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What Being “In Christ” Means

June 30, 2014

Here is a 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. We call this being “in Christ.”

If you feel that all this is beyond you, I simply ask you this question: Can you see that if the Spirit of Jesus Christ were to live as an honored guest in your soul, to dwell in your mind and heart, to settle down in your desires, and in your conscience, and even in your memories, if that were to happen, it would be entirely different from you doing your best to be a good Christian?

I hope you know what I am talking about from your own experience. But if you don’t, I hope you’ll be awakened to what it really means to be a Christian, and that you will not rest until you can say with clarity and joy, “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

Here is what the Good News of the indwelling Christ means for the Christian.

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” (Psalm 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?” (Psalm 27:1). You can say with Paul, “If God be for me, who can be against me?” (Romans 8:31). And you can say with John, “Greater is he who is in me than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

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.

Some of you have told me that you enjoyed watching Downton Abbey, an English drama from the early 20th century set in a stately home, where the servants live, eat, and work downstairs, while the earl and his family enjoy their stately home upstairs.

One distinguishing feature of the house is that it has a system of little bells that ring in the kitchen with a pull cord in every room. The earl and his family can call for anything that they need. When the bell rings downstairs, it indicates exactly where the need is, so that the servants can make an immediate response.

Here is something very wonderful: Christ has installed a bell system that connects your heart with heaven. This is a bell system in reverse, because the bells ring in heaven. It is a bell system in which the servants ring for the help of the Master.

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” (Hebrews 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!

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 me and is actively at work in me.

“Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 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” (Revelation 3:20).


The Author
Colin Smith

Colin Smith is the senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He has authored a number of books, including Heaven, How I Got Here and Heaven, So Near - So Far. Colin is the president and teacher for Unlocking the Bible. Follow him on Twitter.



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