In our relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ, what is God’s part, and what is our part?
No simplistic explanations suffice to answer this question, as evidenced by the Apostle Paul’s enigmatic declaration of life in Christ written to the Galatians (2:20).
“I am crucified with Christ.” Paul is dead and gone.
“Nevertheless I live.” Paul resurrects and returns.
“Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” Paul leaves again, and furthermore declares that Another has taken residence and action in the Apostle’s heart.
“And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Again, Paul reappears to live. However, the circle of life, as it were, culminates in both Christ living, and Paul living.
Paul’s accounting of death, life, and life in Christ reflects the New Testament teaching that the Spirit of the Lord Jesus lives in us in order that we may live through Him. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (I John 4:9). The Christian life therefore involves not only the Lord Jesus, and certainly not only us. Life is rather a “we” as the Spirit of Christ indwells, motivates, leads and enables, and as the spirit of the believer responses in faith, submission, and confident anticipation that we are powerfully enabled through Christ to trust and obey God.
Emphasis solely on the life of Christ inevitably leads to passivity and failure to access the power of God already provided to every believer (II Peter 1:3). Emphasis solely on our own dedication and determination leads to pride when we believe ourselves to be successful, and despair when our too frequent failures reveal our innate emptiness apart from the Lord Jesus (John 15:5). How, therefore, are we to understand His role in living within us, and our role in responsive living to His dynamic presence?
This question of all questions requires a lifetime to answer. Recognizing the Biblical truth of Christ living in us so that we may live through Him establishes our quest to increasingly discover the wonder of life lived as a “we” rather than simply a “He” or a “me.” There is no more fulfilling or joyous experience of living, and in real terms, there is no other. The Spirit of Christ lives in us so that we may live through Him. May we grow in this grace and knowledge of a Savior whose indwelling presence does not annihilate us, but rather actualizes the God-given gifts and faculties of our humanity, so “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).
“We shall live with Him by the power of God.”
(II Corinthians 13:4)