The person who has
accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior is
identified with Christ in all that He has
accomplished. The believing sinner is joined to
Jesus Christ in His death, in His burial and in His
resurrection. This is our vital union with Christ.
This is the means whereby we walk in the newness of
The apostle Paul
appropriates for himself this close personal
relationship with Christ. A. T. Robertson observed,
"So close has become Paul’s identification with
Christ that his separate personality is merged into
that of Christ."
The apostle Paul’s
passion was, "that I may know Him and the power of
His resurrection and the fellowship of His
sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order
that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead"
(Philippians 3:10-11). The apostle Paul is not
thinking about sometime in the future when his body
will be raised from the dead. In this verse, he is
thinking of the reality of the resurrection life of
Jesus Christ in which he has become a partner by the
identification with Jesus Christ in His
resurrection. His desire is to have such an intimate
relationship with Christ that the resurrection life
will manifest itself through him every day of his
life. Paul doesn’t think of eternal life as
something off in the distant future, but in the here
and now. God has given us a new kind of life.
Paul prays that the
Ephesian church will experience this same power in
their lives. He prays that they may experience,
"what is the surpassing greatness of His power
toward us who believe. These are in accordance with
the working of the strength of His might which He
brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the
dead and seated Him at His right hand in the
heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:19-20).
The apostle Paul reminds
us that "Christ lives in me" by His Spirit. "If any
man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His"
(Romans 8:9). Christ in His glorified body is in
heaven at the right hand of God, but He is
represented here by the Holy Spirit. What is said to
be done by Christ now is done by Him through the
agency of His Spirit.
Paul says, "I have been
crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who
live, but Christ lives in me . . ." (Galatians
2:20). "Having died with Christ in his death, the
believer now lives with Christ in his life––i.e. his
resurrection life. In fact, the new life in Christ
is nothing less than the risen Christ living his
life in the believer. The risen Christ is the
operative power in the new order, as sin was in the
old (cf. Romans 7:17, 20). . . It is by the Spirit
that the risen life of Christ is communicated to his
people and maintained within them. It makes little
practical difference whether he speaks of Christ
living in them or the Spirit dwelling in them (cf.
Romans 8:10a, 11a) . . . although it makes little
practical difference whether he speaks of them being
‘in Christ’ or ‘in the Spirit’, it is the former
expression that is commoner. . . The believer’s
present life is lived in faith–union with Christ,
the Son of God" (F. F. Bruce).
THE FACT OF THE
God has quickened
us together with Christ.
This is what God did
"even when we were dead in our transgressions, made
us alive together with Christ (by grace you have
been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated
us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus .
. ." (Ephesians 2:5-6).
We are identified as
living members of the body of Christ. By
identification with Christ, we have experienced a
co-crucifixion and a co-resurrection with Christ.
"Therefore we have been buried with Him through
baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised
from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we
too might walk in newness of life. For if we have
become united with Him in the likeness of His death,
certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His
resurrection" (Romans 6:4-5). This is the newness of
life that comes through our new identity with
Paul tells us in verse
six that we have been set free from the obligation
to obey the old man (v. 6). The dead man has been
freed from the control by the sin nature. That is
not to say we do not experience temptation. It does
not mean that we do not sin. The facts are we do
sin. We are not perfect. Nevertheless, there has
occurred a radical change in our lives.
Jesus Christ went to the
cross and died as our substitute that He might
redeem those who were spiritually dead. Now that we
have put our faith in Christ He has made us alive in
Paul is so identified
with Christ that when Christ died as his substitute
and paid the penalty due to the law Paul declares I
died to the law, too. It not longer has claim over
him. Paul abandoned it as a means of justification.
He was saved by grace alone. The law provided no
remedy for sin. Instead, it condemned Paul and
proved him a guilty sinner. It made him a sinner and
it punished him for being one. There was no freedom
in the law.
