Wednesday, December 14, 2016

"With... Within"

"With… Within"   

     I recently noticed a book on the shelves of a local store, the title of which informs believers in the Lord Jesus Christ that "God is with you every day".  I certainly agree with the author's premise, and was reminded of one of our Lord's names - Emmanuel - which means "God with us" (Matthew 1:23).  However, we must be sure that we fully recognize the measure of God's dwelling "with" His trusting children in Christ.  

   "I will dwell in them, and walk in them" (II Corinthians 6:16).
   "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27).
   "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (I Corinthians 3:16).

   Our Lord'"with" means "within", even as the Lord Jesus promised the disciples: "The Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you" (John 14:17).  After His atoning death on the cross, His resurrection, and His ascension, the Lord Jesus sent the Spirit of God to spiritually dwell within the redeemed hearts of all who believe.  Such grace constitutes the greatest gift of salvation in Christ, namely, the bestowal of God Himself to our innermost being.  Indeed, our Lord being "with" us provides an incredible blessing.  His being "within" us enhances the hope of glory to an exponential measure.  Not content to merely live in close proximity to us, our Heavenly Father made a way to spiritually inhabit us to the degree that "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5).  The gift of Himself - this provides the true measure of Emmanuel, of God with us, of God within us.  

   The gift also presents great challenge.  The Holy Spirit's presence within us makes possible a life consistently and increasingly lived for the glory of God.  The Christ who overcame all things during His earthly lifetime lives in us to empower our overcoming.  Every excuse for failure dissolved in the moment God's Spirit entered our spirits at the time of our new birth.  We may not always overcome, and we won't (I John 1:8).  However, sin is never inevitable in born again believers.  Failure to trust and obey God happens in the context of His indwelling and enabling presence (I must admit that writing that sentence powerfully impacted my heart as much as any truth I have ever communicated).  Great challenge.  No excuses.  Along with the blessing of our Lord's presence within us, these realities of grace also present themselves to our hearts.

    Finally, let us realize and remember the cost of the Holy Spirit's indwelling presence within us.  "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?!" (Matthew 27:46).  On the cross of Calvary, our Savior was utterly abandoned by God and man.  Apart from the lonely and agonized sorrow of the heart of Christ stripped bare, the Spirit of God could not dwell within believers.  Our inner temple had to be cleansed.  Only shed Blood and a broken Heart could provide the necessary purification.  Thus, to the degree the Lord Jesus died alone at Calvary, born again believers will never be alone, even to the degree that the Apostle Paul could affirm, "God is in you of a truth" (I Corinthians 14:25).  This is the grace of God in Christ, the grace of "with" and the greater grace of "within".  Let us rejoice in the blessing, realize the challenge, recognize the enabling, and most of all, remember the cost of the gift, the cost of Calvary that made possible the gift of Himself.

"I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them."
(John 17:26)

Weekly Memory Verse
   And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men.
(I Thessalonians 3:12)

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