we likely may have had at the time of our born-again salvation experience. But after this good feeling subsided we likely reverted mostly to how we had always lived; except now we may vow to go to church, try to read the Bible, and try harder to be good. After all, wasn’t this the formula those in religious authority likely gave us? Though well intended, this misguided and shallow religious instruction misses the most crucial element for Christian living, which is…to live by relying upon the inner working of Christ’s life that now is dwells within every believer’s spirit from the moment of their regeneration.
Initially we perhaps understood the fact that we were saved from judgment and are destined for heaven, and that seemed to satisfy us for a time. We also hoped we could be better people. But in time, we came to realize that our initial experience had little real effect upon how we proceeded to live day by day. For the most part we still continued to suffer the same failures, volatile emotions, temptations, evil thoughts, reactions, anxieties, and defective relationships as we always had – but thankfully we were now saved.
This reality that I’ve described is reflective of the fact that, since being born again, we’ve all had a huge gap between what little we have actually have come to know by the experience of Christ’s life and working within us, and that of our true elevated position or standing “in Christ” (Eph 1:3; 2:6).
Our standing “in Christ” was received at the moment of our regeneration and it is immutable. It’s by our standing “in Christ” that we are now counted as righteous by the faith in Christ’s work on the cross for us. Romans 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. This righteous standing is immutable because we had nothing to do with our standing except to receive it… “freely.” Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 2 Corinthians 5:21 For he (God) hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Yet there is something much deeper than our redemption and justification. At the moment of our initial salvation experience we also were spiritually conceived of God the Father’s “Seed” – “which seed’ is Christ” (Gal 3:16, 1Pet 1:23). “Seed” in Greek is “sperma.” Being born or God the Father’s own Seed, we are now the Father’s literal birthed offspring, born of His Spirit loins, bearing His DNA in our spirit.
At the time we were reborn we likely knew nothing of the genuine Christian life, which is only had by our having partaken of “the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:2a). The fact is that Christ’s life in us now is our core life (Col 3:3a), which is located within our spirit, which is in “the midst of our being”
Paul here writes something profound concerning Christ’s life within the believer. Galatians 2:20a I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth IN ME…
Contrary to the teaching of some, the believer is not annihilated as an individual soul. Notice here the use of the words “I” and “me.” Is this the “I” or “me” my soul or of my spirit?
It is clear that the crucified “Old Man” of Rom 6:6 is the man of the soul. Our spirit, which is one with Christ’s Spirit (1Cor 6:17, John 3:6, Rom 8:16), has already been 100% regenerated (Titus 3:5). Believers are thereby “complete” (
2:10) in their spirit by the deposit of Christ “Spirit of life” into their human spirit, then needing nothing more. But, our “inward man,” the man of the soul with its old mindset, is in the process of “being renewed day by day” (Eph 4:23, 2Cor 4:16, Rom 12:2). Col
So, who are alive today have not yet die physically, and we did not die spiritually – we died with Christ as our independent soul-self (Rom 6:3), our “Old Man,” with its corrupted mindset.
Now, with this understanding, let’s look again more closely at Galatians 2:20a.
“I (as to my “Old Man,” my Sin-infected soul-self) AM CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST:
(Since I’ve died to Sin I am not longer held under Sin’s dominion (Rom 6:6-7).
NEVERTHELESS I LIVE (as an individual soul-self);
(Though I am crucified as an independent self-soul, I live; that is I still exist as an individual soul-self, as an individual person.)
YET NOT I (as an empty soul-self),
(I am not alone, without a guiding life and nature.)
BUT CHRIST LIVETH IN “ME” (“in me” as a proper dependent soul-self)…
(Now it’s “Christ in me”; He is indwelling my spirit as my new and empowering life…flowing out to restore and guide my soul.)
So now it’s not “me plus Christ”; no, since “the independent I” is crucified; it’s now “Christ flowing through me,” as His living co-operative vessel, as a member of His body.
Though my independent self is crucified with Christ, I still exist as an individual self, but now I am the bearer of His life, that He might be expressed through me, coming out of me as I am. He comes out of me according to my redeemed unique creation, as He created me to be.