The Lord Jesus died under
the demands of the law and satisfied its
requirements. "All believers," Kenneth Wuest reminds
us, "were identified with Christ in His death and
also in His resurrection, and thus have passed out
of the realm of divine law so far as its legalistic
aspect is concerned." Paul died to the law so that
he could freely live to please God.
The law demanded the
death penalty for all sinners, and Christ paid that
death penalty for all sinners by going to the cross
and dying. The law killed Him. It declared our
Representative guilty and punished Him for our
guilt. Because we are so identified with Him by
faith, He has freed us from the demands of that
death penalty and the law. Now Paul can say I died
to the law because I was crucified with Christ.
Therefore, Paul could
declare, "I am crucified with Christ." It was a
"past completed action having present finished
results." His "identification with Christ at the
cross was a past fact, and the spiritual benefits
that have come to him through his identification are
present realities with him." The demands of the law
for Paul’s death penalty have been completely
satisfied in Christ’s substitutionary death. God has
acquitted Paul based upon the death of Christ as his
Therefore, the law had no
more demands on Paul and the power of old Adam’s
nature over Paul was broken.
When Paul declares, "I
have been and am now crucified with Christ" he is
saying it has brought death to the law. We are free
from all the curse and guilt of the law. We are now
free to live for God. Paul is "not saying here that
the law of God had lost all meaning or relevance for
the Christian behavior. This is the error of
antinomianism, which Paul was at pains to refute
both here in Galatians as well as in Romans. . .
There is an ethical imperative in the Christian life
that flows from a proper understanding of
justification" (Timothy George).
This new life brought
about a change in Paul’s regard for himself. He can
say, "I no longer live." The self-righteous,
self-centered legalistic Saul died. His death with
Christ ended Paul’s enthronement of self, and he
surrendered the throne of his life to Jesus Christ.
Paul stresses again and
again throughout his writings that he does not live
the Christian life in his own strength. The
resurrected living Christ Himself took up His
residence in Paul’s heart. The apostle
proclaimed "not I but Christ lives in me." This
became the source, the motivation and goal of his
life. "Not I, Christ!"
Paul would not give us
the idea that Christ operates automatically in a
believer’s life. He is not a robot. The Christian
life is a matter of living the new life "by faith in
the Son of God." It is then faith and not works or
legal compliance that releases God’s power to live a
Since Jesus Christ loved
me with such great love as to sacrifice Himself for
me, then He loves me enough to live out His life in
and through me.
Moreover, Paul can
declare, "Yet not I, but Christ lives in me." His
life is now Cristo-centric. It is a Christ-centered
life. "His life is a person, the Lord Jesus living
in Paul." The Lord Jesus is manifest in Paul’s daily
life through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Paul is
dead, crucified, buried, as far as his attempting to
be accepted by God in his own self-righteousness. He
is like a dead man. He can do absolutely nothing to
make himself acceptable before God.
Therefore, this new life
in Christ is "a Person within a person, living out
His life in that person," says Wuest. Instead of
depending on a set of rules and regulations in order
to be accepted by God Paul now yields to the Holy
Spirit to produce in him a life that is pleasing to
God. He is "energized by the divine life resident in
him through the regenerating work of the Spirit."
I like the way Wuest
summarizes Paul’s conviction: "Instead of a sinner
with a totally depraved nature attempting to find
acceptance with God by attempted obedience to a set
of outward laws, it is now the saint living his life
on a new principle, that of the indwelling Holy
Spirit manifesting forth the Lord Jesus."
We, too, can now say with
Paul, "the life which I now live in the flesh, I
live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me and
gave Himself for me." Paul described this
transformation in a believer who has come to God by
faith in Christ in terms of a death and
resurrection. This is the believer’s vital union
with Christ in His death and resurrection.
Therefore, Paul prays
that God the Father "would grant you, according to
the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with
power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that
Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and
that you, being rooted and grounded in love . . . "
God is the author
of this new life.
