Galatians 2:20-21 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."
In this letter to the Galatians, the apostle Paul is trying to correct an error that was plaguing the Galatians. Paul had taught them that salvation was by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But now Jewish teachers were telling them that to really be “saved”, they had to keep the Old Testament law. These Judaizers were trying to make Christians a new sect of Judaism which it is not. They were effectively preaching salvation by works rather than salvation by grace. Paul emphatically says in Galatians 2:16, “by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified (or declared righteous).”
Paul had been a leading Pharisee. He was blameless with regard to keeping both the moral and ceremonial law of the Old Testament. In Acts 9 he had met the Lord after having his conscience bother him about his persecution of Christians. When he met the Lord, he turned his back on all of his political aspirations and became a fully-committed preacher of the Gospel. He preached that Christ died, was buried and that He rose again and it was all according to the Old Testament scriptures which he now realized spoke of a suffering Christ. But something else had happened, Christ now was living in Him. What does that mean?
Does Christ live in Every Believer?
We know that upon believing, every believer is sealed with Holy Spirit. That is taught in Ephesians 1:13. We don’t have to ask for the Holy Spirit to seal us. We don’t have to pray for the Holy Spirit to seal us. We get that blessing automatically upon believing. However, because of that blessing we usually have a joy we didn’t have before. We usually have an understanding of spiritual things that we didn’t have before. We usually have motivation to please the Lord that we didn’t have before. Unfortunately, we can grieve or distress the Holy Spirit who dwells within us by how we speak to others and how we treat others. That is taught in Ephesians 4:30. So because the Holy Spirit is God, yes, God or Christ does live within each believer. That doesn’t mean believers are little gods, it just means that they should be motivated by those things that please the Lord. They should not grieve the Holy Spirit. Instead they should be filled or controlled by the Holy Spirit as taught in Ephesians 5:18.
When Paul says that Christ was living in him, was he talking about being sealed with the Spirit or was he talking about being controlled by the Spirit? I think He was talking about being controlled by the Spirit since he says his life is now lived by faith in the Son of God. I would assume that means that he didn’t direct His own life but that he allowed the Lord to direct his path. It was through Ananias that he was told that he would be a special evangelist to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15-16). But of course he couldn’t be controlled by the Holy Spirit if he hadn’t been sealed by the Holy Spirit.
The Preciousness of Having Christ Live in Us
As we have already stated, since each believer is sealed by the Holy Spirit and should be controlled by the Holy Spirit, each believer has Christ living in him. To me it is almost beyond comprehension to think that Christ is dwelling in me. It’s a precious truth, but it is also kind of scary. Paul was confident that he was properly reflecting his faith in the Son of God. I have to wonder if I am. Do people really see Christ when they see me? I have to ask, "Does Christ really act the way I act?"
I thank God that Christ does live in me. But I hope that because of that nobody is ever able to use me as an excuse for rejecting the Lord. Many people that I talk to do not accept Christianity because of the way Christians treat one another and because of the way Christians treat minorities and the poor. I realize that the Lord is going to hold people accountable for their own sin regardless of how un-Chistlike professing Christians may act. But I pray that since Christ is living in me, that people at least get a little glimpse of the real Christ when they see me.
Meditation for the week of September 25, 2016