The Meaning of Christianity
By David A. DePra
Back to the Goodnews
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We are continuing today with, "Foundations of the Christian Faith," and the title for today is going to be about as foundational as anything could be. That title is going to be. "The Meaning of Christianity."
Turn to Colossians 1:27. Colossians 1:27 makes the following statement:
Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Now I think that in this one sentence -- better than perhaps any other place in the Bible -- is a definition of Christianity. It tells us the meaning of Christianity: "Christ in you, the hope of glory." There is a lot that goes into that, and there's a lot that emerges from it, but in the final analysis, a Christian is one in whom Christ dwells. Thus, Christianity is, "Christ in you, the hope of glory."
Christ In You Fulfills the Word of God
Now just for a few moments, I want to look at this passage in a little more detail. I want to back up a bit to verse 25 where Paul begins to talk about his ministry. He says that he...
...was made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which was given to him.
That word, "dispensation," means, "distribution of property." That's what the word comes from in the New Testament Greek. And so, Paul is talking about a ministry wherein he is assigned by God the task of receiving the Truth, and then distributing it to other people, through Jesus Christ. And he says, I was made a minister in this way...
...according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you TO FULFILL THE WORD OF GOD.
Now that's a big statement. Paul is saying that his ministry that was given to him by God was to FULFILL THE WORD OF GOD. So there's something about this ministry that brings to fullness the Word of God -- fulfills everything that God intended -- going all the way back to the book of Genesis. Paul's ministry -- and he wasn't alone in this ministry -- but it was a ministry, that by God, was intended to bring to a fullness the Word of God; the revelation of God; the purpose and plan of God.
Now in verse 26, he begins to talk about this purpose or Word of God as a MYSTERY. In those days the word, "mystery," meant, "something that was hidden," but it carried with it the fact that what WAS hidden was NOW being revealed. All of that is what is meant by the word, "mystery," in the New Testament. And Paul is going to say exactly that about this great mystery of, "Christ in you, the hope of glory." He's going to say that he was given this ministry, "according to the dispensation of God, to fulfill the word of God" -- a MYSTERY which, "had been hidden from ages and from generations, but now (in Paul's time) is made manifest to his saints."
The Old Covenant
We need to understand that all through the Old Covenant -- even though all of it is about Christ -- it is nevertheless about Christ in type and shadow. No one under the Old Covenant was ever indwelt by Jesus Christ by the means of the Spirit of God. No one was. (The spirit of God was not IN them, but only WITH them.) There are people today who are ignorant of this fact and deny it -- teachers and preachers demand that people were saved under the Old Testament Covenant, and had Christ in them -- just like we are today. No. Now they WERE saved -- they were saved by the SAME Jesus, and they were saved by that same Jesus, "by grace through faith." But they were saved under the Old Covenant -- they had a pointing forward to the Passover lamb who would eventually be Jesus Christ -- and they put their faith in that Christ in anticipation of the day He would come and do a redemptive work.
And so to make a long story short is that they were saved by the same Christ -- by grace through faith. But the experience that they had in this life of Christ was not, "Christ in them, the hope of glory." The experience in this life, under the Old Covenant, was that the Holy Spirit was WITH them -- but never IN them.
This is very important to distinguish. Why in the world do we think there were two covenants if we think that everything that happened under the Old Covenant was the same as it was under the New? No. In reality, the New Covenant IS, "Christ in you, the hope of glory." The old wasn't -- it was Christ in type and shadow.
And so, people under the Old Covenant had the spirit of God WITH them -- but never IN them. This is again emphasized throughout the New Testament. Jesus Christ, in the Gospel of John, told His very disciples -- at a point that was days before His crucifixion and resurrection -- He said to them, "The Spirit of God has been WITH you, but will be IN you." (John 14:16-17) He also continually talked about the fact that unless He ascended to heaven, that He could not return -- by the means of the spirit dwelling IN people. It's the entire theme of those discourses in John 14,15, and 16. When he talks about the purpose for which the spirit of God would be given He continually says, "The spirit of God cannot be IN YOU until I go -- the spirit cannot be given until I go away." (John 16:7) And then He defined what He MEANT by that: He said the spirit of God was WITH you, but shall be IN you. (THAT is what Jesus meant when He said the spirit could not be given until He went away -- He meant, "given to be IN them.")
