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Christ Through Us
By David A. DePra
What does God want from you in this life? Simply this: He wants you to be an expression of His will and His glory. Or, to put it another way, He wants you to be an expression of, or a witness to, the risen Christ.
The MEANS by which this is accomplished is never works, or psychology, philosophy, or a system of religion. The MEANS is through identification (oneness) with Christ through death and resurrection. I am not talking here about the FACT that we have died and been raised with Him, but the need for all that means to be experienced. Yet the outcome of this identification with Christ is NOT that I am, "like Jesus." Rather, the outcome is that the Christ who lives in me -- is able to be seen THROUGH me.
This is a vital distinction. So many of us have been taught that we are to be LIKE JESUS. Our concept of this is often that Jesus is the blueprint, and God is reproducing Himself by making us look or act like Jesus. Sort as if there is one original copy, Jesus, and we are being made Xerox copies. The end product of such a notion is that there is still only one Jesus, but there are many other sons and daughters running around separate from Him, but who have been made LIKE Him.
The key error here is that we are made LIKE Jesus apart from Jesus – almost like God acts upon us and makes us into a copy of Jesus. But this is not the Truth. We are never made LIKE Jesus apart from Jesus. Rather, we are already IN CHRIST, and Christ is already IN US. We are already ONE with Him if we are saved. Thus, rather than be made LIKE Jesus as a separate person FROM Jesus, we are created IN CHRIST JESUS, and must grow to manifest HIM.
The means by which this is accomplished is the CROSS. The Cross crucifies us out of the way. Fundamentally, this must occur in the will, and through faith. But as it does, our old self will be less and less seen, and Christ will be more and more seen. Paul said this to the Corinthians:
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death works in us, but life in you. (2 Cor 4:6-12)
One of the main reasons why it is important to gain the distinction between the error of thinking that you must be LIKE Jesus, and the Truth that states that Jesus wants to live THROUGH you, is that many Christians are trying to make their flesh and soul life look and act like Jesus. We don’t know the difference between soul and Spirit, and we think that the Holy Spirit wants to take our flesh and mold it to look like Christ. No. What God wants to do is crucify the flesh – and break it’s power over us – and if this happens, then the life of Christ will manifest through us.
There are other ways to say the same Truth. For example, Christ cannot live through us to the disregard of us, that is, the Holy Spirit does not bypass us in any way. But what this means is that OUR WILL must be brought into alignment with the will of God. Thus, we must come under the Lordship of Jesus if we are ever going to manifest Christ. It starts there, with the will. Again – this is done by picking up our Cross daily.
To pick up one’s Cross daily, however, needs to be defined. Essentially, it means that I ask God to do whatever is necessary to manifest Christ through me. And then once God does what is necessary – brings a cross -- I submit to God through it. It will often involve a Cross to me because in order for Christ to manifest through me, I must be crucified out of the way, that is, my flesh must be brought under death, and my will must be submitted to Christ.
There are a couple of things we need to see that the Cross is NOT. The Cross is not personality development or self-help. Neither is the Cross self-imposed humility. Neither is the Cross character development – there really is no such thing that I can do for myself. Rather, the Cross is the instrument of DEATH to my self – death to myself as god. And if that work can be done in me, then the life of Christ will be made manifest. And then guess what? The character of Christ will be seen.
It is counterproductive to the work of the Holy Spirit, and really, a kind of subtle legalism, to try to live in a religious system geared to, "building character," in my life. In truth, we are never to build character. Rather, we are to allow God to tear down everything about our flesh, and to then Jesus Christ will be BUILT UP in me – and be seen.
But you see, few of us know the difference. We still think that if we can develop certain personality traits, or learn how to do or act in a better way, or follow a bunch of religious principles – that these things will build character. Well, they might massage and form our soul and natural life in a way that looks more religious or Christian. But this won’t be CHRIST. The only way for Christ to be seen in and through me is through DEATH and RESURRECTION.
The fact is, once I try to separate the, "character qualities," of Jesus FROM JESUS HIMSELF IN ME, and turn those character qualities into a religious system, or into THINGS I am trying to build in myself, I am totally off the track. We cannot build into ourselves the character qualities of Jesus. What God wants to do is build us up in Christ Himself – and then those qualities will emerge. But they will be the product of us abiding IN HIM – not the product of us trying to look like Him.
He is the Vine and we are the branches, and Jesus said that spiritual fruit was the product of living IN HIM. Fruit is never stapled onto a tree, or bought and hung on a tree. Fruit is never a gift. Fruit is the end of a growth process. It is the product of the relationship between the Vine and the Branches. It is nothing else.
God will create some very practical situations through which I must die and be raised to another degree in Christ. But if I will submit, what will happen won’t be the product of human effort. In fact, if Jesus ever came to manifest Himself through me, I might be the last to know it. That is because I won’t be fussing with myself. I’ll be focused on HIM. I will bear fruit because I’m abiding in Him.
