Christ Liveth In Me
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
There are some things which cannot be understood by the lost world (I Cor. 2:14) but can only be discussed and understood by those who have entered into a relationship with Jesus Christ. We find that the objections most often applied by the lost are really the fruit of depraved reasoning. They cannot understand the deep meaning of the Scriptures because they are spiritually discerned. It is truly given to the true disciples of Christ to know these things, and not to the lost multitudes who only hear the truth as the parables - without the enlightening of the Holy Ghost (Matt. 13:11-13).
Our text touches on the subject of life - one of these deep mysteries which belong only to the child of God. The driving force of those without Christ is not life but death. Their song is ‘let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die’. So they are driven by death and not life. It is death which drives the lost to obtain and enjoy all that they can in the ‘here and now’. It is death which has blinded them even while rushing to taste every pleasure that they are already dead even while they live (I Tim. 5:6). Sadly, some Christians have adopted this worldly philosophy and embraced it as their own.
The view of life in our text is clearly written to Christians; it is here that we learn what living is really all about. The world believes that to really live be found in the pursuit of pleasure. But they do not even realize that without Christ there is no life. The word ‘life’, ‘live’ or ‘living’ is employed five times in our text, and each time it is centered around Christ. Paul states the fact that he is dead and crucified but he still lives because Christ lives in him. He then begins to tell us that the life which he now lives is only lived by the faith of Christ. Paul had a much deeper comprehension of life than our modern world has. He also had something that the lost world lacked, which is the driving force of this life - Jesus Christ.
We hear much today in so-called “Christianity” about life. The most recent best selling “Christian” novel is called “A purpose driven life.” In the book you can find that Christ is not truly the center, instead - the individual is. From this book you would learn all about how to live a full life for yourself and find purpose for yourself but you will find nothing about how Christ is to live in you. Therefore it misses the mark. The truth of the Scripture is that “Christ is our life” (Col. 3:4). In fact, Christ told us that we only live because He lives (John 14:19). Our life is solely wrapped up in the life of Christ who, as the Bible proclaims, “… ever liveth” (Heb. 7:25). If we could just grasp this truth then we would never doubt our salvation. We would never fear losing our salvation. We would never be without comfort. And we would never be without a driving force to live a holy and righteous life in the midst of a crooked and perverse world.
I would like to zero in on ‘four little words’ found in our text just for a few minutes and try to expound on them. “Christ liveth in me. . . .” We soon find that these four little words are literally pregnant with meaning. So, our study will focus on the specifics where we can apply them to our lives and learn how we can really have a purpose driven life.
This study will present the truths of life under four primary points. First, we look at the connection of the persons in our text. Then we will see the comfort in our afflictions. After that we will examine correction for our pride. And finally, we will notice a call to holiness. May God bless and open up these truths to the understanding of the reader that you might walk in the fullness thereof.
I. The Connection of the Persons:
Through the theological truths of our text we learn that there is an indelible connection between us as believers and the LORD Jesus Christ that is wrought in us at salvation. Paul basically says that the life which he lives is identified as the life that Christ lives. That is enough right there to study for the rest of our lives. This is the grace with which believers are so closely identified with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
Take a close look at those four words, “Christ liveth in me.” Remove the two middle words and you are left with ‘Christ’ and ‘me.’ How great the separation is between those two words - greater still is the separation of those two persons.
Christ is the Almighty God - He is the Creator of all that we see - He is the Judge of all the earth - He is the standard of holiness. In fact - He is holy, He is righteous, He is justice, and He is perfection. He is the One who dwelt in the light which no man can approach. He is the One who is described as holy and separate from sinners.
We then come and look at the other character in our text and that is the “me.” Who and what are we when compared to Christ? Filthy, rotten sinners - clothed only in the pauper’s rags of self-righteousness - who haven’t the remotest potential to raise ourselves out of our situation - aside from Christ. The vile, full of sin and as the song says “all unrighteousness.” It is only by God’s mercy that we are not cast immediately into the lake of fire forever and ever. We deserve nothing more than the wrath of God. “Christ in me” - what a separation there is between these two characters!