So all through the Old Testament -- you can even take it all the way back to the book of Genesis if you want to -- the spirit of God was WITH people. But that is not a light thing; that’s not a little thing. God did tremendous things through His Spirit that was WITH people -- but the Spirit of God was never IN people. Jesus Christ dwelt in NO ONE until the day of Pentecost was fulfilled -- no one was born again until that day -- the church and did not begin until that day.
This is why once that day happened that Peter was able to get up and preach a sermon. That’s why for the first time the disciples were free to go out in the ministry. Remember, Jesus said, “You are not to go out until that day comes -- you are to tarry in Jerusalem until that day comes.” They had to have an inward life and revelation which they did not have before. What they did have before was the spirit WITH them -- and the beginnings of light and Truth about Jesus.
When Jesus asked them, Who do you say that I am?,” Peter was able to say, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus was able to say, “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, Peter, but My Father which is in heaven.” That revelation was not yet Christ IN them. How could He be IN them? He was standing right there in front of them in the flesh. No. Jesus had to live His perfect life, go to the cross, die, and be resurrected, and ascend to the heaven -- a fully completed redemption – BEFORE He could, by the spirit of God, come back down and join people to Himself and dwell IN them.
The Revealed Mystery: Christ In You
Paul is alluding to this fact. He is saying that this ministry of, “Christ in you,” has been hidden from ages and generations past -- but now is made manifest to His saints – saints to whom God, “would make known what is the riches of this mystery, even among the Gentiles.” Remember in ages past it was thought that whatever God was doing was only for the Jews -- but now this ministry that was, “now revealed,” that had not been revealed before now -- this mystery was now made known to apply and be possible for ALL people: Jews, Greeks Gentiles, or anybody you might want to name. Sure. In Galatians 3 we read Paul stating, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” So he says that God is now making this mystery known -- not just among the Jews -- but among the Gentiles.
Now notice the wording here: Not -- Christ out there somewhere floating around. Not -- Christ in a group of people, sort of, in an indefinable way. No. Christ in YOU. That speak of the individual. Jesus Christ has joined individual, personal people to Himself, and they have a personal experience of Him; a personal joining to Him. This is about you and I personally coming into Jesus Christ.
Soul vs. Spirit
Now right there in I Corinthians 6:17 – “we are joined to the Lord and are one spirit with Him” -- is a description as to HOW Christ is in us, and how we are in Him. We are joined to Him IN SPIRIT.
Paul doesn't stop there -- he doesn't say that the goal and the purpose of God is simply to get Christ dwelling in us and then were done. No. He speaks further about the purpose for which Christ dwells in us. He says,
Christ in you, the hope of glory, whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom that we may present every man perfect or mature in Christ.
And so we are not only to receive Christ, and be joined to Him in spirit -- that's the BEGINNING of a purpose – unto a greater purpose – but NOT the end of any purpose. It's the beginning -- and that greater purpose is that we may become mature in Jesus Christ.
What does it mean to become mature in Jesus Christ? John the Baptist really said it best: “I must decrease that He must increase.”
But let’s step aside for a moment. I mentioned a couple of seconds ago that when we are saved, or born from above, we are joined to the Lord and become one spirit with Him. But it is here that we must talk about another related Truth for a minute because it's foundational to this whole truth of Christ in us – the Truth of the separation between soul and spirit in each believer. When we are say we are joined to the Lord and become one spirit with Him, and we might call that, “a resurrection union.” We can also call this union, “the new creation in Christ Jesus.” “If any man is in Christ,” Paul says in II Corinthians 5, “he is a new creature.” And so are joined to the Lord in one spirit – this is the new creation in Christ. It can also be called, “the new man,” but the joining is strictly SPIRITUAL. We have to understand that you are not joined to the Lord and make one body -- physically with him. No. You are not joined to the Lord and made one, “soul man,” with Him. In fact, your body and your soul are outside of that SPIRITUAL joining with the Lord.
