Abiding in Christ — Chapter 11

Chapter 11

Christ Liveth In Me

 

Scripture for Meditation: Galatians 2:20

In this chapter we want to conclude our study of spiritual growth and abiding in Christ.  We will start by looking at one verse that really seems to capture all the important principles. Galatians 2:20 is a key verse to spiritual growth. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

 

I Am Crucified with Christ

Paul states in this key passage, “I am crucified with Christ.”  This message is found in  Romans 6 as well.  We died with Christ, a co-crucifixion.  Galatians 2:19 provides the context for Paul’s statement. “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ.”  Now in this particular context, Paul refers to his relationship to the Mosaic Law, including the Ten commandments and to the 635+ other commandments in the Law.  Paul reveals that death ended his relationship to the Law.  Death ended his relationship to the whole Mosaic system.  Paul died with Christ. The moment he placed his faith in Christ he was joined with Christ in His death.  Since he died to the Law, the Law of Moses is no longer the rule of life for him.  That was true of Paul and it is true of every believer today.  The Law of Moses is not the rule of life for the Christian, the Spirit of God is.  This is not the age of Law, but the age of grace.  We have a very different rule of life, and it is because we died with Christ.  The cross (and our death with Christ) changes everything for the believer. Notice at the end of Galatians 2:19, Paul states the purpose for his death with Christ to the Law.  What was the purpose of his death to the Law?  He said, “that I might live unto God.”  What Paul is saying here, is that when we died with Christ, we were set free from the Law.  This co-crucifixion set us free from bondage to the Law.  It set us free of obligation to the Law. The Law has no power over a dead man. Death set us free to be united to Another.  The same truth is revealed in Romans 7:4 where Paul said, “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ.”  Paul told the Galatians that hedied to the Law.  When he addressed the Roman Christians he said that this is true of all believers.  We all died to the Law.  How? We died to the Law by the Body of Christ.  The believer is IN Christ’s Body and shares in His crucifixion. Notice the purpose of this crucifixion to the Law.  We died to the Law by the Body of Christ so that we could enter into a new relationship and live unto God.  We died to the Law so that we could be married to Another, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Death ended one relationship (Law as a rule of life for the Jews) and it enabled men to enter into a new relationship (marriage to Christ).  The end result of this new relationship is that we should bring forth fruit unto God (Rom. 7:4).  Some would have us to believe that if we abandon the law as a rule of life, it will lead to lawlessness.  Nonsense!  Law as a rule of life leads to frustration and defeat  (Rom. 7:14-23)!  The Bible says that God’s purpose in ending our relationship to the law is that we should bring forth fruit unto God–not lawlessness! Spiritual fruit is the result of our union with Christ, not a relationship to the Law!Paul’s point in Galatians 2:19 is that we were crucified with Jesus Christ, and it is our faith that unites us with Him in His crucifixion. Death ends any former relationship to the Law.  It is not our rule of life in this dispensation.  Co-crucifixion sets us free to a new rule of life.  It sets us free to be married to Jesus Christ–a new kind of intimate and personal relationship (marriage!) to Christ.  Our new relationship in this age is not at all related to the Law.  That is not our rule of life.  Rather, our rule of life in this age is the Spirit.  When our members are willingly yielded unto the Lord, (like a wife who submits to her husband out of love) it is the Spirit of God that produces Christlike characteristics through us.  The rule of life in this age is the power of the Divine indwelling, not the Law.  The Law could never produce the kind of fruit that the indwelling Spirit can.  The law condemned us, it cannot justify or sanctify.  It is a ministration of death.

Notice in Romans 6:2, Paul says, “God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”  In verse 2, Paul tells us that we died to sin.  In Galatians he speaks of one aspect of our crucifixion with Christ.  We died to the Law.  That ended our relationship to the Law.  We are no longer under its bondage. Paul tells us in Romans 6 that we also died unto sin, that indwelling sin nature.  We were crucified with Jesus Christ, and that death separates us from the bondage to our sin nature. Paul can say in Romans 6:6, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”  That unregenerate person  (the person we were before we received Jesus Christ as our Savior) is dead.  He was crucified.  The old self died on the cross, which is right where he belongs.  God says that our miserable old self-life is not worth reforming.  He can not be reformed.  Let him be crucified!  Our old self-life was crucified on the cross, and it is our faith that will keep him there.  The fact that we died with Christ sets us free from bondage to sin.  And that is just what Paul says in Romans 6:7, “For he that is dead is freed from sin.” The believer is freed from bondage to the sin nature.  Praise God!

