Jesus Christ Lives in You
Jesus Christ Lives in You
I brought in a boxing glove as a visual aid. I dangled the glove and showed how ineffective it was without a hand in it. Then I put my hand in the glove, made a fist and punched the air so that everyone could see the difference it made to the power of the glove.
I was speaking at a prison for teenagers in Oxford. I was a theological student at the time and was given the opportunity to speak in a chapel service.
The prison chaplain at the detention centre, who was helping with my training, pointed out that it was an inappropriate illustration for a prison, since it might suggest that Jesus and violence were closely associated! Apart from that, he agreed that it was a good analogy.
What I was trying to illustrate was the difference it makes when Jesus Christ comes to live in you by his Spirit. Without him we are weak (2 Corinthians 13:4), like the glove without the hand in it. But when Jesus Christ comes to live within you, you have God’s power in your life (vv.4–5).
This is what it means to be a Christian (Romans 8:9). This is life transforming. Jesus Christ is alive today. He lives in you by his Spirit. If you ‘realise’ (2 Corinthians 13:5) this, it will transform the way you live your life.
1. Fill your heart with the wisdom of GodProverbs 22:17-27
How healthy is your heart? Have you filled it with God’s wisdom? Just as what you put in your mouth affects the health of your body, what you put in your heart really matters.
The writer of this section of Proverbs urges you to keep the wisdom of God’s Word in your heart and have them ready on your lips, so that your trust may be in the Lord: ‘Listen carefully to my wisdom; take to heart what I teach you. You’ll treasure its sweetness deep within; you’ll give it bold expression in your speech. To make sure your foundation is trust in God...’ (vv.17–19a, MSG).
He then lists thirty ‘principles – tested guidelines to live by’ (v.20, MSG). These are thirty ‘truths that work’ (v.21, MSG), the first four of which are in today’s passage.
The first is about how we treat the poor and needy (vv.22–23). The second is about how to avoid becoming ensnared by anger and a bad temper: ‘Bad temper is contagious – don’t get infected’ (vv.24–25, MSG). The third is a warning against gambling and practical advice on how to avoid getting into debt (vv.26–27).
These sayings are wise principles, which help us to live life well. Yet they are grounded in an understanding that the heart of wisdom is more than good advice. It is about putting ‘your trust… in the LORD’ (v.19). As we learn the wisdom of Scripture (for example, by learning Bible verses), our trust in the Lord is deepened (Proverbs 22:19).
In the New Testament, we learn that Jesus is ‘the Wisdom’ of God (1 Corinthians 1:30). Because Jesus lives in you, you have the wisdom of God in your heart.
Lord, thank you that you live in my heart by your Spirit. Thank you for the power of the Word of God. Help me to read it, learn it, meditate on it and have your words ready on my lips that my trust may be in you, the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. Realise that Christ Jesus is in you2 Corinthians 13:1-14
Do you realise that Jesus Christ lives within you? The apostle Paul had no doubt that Jesus Christ was living in him. He realised that in the words he spoke to the Corinthians, ‘Christ is speaking through me’ (v.3).
Paul had the advantage of meeting the risen Jesus. He was able to write with great confidence, ‘for to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him to serve you’ (v.4).
Self-examination is important and is totally different from self-condemnation: ‘There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 8:1). He urged them to ‘examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it’ (2 Corinthians 13:5a, AMP). The purpose of self-examination is so that you can see what is wrong in your life, admit it, turn from it and be set free by Jesus.
Paul urged the Corinthians to realise that just as Jesus Christ lived in him, so too ‘Jesus Christ is in you’ (v.5). Paul talks far more often of us being in Christ than Christ in us. Nevertheless, the passages in which he puts it the other way round are remarkable. In Colossians 1:27 Paul writes, ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’, and here too he writes about Christ being in you, and the difference it makes: ‘Do you not realise that Christ Jesus is in you?’ (2 Corinthians 13:5).
This is what turns our weakness into strength (v.9). This is why he prayed for their perfection (v.9), and was able to urge them to ‘aim for perfection’ (v.11).
Of course, none of us will reach perfection in this life. Being a perfectionist is unhealthy. But we can all aim to live in a perfect relationship with God and with one another. He appealed to them, ‘be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you’ (v.11).
How is this possible? Paul ends with the words of ‘the grace’. It is the ‘amazing grace’ (v.14a, MSG) of Jesus that enables us to be constantly forgiven and cleansed. It is ‘the extravagant love of God’ (v.14b, MSG) filling our hearts that enables us to aim for perfect love. It is ‘the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit’ (v.14c, MSG) of Jesus living in us that enables imperfect people to grow into maturity and one day see him face to face. Only then will we reach perfection.
Lord, thank you that you live within me by your Spirit. May your amazing grace flow out of everything I do. Fill me today with the knowledge of your extravagant love and the intimate friendship of your Holy Spirit.
3. Know God’s love poured into your heart by the Holy SpiritIsaiah 30:19-32:20
It is the result of Pentecost that the Spirit of Christ comes to live within you. God’s love for you is poured into your hearts by the Holy Spirit of Jesus (Romans 5:5). It is his Spirit who gives you the realisation that you are a child of God, and that Christ lives in you.
In this passage, Isaiah sees six pictures of God:
The Lord is your teacher. He teaches you through ‘the bread of adversity and the water of affliction’ (Isaiah 30:20). It is often through the hard times in our lives that we learn the most. Jesus described himself as your ‘Lord’ and ‘Teacher’ (John 13:14).
‘Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’ (Isaiah 30:21). The Holy Spirit will lead and guide you along the narrow road that leads to life.
‘The Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds’ (v.26). So often when people meet Jesus for the first time they experience healing of hurt and pain from the past. This healing is a lifelong process.
Jesus is the King who ‘will rule in the right way, and his leaders will carry out justice’ (32:1, MSG). He rules our lives through the Holy Spirit who lives within us.
He is the source of our wisdom (31:1–3). Isaiah warns against trusting in our own strength rather than looking to the Holy One of Israel and seeking help from the Lord (v.1). The Holy Spirit is the source of wisdom in our lives.
He is like a mother bird, who will shield Jerusalem and deliver it (31:5; see Luke 13:34). God is both a Father and a Mother to us. The Holy Spirit is often associated with the feminine side of God’s nature.
The Holy Spirit is the ‘Spirit of Jesus’ (Acts 16:7). Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus comes to live within you.
The prophet Isaiah seems to have caught a glimpse of the day of Pentecost when ‘the Spirit is poured down on us from above’ (Isaiah 32:15a, MSG).
‘The Spirit is poured upon us from on high... justice... righteousness... peace... quietness and confidence forever... secure... undisturbed places of rest... how blessed you will be’ (vv.15–20).
The outpouring of the Spirit leads to great fruitfulness, righteousness and peace (quietness, confidence, security and rest). It leads to generous sowing and freedom. God promises you that if you walk by the Holy Spirit you will enjoy great blessings in this life and into eternity.
Lord, thank you for the privilege of living in the age of the Spirit – an age that the prophet Isaiah only glimpsed. Thank you that now I can experience it to the full – as Jesus Christ lives within me by his Spirit.
‘Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”’
I am always interested that the voice is ‘behind you’ and not ahead. As you step out in faith, not necessarily knowing where you are going, you are stepping out into the unknown and having to listen very carefully to the voice behind whispering in your ear.