But our text is packed full of grace. It is a cup overflowing. It says that Christ liveth in me. There, between me and Christ, are two precious words that forever connect us. As believers, we understand that this boast is only in the sufficiency of Christ, the Holy God, who is in us (who believe). There is my source of hope and rejoicing. There are the riches of His glory (Col. 1:26, 27, a great mystery that had been hid). He is in my very person. He is with me everywhere I go. And He said that He would be with me always and would never leave me or forsake me. Who am I, and those who believe, to have such grace? Look at the word ‘liveth.’ The meaning is both present and continuous, for when we come upon a word with an ‘eth’ at the end of it then it is both present and continuous. We could read our text as “Christ is living in me.” He is right now a part of my person. I am right now a son of God. Right now I have fellowship with the Son. Right now I have eternal life in Christ. And Christ will continue to live in me for all eternity.
I have received Christ who will never leave me or forsake me. He is mine and I am His and His banner over me is love. I cannot explain this indelible connection between me and Christ, but praise God, that I do not have to. It is written in God’s perfect Word and I do not have to explain it - I can simply believe it. I have life because He is my life. I have faith because He is both the source and the object of my faith (Rom. 12:3). I will never die because He will never die. That is why Christ said that believers would not have to fear those who could only kill the body (Matthew 10:28).
This work was wrought at salvation. We dealt with this when we dealt with the subject of Baptism but it will not hurt to go over it again. I deserved the punishment and wrath of God but Christ took it as my mediator (I Tim. 2:5). The one true baptism is not the shadow that we see when we go into the water but it is the true death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the baptism which Christ said believers would take part in (Luke 12:50, Matt. 20:23). The death, burial, and resurrection - is the gospel or the good news (I Cor. 15:3, 4). Every part of the gospel performed by Christ on our behalf He did through the Holy Spirit (Heb. 9:14, Rom. 8:11).
It was only after Christ finished the work and ascended to Heaven for us that He imparted the Holy Spirit to believers (John 20:22). The day we were saved that same Holy Spirit moved into us (Eph. 1:13). Through the Holy Spirit we are in Christ and Christ is in us. Through the Holy Spirit we took part in the death of Christ. We suffered with Him; we were crucified with Him (just as Paul said in our text). We were buried with Him, we were raised with Him, we ascended into heaven with Him, and through Him the work is already finished for us and we are already glorified in Him (Rom. 8:17, 6:3, 4, Eph. 2:6). Through us being in Christ and Christ being in us our sins ore gone and we are eternally saved. The work is finished (Rom. 8:29, 30). There is forever a connection between us that goes back to eternity past when we were elected in Christ (Eph. 1:1-6). Now and forever - “Christ liveth in me. . . .”
II. A Comfort in Afflictions:
Now that we have dealt with the connection of our persons theologically let us begin to draw out some practical applications to the words of our text, “Christ liveth in me. . . .” We will start with the fact that these words offer us great comfort in our afflictions. We have dealt with the fellowship of suffering in times past so we will not devote much time to this particular application (Phil. 3:10). The truth that we can obtain under this heading is that if Christ is living in me then whatever men do to me they in fact are doing it to Christ. I and Christ are indelibly connected. Our text is a key to understanding the fellowship of suffering. The three Hebrew children found a great comfort in the fire because of the fourth man, the son of God, Who was in the fire with them. We, too, can have the same comfort in all our afflictions, and more, because Christ is not only with us but is living in us. So, if we suffer it is truly Christ that suffers.
I have heard some men preach on Romans 8:17 and say that we will only be heirs in the kingdom of Christ if we suffer in our flesh. What a bunch of hogwash! First of all, if we are children then that text says that we are heirs. Not to mention the facts we have already seen concerning those who are truly saved through the Holy Spirit of God - we did indeed suffer in Christ (He being our mediator) on the cross just as we are raised with Him and set with Him in heavenly places. His suffering became my suffering. But we will put all that aside and consider the words of our text. If Christ lives in us then all afflictions that we endure - Christ endures.