So note: If we would draw a big imaginary circle around our spiritual union with Christ -- then WITHIN that circle would be new life in Christ; the new creation in Christ; that resurrection union. But everything OUTSIDE of that circle (inside of which is our spiritual joining to the Lord) – everything OUTSIDE of that circle would remain that which is natural -- your physical body – and the soul dimension of your natural makeup. These are not joined to the Lord. Thus, our spiritual union with Christ automatically creates a separation in each believer between spirit – that which is joined to the Lord -- and soul – that which is natural, that is, that which is NOT joined to the Lord.
This is the division in each believer of flesh vs. spirit -- and of course, we are told, these are contrary one to the other. And so we need to understand this division. If we don't understand that we have two natures in each believer we will begin to try to find the new life -- to try to know Christ -- in the part of our makeup that is NOT joined to Him. We will be confused; we are going to get deceived. No. We are joined to the Lord and made one spirit with Him. That is HOW Christ dwells in us. The rest of us -- body and soul man -- is not joined to Him.
Now, it is the will of God in this age that as Christ is formed in us, and we grow to know Him, that our minds be renewed, and that Christ impact our soul; that Christ impact our mind; that Christ impact what we do with our body. Absolutely. But the body and soul man -- in this age -- are never saved. They come under the government and impact of resurrection life in Jesus Christ. That's a great impact – but we need to draw the line between our joining to the Lord and becoming one spirit with him -- and the body and soul part of our makeup which is never joined to Him -- but nevertheless can be under a sanctification process.
The Eternal Purpose of God
So the first point for today -- as far as the meaning of Christianity -- the meaning of Christianity begins with the reality of Jesus Christ in us. We are joined to Him, and made one spirit with Him -- everything that Jesus Christ is doing is built on this reality. Jesus said, “I will build My church -- upon the Rock.” What is the Rock? The Rock is the revelation to us, and in us, of who Jesus Christ is -- the foundation of that -- the rock of that; the reality of that; is Christ in us, the hope of glory. We have nothing if we don't have Him in us. So that's the first point: Christ in you, personally and individually, the hope of glory.
Now, that's not an end unto itself. God has a purpose for which He has joined us to His Son in spirit. It's a purpose, yes, that does begin in this age -- but will find its fullness and completeness in the next age. In this age, we are talking about, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” We are talking about full and complete redemption for the person in whom Christ dwells -- in this age – the redemption of the spirit. In the next age – it is THEN that the body and the soul man is also redeemed.
But it's all unto an even greater purpose of God: He has redeemed us in Christ so that we may be part of the great purpose of Jesus as Lord -- not only over the entire Earth, but over all of creation. And we are to be part of that – we are called to be coheirs with Him in an inheritance -- something that I'll talk about in a subsequent message. But what God is doing in us through Christ in this age is not JUST for this age – it is to take us on into the next age -- on the BASIS of what He is doing in this age -- that we may live with Him, and move with Him, and reign and rule with Him forever. “Redemption,” means Jesus Christ as Lord over all -- and we might add -- that the life of Christ IN ALL -- in all, of course, who will receive -- because some will NOT.
Jesus is Lord
And so, “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” BEGINS that purpose in this age, in the believer. Now, on the heels of that -- what we need to understand is that God intends, through the life of Christ in us, is to bring us personally under Jesus Christ as Lord.
Now what does that mean, and how does that work? Well, again, this goes back to this foundational truth that I just shared -- and that is so essential to grasp -- that if we have Christ in us, then He IS life in us. In fact, Colossians 3:4 says, “Christ, who IS our life.” So we receive from above through this Person, Jesus Christ -- by means of the spirit -- a life -- resurrection life – a life that we were not born with, naturally speaking. You and I have received from the outside of us, INTO us FROM the outside of us, life from above -- His life. It's not human life -- it is the life of Jesus Christ.
