In the Scriptures we are told that Christ dwells (through his Spirit) in his Church – in its members individually and collectively (Romans 8:9-10; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Ephesians 1:17; Colossians 1:27). Have you ever stopped to think about what this means?
Is Christ in YOU? How can you know?
Please continue reading as we explore the following questions:
1) How does Christ dwell in you?
2) Under what conditions?
3) What happens when conditions are no longer met?
4) How does Christ dwelling in you affect you now?
5) In the future?
How does Christ dwell in you?
First, let’s understand a principle, or as we might view it, a spiritual equation: if Christ abides in us, we also abide in him (John 14:20; 15:4-7). The opposite is also true. If we are in Christ he is in us. So when we read scriptures that discuss the circumstances of one who is in Christ we are dealing with our subject, Christ in you.
In John 14 Jesus discusses the fact that he was about to depart from the disciples to return to his Father. But he promised another parakletos (παράκλητος) to, in effect, perform after his departure the work of guiding, comforting, teaching, strengthening that he had been performing in his bodily presence with the disciples (John 14:15-18). Only the Spirit that would be sent would work in an even more intimate and personal way because it would not just be with them but would dwell in them. The Greek word parakletos (παράκλητος) is difficult to translate because it suggests a number of roles. It literally means called to one’s side, or by extension called to one’s presence or place of residence. It especially means called to one’s aid. It is used of an advocate, a legal counsel, an intercessor, a defender, a teacher, an advisor, a helper, an aide. These are roles Christ fills in the Scriptures, and they are roles filled by the Holy Spirit. In the context of sending the Holy Spirit Christ said “I will come to you” (John 14:18). This implies that the giving of the Holy Spirit has something to do with Christ being in us.
The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, through Christ. The Spirit is sent from the Father in the name, or by the authority, of Christ (John 15:26). Christ has a direct role in sending the Holy Spirit. The risen Christ received the Holy Spirit from the Father and poured it out on his disciples – his Church (Acts 2:32-33). [Note: the relative pronouns (who, which) in the Greek always agree in gender and number with the antecedent. Parakletos, “comforter,” is masculine; pneuma, “spirit,” is neuter. The KJV (unlike the NKJV) generally, but not always, translates the masculine relative pronoun as who, and the neuter as which. Since we understand the Holy Spirit to be not a person separate from the Father and Jesus Christ , but an aspect of their nature, we use “which” or “that” in referring to it (cf. “Origins of the Trinity”].
The body of a genuinely converted Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit. It dwells in one who is and remains truly converted (I Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19-20).
The Spirit of God testifies of Christ (John 15:26). That is, the Spirit of Christ transmits to our minds Christ’s revelation, the understanding of his word. The indwelling of Christ is accomplished through the Spirit of God acting in concert with his word (John 6:56, 63). The Spirit declares to us that which is of Christ and the Father (John 16:13-15). Through the Spirit (in concert with the word of God) we have the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:11-13, 16).
The Spirit of God (not merely a corporate organization of men) unites genuinely converted Christians as the collective body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:12-13, 27). The Spirit of Christ is a Spirit of unity, not division. The true body of Christ is not hundreds of competing sects and denominations, teaching wildly divergent doctrines, following different practices, but is a spiritual body of believers, individual members unified in Spirit. However, the union is not yet perfect. Division exists to some degree even within the spiritual body, because of carnality among its members (1 Corinthians 3:3). The ministry is established within the body of Christ, his Church, to edify the body to bring it into more perfect unity through teaching the truth (Ephesians 4:3-4, 11-16).
We are unified to the extent that we share a common Spirit and a common faith (system of belief). The unity God would have us accomplish is not possible apart from the Holy Spirit and the true faith. An artificial, manmade, forced unity is fraudulent and deceptive. Christ prayed that the Church would be one as he and the Father are one (John 17:11). The Church is sanctified, separated from the world to God’s holy purpose, through the word of God (John 17:16-19). As the Father and Christ are one God though individual beings and personalities through the Spirit that dwells in them, we are made one with them and with one another through the same Spirit (John 17:21-23).
