The apostle Paul said, “Christ lives in me.” How does Jesus Christ live in us? Does He take charge? What is our role in having Christ in us?
Galatians 2:20 is a powerful and much-loved scripture. The apostle Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in [by the faith of, King James Version] the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
The Majority Greek Interlinear puts it this way: “And I no longer live but in me Christ lives.” What does the Bible mean by that statement? Vastly different concepts have been proposed.
Does Christ take charge?
What does Jesus Christ do when we allow Him to live in us? Does He begin living our lives for us? Does He begin making our choices for us?
The Bible makes it clear that we are to be the temple and abode of God (2 Corinthians 6:16). But how do God and Christ live in us? It is through the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9-11). Therefore, the degree to which God and Jesus Christ dwell in us depends on the degree to which we follow the leading of God’s Spirit and use its power to actually become like God the Father and Jesus Christ in nature, character, spirit, attitudes, approach and love.
Walk as He walked
What all the scriptures on this subject reveal is that Jesus Christ’s life will be in us only as we seek to make His way of life our way of life—to walk as He walked, to live as He lived.What all the scriptures on this subject reveal is that Jesus Christ’s life will be in us only as we seek to make His way of life our way of life—to walk as He walked, to live as He lived (1 John 2:6). The Bible also calls this putting off the old man and putting on the new man (Ephesians 4:22-24).
The more we use the Holy Spirit to become like Christ, the more His life will be in us and, thus, the more He lives in us. But that process is under our will and control, not His. God wants us to choose to live as Jesus lived by our free choice. This involves a humble, earnest seeking to become like Jesus Christ so His life becomes our life.
God’s desire is for us to be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). For us to inherit life in His family, the Father is looking for the qualities of the life of His firstborn Son in us (Colossians 1:27).
The Father and Jesus Christ will seek to lead us this way through the Holy Spirit by revealing knowledge and understanding and giving us the spiritual strength to change and live righteously. But God will not force us to live this way. It is our free choice.
The “want to”
What must come from us is the “want to.” We have to want to seek to have Jesus Christ’s life in us for Him to give us the help we need to achieve that end. The desire to change (the 100 percent commitment of heart to change) is the only thing we bring to the table. As we read in Philippians 2:13, “For it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (New Revised Standard Version). This means we must cry out to God for the help we need to change.
John said, “In Him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Jesus Christ’s life illuminates the path—the way—God wants us to live. He calls us to the path, but we must want to get on it. If we do, He will give us all the help we need to grow. But, again, only if we seek it. He will not force the help on us. Nor will He make the changes we need to make for us.
Too many seem to believe Jesus does or will do everything for us, that He will carry our load. This is evident because too many do not put an earnest effort into seeking to change to become like Jesus Christ.
The heart and core of Christianity
The heart and core of Christianity is the fact that we must be diligently seeking to change to become like Jesus Christ—to have His life formed in us. If we do not have the qualities of Jesus Christ’s life being formed by our free choice in using the power of the Holy Spirit to change, there will be nothing in us worth saving (2 Corinthians 13:5).
This fundamental truth of seeking to change is not understood by those who think Christ living in us means He takes over. Jesus Christ does not seek to “possess” us as the Bible describes demons possessing people. The Christian life involves using free will and developing Christian character through right choices.
Christ lives in us only to the degree we use the Holy Spirit to have His life in us—to live as He lived.