Our crucifixion with Christ affects many different areas. Death means separation in the Bible.  Our death with Christ separates us from obligation and bondage to the Law.  It separates us from obligation and bondage to our sin nature.  If you look at Galatians 6:14, our death with Christ also separates us from obligation and bondage to the world system. “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”  This is the third aspect of the co-crucifixion we have shared with the Lord Jesus.  We died to the world system.  Our death with Christ separates us from all obligation and bondage to the world system–its ways, its philosophies, all of it. The world can no longer influence a dead man!  This world is no longer our home. Death separates us from its greed, lusts, philosophies, pomp, pride, and ungodliness–all of that.  By faith, the things of this Earth grow strangely dim.  The world does not understand it, but the things of this Earth grow strangely dim to the believer who now walks by faith and not by sight.  All of this is because the believer died unto the world with Jesus Christ.

The cross changes everything for the believer.  Remember we began this study by noting the distinctions between the fact that Jesus died for me, (spiritual birth), and the fact that I died with Him, (spiritual growth).  We do not want to confuse the two.  Jesus died for me, therefore, I can be born again– I can be justified.  I died with Christ, therefore, I can be sanctified. You see, the cross frees me from slavery to sin.  The cross frees me from obligation to the Law, so now I have a new rule of life.  That new rule of life is the Spirit of God, not the Law.  And the cross frees me from the bondage of the world system.  I have been raised up into heavenly places in Christ.  These facts are true of every single believer.  If we came to Christ in genuine faith, then we died with Him.  We are all dead to sin.  We are all dead to the Law.  We are all dead to the world system.

Look again at Galatians 2:20.  Paul begins this verse by saying, “I am crucified with Christ.” He uses the perfect tense here.  The perfect tense indicates a past completed action that has present continuing results.  Paul’s point is that by faith he was once crucified with Christ, and still is crucified!  The cross has an ongoing effect in his life and will never ever cease.  Paul was crucified with Christ and he still is a crucified man.  I was crucified with Christ.  And if you are born again, you were crucified with Christ.  That is our position.  Believers have been crucified to the law, to the sin nature, and to the world.  These are the facts.  Now, we do not always live like our old man has died.  We do not always live like we are dead to the world.  We do not always live like we are dead to our old sin nature.  But, those are the facts nonetheless.  Simple childlike faith will make these facts a reality.  Faith will cause the condition of our life to be gradually transformed into our glorious position in Christ, from glory to glory, day by day, moment by moment.  God expects us to believe these truths, reckon it to be so, and take steps of faith, all the while trusting that it is God who works IN us.  Notice that when Paul says in Galatians 6:20, that “I” am crucified, he means, of course, his old life. “I am crucified.”  It is the old Saul, that self-righteous Pharisee, the persecutor of the Church who is dead.  His old man died with Christ.  This is an important principle that Paul sets forth in virtually all his epistles: before spiritual growth can ever take place, we have to get the old self-life out of the way.  What is God’s method?  The Cross!  He is dead, and we have to reckon it to be so.  We have to believe it to be so and trust in God that we really are crucified.  That is the only method for spiritual growth–to recognize what God did with my old man on the cross.  In other words, if we want Christ manifested in our life, self needs to get out of the way.

 

