Continuing from the previous “Letting Go” post.
Paul writes often about our life as a Christian, a disciple of Jesus Christ, in terminology that makes it clear show life it really is.
Romans 8:10 – “But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is life because of righteousness.”
Our human spirit is our deepest part, created with the ability to contact and receive the Spirit of God. When we commit ourselves fully to Jesus as our Savior, He is joined with our spirit. Now He’s in us, therefore His Spirit is life, our life.
2 Corinthians 13:4 “Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless, indeed, you fail to meet the test!”
In writing “Jesus Christ is in you,” Paul wasn’t speaking poetically or metaphorically. He meant that Jesus Christ was literally dwelling within them. Just like the Corinthians, we today need to realize this fact about ourselves. Christ isn’t outside of us as some kind of Helper in our time of need; He actually lives in us and is with us all the time. More than a helper, He intends to be our very life. Paul urges us to test ourselves to see if we are in the faith, meaning the true faith in Christ that allows Him to live His life in us.
Next, check out the words of Paul’s prayer for us in Ephesians 3:17–19 “I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth,and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
“That you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit.” Our God intends to strengthen you in your inner being with power from His Holy Spirit. So many believers think that we are strengthened with power by practicing obedience until we get it right. Kind of like getting better at the piano by practicing more. The problem is that in our own efforts we cannot be strengthened with Divine power. Only our God can empower us through His life in us.
”That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” If you have in faith surrendered your daily living to your God, Jesus Christ is living in you, joined to your spirit. He wants to take over every aspect of your thinking and living, your choices and actions. He wants to take over your heart – your mind, will, and emotions. The Lord doesn’t want to just visit your heart on the weekend, like a guest visits a hotel. He wants your heart to be His home, and His base of operations as He lives His life in and through you.
But look at the promise of our God included at the end of this prayer: “…so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Think about this. All the fullness of our God. Alive in us because the Spirit of Christ is alive in us. Our God intends to fill us with His fullness. He does not parcel Himself out to us in little chunks. Nor does He give Himself to us a little at a time. The only thing that would hold us back in experiencing this would be if we were in the habit of quenching and grieving the Holy Spirit in us. Paul told us to “quench not” and to “grieve not” the Spirit in us. To quench the Spirit is anything we do to prevent Him from living out the fullness of our God in us. We quench Him by taking back control over our daily living.
To grieve the Spirit is to willfully sin, which is in fact rejecting Him and His authority and role in our lives. Notice that this does not anger the Spirit but grieves Him. He grieves the tragedy of our willful, fleshly stubbornness. He grieves the betrayal by us who have been purchased at the cost of the Savior’s life and blood. He grieves the fact that we cannot love Him and willfully reject Him. It will always be one or the other.
If we choose the path of Christianity as Christ and the apostles define it, it is the death to our self-life. It is our willing surrender to His life, and the daily sacrifice of all control over our living to Him. This is what it means to “let go and let God.’ And we must let go and let God. Whatever we possess – that is, whatever we choose to hold on to, to own and retain control over – must be surrendered fully. The Lord knows that what we possess in fact possesses us. He desires to set us free from the bondage that masquerades in us as freedom.
Western Christianity has chosen a different definition, one that does not fit the scriptures. A definition of the Christian life that allows us to retain control and to give God whatever is comfortable for us to give. And according to the words of Jesus and the scriptures, it is a lie.
There are two definitions of the Christian faith before us. By one definition we retain control and manage our own affairs. By the other, we let go of our living and let our God live His life in us. The definition we choose defines our faith. The definition we choose for ourselves determines if we are a disciple or not.
Image via author, Immigrant Wilderness, Sierra Nevada. I will be near this tomorrow!