One Comment to “Christ Lives in Me”

  1. Don McMahon
    March 25, 2019

    “Christ Lives In Me” (Galatians 2:11-21)(3.24.19)
    Galatians 2:11–21 (NIV84) Paul Opposes Peter
    11 When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. 12 Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
    14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?
    15 “We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ 16 know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.
    17 “If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. 19 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
    The word of God for the people of God.
    Title: Christ Lives In Me
    This week, Carol shared with me a story from her childhood. She was about nine years old when the astonishing truth of God’s grace and mercy broke upon her heart. “Wait a second she thought. A person steals a pencil. Another person commits murder. They both ask for God’s forgiveness and they both get to go to heaven?” This violated her sensibilities; so, that night when her mother came to her bedside for prayer time, Carol asked her about it. Her mother replied, “That is such a big question for a little girl, especially for this time of night.” Carol would continue to ask the question in the years to come.
    Yes, there are many things about God that are outside of our comprehension. Yes, God’s ways are higher, much higher than our ways. The Lord’s thoughts are much, much higher than our thoughts. For some, it is God’s grace and mercy. For some it is God’s absolute holiness. For some it is God’s omniscience, omnipresence, or omnipotence. All of us should be completely blown away by the promise that the Creator of All things would condescend to take up residence in our hearts; in our innermost being.
    Nevertheless, that is what Paul declares – Christ lives in me! Let that amazing promise roll around in your mind. If you live by faith in Christ Jesus, he lives in you! The question each of us must ask during this Lenten Season of reflection is, “Does Christ live in me?”
    Bishop Hall, an old time English bishop said that Paul’s declaration, “I have been crucified with Christ,” corresponds to a Lent of mortification. And, I live points to the Easter resurrection of Jesus.
    Three times in verse 16, Paul repeats that we are justified by faith: faith in Jesus Christ; faith in Christ Jesus; and, faith in Christ. Then he completes this doctrine, this truth, this foundational concept by saying, “I live by faith in the Son of God.”
    We tend to think about faith is a somewhat limited fashion. We know that we are not saved, not reconciled to God, not deserving of our heavenly reward, based on works. Even if it were possible to follow the law completely without ever failing, we STILL would not earn our rightful place with God. Our justification, which is the sum total of these concepts, and more, comes only based on faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
    Faith is not a one time thing. It is an everyday aspect of the Christian walk. It is not a passive position. It is an active believing and trusting in God’s goodness, grace, and that the Son of God, who sits at the right hand of God the Father, is your Advocate.
    Paul here, and in many other places, must battle against the human propensity to focus on self and the almost universal tendency to trust in our works. So, he triplely argues that we are justified by faith. But, we are to continue in that faith – living by faith in Jesus. Every sphere of our lives must come under the authority and administration of Jesus Christ our Lord.
    If we have been so blessedly equipped, we should ask ourselves why that might be. What are the implications? For what purpose? What are the ramifications? If you need the armor of God, it is for battle. If you are told, “do not be afraid,” you are going to face trials.
    Starting with the earliest churches, which Paul is addressing, until this very day, Christians continue to struggle with living out a live of faith in Jesus. Very few come close to living a Christ filled life. In 2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV84) Paul directs: Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? What pitifully weak Christian lives we live, desecrating the power and truth of the Living Christ within us.
    Jesus preached that the kingdom of God was at hand; the kingdom of God is near; the kingdom of God is within you. Although we do in fact receive an eternal heavenly reward, we are to be running in the kingdom that is at hand NOW! There is reward IN the running. For it is not I that lives but Christ that lives IN me. With Jesus living within, the kingdom of God is wherever we go.
    There are multiple verses that proclaim this amazing promise of God, Christ in you:
    Romans 8:10 (NIV84) But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.
    Colossians 1:27 (NIV84) To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
    2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV84) And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
    Jesus told his disciples that he must leave so that the Holy Spirit could come. When that happened, Jesus’ disciples would be empowered to do greater works than those they had witnessed. They would continue the work Jesus started. By spreading the good news of Jesus, this ragtag group conquered the Roman Empire.
    Doesn’t it seem that we are missing something today in our churches? Carol just finished, and I have been reading, The Dangers of a Shallow Faith, with the sub-title, Awakening From Spiritual Lethargy. It is written by A. W. Tozer and Hannah gave us the book. Listen to a couple of Tozer’s thoughts:
    “The gospel is the power of the Spirit operating through the Word.” And
    “If this church and the people who composed it were not living in a constant miracle, they were not Christians at all, because the Christian’s life is a miracle.”
    And: “A Christian is NOT somebody who has believed only. A Christian is somebody who has believed in power.”
    Is your Christian life, which is your whole life, one of faith, power and miracles? No? I confess neither is mine; but, I so, so want it to be. The Bible promises it:
    1 Thessalonians 1:5 (NIV84) because our gospel came to you NOT simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.
    1 Corinthians 4:20 (NIV84) For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.