Nevertheless I live

We read in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live.”  In one sense Paul was dead.  The old Saul, the self-righteous Pharisee was nailed to the cross.  He was crucified and he is taken out of the way.  Yet the verse says that there is another sense in which Paul lives.  He is speaking of course of the new creation (II Cor. 5:17).  When a person puts his faith in Jesus Christ, the old self dies and is nailed to the cross, and God makes us a new creation in Christ.  That old self is separated from the world and separated from sin because he died and is made anew in Christ Jesus.  Now of course Paul still looked the same.  His physical appearance did not change.  His voice did not change.  In one sense he was the same person, but a different kind of a person.  When Paul says, “nevertheless I live,” he is talking about the resurrection life in Christ that he described in Romans chapter six.  His old man was crucified, and now the new creature is able to walk in newness of life.  There is a new kind of resurrection life that he shares, because not only did he die with Christ, he has also been raised with Christ in heavenly places.  We shared in His death and burial, and we also share in His resurrection!   This makes life totally different for the Christian.  We live in the heavenlies (Eph. 2:5-6).  That is a much better place to live than in the world!  Our life is no longer to be entangled by all the affairs and cares of this life. The believer seeks things above.  Things that are higher and nobler have gripped our hearts, because we died unto the world and we are alive unto God in heavenly places.  Now we live in the Spirit.  It is no longer the flesh struggling against the Law trying to produce that which amounts to nothing more than filthy rags!  We have abandoned that vain and frustrating cycle of defeat (Rom. 7:24-25).  The self-righteous self was crucified and now we live in a spiritual realm.  We have been born of the Spirit.  Now we have access to the power of God to produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.  It is ours simply by yielding, trusting, and walking in childlike faith.  It is a totally different rule of life.  Now we can produce the fruit of holiness because we died to sin.  Now we can be like the Lord Jesus Christ, if we reckon ourselves to be dead and get the old self-life out of the way.  Christ dwells in us already (Col. 1:27).   He wants to live through us.  All God wants us to do is to believe Him.  If we will simply believe Him, we can have a life that manifests the indwelling Christ.  In Romans 6:8 Paul says, “if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.”  We died with Him and we are also living with Him.  Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live” (Gal. 2:20).  This is a new realm.  It is a new sphere of existence.  It is that resurrection life of Christ, therefore he says in Romans 6:11, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  We need to know it.  We need to reckon it to be so.  We need to believe it.  We need to count it as a fact.  We need to make it a reality experientially by faith.  Then Paul says in Romans 6:13, (in the middle of the verse), “yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead.”  You see, that is our position.  We are alive.  We have been raised from the dead spiritually.  All God wants us to do is to know it, believe it and yield as if it were so–because it is so!  When Paul says “nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,” he is describing a new kind of life–a resurrection life.  It is a new kind of life that is not geared toward the old self.  Thank God!  It is a life that is directed to the Lord.  It is a life that is yielded to God.  Gone is the bondage to selfishness and demanding our own way.  It is no longer “I” but Christ.  Christ liveth in me.  That is what counts.

 

Yet Not I, but Christ Liveth in Me

Galatians 2:20 says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live.”  As Paul begins to think about this new life, he gets right to the heart of the matter.  He says, yes, I am living, but not the old “I.”  Christ liveth in me.  This is the glory of Christianity.  The basis for our spiritual growth is our death and resurrection with Christ.  Those are the facts.  We died with Christ and we have been raised into heavenly places with Christ.  Now Paul turns his attention to the source of spiritual growth. The source of spiritual growth is the fact that God lives in us.  That is a marvelous truth that ought to affect everything we do and think and say for the rest of our lives.  Christ lives in us!  This is the source of any and all true spiritual growth. This is exactly what we saw in John 15.  We spent all that time looking at this important section where Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you” (Jn. 15:4).  As the branch abides in the Vine, the life of the Vine is flowing in and through the branch.  So (in one sense) the branch is in the Vine, and (in another sense) the Vine is in the branch.  As we yield to God (totally surrendered as a branch to the Vine), Christlike characteristic and qualities are going to be manifested in and through our life.  When we live this surrendered, yielded life, it is IN FACT, not I, but Christ living His life through me.  This union, this abiding in Christ, this communion, (the essence of Christianity) can be summed up as our heart attitude to Jesus Christ.  It is not a religion.  It is not a set of rules or a long list of laws.  It is a heart relationship to God through Jesus Christ.  If our heart is right, if the communion is right, then good fruit will be borne.  Spiritual growth and spiritual fruit are the direct result of a heart relationship to the Lord.  That is God’s plan of sanctification.  It is not complicated.  If our heart is right, good fruit will be the result.  Producing fruit is not so much related to activity for the Vine, as it is to relationship to the Vine.

