“Christ Liveth in Me”
That Christ who is our Saviour should be our Life, that He should live in us, is one of the most profound truths of Christianity. Well may the hymn-writer exclaim,
“Oh! what a salvation this,
That ‘Christ liveth in me!”
This is a part of the salvation of God which is oftentimes overlooked. A few words as to it therefore may not be out of place.
Two transpositions of the letters of the words CHRISTIAN MAN may help to fix two truths in the memory. First of all let us note that altering their setting the twelve letters of “Christian man” may form the words
“A MAN IN CHRIST.”
The apostle Paul writes of himself as being such. In 2 Corinthians 12:2 we find the expression. And the passage shows the greatness of the Christian position and that we may rightly boast in it. The position “in Christ” is wholly that which God has given us. So we read, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature (there is a new creation) . . . all things are of God” (2 Cor. 5:17-18).
Again, “Of Him (of God) are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). And again, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).
“In Christ” we have fullness of privilege and favour. In Him, the Beloved, “we are accepted” (Eph. 2:6). In Him we are “blessed with all spiritual blessings” (Eph. 1:3). In Him we “are complete” (Col. 2:10). “In Him” we are beyond the reach of the condemnation which attached to us in our natural condition as “in Adam.” “There is . . . no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).
A Christian preacher would ask sometimes of young believers the question, “Are you in Adam or in Christ?” The answer would often be, “I suppose I am in Christ.” Then the query would be made, “How often are you in Christ?” and falteringly the reply would be, “Not very often, I am afraid.” They meant that they were not often acting as in Christ.
The glorious truth is that the believer on the Lord Jesus Christ—yes! every believer—is “in Christ” and always “in Christ.” God Himself to the praise of the glory of His grace has given to us this wonderful place of nearness to Himself—and He never takes us out of that position. To be assured of this is our privilege. To answer to it is our responsibility. God would have us to think His thoughts after Him in this matter and to reckon ourselves “dead indeed unto sin,” but alive to Him “in Christ Jesus.”
“In Christ is as Christ” was the brief expression used by a well-known servant of God. How much is contained in those five simple words. God has been pleased to put us in Christ’s place before Him. We had no part in it. The work was altogether beyond our powers. But God chose that every Christian should have this nearness and dearness. We were in the distance and in the darkness of sin and alienation from God, “but now in Christ Jesus, we who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13). We are before God identified with Christ, are risen together and seated in the heavenlies in Christ (Eph. 2:6).
The statement of another servant of God, “Christ’s place is our place” is a further five-worded expression well worth remembering as conveying the truth we have been considering.
Nothing of merit had we. We had no claim upon God for blessing of any kind. We were exposed to His just judgment. But He in His grace (His love acting in the presence of our sin), has chosen for His own glory to heap upon us the richest blessings which heaven’s treasury afforded.
Now transposing again the twelve letters of the word CHRISTIAN MAN, let us occupy our thoughts with
CHRIST IN A MAN.
It is God’s gracious thought that Christ should be expressed in us who believe upon Him, that something of the graces of Christ should be exhibited in our lives. We are in Christ for acceptance before God, as we have seen. Christ is in us for manifestation before men.
These are the two sides of Christian blessedness. Just as there are an upper side and a lower side to a Bank note or Treasury bill, so these two truths are parts of the same whole, “A man in Christ” and “Christ in a man,” go together. We must not put asunder that which God hath joined.
“If Christ be in you,” says the apostle, “the body is dead because of sin: but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Rom. 8:9). “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in Me” (Gal. 2:20). These Scriptures bring before us from different angles the side of truth we are now considering.
Martin Luther is reported to have said, “If someone comes to my house and asks, ‘Does Martin Luther live here?’ I ought to answer, ‘Martin Luther has died and Jesus Christ lives here now.’” So should it be; and so may it be if we walk in the power of an ungrieved Holy Spirit. Something of the character of Christ will be displayed in us. His love, His gentleness, His consideration for others, His graciousness, His patience, His goodness, His faithfulness, His truth, His kindness, His mercy, these and others of His moral excellencies will come out in measure in our pathway. Our lips and our lives will express Himself.
One who went to a mission field was to be sent home. He was unable to acquire the native language and so seemed to be disqualified for the position he had sought to fill. But his fellow-workers and the native converts all begged that he might remain because he was, as they said, “so like Christ.” His life spoke what his lips could not convey aright. Shall we ask ourselves how far those around us would have such a judgment of ourselves? How much do we magnify Christ in our bodies so that He is glorified in us?
Another illustration occurs to me which will show in some detail what is sought to be presented. A child was asked, “Where does Christ live now?” The answer expected to be given was, “In heaven” But another and unlooked for reply was forthcoming. It was, “He lives in our court now.” What was meant? Well, a young woman named Bessie had been converted a little while before. And now she was seeking to do everything in her power for the help and comfort of others. She would light the fire and sweep out the room for a sick woman. She would run an errand for a lame mother. She would read the Word of God to a blind man. She would care for a dying child. In these and other ways she would succour the needy. And not for the sake of gain, but for the love of Christ. Thus in that dingy, dirty, dilapidated court Christ was shining out through Bessie.
What an honour is this! That in the world where our Lord lived and has been rejected His holy, gracious life may be continued in measure in us in the power of the Holy Spirit.
“A man in Christ” and “Christ in a man” make up the CHRISTIAN MAN. May we know what it is to be in Christ and may others see Christ in us. So will His name be honoured and so will blessing come to those around us.