    Maybe our faith is not quite sufficient. Do you handle all the small stuff and just go to God for the big stuff? Or the other way around; you say you trust God for everyday things; but, your God is too small for the tragedies you face. Maybe you trust God with your relationships but not with your finances.
    Take a close look at yourself, your decisions, your heart. I suspect that most of us fail to appropriate the fullness of faith and God’s promised power because we missed a crucial step. It is not a popular step to preach in our day and age. What does Paul say? Before he says, “but Christ lives in me?”
    I have been crucified with Christ. I have been crucified with Christ. Can we say this for ourselves? In its mildest form, this is why we give things up for Lent. While giving up chocolate for Lent might be a good thing to do, it is not really being crucified with Christ.
    O Love divine, what has thou done!
    The immortal God hath died for me!
    The Father’s coeternal Son
    bore all my sins upon the tree.
    Th’ immortal God for me hath died:
    My Lord, my Love, is crucified!
    Were the whole realm of nature mine,
    that were an offering far too small;
    love so amazing, so divine,
    demands my soul, my life, my all.
    Do you love the Lord Jesus? You know in your head that Jesus was crucified for you personally; but, do you know in your heart that Jesus was crucified for you personally? If yes, then the proper response demands your soul, your life, your all. That calls for a total personal commitment.
    Ask yourself these questions. Do I even know what it means to be crucified with Christ? In the baptismal liturgy the pastor prays, “Pour out your Holy Spirit, to bless this gift of water and those who receive it, to wash away their sin and clothe them in righteousness throughout their lives, that, dying and being raised with Christ, they may share in his final victory.” In full immersion baptism, going under the water represents dying with Christ and rising out of the water represents being raised with Christ.
    BUT, baptism is supposed to be an outward sign of an inward work. Too many Christians fail in their crucifixion and therefore the power of a fully resurrected life is not available to them.
    You have often heard Jesus’ words Luke 14:27 (NIV84) And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Although there are variations in the way Jesus says this, he says it several times. There is no way we could carry Jesus’ cross, but each of us has our own personal cross that we must bear.
    Jesus was to take on the sin of the whole world, past and future. Jesus paid the penalty of your sin and my sin, so think about this personally. Jesus was beaten and shamed. This was done publicly. Spikes were driven through his hands and feet. He was mocked. His side was pierced with a Roman spear.
    When he died, the sky was black and the earth shook. The veil to the holy of holies was torn from top to bottom and graves were opened and the dead rose out of them. The Centurion on that Calvary Hill witnessed it all and proclaimed, “Surely this is the Son of God.” The perfect Lamb of God was sacrificed, conquering sin and the grave.
    You know these things, but have you experienced Jesus’ crucifixion vicariously? Maybe it is just an ancient story for you. Maybe you know it happened as an historical fact. My friends, if it does not cause you to mourn your every sin, you have not been crucified with Christ.
    Ok, let’s assume you have gotten this far. What is the next part? Crucifixion requires death. We cannot kill everything inside of us that needs to die at once. It is a process. We have to starve the ungodly things in our lives. Tozer lamented that we seem to be a people ruled by our glands. Do you live to satisfy your glands or for the glory of God?
    We must give ourselves over to the Holy Spirit. Let the light of God shine in every nook and cranny of our minds, hearts, and soul. Let every blemish, every shortcoming, every precancerous cell of sin be revealed. Then let us crucify it. Unlock every hidden part of your inner self to the purifying light of God the Holy Spirit.
    In this process, we are preparing the soil of our faith. What can grow in this enriched faith? A relationship. The relationship between Christ who lives in me and myself, yourself. Bernard of Clairvaux wrote:
    “Jesus, the very thought of Thee
    With sweetness fills my breast,
    But sweeter far Thy face to see,
    And in Thy presence rest.”
    Have you ever seen two trees that have grown together? Their limbs intertwine and you can barely tell where one begins and another ends. This internal relationship joins our personality, our soul, with our Savior’s personality. The Apostle Peter tells us that we may be partakers of the divine nature. With such a promise, how could you possibly be satisfied with a weak and flimsy faith?
    There is a lot of living and dying in today’s scripture: 19 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,
    Living for God is definitely our goal: thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Because we are crucified, we are dead; but, in this case, Jesus is living in our place. At the same time, we continue to live, but in a different way. This earthly tent that we call a body will honor and submit to Jesus within us. The more space we make for Jesus, the fuller and more complete our lives will be. We will be living a Christian life of power and miracles.
    Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
    just from sin and self to cease;
    just from Jesus simply taking
    life and rest, and joy and peace.
    It is always nice when the Lord guides me when I am doing sermon preparation. Theologian and Professor Dr. Leonard Sweet posted on Facebook this week about the indwelling Christ: “To live in Christ is not to inhabit an altitude so high there is perpetual sunshine. To live in Christ is to find and live the light in every landscape of life and topography of truth.”
    “Those who live in and live out the life of Christ are less interested in showing something or telling something than in giving others the feeling of what is it like to be alive.”
    Disciples of Jesus, live in Jesus, and share their Jesus.
    Do you want to be fully alive? Do you want to be fully human? Then you must be able to say, “Christ lives in me.” May our prayer be that others are drawn to Jesus, as we model a Life-Giving Gospel.
    Amen and amen. Let us pray.


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