Moses had no idea such a thing would ever happen.  David never had any hint that God would indwell believing people. Paul writes in Colossians 1:26-27, “Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles.”  Here is the glory of the age in which we live: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Christ lives in every believer today.  He is there.  He is our Savior.  He is never going to leave us.  “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5).  We can walk away from Him for a while, but He will never leave us.  Yet in Ephesians 3, Paul says we need to be careful about this truth.  In Ephesians 3:17-19 Paul says, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”  As a branch is plugged into the Vine, (receiving the fullness of all that the Vine provides), so God’s fullness is manifested through us. Paul tells us in verse 17 that Christ dwells in every one of us. The word for dwell means to be at home.  He resides in every believer.  He is present in every believer.  However, He is not at home in every believer.  He is at home when we walk by faith.  When we are totally yielded (trusting in the Lord, surrendered to Him, willing to do His will, our attitude is ‘not my will but Thine be done’), then Christ is right at home in our life. He is at home in our life by faith.  Christ is comfortably at home in us when we demonstrate His incomprehensible love through our lives.  When that is manifested through us, then we can know Christ is at home in us. Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,” and notice this “according to the power that worketh in us.”  Who is in us here?  Christ!  No wonder we have access to all power.  No wonder we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.  There is no problem God cannot take us through if we will just yield and abide in Him.  Yet sin makes Christ very uncomfortable in our hearts.  Oh, He is still there.  He will never leave us or forsake us, but if we are harboring sin in our hearts we make Him uncomfortable.  If fact, we limit what He can do.

Paul wrote, “Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2:20).  He dwells in every one of us. God’s purpose for this age is that Christ might be manifested to the world through us.  That is the whole point of His indwelling.  Christ wants to manifest Himself (His life; His character) through our yielded members. Jesus taught in John 15 that some branches refuse to yield to the Vine.  Some branches want to break away and do their own thing. Such branches should be reminded that Jesus said, “without me ye can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5).  The flesh can produce no good thing in God’s sight–no fruit of the Spirit, no holiness, love, joy, peace, etc.  It is a supernatural work of revealing God through our mortal bodies.  And yet when we are not yielded, God’s glorious purpose is not being accomplished.  We are not fulfilling our reason for being.  The ultimate goal of the Christian life is to glorify God by manifesting the indwelling life of Christ to men and angels.  Angels are watching the Church of God to see how we behave, how we treat each other, how we fellowship together (Eph. 3:10).  A heart that refuses to surrender totally to Christ limits what God can do.  He wants to do wonderful things in our lives, corporately as a local church and in each one of our lives individually.  But when we are unyielded (broken away from the Vine), there is nothing God can do.  We have limited the Almighty (even though He has limitless power) by breaking away from Him.  The tragedy of it all is that the unyielded heart not only does not manifest Christ, what it does do is manifest self.  It manifests self in all its ugliness.  It manifests a miserable creature, not a new creature.  In that self-life there is no good thing.  That is the result of a selfish life.  When our heart is not yielded, we can produce nothing but wood, hay, and stubble.  Others will not see Christ in us, which is God’s purpose for this age–to demonstrate God’s love and compassion for sinners; to demonstrate God’s holiness and righteousness through an obedient, surrendered life. Yet none of that takes place when we are not surrendered to the Lord.  The result of a Christ centered life is spiritual fruit.  The result of a self-centered life is rotten fruit, the works of the flesh.

The whole crux of the matter is a consistent heart attitude.  Maintaining a good heart attitude is our own personal responsibility.  You cannot change my heart attitude toward God.  I am responsible to God for my own attitude.  It is the same with every one of us.  Jesus told His disciples that they would do greater works than He did.  What He meant was that there would be hundreds of thousands of people all over the globe manifesting the same thing that Jesus manifested–the character of God revealed through a yielded, mortal, human body.  Our purpose on Earth is to demonstrate to a lost and dying world, what God is like.  That is why Paul says in II Corinthians 5:20, “we are ambassadors for Christ.”  God has sent us out into the world to manifest Him. We are to go out into the world and let others know Him.  That does not mean we are preaching 24-hours a day.  We are also preaching by the way we live.  It is not only what we say.  It is also what we are that the world is observing.