All the children of God will suffer under the chastisements of God. Christ also suffers with them (Heb. 12:6). Every Christian is assaulted by the devil that walks about seeking whom he may devour. Christ is there with us and in us - in and through those afflictions (I Pet. 5:8-10). All true believers will bear at a minimum ridicule for their faith. Some will suffer a great flight of affliction. Some will be burned, sawn asunder, beaten, and killed, at the hands of evil men. But as Christ said to Paul on the road to Damascus “Why persecutest thou me?” It was Christ that suffered with that early church, which was scattered abroad (Acts 9:4). No Christian ever endures affliction alone - Christ is always there. The promise in James 1:12 is for all true believers. Consider the words of Christ in Matthew, “Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it to me” (Matt. 25:45). If you see the children of God suffering in hunger, thirst, nakedness, or imprisonments, there you will see Christ with them. What falls on the Christian falls on Christ! Christ lives in me; that is not only an incentive to care for one another as Christians but it is also a comfort in our afflictions.
III. A Correction For Our Pride:
As we move on we can make further application to the words of our text and that is - as a correction for our pride. Any genuinely good thing that I do is in fact done only by Christ that is in me. Paul knew that there was no good thing in his flesh. Paul knew and taught that there is none good, and none who does good. Even those saved by the grace of God are nothing more than deplorable sinners. Even that which we think is good, which we do, we often sin in. We often have the wrong motives, or we do it in the wrong way or with the wrong attitude. Often we even do it against the will of God. In our best state we are indeed altogether vanity. It is high time that we realized that all good which comes from us only comes from Christ. Let us not sit and brag then in what we have done - let us sit and brag concerning what Christ has done in us. If it is a good work - it belongs to Christ Who lives in us.
“A just weights and balances are the Lord’s: all the weights of the bag are his work” (Prov. 16:11). If there was an honest work it was the Lord’s work. If it was pure it was the Lord. That which comes only from us is tainted with sin but that which comes from the Lord Who is in us is only pure. We should take no credit for ourselves; it is the Lord who works. God says, “From me is thy fruit found” (Hosea. 14:8). Whatever good fruit we bear is from the LORD. We are merely the branches which hold the fruit which Christ produces; He is the good tree that bears the fruit. (Matt. 7). Consider John 15. We are only the branches but He is the true vine. The branch cannot bear fruit of itself; it only bears fruit because it is connected to the vine. We are not even natural branches - we had to be grafted in because no one is naturally of God. We only abide in Him because we were grafted in. Those that abide not in Him and are cast in the fire are those that would not be grafted in. But the fruit is the work of God. If we bear fruit it is because of the vine. If we bear much fruit it is because of the Father’s pruning. All good work that comes - comes only because Christ is living in us.
IV. A Call To Holiness.
Finally, we will come to our last application. If Christ lives in us then it is a call for holiness. All evil that I do reflects upon Christ since He lives in me. If we have such a connection with Christ as we have said then there is nothing that we do which will not reflect upon Him. If we have indeed been crucified with Him and raised again with Him then we are to seek those things that are above. It is in Heaven that we are to have our affections and our conversation (Col. 3:1, 2, Phil. 3:20). Why is this? Because, if we have our conversation here, on earthly things and affections, then it reflects upon Christ Whom we profess. People will then behold our unchaste conversation and our earthly desires and identify our actions with Christ. Today, Christianity has developed a bad name among the lost world. This is because of professing Christians who live the same way as the world, and sometimes living worse then the world. Seemingly, the world often knows more about Christ and what Christians should be, then most professors of Christianity do. Jonah simply told the men of the ship that He was a servant of the Lord and they immediately knew that he was not what he was supposed to be.
The fact is that the Bible says - if we have been joined unto the Lord then we are one spirit (I Cor. 6:15-17). If I curse it affects Christ. If I loose my temper it affects Christ. If I go out and get drunk it affects Christ. What we do affects how the world looks at Jesus Christ. Our bodies belong to the Lord since He lives in us. Our hands are His, and all our members are as well. If they belong to the Lord, shall we then go and join them with a harlot? If they belong to the Lord, shall we use them for sin? God forbid! If Christ lives in us we have a great reason to yield our members to God. We have a great reason to walk circumspectly. We have a great reason to live honestly before this wicked world. What we do is a reflection on Christ Who lives in us. Many years ago there was a song which said, “You’re the only Jesus some will ever see, and you’re the only words of life some will ever read. Can they see in you the one in Whom is all they will ever need?” So, the ever-present question before believers is, “Can others see Christ in us?” I pray to God that they can. We represent Christ to a lost and dying world. We are his ambassadors. What we say and do - the world takes for Him. May the Lord bless you.