Christ Dwelling Within
George Everard, 1885
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20
The great truth here laid down is one of the most practical to be found in Holy Scripture. It gives the only true force and power by which you rise above the world. If you have read anything of the inner life of that brave hero who was lately killed at Khartoum, and whose name has become a household word all over our land — you cannot fail to be struck with the secret of his noble and beautiful Christian life. For unflinching courage in the greatest perils, for utter indifference to the praise of man, for unselfish devotedness to the call of duty, for a self-denying philanthropy, that could care for the waifs and strays of London or a poor suffering African woman, for a steadfast perseverance in well doing even unto death — for all this, perhaps we may say he has no equal in our own day and generation. But what was the spring of it? It was his firm faith in the Lord Jesus, in His sympathy, in His Divine power, and very specially in His indwelling presence in the soul.
Of his firm faith in the Lord Jesus, he often spoke and wrote, and it was that one truth, above all others, which he found to be strength in difficulty and in danger.
Perhaps until lately this truth of the indwelling presence of God in man scarcely received the measure of thought and attention it deserved. But it is one very plainly revealed. Go to the prophet Isaiah, and you scarcely find anywhere a grander promise than that which refers to this (57:15): "For this is what the high and lofty One says — He who lives forever, whose name is holy: I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite."
Side by side with this, you have the words of Christ in John 14:23: "If a man loves Me he will obey My teaching, and My Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him."
The same teaching is carried on in the words of Paul given at the head of this chapter: "I live — yet yet no longer I, but Christ lives in me." And this indwelling of Christ we are told is by the Holy Spirit. "What! Don't you know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own?" (1 Corinthians 6:19.)
Taken in connection with each other, we see how in some way, far beyond our comprehension, the true Christian is the shrine of the Deity, the sanctuary in which Father, Son, and Holy Spirit take up their abode.
You remember the parable of the palace of the strong man, when a stronger than he comes upon him and takes away his armor and divides the spoil. Thus is it with the soul. Satan is cast out of the palace — and Christ sets up His throne in his place. He dwells within by His Spirit, and becomes the source of a new power and a new life. The old self is crucified, the world is dethroned, the dominion of sin is cast down, and Christ Himself lives and abides and works mightily in the inner man.
Here is the power by which it is possible for you to live a holy, a joyful, and devoted life. In yourself, from first to last, you have no strength or ability to conquer evil, or walk in the path of godliness. But if Christ is in you, if He has taken up His abode within — then He will manifest His presence in your daily walk and conversation. He will use your members as instruments of righteousness.
With your eyes He will spy out the poor and needy.
With your ears He will hearken to the cry of the sorrowful and distressed.
With your feet He will go hither and thither on errands of mercy.
With your hands He will feed the hungry and clothe the naked, and do such good works as may be according to the will of God.
But still more. The presence of Christ within will be to you a spring of zeal and sympathy, of prayer and of praise. With this indwelling guest, the soul will delight to commune with the Father above. You will become in everything more conformed to the image of the Son of God, and thus be made fit for the inheritance of the saints above.
But how can you live out this grand ideal of life? Don't imagine it is only for a few very eminent saints, who can separate themselves from worldly affairs, and give their time to perpetual prayer and meditation. It is nothing of the kind. It is for you, in the midst of school duties and school temptations; in the midst of cricket and football, and daily studies, and a thousand interests that cluster around you. You are not to imagine these are to be neglected, but only you are to let this great principle and power come in and guide you in everything.
But how is it to be done? In one way only. By the exercise of faith. Look at two petitions in the prayer of Paul for the Ephesians. They are both closely connected together. "To be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith" (Ephesians 3:16, 17). In proportion to your faith, Christ dwells in the heart, and you are strengthened by the Holy Spirit. Hence the need of abiding, constant faith in Christ.
Oh, if you wish to be strong and happy, and brave to conquer all evil, "live in faith." Trust in Christ as the Son of God, exalted to the Father's right hand, to put beneath your feet all that hinders your course. Trust in Christ as the one who loved you, even you, when He died on the cross for your sins, and who loves you at this moment with a tender, watchful love. Trust in Christ, who gave Himself up for you, and who will therefore assuredly give you His Spirit and every good thing. And as you trust Him as the unchangeable Friend and Savior, exalted far above all heavens — so believe also that He dwells in you by His Spirit now and evermore.