In II Corinthians 3:2-3 Paul says, “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.”  Here Paul says that even the carnal Corinthians were a letter (a means of communication) by the way they lived.  God did a work in their heart.  He changed them. As the unsaved folks in the city of Corinthwatched the way these Christians behaved, they were learning something.  It was as if they were reading a letter from God.  By observing the Christians, men hoped to observe what the God of these “Christians” was like. That is exactly God’s plan for every one of us.  God sends the believer into the world to be an ambassador, to be a letter, so other men can learn who God is.  In other words, the life of the Vine is manifested by the kind of fruit the branch produces.  The world can tell what kind of Vine we are connected to by the kind of fruit we produce.  The kind of fruit is manifested and demonstrated to everyone that walks by.  It is either sweet fruit or it is rotten fruit.  The branch is not there for itself.  The branch is not there to exalt the branch.  The branch is not there to feed the branch.  Rather the branch is there for one reason, to bear fruit for the Husbandman, the Vinedresser, God the Father.  How do we bear fruit for Him?  We demonstrate what the Vine is like by bearing (not producing) the kind of fruit that Godproduces through us. Paul demonstrates this principle again for us.  Paul suffered a lot.  He endured countless disturbing situations in his life as he ministered for God.    He tells us some of the trouble that he experienced in II Corinthians 4:8-9, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.”  How is it that all of these awful things that Paul faced did not cause him to lose all hope?  It was because there was something inside that drove that man.  He was driven by the very essence of the mystery of Christ dwelling in him. He says in II Corinthians 4:10, “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”  He was willing to face death on every corner so that people could see what Christ is like.  The indwelling life of Christ and His character would be manifested as they beat him at Philippi and cast him into prison.  He sang praises to God.  The Philippian jailer had never seen anything like it and wanted to know Paul’s Savior. In II Corinthians 4:11 Paul says, “For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.”  This is the ultimate purpose of being a Christian.  This is why God saved us. Christ lives in us and  He wants to live His life through us. All we have to do is abide in Him and yield our members to Him.  As we do that, God is glorified in our mortal body.  There is no higher purpose in the universe.  That is why God saved us.  It was not because we were good, or because we were worthy, or because we were deserving. God determined that He would manifest His grace in an undeserving sinner.  God could manifest what He is like through weak, helpless branches.  God could manifest His life in useless pots of clay (II Cor.4:6-7).  Do you know that this is what we are going to be doing for all eternity?  In Ephesians 2:7 Paul says, “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches” of what, our goodness? No, He is going to be showing the exceeding riches “of His grace.”  Do you know what grace means?  We did not deserve to be saved.  We were not worthy of anything but condemnation, but God is gracious to undeserving people.  Forever and ever God is going to be displaying us as examples of what God can do, not what WE did.  God will be “showing” what He can do in a yielded vessel, a vessel that does nothing but surrender and trust and rest in Him.  He is going to manifest His kindness to men and angels forever.  Is not that a great thing?  He is going to manifest His grace through us.  That is God’s design for salvation.

In II Corinthians 4:7 Paul says, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels.”  An earthen vessel is an old clay pot.  It is not very valuable.  It is not fine china, not a golden vessel, but an old earthen, clay pot.  God saved useless dirt pots like you and me, “that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”  When we stand in Heaven before men and angels we can never say I am here because I have earned it.  The only thing we will have to say is God thank you for your grace!  I am here because you saved me.  The end result is that the excellency, glory, majesty, and honor goes to God and not to us.

Paul states in this passage (I Cor. 4:8) that we are troubled on every side.  The fact of the indwelling Christ is a wonderful thing.  It is the glory of our faith.  As marvelous as these heavenly truths are (God is manifesting His life through us), we are again reminded that down here on Earth, we are often troubled.  We are persecuted.  We are perplexed.  Paul faced death daily, yet he knew that God had a purpose through it all.  God’s purpose is to manifest His Son even through the worst of earthly circumstances.

Jesus Christ dwells in us. He wants to live through us.  He wants to make Himself known to the whole world through us, as we yield to Him. That is the glory of Christianity.  Sadly, in many circles, the very essence of Christianity is missing, or it is not emphasized as it ought to be.  Some believers have a superficial knowledge of these truths.  They thus reason, Oh, yes, we know that, but let us go out and be BUSY for God, building buildings and saving souls.  Of course preaching the gospel and building church buildings ARE important. But the New Testament emphasis is on the glory of God! The emphasis in the New Testament is NOT on busyness FOR God as much as it is on a relationshipWITH God.   God’s plan for this age gripped Paul’s heart, and it ought to grip ours.  As we abide in Christ, (staying close to Him, obeying His Word, remaining surrendered in every area of our life), God is free to live through us. The life and character of the Vine are free to flow through the yielded branches and others see what Jesus is like.  Jesus said, “in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).  That is just what Paul is describing in II Corinthians 4.  The storms may be raging about us, but we can have rest in the Lord.  The world is going to see something they do not normally see–a believer who has an indescribable peace during a “storm,” when they should be falling to pieces.  We can trust in the Lord to handle the situation.  We can cling to Christ because He is our life.  To whom shall we go?  He has the words of life.  Sometimes it takes the very worst of circumstances to get us to the place where we are willing to say, “Not I, but Christ.”  Sometimes it takes the worst of trials and the worst of experiences to bring us to that place where we come to the end of self and say,  “Lord not my will, but Thine be done.”  When God takes us through those miserable circumstances, rest assured He will lead us all the way through it to the other side.