Christ is the head of the collective body (Colossians 1:18). Through him dwelling in us we become one flesh with him in the same sense that a husband and wife are one flesh with one another (Ephesians 5:23, 30-32). Our union with Christ is a spiritual union. We are one Spirit with Christ and therefore individually members of his body. We are in Christ, he in us, through the Spirit (Romans 8:1-2, 9-11). It is a spiritual union accomplished through God’s Spirit. It is the Spirit of Christ sent to dwell in us. He dwells in us through his Spirit (Galatians 3:26-27; 4:6-7).
Under what conditions?
Love God. Keep his word (John 14:21, 23-24). If Christ abides in you, his words abide in you (John 15:4, 7). The words and the Spirit of Christ are so closely linked that Christ said his words are Spirit (John 6:63). Those who walk in darkness, in other words, who are not faithfully keeping God’s word, do not have fellowship with the Father and the Son (1 John 1:3-6.) While they may think of themselves as Christians, Christ does not dwell in them. They are deceived (Matthew 7:21-27; John 8:30-32; 1 John 3:24; 4:12, 15-16; 5:1-3).
To confess that Jesus is the Son of God requires more than lip service. Christ does not dwell in those whose verbal confession of him as God’s Son is rendered hollow by their deeds. As Jesus said, quoting Isaiah, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrine the commandments of men” (Mark 7:6-7). Those who profess Christ, but walk in their own traditions in opposition to his law, make a false confession, and are not truly God’s. As A.T. Robertson in Word Pictures In The New Testament puts it, commenting on 1 John 4:15: “This confession of the deity of Jesus Christ implies surrender and obedience also, not mere lip service.” Note in 1 John 4:16, that one in whom Christ dwells knows – or experiences on an ongoing basis – the love of God and believes or trusts in that love, which is expressed through the law or the word of God. This love is not human, but divine love, which originates with God and is placed in us through his Spirit. Whoever abides in that love abides in God, and God in him.
One who abides in Christ, and he in him, does not practice sin as a way of life (1 John 3:6). Sin – hamartanei – is in the present tense in this verse. The present tense in Greek usually implies present and continuing action. It has to do with continuing in sin – living a life of sin. Those in whom Christ dwells occasionally sin out of the weakness of human flesh, but they do not practice sinning as a way of life (1 John 1:8-10; 2:1-6). Sin – hamartanei – is in the aorist tense in 1 John 2:1; implying occasional but not willful sin. Those in whom Christ dwells are trying to come out of sin; they are repentant and strive to obey God’s word.
What happens when conditions are no longer met?
If one willfully turns aside, and rejects God’s word, he becomes disqualified to have Christ in him and disqualified for eternal life which comes through abiding faith in Christ (John 15:1-8. 2 Corinthians 13:5; Hebrews 10:19-23, 26-31, 35-39). If such a person comes to his senses, and truly repents, he can be restored to a condition of salvation (2 Timothy 2:24-26; James 5:19-20).
How does Christ dwelling in you affect you now?
If Christ dwells in you your life will be different in many ways from what it would otherwise be – but we may sum it up by saying you become a different person from what you were formerly. You no longer live only for yourself or selfishly, but you live to God and for God (2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 17). Your thoughts and deeds are motivated by godly love. You live according to Godly faith, the faith of Christ, or of the Son of God, as it is correctly translated in the KJV (Galatians 2:20, KJV). It is true that we must have faith in Christ, but we also live by the faith of Christ, the faith that he gives us by his indwelling Spirit. We act in faith exactly as he did and does, because it’s his faith by which we live.
If Christ is in you you no longer are driven by lusts but you increasingly reflect the holy and righteous character of God (Ephesians 4:22-24). Having Christ in you means you become like Christ (Colossians 2:6-7, 9-13; 3:1-10). You think the way Christ thinks and live the way Christ lives.
How does Christ dwelling in you affect your future?
If you are found in Christ then you will be resurrected from the dead as he was – the same kind of resurrection (I John 5:11-12. Philippians 3:8-14.) If Christ is in you you have the hope of being glorified as he is now glorified (Colossians 1:27; Philippians 3:21).
To sum it up, if Christ dwells in us we walk the way he walked. Our minds understand his truth and we live by it. And we are given the gift of eternal life (John 14:6).
Unless otherwise noted Scripture taken from the New King James VersionTM
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.
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Copyright by Rod Reynolds 2015
Messenger Church of God
PO Box 619
Wentzville, MO 63385