And so this is a life that is, “other than,” natural, human life -- it is really a Person who is, “other than,” anything that we were born with into this world -- and that is the life of Christ in us. He IS our life. That's the LIFE, if you will, that is, “inside of that circle,” that I mentioned – it is what we receive in Christ. But what remains, “outside of that circle,” is the natural man; what remains is that life that we were born into this world with. And so again, we have the two natures; we have the two lives.
Now I've said all of this to get to my point here: That we have the two natures and the two lives. God Almighty intends for us to fully come into the reality of Jesus Christ the Person as our life, and in doing so He intends to deliver us from that old life. This is how Jesus Christ truly becomes our personal Lord.
Now this is also why Jesus Christ, in Matthew16, said to his disciples, “If any man would come after Me, he must deny himself -- deny that old self life -- pick up his cross daily, and follow Me.” How many understand that right there Jesus is not only talking about what HIS cross did for us, but He brings this down to a personal level? He is talking about how the cross needs to be worked out personally IN US. He was saying, “If any man would come after Me, he must pick up the cross, for whosoever would lose their personal lives; their natural life; their self ownership -- by picking up this cross daily – will, in fact, find ME as their life.” He's telling us in this passage that if we will lose our lives into the hands of Jesus Christ -- under the outworking of the cross -- our self life; our self ownership, then the Christ with whom we are joined in spirit will more and more increase; will more and more find release; will more and more be revealed in us. HE will increase -- as the influence of the old life is broken.
And so we have these two lives. Christ in us must increase -- as to release and reality – and our old life; our self-ownership must decrease -- under the work of the cross. This is how Jesus becomes our personal Lord. It is spiritual maturity.
Whatever It Takes
This is, of course, what God is doing in every trial of faith. A trial of faith is not to punish you. A trial of faith is not because God's mad at us, or hates us, or because we are horrible, ugly people, and God is trying to fix us. No. A trial of faith -- the work of the cross -- is DELIVERANCE. It is 100% positive, and FOR us. It's a matter of God chastising us to get us on the basis of Jesus Christ as our life; to set us free from the confines of the old creation; to set us free from the bondages that hinder life in Christ.
This is why Peter said, “the trial of your faith, more precious than gold.” God wants to establish us and make it possible for us to walk with Christ as our life -- to live from out of Christ as our life. We can't do that on our own. God must do that, and break the old life, so that if will respond to what He's doing, we can then will come and walk with Christ as our life.
I have shared many times that if there's nothing else that we can do, we can tell GOD, “to do what ever it takes to bring us into this reality (of Jesus Christ.)” This is, of itself, a commitment – it is, of itself, is a losing of your life. Now there is still a lot of work to do. We must follow up on our commitment when God DOES do, “whatever it takes.” We have to obey Him, and follow Him, pick up the cross and lose our life in practical ways. But the commitment starts with an unconditional surrender of ourselves to God for, “whatever it takes,” to bring us into the fullness of life in Christ. Jesus said this in Matthew 16. He said, “You must lose yourself -- your right to yourself -- in order to find Me,” Jesus was saying, “as your life.”
Yet Not I, But Christ
Now, there's a number of other passages which state the same Truth. One of the best is found in Galatians 2:20. Paul is talking there to people in Christ – to those who are, “joined to the Lord in one spirit with Him.” He is talking about himself as one in whom Christ dwells. But he says, “I am crucified WITH Christ.”
