I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me (Gal. 2:20).
For Paul to say, “Christ lives in me” is a marvelous statement of what it means to be a Christian. The Son of God can move in as the honored guest in your soul.
Think about how the Bible puts this: “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20). If you have the idea that Christian faith is about believing in Christ from a distance, think again.
Christ says, “I am knocking on the door of your heart. I want to come in. I want to settle into a booth with you, and for the two of us to share breakfast, lunch, and dinner together. That’s the relationship I want with you. And that is why I stand at the door and knock.”
How is Christ present in the soul of a believer?
Christ rose from the dead in a resurrection body, and then ascended into heaven. The resurrection body is different from the bodies we have now, but it is a body. The risen Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven and so His resurrected body cannot be in your heart any more than it can be on the communion table. So, how is Christ present in the soul of every believer? The answer is: “by the Spirit.”
Jesus spoke about this to His disciples. He said that He must go to His Father. They did not want Him to go, but He said, “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (Jn. 16:7).
Who is this Helper? The Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth… You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” (Jn. 14:16-17).
The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is referred to in the Bible as the “Spirit of God,” the “Spirit of Christ,” the “Holy Spirit,” and the “Spirit of truth,” or simply the “Spirit.”
In one passage, the Holy Spirit is referred to three times—first as the Spirit, then as the Spirit of God, and then as the Spirit of Christ: “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Rom. 8:9).
Here is this great reality that stands at the center of the Christian life: Jesus Christ, the Son of God—who was born in the manger, died on the cross, and rose from the dead—lives by His Spirit in the soul of every Christian believer.
Three Pieces of Good News
1. The Christian is never truly alone.
If you are in Christ and Christ is in you, He is with you wherever you go. At your lowest moment, when you feel isolated, abandoned, and alone, you can say, “The Lord is at my right hand, therefore I will not be shaken” (Psa. 16:8).
There’s a prayer that we often pray. It is somewhat redundant: “Lord, Mary is sick, please be with her. Lord, Jim is undergoing this great trial, please be with him.” I’ve prayed like that many times, as I am sure you have.
It’s good to pray that a person will be aware of the presence of Christ as they move through a time of trial. But it’s good to remember that a prayer for Christ to be with a Christian in trouble is a prayer that has already been answered.
When you know that Christ lives in you, then you can say with David, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?” (Psa. 27:1). You can say with Paul, “If God be for me, who can be against me?” (Rom. 8:31). And you can say with John, “Greater is he who is in me than he who is in the world” (1 Jn. 4:4).
2. Christ knows directly all that you face and feel and fear.
Christ has a real-time awareness of every trial and every temptation you face.
This is worth thinking about: The Spirit of Christ lives in your heart. He feels the approach of every trial and temptation, and He pulls the cord that rings the bell in heaven. Christ knows directly all that you face and feel and fear.
And Christ does not roll his eyes when the bell rings. We have a high priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. Why? He has been downstairs. He has been tempted and tested in every respect. And now, as your advocate, He brings your need before the Father so that all the resources of heaven are available for you.
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). Come with confidence, because the bell has already been rung. Christ knows all that you face and feel and fear, and He is for you!
3. The Spirit of Christ is actively at work in your soul.
Think about the work of the Spirit in the life of a believer: The Spirit gives us understanding of the Word. The Spirit convicts of sin. The Spirit makes us holy. The Spirit equips us with gifts for ministry and thrusts out the people of God into every sphere of life. The Spirit intercedes for us. The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.
The Spirit of God is always working in the life of a believer. I cannot think of a greater incentive to care for my soul than to know that he cares so actively about me. I cannot think of a greater motivation to work for God than to know that He works so powerfully in me. I cannot think of a greater reason for hope than to know that at the hardest moments of life the Spirit of God Almighty, the Spirit of Jesus (who died and rose) is for you and is actively at work in you.
“Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27)—the presence of Christ with you, the sympathy of Christ toward you, the strength of Christ in you… that’s what is going to get you through. Christ in you! That’s your hope of glory!
To all who would say today, “That’s exactly what I need,” He says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20).
This article is an adaptation of Pastor Colin’s sermon, “The Son of God”, from his series, Soul Care: Part 2—Four Friends for Your Soul.