Notice that none of this is a matter of God is ADDING CHRIST to me. No. Christ is already in me. I am complete in Him – there is nothing left over of Christ to add. Therefore, what God is doing is getting ME OUT OF THE WAY – my flesh, my self-will, and my ties to this realm. Then the Christ who is in me will break forth in resurrection power.
The Key to Release
What we see in all of this is that the key to spiritual release in the Christian life is not some second blessing added onto the Christ we receive at salvation. Neither is the key a bunch of rules to follow, or a religious system or movement to join. The key is to come under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Jesus may be my Lord in fact, but is not my Lord functionally, until He has freedom to do whatever it takes to manifest Himself through me – so that I might be an expression of His will and glory.
Many people wonder why this Christian or that Christian seems to have so much more of the Lord. It is quite simple: The Lord has all of them. There is no other means, recipe, formula, or religious system that can substitute for that. Indeed, the very purpose of the Holy Spirit is to make Jesus Christ the active and function Lord of us. We are to be governed by Him – not only as to works, but as to relationship. Until this begins to happen in our lives, there isn’t going to be much of a release. There isn’t going to be much of anything.
Herein we see one of the greatest dangers of believing that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a second, additional, experience – that ADDS TO CHRIST. It suggests that many of the things of God are NOT hidden in Christ – are NOT found IN CHRIST alone – but it suggests that they must be ADDED to Christ. In short, this errant teachings separates Christ from all that is found only in Him, and turns all that is found in Him into THINGS and EXPERIENCES, rather than a knowing and experiencing of HIM.
This is a subtle deception, but deception nevertheless. Paul, in Colossians, actually warns us against any teaching that would suggest that any thing that God has for us is found outside of Christ:
In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Col 2:3)
And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. (Col. 2:4)
Rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. (Col 2:7)
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Col. 2:8)
And you are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: (Col 2:10)
Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: (Col. 2:16)
Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. (Col 2:17)
Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, (Col. 2:18)
Christianity is CHRIST IN US, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:27) Chapter 2 is really giving us four ways in which the Christ who is in us will be revealed to us, and experienced by us, and manifest through us. But you will notice that with each of these statements about Jesus, there is also a warning given by Paul – lest we be drawn away from the Truth. The whole point of each warning Paul gives is that there will be those who suggest that you must ADD to Christ. This, according to Paul, is a recipe for deception.
Those who teach the charismatic doctrine of the second blessing teach that when you are saved you receive Jesus Christ through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. NONE of them fail to teach this. But they also teach that you must also receive a SECOND experience that they usually call, "the fullness of the Spirit." This is added to salvation – it is added to Christ – even if they try to say that it merely brings Christ OUT. But read again the teaching of Paul from Colossians. If there were ever an opportunity for Paul to mention the need for a second experience that must be added to Christ, it was Colossians. But you read no such suggestion, indeed, you read warnings AGAINST the suggestion.
Colossians 2:10 is especially important to the point. Paul says, "You are COMPLETE in HIM." Could there be anything more clear? If you have Christ in you, you are complete in Him. Why then do people say you still need to be FILLED?
Actually, a look at the Greek makes things even more clear. According to M. R. Vincent, "You are complete in Him," can be translated, "You are IN HIM made full." So are we to believe that IN CHRIST we are made full, but we still need to be filled with a second blessing?
Christ in Us
The moment we are born again, we have Christ in us. We are, at that moment, COMPLETE in HIM. That doesn’t mean we are mature in Him. And it doesn’t mean we know Him – too much. And it doesn’t mean we are fully under His Lordship. And certainly it doesn’t mean that we can yet experience much of Him. It simply means that IN CHRIST we have ALL that God has to give us!
Read again the passages from Colossians 2 – is there any suggestion that if Christ is in us that we LACK the fullness of what God wants for us? No –for IN CHRIST we receive ALL. Now, as mentioned above, once we receive Christ, we must grow in Christ, and come under His Lordship. If we do, and a large part of this is the Cross, then release and power and the fruits of the Spirit will be manifest. But it won’t be US being made pretty. It will be the Christ within us being made manifest through us.
Interesting how coming under the Lordship of Jesus Christ is the real key to spiritual release and power. Interesting because many today believe that the key is the second blessing. Can we see a potential deception here for any Christian who buys into this – a deception that could keep Him from God’s real purpose of making Jesus Christ Lord?
So why do some people seem to have more of the Lord? Well, it isn’t because they have more of the Lord – for all who are in Christ are COMPLETE IN HIM. God is not a respecter of persons. The answer is what I said before – I manifest more of the Lord if the Lord has all of me. If Jesus is my personal Lord, He has the freedom to manifest MORE of Himself through me. That is the answer.
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