Now notice: Paul KNEW that Christ was crucified FOR him. Without that we have nothing. But it is BECAUSE Christ was crucified FOR us that we are able to say with Paul that, “We are crucified WITH Christ.” In other words, yes, we are dead in Christ – but we also need to take our place in HIS death by picking up that cross daily by faith. This is how it will be all worked out. But in God's eyes it is a thing done – although it needs to be worked out. Thus, Paul says, “I am crucified WITH Christ.” It is finished -- a thing done. But look at the effects of this reality: “But nevertheless I live. Yet not I, but Christ.” If Christianity is, “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” than the outworking of the Christian life can be described as, “Yet not I, but Christ.” That's the outworking of the finished reality of Christ in us. Really, it's the end to which God wants to reach in us through the work of the cross; through the work of being crucified with Christ. Again: We must decrease that He might increase.
If you want to gather up what the attitude of a Christian person ought to be -- if you want to gather that up from all the verses that you can find in the Bible-- then right here summarizes it nicely: In the end, a Christian person -- his attitude, his faith; his entire life is supposed to witness to this truth: “Yet not I, but Christ.”
In conjunction with this, we are brought to another Truth that we need to see. In talking about, “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” and in talking about God's desire that we get to the point where it is, “Yet not I, but Christ” -- what does that look like? How does that work in an individual?
False Teaching Today
In this day and age, we need to hear this Truth -- because in this day and age the Christianity of most people DENIES this reality of, “Yet not I, but Christ.” We say more along the line of, “Yet not Christ, but I!” We would not say that IN WORDS -- but much in the Christian church today is focused upon YOU and I -- the potential of, “greatness,” in a human being. And if it's not focused on THAT, then it's focused on trying to fix and repair and improve the very life that Jesus Christ tells us that we need to LOSE under the work of the cross.
Jesus tells us to come under the work of the cross, and to lose that all life -- and here we have entire Christian ministries that are geared to salvaging that very old life that were told the lose -- of fixing up that life that were told to lose. Books that are for sale today, such as, “Discover the Champion in You,” by Joel Osteen. He also wrote that book, “Your Best Life Now.” Paula White has written books. One of them is entitled, “You’re All That!” I could go on and on. It's a Christianity that is all about the, “wonderful specimen,” that God is going to turn YOU into – “because of His Son.” You see titles like this more and more in this day and age, such as, “Becoming the Real You,” or, “Rebuilding the Real You.”
All of this is a LIE from beginning to end. But people easily buy into it because until we know Jesus Christ we ARE going to be preoccupied with ourselves. It is just what we ARE, and what we DO -- as natural human beings. So if somebody comes along with a Christianity that will serve that; that will service it -- a Christianity that talks about curing what ails you, so that you will no longer be all down on yourself – people are all miserable about themselves in this day and age – and so people are offered a Christianity that will make them less miserable about themselves or that will make them feel good about themselves – and this is called REDEMPTION. They will call that, “God's blessing.” They will say. “Oh, God, thank you for making me into the person that I've always wanted to be.”
That's pretty blatant to say it that way. I don't know that many people would say it that way -- but the ways and means are all unto that end -- people going through twelve-step programs, whereby they are taught to dig into their personalities, and taught to do an autopsy on the old man of sin, and dig out what ails him -- and then ask Jesus to, “fix it.”
How many know that if you're doing an autopsy on a dead body that it is a little late at that point to try to fix it? God says that all of that old man is already dead. You need to treat it like it is dead. You need to lose that old man. God is DONE with the old man. He's not fixing him; He is not repairing him -- to make him look wonderful, so you and I can be happy with ourselves. Paul said, “You are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God;” “CHRIST, our life.” Paul also said, “Who will DELIVER me from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ.” If only we saw the Truth about this -- we would cry with Paul to God, “Lord, deliver me from this old man; from this old life.” And we would also say with Paul, “Thanks be to God that He wants to do that, and that Christ has already done a finished work unto that end.”
Back to the question: How is the reality of, “Yet not I, but Christ,” manifested in a believer? Well, first of all, we must to be delivered from ourselves, and from our preoccupation with ourselves -- even religiously. But we have teachers walking around today that are teaching us how to be MORE occupied with ourselves -- only a, “positive way.” What a grief that must be to the heart of God! Paul said it here in Gal. 2:20: We've got to get to the point where we live in the reality of the Christ who dwells in us: “Yet not I, but Christ.”