It is "according to the
riches of His glory." It is a miraculous act of God
at the very core of man’s being. He creates a new
birth and gives new life. It takes place deep within
the "inner man" and it is through the power of the
Holy Spirit. This "inner man" is the personal,
rational self that has experienced spiritual renewal
by the Spirit of God. It takes place at the very
core of our personality in that part of man that
responds to the Spirit of God. He does it so "that
Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith . . .
that you may be filled up to the fullness of God"
(vv. 16-17, 19).
Christ wants to enter
into the inner recesses of our heart, settle down,
and make Himself at home. This is something no man
can do. It takes the miraculous power of God to do
that. To "dwell" means "to settle down in a
dwelling, to dwell fixedly in a place." Christ wants
to live in our life and express Himself through our
personality. Christ wants to settle down and feel
completely at home as a permanent resident in our
Do we make Him fell at
home, or do we keep Him out of certain rooms in our
heart? Do we welcome Him in and tell Him here, make
me your home? Do we take down all of the "private,
no trespassing" signs? Do we allow Him to be the
Lord and Master and King of every area of private,
personal and professional lives? Do we say, here
Lord, you be the absolute master of my life? Or do
we keep the keys to the private areas of our lives
and lock Him out of the house? Do you dread His
absolute dwelling in your inner person?
Because of this struggle
that we all experience in our daily life, Paul cried
out, "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free
from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:24). We need
God’s power to make Christ Lord of our lives. We
must have His resurrection life to live the
Christian life. There is no other way to live it.
"But when God, who had
set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called
me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son
in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles,
I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood .
. ." That was Paul’s testimony. God "was pleased to
reveal His Son in me . . ."
Martin Luther said,
"After I was born God supported me. Heaping mercy
upon mercy, He freely forgave my sins, replenishing
me with His grace to enable me to learn what great
things are ours in Christ. To crown it all, He
called me to preach the Gospel to others." The he
asked, "What prompted Him to call me? His grace
Christ has made Himself
real in Paul’s inner being. Has Christ revealed
Himself in you?
One day while studying
the passages of Scripture on the resurrection of
Christ R. W. Dale was overcome by the reality of the
living presence of Christ. He walked about his study
shouting, "He is alive! He is alive! He is alive! I
want my people to know you are alive!" Christ is now
alive in me. Christ can now be a living reality when
He is revealed in us. Do you know the indwelling
reality of the resurrected Christ in your life? Is
He at home and is He free to express Himself in your
FAITH IN THE
By nature, we were "dead
in trespasses and sins." However, when we put our
faith in Christ to save us we were born spiritually
and Christ came into our lives. The apostle Paul
expressed this resurrection life saying, "It is no
longer I who live, but Christ lives in me"
(Galatians 2:20). This happens with every believer
when we are saved. His new life in us begins at
conversion and continues throughout our lives.
Jesus Christ stands at
the door and waits for you to open the door and
invite Him in for fellowship (Revelation 3:20). He
is speaking to the church, not lost people in that
passage. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if
anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will
come in to him and will dine with him, and he with
Me." The context is fellowship, not salvation. The
ascended Christ said, "I will come in to you and eat
with you, and you with Me." To His disciples Jesus
said, "Abide in Me and I in you."
All genuine believers
know the indwelling Christ because it is impossible
to be a Christian and not have the Holy Spirit
living in you. "You are not in the flesh but in the
Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.
But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he
does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though
the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is
alive because of righteousness" (Romans 8:9-10).
Paul makes it very clear that every Christian has
the Holy Spirit dwelling with him. Have you made Him
feel at home in your heart?
The apostle Paul said,
"Christ lives in me," and it is true of every born
again believer. We have been regenerated by the Holy
Spirit and baptized into the body of Christ. As a
result Christ lives in us by the indwelling Spirit
This "Christ in you, the
hope of glory" is a mystery that has been hidden
down through the ages until the coming of Jesus
Christ (Colossians 1:27). It is a miracle created by
the Holy Spirit in the believer (Ephesians 1:13).
