Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog.
It’s common for us believers to think we should be right in our conduct, be kind, do good works, and live up to the words in the Bible. We might feel pretty satisfied at the end of the day if we’ve conducted ourselves fairly well and avoided any major failures in our Christian life.
But does that satisfy God? Does God desire Christians simply to be people with biblical values living an upstanding life? Not only believers, but even many unbelievers also aspire to live exemplary lives, and to some degree, they achieve their goal. So what sets believers apart from people who aren’t saved?
The difference between believers and unbelievers
The fundamental difference between us believers and those who are unsaved is that Christ lives in us. The marvelous fact that Christ lives in us has everything to do with how we should live our Christian life. Regardless of how excellent an unbeliever’s living may be, its source isn’t God, and because its source isn’t God, it can’t express God.
Jesus isn’t merely our Savior who lived long ago and died for our sins. In His resurrection, Christ became the life-giving Spirit. When we believed in Him, Christ as the Spirit came into our spirit to be our life. He is now one with us and wants to be lived out through us.
To live is Christ
If we realize Christ is in us as our life, we’ll understand the Christian life isn’t a matter of imitating Jesus or following an outward example in the Bible. Now that we’re one with Him, Christ wants us to live Him out in our living.
The apostle Paul wrote of this in Philippians 1:21: “To me to live is Christ.” Note 1 in the New Testament Recovery Version explains what this phrase means:
“Paul’s life was to live Christ. To him to live was Christ, not the law or circumcision. He would not live the law but would live Christ, not be found in the law but be found in Christ (3:9). Christ was not only his life but also his living. He lived Christ because Christ lived in him (Gal. 2:20). He was one with Christ in both life and living. He and Christ had one life and one living. They lived together as one person. Christ lived within Paul as Paul’s life, and Paul lived Christ without as Christ’s living. The normal experience of Christ is to live Him, and to live Him is to magnify Him always, regardless of the circumstances.”
Each of us must have the same realization as Paul so that we can say, “My living isn’t by a code of ethics or any standard of Christian behavior. Christ is my life, so to me to live is Christ, the living Person.”
So how can we live Christ? Let’s consider three ways for us to live Christ in our daily life.
1. Eat Jesus to live by Jesus
Physically, we live by what we eat. In John 6:57 the Lord Jesus said,
“As the living Father has sent Me and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me.”
Note 1 on eats Me in the New Testament Recovery Version explains what eating the Lord means:
“To eat the Lord Jesus is to receive Him into us that He may be assimilated by the regenerated new man in the way of life. Then we live by Him whom we have received. It is by this that He, the resurrected One, lives in us.”
When we eat Jesus, we live by the One we’ve received.
So how can we “eat” Jesus? Of course, the Lord didn’t mean we must eat His physical flesh. In verse 63, the Lord Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.”
We eat Jesus by eating His Word, and we eat His Word by exercising our spirit by prayer to contact His Spirit in the Word.
Eating is surely a necessity, but it’s usually also an enjoyment to us. When we enjoy the Lord in His Word, we receive Him as life, and then we naturally live by Him. So after we spend some time eating the Lord, for instance, we may find ourselves forgiving the person at work who insulted us and even praying for his salvation. This isn’t the result of striving to imitate Jesus or trying to do the right thing. It’s the spontaneous living out of the Jesus we ate and enjoyed in the Word.
2. Focus on the Lord in our spirit
Living Christ isn’t a matter of asking ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” as if Jesus were far away from us. Rather, it’s a matter of contacting Him in our spirit.
So daily we need to focus on Christ in our spirit. When we turn our hearts to the Lord and exercise our spirit to contact Him, He’s our aim and goal, not our behavior.
A good way to focus on Him is to call upon the name of the Lord Jesus. Romans 10:12 tells us that the Lord is “rich to all who call upon Him.” In any situation, when we call upon the Lord, He is rich to us in whatever we need. If we need kindness, He’s our kindness; if we need patience, He’s our patience. If we need to forgive someone, He’s our forgiveness. Christ is rich to us as the reality of what we need.
As we enjoy Christ in our spirit by calling, “Lord Jesus,” we live Him out.
3. Obey the sense of life in our spirit
The Lord Jesus is a living, active Person who is full of feeling about many things. His presence in our spirit gives us a sense of His life. By this sense of life we can know His feeling about all kinds of matters in our life and living, like the tone of our voice when we speak to our parents, our attitude toward our boss, or how we spend our time. The Lord within might bother us about how well we obey traffic lights, how late we stay up at night, what we snack on, or even how we cut our hair.
To live Christ, we need to follow and obey the sense from the living Lord Himself in our spirit. We can either ignore Him, or we can turn to Him, go along with Him, and not insist on our way. When we go along with Him, we have peace within.
But if we disobey Him, or if we’re not one with Him in any matter, we feel uneasy, weak, and dry. These negative feelings let us know where we are. At that point, we can turn our heart to the Lord again, and receive His grace to go along with Him. The more we go along with the Lord to obey Him, the more we give Him a way to live His life out of us.
Living Christ day by day
We may not yet live Christ during all our waking hours, but we shouldn’t be discouraged. Even the little bit that we do live Christ is of more value to Him than hours spent living our idea of a good Christian life. Day by day we can continue to eat Jesus; focus on Him in our spirit to enjoy Him; and go along with the sense of Christ’s feeling in our spirit. As we do, we’ll live Christ little by little and more and more.
To me to live is Christ!
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