“Yet not I, but Christ.” How does that work? Somebody once said that those who manifest Christ the MOST are the LEAST aware of it. That is how it works when we are living in the reality of, “Yet NOT I, but Christ.” Christ is manifesting Himself through us and in us, and this becomes -- and this is sort of pun -- this becomes, “natural.” It is never achieved through preoccupation with yourself. It's achieved by LOSING yourself.
God Almighty did not send his son to bring us into a condition of high self-esteem. Neither did He come, “to beat low self-esteem over the head.” No. What He came to do is bring us to where we don't care about ANY of that anymore. He came to DELIVER us from self so we could say, “Yet not I, but Christ.”
Now the way in which this is accomplished is through an on-going revelation -- in an inward way -- of Jesus Christ in us. You I cannot come to the place where we live for Christ as our life -- to where we say, “Yet not I, but Christ” -- unless Christ is formed in us, and we come into an inward realization of HIM.
An Inward Realization of Jesus Christ
In Gal. 4:19, Paul states this great Truth. In fact, he states it in a way that shows us just how important it is. The Galatians, of course, were a church that was under the law. And Paul was in travail -- hurting over the situation. And he tells them what he in travail over -- he says in Galatians 4:9:
My little children, over whom I am in travail….until Christ BE FORMED IN YOU.
We know that this word translated, “formed” (in the NT Greek), means, “to be inwardly realized and expressed.” So Paul travailed that the Galatian church, and of course, by extension, this would be God's travail for US -- that we would all come into an inward realization of Jesus Christ. Because without that we are not going to have -- if I can put it this way, “anything to work with.” Without knowing Christ within we will have only ourselves within. We will live on the basis of the natural; on the basis of that old life – on the basis of that old life that is outside of our joining to the Lord.
This is where millions live today who profess Christ. Millions are blinded to the reality of Jesus Christ within us. Thus, this would be God's travail for those of us who are blind to Christ: God would say to us, “I travail until Christ be formed in you; until you come into an inward realization of Jesus Christ.”
If you read John 14, 15 and 16, you will see that this is the purpose for which the spirit of God is given: To reveal Jesus Christ TO us, and to reveal Jesus Christ IN us -- that Christ may become our life. That is the ONLY way -- as the process continues and we grow to know Christ – that is the only way that we will ever to be able to get to the place where we know and believe, “Yet not I, but Christ” -- let alone get to the place where we can truly say, “For the life we now live we live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved us and gave Himself for us.”
And so God wants to bring you and I into an inward realization of Jesus Christ. How does God do that? Well, turn to II Cor. 4. Paul again is talking about this very same Truth -- the very same foundational Truth of, “Christ in us, the hope of glory.”
He says there in verse 7: “But we have this Treasure in an earthen vessel.” How many see that this is, “Christ in you hope of glory?” Christ is the Treasure. He dwells IN an earthen vessel. That is another way of describing that we are, “joined to the Lord and become one spirit with Him” -- and yet there remains OUTSIDE of that spiritual union an EARTHEN vessel; a natural man. Paul differentiates between the two. He says, “We have this Treasure (Christ) IN an earthen vessel.” There are the TWO natures.
Paul then says, “That the excellency of the power -- really of the life that has that power -- may be God, and not of us.” How many again see in this verse, “Yet not I, but Christ?” Christ IN US is distinct FROM US. The Treasure will never be the earthen vessel -- and the earthen vessel will never be the Treasure. No -- it's Christ IN you. There is Christ -- and there is you.