Now for the believer to
live this new kind of life God offers we must
exercise faith in Christ. We are so identified with
Christ that now we are to "reckon" ourselves "to be
dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus." We
are now to literally "count a thing to be true." The
present imperfect could mean, "do this continually,"
or "continue doing this" (Cleon Rogers). I am to
count upon the fact that God sees me as having died
unto sin’s dominion and the Holy Spirit has made
alive unto God because I have experienced a
co-resurrection with Jesus Christ. We are to take
God at His word and count every promise as true. We
are to rest upon these great truths as already
fulfilled. This is the way God sees me and I accept
that as the truth about me.
"By faith–union with Him,
therefore, His people must consider themselves ‘dead
in relation to sin and alive in relation to God in
Christ Jesus’ (Romans 6:11)," writes F. F. Bruce.
The Holy Spirit enables
us to live this new life in Christ. The apostle Paul
writes, "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will
not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh
sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit
against the flesh; for these are in opposition to
one another, so that you may not do the things that
you please" (Galatians 5:16-17). Literally he says,
"Be constantly walking by means of the Spirit, and
you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh."
Kenneth Wuest expands the original, "habitually
order your manner of life, and you will in no wise
execute the passionate desire of the evil nature,
for the evil nature constantly has a strong desire
to suppress the Spirit, and the Spirit constantly
has a strong desire to suppress the evil nature."
When I first became a
Christian I thought that now that I have been born
again I could live the Christian life all on my own.
Now that I am saved I have the wisdom and power to
do great things for God. But that is not what God
does. He wants us to let Him live His life through
us. We must reckon on the fact that we are dead and
alive in Christ. It is our responsibility to allow
the Holy Spirit to live the resurrection life of
Christ through us. The Holy Spirit can live the life
of Christ through the child of God. He gives us the
power as we acknowledge our need and yield to Him
control of our lives. This is what Jesus meant when
He told us to abide in Him. Unless we yield to the
Spirit’s control we will not experience the
resurrection life of Christ in our lives. There is
no abiding if there is no yielding to the control of
the Holy Spirit.
The fact is in God’s eyes
you have died and rose again.
Our faith in God says, I
agree with You.
Now the power by which
the resurrection life of Christ is manifested in our
lives is through the Holy Spirit. The power of the
resurrection is mine as I permit the Holy Spirit to
live His life through me. The resurrection life of
Christ is lived in the Spirit’s power in your life.
It is a day-by-day, moment by moment walk of faith
in the Lord.
THE POWER OF THE
What then should be the
effect of this new life upon our daily lives? How
then should we live?
A change in lordship has
taken place in the believer’s life. The law is no
longer master. Christ is the new owner. "Those who
put their faith in Christ are united with Him by the
faith––united so closely that His experience now
becomes theirs: they share His death to the old
order (under the law) and His resurrection to new
life" (Bruce). Self has been dethroned in this new
order. Now the resurrected Christ lives in me by His
This is the kind of life
that does not have to submit to sin’s control. The
apostle Paul stresses that because we "have been
raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things
above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of
God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the
things that are on earth. For you have died and your
life is hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians
The only way we can
mortify the "flesh" is by walking in the Holy
Spirit. Only by abiding in Christ can we put to
death daily the temptations of the "flesh." God has
provided us the power in the Holy Spirit to die
Since I have the power of
the resurrected life I don’t need to go in the
backyard and dig up all the old sins and lusts,
i.e., make "provision for the flesh, to fulfill its
lusts" (Romans 8:3).
However, it is not enough
just to mortify the flesh. The person of the Holy
Spirit manifests the resurrection life of Christ in
the believer’s daily life. As you submit in
obedience to the Holy Spirit to live His life
through you, you experience the resurrection life of
Christ. The resurrection life of Christ is lived by
the Spirit’s power in your life.
"habitually order your manner of life, and you will
in no wise execute the passionate desire of the evil
nature, for the evil nature constantly has a strong
desire to suppress the Spirit, and the Spirit
constantly has a strong desire to suppress the evil
nature." "Do not get drunk with wine, for that
is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit." We
are filled with the Spirit when we are under His
control, and when we are under His control we are
under His influence. Don’t be under the influence of
wine, Paul admonishes, but be under the influence of
the Spirit. The believer is possessed and controlled
by the person who fills him.