 

And the Life Which I Now Live in the Flesh I Live by the Faith of the Son of God

In Galatians 2:20 Paul also says, “the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God.”  The first section of this verse really describes Romans 6.  We were crucified, yet we are alive with Christ: co-crucifixion and co-resurrection.  The next part of the verse, “Christ liveth in me,” describes John 15, the relationship of the branch to the Vine. Paul says that this new life including God’s wonderful plan of sanctification is ours by faith.  We see this throughout the New Testament epistles addressed to the Church. Spiritual growth is by faith.  We are justified by faith and we are sanctified by faith.  When he says “the life which I now live in the flesh,” he is not talking about the sinful part of his nature.  He is just talking about his earthly body.  In other words, his earthly life in a physical body, he now lives by faith in Christ.  That is it!  We are saved by faith.  We are to walk by faith.  We are to live by faith. We are to die by faith.  And by faith we keep that old self-life on the cross right where he belongs.  SELF was worthy of nothing but crucifixion.  God did not make a mistake when He said our old man was to be crucified. By faith, we can keep that old man there.  By faith we can believe that truth and live it.  When self is taken out of the way, Christ is exalted to the throne of our life and is free to rule.  That is all He wants to do.  He does not want much.  All He wants is all we are.  He is Lord and He wants to rule.  He wants us to be in the place where we can say with Paul, “Not I but Christ…  For me to live is Christ… I am crucified with Christ nevertheless, I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me.”  When Christ rules in our life and as we abide in Him, the life of Jesus Christ is going to be demonstrated to the world.  But this only happens by faith – by total dependence upon Christ.  We know so little about the power of God in our lives because we know so little of what it means to be totally surrendered to Him.  D. L. Moody once said the world is yet to see what God could do with a man fully given over to Christ.

 

Who Loved Me, and Gave Himself for Me

Too often, we lean on our own understanding.  We trust in our own ability.  We rely on our own strength and our own power.  Sometimes God has to knock us down to bring us to the place where we will say, Lord, I was a fool. My wretched flesh is incurably sick.  I need Christ.  I have to get self out of the way.  Then as we walk by faith, His love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, meekness, and temperance, will characterize our life.  In other words, we will be gradually transformed from glory to glory as Paul says in II Corinthians 3.  Gradually there will be less and less of self, and more and more of Him; less and less of my plans, goals, and ambitions and more and more of Christ and His will for my life. The Husbandman might have to prune us down to size.  When God takes us through those storms of life, when God takes us through the deep waters, when God takes us through the trouble, the distress, the perplexity that Paul faced at every corner, just remember that Christ loves us.  “He loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).  He is not trying to hurt us.  He is not trying to damage us.  He wants nothing but the very best for us.  The only way the very best for us can be accomplished is when the self-life remains on the cross.  Self has been crucified.  When we are reckoning that to be true, we are as safe as that branch abiding in the Vine.  No fiery dart the wicked one can cast at us will harm us.  We are safe in Him.

The glory of our Christian faith is that Christ lives in us.  Communion with Him and heart attitude is the essence of it.  The more time we spend with Jesus, the more effect that relationship is going to have on our lives. It’s so simple! The more time we spend beholding the glory of God in the Word of God, and communing with Him, the more fruit we are going to bear, the more like Him we are going to be.

We need to be reminded that no matter what comes our way, as a Christian, we are connected to the Vine.  We are thus connected to an endless source of power, an endless source of provision, and an endless source of protection.

Must not our Heavenly Father be grieved by Christians today who are always seeking some new experience?  Is not Christ enough?  When we have Christ, do we not have everything?  Does not Paul say we are complete in Him?  In Christ we have all we need for time and eternity. The Vine provides all the life and strength and refreshment the branch could ever need. He satisfies the soul… how could we ever wander away from Him?  ABIDE in Him and bring forth much fruit!