One of the things that we will discover as we come into a realization of Christ is that Christ is, “other than us.” And that's important because people continue to think that what God is doing in this age is giving us a THING called, “power,” or that God, in this age, is doing stuff TO US – called, “sanctification,” and some of those other things we read in the Bible. We think that Jesus came to make our natural man, “look like Jesus.” That's the Christianity that is taught in so many places today. But Jesus did not come by the spirit of God to make us, “look like Jesus.” God does not act upon us via the spirit of God to make us, “look like Jesus,” or to fix up the old man, or to make the earthen vessel look like a treasure. No. What Jesus IN US does -- as we come under the work across -- is cause us to decrease -- that He might increase. What happens if we are walking with God is that we begin to understand what it means to say, “Yet not I, but Christ.” This is not about us looking like Jesus. It's about us being crucified so that Christ may be manifested in us, and through us. It's all Him and His life flowing. It's not us.
What do we think it means, “Yet not I, but Christ?” Think about the words themselves. How could they mean that Christianity is about Jesus fixing us up, and making us look like Him? It could never mean that; it doesn't mean that. Such thinking is totally contrary to the Bible.
No. “We have this Treasure IN an earthen vessel -- and because of this – “the excellency of the power is OF God, and never of us.”
Paul talks about trials and tribulations in verses 8 and 9, but it's all unto the purpose that we may, “always bear about in our body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” (II Cor. 4:10) I quoted earlier Matthew 16 where Jesus said that we need to pick up our cross daily and lose our life. Can we see that this (II Cor. 4:10) is nothing but a restatement of the same Truth? As we encounter situations -- both in the physical realm and spiritual -- that are intended by God to be a cross to us – if we would just submit to God – if we would pick up those crosses and come to the place were we are, “bearing about,” in that natural life; in our body and soul man -- in those areas that are outside of our union with Christ – if we would come to the place where we, “bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus” – THAT IS HOW we lose our life. That is how we come to say, “Yet NOT I.”
But how many understand that it would be quite a miserable and shallow Christianity if that was the end of the story. No. All of this is unto FREEDOM -- to experiencing life in Christ. “Always bearing about in the natural the dying of the Lord Jesus.” Why? “So that the life of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” Can we see -- right there -- that we are NOT being made, “to LOOK like Jesus?” No. We are being crucified out of the way so that JESUS can look like Jesus through us.
Now, someone might say, “I don’t understand how that goes.” Well, it goes back to what I said earlier: Those who manifest Christ the MOST are the LEAST aware of it. IN other words, this isn't about you and I grabbing hold of ourselves and trying to act, or look, like Jesus. This isn’t about us directing traffic, or following rules and principles. No. Neither is this about us going to seminars, or twelve-step programs, whereby we can, “build Christian character." Rather, this is about us DYING -- coming under the work of the cross -- so that our preoccupation with ourselves; our self ownership -- might be utterly and completely shattered and broken -- so that now we can be preoccupied, if not obsessed, with the Person of Jesus.
The fact of the matter is -- there is no other outcome of walking with Christ – except THAT outcome. There is no other outcome if I want to walk in the Truth – than for God to bring me to the place where I say, “Yet not I, but Christ.” There is no other Truth if I want to go along in the purpose of God in Jesus Christ -- Jesus said, “IF any man would come after Me he must to lose himself to find Me.”
This is not a negative. It's not something that will destroy you. It's something that will bring you into true life. I had a lady walk up to me one time after I was talking about this at a Bible study and she said, “You are scaring me to death because I'm afraid that if I lose my life to Jesus Christ, God's going to destroy my marriage, or that one of my kids will die.” No -- you see -- this is a false concept of God. You lose your life to Jesus Christ, and the purpose of God is to heal families. How many know that in Christ is healing for marriages; in Christ is redemption? The, “abundant life,” that God wants to give us is HIS life. The abundant characteristic is that it brings resurrection life and healing to all. And so we need to get this straight.
Now that's not possible unless we, “bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus;” unless we experience what it means to be, “crucified WITH Christ.” ONLY THEN will we be able to say, “Nevertheless I live -- yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” Only then will be able to say that the life also of Jesus is made manifest in our body.