The very moment you put
your faith in Christ the Holy Spirit came to dwell
in your body to possess it, to own it, to control
it. When you are filled with the Spirit you are
controlled and led by the Spirit. If an individual
is filled with wine he is under the influence of
wine. If he is filled with the Holy Spirit he is
under the influence of and controlled by that
person. His life is therefore, ordered by the
Spirit. In either case a person’s conduct and
behavior will be different than it was before he
came under the influence. When you come under the
influence of the Spirit your conduct and behavior
will be different. He produces a new kind of life in
you. The Spirit of God conforms us to the Lord Jesus
Christ. The Spirit of God transforms the individual.
It is not automatic. It takes place as we yield the
controls of our live to the indwelling presence of
the Holy Spirit.
Since Christ dwells in
us, we are "greater than he who is in the world" (1
Since Christ dwells in
our hearts we can have victory over the devil
because "the Son of God was manifested that He might
destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8). Are we
trusting in the indwelling Christ to destroy the
works of the devil? Are we trusting in His
omnipotent power to rebuke the devil when he attacks
One of the old Puritans
prayed: "When I feel the serpent at my heel, may I
remember Him whose heel was bruised, but who, when
bruised, broke the devil’s head."
This vital union with
Christ in His resurrection life is ours in practice
when the Spirit of God who lives within us
transforms us. The resurrection life of Christ is
manifested in the believer by the Holy Spirit’s
control. The Spirit of God who fills, and controls
us transforms our lives. The Spirit in us manifests
this new resurrection life. The experience of being
controlled by the Spirit will not be yours until you
yield yourself to His control.
God is not in the
business of creating robots. He does not make all of
us look alike, smell alike and think and emote
alike. He is busy creating unique individuals who
are willing to allow Christ to reveal Himself and
live His life through them.
Since Christ is
indwelling in our lives are we willing to make Him
sovereign in our lives?
Have you handed over the
keys to every room of your life? Is He free to
express Himself in your life? Is there absence of
suspicion, stress and anxiety over His presence? Do
you make Him feel wanted, loved accepted and
understood? Where there is love there is no fear.
Perfect love casts out all fear. He loves us and is
committed to the best God has in store for our lives
so there is nothing for us to fear. He is perfect
love. We can have no fear in the midst of that kind
of love. When we yield control to Him He brings joy,
rest, and peace to our lives.
Do you tolerate Him, or
do you welcome Him with wide-open arms into your
J. B. Philipps
paraphrased Philippians 4:13, "I am ready for
anything through the strength of the One who lives
within me." Since there is indwelling in us the
power of God we can now live above the chances,
changes and circumstances in life.
A foretaste of
This new life in Christ
is a foretaste of that glorious day when Christ
shall appear at His Second Coming, "When Christ, who
is our life, is revealed, then you also will be
revealed with Him in glory" (Colossians 3:4).
"Christ in you" the hope
of glory" carries in it the surge of energy that
will one day result in the full possession of our
resurrection bodies. One day Christ will return and
in a moment this old body will be changed into a
resurrected body just like His!
Paul sounds a lot like
the apostle John in that verse. John wrote,
"Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not
appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when
He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see
Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope
fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure"
(1 John 3:2-3). Since Christ dwells in us, we have
"the hope of glory."
Since the pure and lovely
Lord Jesus Christ lives within us, how can we pursue
an impure life style?
The Apostle Paul’s
passion is Christ. For him life is from Christ, life
is with Christ, life is in Christ and life is for
Christ. When Jesus "Christ lives in me" my whole
desire becomes "to live is Christ." Christ becomes
my passion. When the pressures were gathering from
all directions Paul could say with profound
conviction, "for to me to live is Christ"
For to me living is
Christ. I pray the resurrection life in Christ
becomes the passion of your life, too.
Here are some more studies on justification by faith
in Chris: Romans
2:20b Our Vital Union in Christ's Resurrection
Series: Our Vital Union