In Galatians 2:20 the apostle Paul said, “Christ lives in me.” But have you ever wondered, “How does Christ live in me?” What does Christ in us mean?
What does it mean to be converted?
A converted person is someone who has Jesus Christ and the Father living in him or her through the gift of the Holy Spirit. When we have God in us, we grow and change to develop the same character and motivations that Jesus has.
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.”
What did the apostle Paul mean by that statement? Why did God inspire him to say that Jesus Christ lives in him? Can He live in me and you? And how can He live in us?
How does Christ live in me?
First of all, let’s address what it does not mean. Christ living in us does not mean that He possesses our bodies and lives our life for us. It does not mean He controls our minds and makes all our choices for us.
But what does it mean?
The Bible makes it clear that we are to be the temple and dwelling place of God (2 Corinthians 6:16). In Old Testament times, Solomon dedicated the temple in Jerusalem “for the name of the LORD God of Israel” (2 Chronicles 6:10). But, as Solomon said, “Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!” (verse 18). God does not dwell in physical buildings. Instead, He dwells in heaven and in converted Christians.
But how does God dwell in us today?
Through the power of His Holy Spirit. In Romans 8 Paul explains that “the Spirit of God dwells in you” (verse 9) means that “Christ is in you” (verse 10). Jesus Christ can live in a person through the power of the Holy Spirit.
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. When the Holy Spirit is in us, it empowers us to actually become like God the Father and Jesus Christ in nature, character, spirit, attitudes, approach and love.
It leads and empowers us to live and think as the Father and Christ do!
To learn more about the power of the Holy Spirit, read “How Do You Know You Have the Holy Spirit?”
Walk as Jesus 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 will live in us. But that process is under our will and control, not His. God wants us to choose for ourselves to live as Jesus lived. He doesn’t force us to do it. 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). The apostle Paul said the ultimate purpose of the Christian life is to come to the point where “Christ is formed in you” (Galatians 4:19).
For us to inherit eternal life in His family, the Father expects us to be developing Jesus Christ’s character within us. Paul described this as “Christ in you, the hope of glory”—the assurance that we will be glorified (Colossians 1:27; see “The Glory of God and Our Inheritance”).
The Father and Jesus Christ will seek to lead us this way through the Holy Spirit by revealing knowledge and understanding and encouraging us to change and live righteously. But God will not force us to live this way. It is our free choice.
To learn more about walking as Jesus walked, read “Following in His Footsteps.”
We must desire and work to walk as Jesus walked
In order to have Christ in us by living as He lived, we must deeply desire to change and become more like Him. 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 and willingness to change (the 100 percent commitment of heart to change) is the primary 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). So we must have the “will” to live as He did, and we must “work” at developing His character. This means we must cry out to God in prayer for the help we need to change. The Bible also calls this hungering and thirsting for righteousness (Matthew 5:6).
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 Christianity is just about Jesus doing everything for us. But even though we do need to let go of our own will and let God work in us, that does not mean He will do everything for us. We must work hard. In fact, in the New Testament Christians are often called “workers” (Colossians 4:11; 2 Timothy 2:15; 3 John 1:8).
We must put diligent effort into working to develop Christ’s character within us.
Christ in us is what Christianity is all about
At 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 in our life, we will be “disqualified” from the Kingdom of God (2 Corinthians 13:5).
This fundamental truth of seeking to change is not understood by everyone who claims to follow Christ. But the truth is that the Christian life involves using free will and developing Christian character through right choices and diligent effort.
This is what Paul meant when He wrote that He was “crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live” (Galatians 2:20). He was in the process of overcoming his sins and evil character—metaphorically killing those things. And, in their place, he was striving to let Christ live in Him—replacing his character with Christ’s character. In faith, walking as Jesus walked.
You can do the same by building faith and diligently striving to walk as Jesus walked through the power of His Holy Spirit!