Thus, as to my core spirit-life and nature, I am now already “as He is.” He desires now to flow out of my spirit to be expressed “in me,” in my soul, according to my unique individual creation.
Together, as members of His body, our many unique individual souls give Christ in our spirits a diverse array of expressions. We see this diversity by Paul’s metaphor of us each being individual members of Christ’s “body.” It is by the function of the life-blood flowing to every “member” that our human physical body is alive; that life then being expressed by the sight of our eyes, by the smell of our noses, by the walk of our feet, by the touch of our fingers, etc. Likewise, Christ now lives and moves within the member of His body, as we are.
The knowledge of our new proper dependent relationship with the indwelling Christ takes some time to “learn.” We are not learning about “Jesus of
Nazareth” whose ministry was only to “the lost sheep of the house of .” Rather, we are learning Christ in us. Paul here tells the Ephesians they not longer live in the old way of the world, as self-ruling independent selves, but rather to “learn Christ.” Ephesians 4:20 But ye have not so learned Christ. Israel
Of course, if we have been taught the usual religious understandings that are most widely promulgated by the church at large, we may think the way for us is to be righteous in our daily life is achieved by praying, and “trying harder” to “do” what has always failed. So, we fail, over and over. But Paul goes to tell the Ephesians they need their mind “renewed.” Ephesians 4:23 (AMP) And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude] “Mind renewal” is not simply information to learn, rather, it is a “new attitude or mindset” to adopt. “Mind” in Philip 2:5 is the Greek “phroneo,” meaning, “mindset, or attitude of mind.” What is our new mindset? We must learn to trust that Christ is alive within us as the new us.
If we are to trust Christ then we must abandon self-reliance. Do we serve God or man? This wisdom mostly comes to us through suffering the failures we experience in “trying” to live the Christian life through self-effort. This “trying and failing,” as a learning process, may appear to keep us from genuine growth, for a while. But eventually we come to see that we must live by the experience and sense of His spontaneous indwelling life.
We’re already saved from judgment, but our soul needs to “be saved (as being “completed”) by HIS LIFE.” Romans 5:10 …we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved (Gk., sozo, completed) by his life. The “shall be” here infers something to yet come by the working of His life in us.
The preacher or others in the religious institutions that may have been instrumental in our rebirth likely only told us a very small part of Paul’s “gospel grace of God” (Act 20:24), which is for us today. It’s not their fault as they likely did not know the depth of this truth themselves. Institutionalized learning may be adequate for a time but it limits our learning, keeping us within the bounds of the institution. Personally, most of what I have learned that is of value in my life came from my learning outside of the institution of the organized Christian church at large. It came as the Lord worked in my life.
The church organizations mostly told us “You were lost in your sins, but Jesus died for your sins so your sins are now forgiven. You’re now saved from God’s wrath and judgment and you’re going to heaven when you die.” This is all true, but it is a meager presentation of the gospel that the ascended Christ gave to Paul for us in this day of “the dispensation of the grace of God.” This meager offering only deals with the past (our sinful acts) and our future (going to heaven), but it does nothing to provide for our day to day living.
The “gospel” presentation we likely heard was not “the mystery” gospel “for you Gentiles” (Eph 3:1) as revealed by Christ to the Apostle Paul (Gal 1:12). Paul’s gospel was the “mystery” (secret) gospel, the “gospel of the grace of God,” which at its core is simply… the dispensing of Christ’s resurrected “Spirit of life” and nature into every individual believer’s human spirit (The moment we received Christ, we did in fact receive everything we will ever receive and need of Him. The fact is that God has already, with our rebirth and placement into Christ (1Cor 12:13), provided all that we will ever need to live overcomingly. Put simply, “Christ in you,” literally indwelling each of us as our life (Rom 8:8-10,
1:26-27, 2Tim 4:22, 1Cor 6:17). The Apostle Paul, writer of half the books of the New Testament, repeatedly proclaimed the fullness of the formerly “secret” gospel that he called “my gospel” (Romans 16:25), which is based upon the absolute sufficiency of “Christ in you” as our “hope of glory” ( Col 1:27). Col 1:27, Gal 2:20), is all we will ever need. Thus, Paul writes this to the Colossians and Corinthians. Col. 2:10 “And YE ARE COMPLETE IN HIM…” Col