When you became a Christian through faith and obedience to the gospel, many things happened. Your sins were forgiven, you were justified before God, you were saved from God’s wrath, and you became the recipient of many spiritual blessings and promises. You became a child of God. Galatians 3:26-27 “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” This scripture also teaches that when you were baptized into Christ, you put on Christ. Christ came to live within you.
The apostle Paul understood that Christ lived within him. He said in Galatians 2:20 “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 the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” That is how each of us should come to understanding. We have been crucified with Christ. We have died to our old life. We no longer live for ourselves, but Christ lives within us. The life that we now live, we live by faith in the Son of God.
We can no longer live according to the flesh. Romans 8:5-8 “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” It is important to appreciate that if we are carnally minded and live according to our fleshly nature, we cannot please God; we are at enmity with God. Continuing in verses 9-11 – “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” As Christians, we must have the Spirit of Christ within us or we are not His. With Christ within us, we have life.
The apostle Paul had the following prayer for the Ephesians in Ephesians 3:14-17a “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” Of our own selves, we do not have the necessary strength to live as we should. We need the strength of His Spirit in the inner man. We need Christ to dwell in our hearts through faith.
When the apostle Paul wrote to the churches in the Roman province of Galatia, He had some serious concerns about them. He wrote in Galatians 4:19-20 “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone; for I have doubts about you.” I like the expression “until Christ is formed in you.” I understand that there is a process that begins when we become a Christian. Christ begins to be formed within us. We begin to take on the characteristics of Christ. That is what God wants; He wants us to be like Christ. Romans 8:29 “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” God predetermined that we would be conformed to the image of His Son; that we would be like Christ. That is one reason why we need Christ to be in us.
When we first become Christians, we needed to be taught to put off certain characteristics that are opposed to Christ. 1 Peter 2:1-3 “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” New Christians, should desire the milk of the word to grow into mature Christians with the characteristics of Christ – to have Christ formed within them. But this is not only true for new Christians. Each of us, short time or long time as Christians, should be studying the words of the Bible to understand what pleases God. The words of the Bible teach us what Christ was like. The books of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John describe how He lived and what He taught. The inspired apostles wrote the rest of the New Testament in which they continued to describe what it means to be like Christ. We also need to be led by His Spirit within us.
We have discovered that Christ needs to live within us. We also learned that He is to be formed within us. To have Christ formed in us means to have Christ saturate every part of our inner being—our mind, our emotion, our will, our thinking. Christ may be in us, but He is still not completely formed in us. This is a continual process; a process of transformation. It will continue throughout our lives. Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” As we let Him, God is transforming our lives to be conformed to the image of His Son.
I encourage you to see Christ living in your heart by faith. Test yourself to see if this is true. 2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you are disqualified.” I encourage you to let your life be transformed so that you become like Christ.