Christ In Us is ALL
If you see what's being said here in II Cor. 4:10-11, you will see that this is not, and never will be, about US coming to, “look like Jesus.” No. It will be about Christ manifesting Himself through us.
This Truth is important to see -- but if we see it, we will also be able to take that Truth and realize it with regard to a bunch of other Christian realities. For example: Sanctification. Most people have defined, “sanctification,” as you and I coming to, “look like Jesus.” Many believers think, “Okay. Jesus died to save us. And now that Jesus has died, and we ARE saved, and God has given us His spirit. So His spirit is going to act upon us, to do stuff to us, and to do stuff for us – and this is going to result in us, “looking like Jesus.” People talk about the holy spirit of God doing stuff to us to, “build character,” or to bless us, or to do a work in us -- that will result in us having “patience,” or result in us having a form of, “Christian character.” Somehow we have developed an entire system – but have omitted the Person of Christ. We have left Him out of it as the SOURCE -- as the One who IS our life. We have made it all about US and all about, “stuff that God is doing to us to make us look like Jesus.”
But note: This is nothing more than saying that God intends to fix and repair the old man. No. Sanctification is NOT you and I coming to look like Jesus. Sanctification is CHRIST -- Christ living through us, and being seen in us.
I Cor. 1:30: I have to honestly say that I have never once heard a sermon, or read an article, that ever talked about this verse in the terms that Paul meant it. Let's read it. Paul is talking about the Corinthian church; he is talking about the fact that none of them were famous; none of them were mighty in this world. In fact, he says in verse 28: “The base things of the world, and things which are despised, has God chosen -- things which are nothing, to bring to naught things that are. “And God has done this,” Paul says in first Corinthians 1:29, “that no flesh should glory in His presence.” Then, on the heels of that statement, that no flesh -- that no natural man should ever have glory in the presence of God -- Paul says, “But of God are you IN Christ Jesus, who of God is MADE UNTO US wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” Note that. Then he adds, “That accordingly, as it is written, he glories let him glory in the Lord.” How many again see, “Yet not I, but Christ?”
All of these things, if we dare call them, “things” -- they are really dimensions of the life of Christ manifested in a human being – they are all HIM. He says so -- he says Jesus Christ is MADE TO BE UNTO US wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. So what is righteousness in the human being? It is Christ; IT is Christ in you. We are NOT given a righteousness of our own. We are NOT acted upon by God and made a righteous being. No. We are given the embodiment of all righteousness -- Jesus Christ -- to live in us.
As I have said many times, “justification by faith,” can be described in legal terms as, “God imputing to us the righteousness of His Son.” Absolutely -- that's a great way of describing how God declares the sinner righteous -- in legal terms: God IMPUTES to us the righteousness of His Son. But that doesn’t CHANGE anybody -- to simply legally dub them, “righteous.” No. God does not merely impute to us the righteousness of His Son. God imparts to us Christ Himself -- who IS the righteousness of God. So, in other words, “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” IS your righteousness. He is the ONLY righteousness you will ever have or experience. “God has made Christ to be unto us righteousness.” And he also says that Christ is made to be unto us sanctification.
II Cor. 4 -- that we just read -- is really a description of how Christ is our sanctification. We, “bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” That is sanctification. Paul in verse II Cor. 4:11 reiterates -- he says, “for we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus's sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal body.”
So this is sanctification. It is what happens to a human being that encounters Christ; has living in them Jesus Christ. There is a death that comes – and I’m talking about somebody that obeys and goes on with God in faith. There is a death that comes to everything that is natural -- in the sense of losing the ownership of that; death to the natural man being Lord. There's a death that comes to all of that -- a breaking of that earthen vessel -- so that the life of Jesus might be seen through the human being.
Now if you are listening to what I'm saying, how many see that there is no way under God's heaven that any LAW can accomplish this. There's no way that this can happen simply because you and I jump through religious hoops, attend seminars, or go through 12 step programs. There's no way that it can happen through human effort -- not even the best intended human religious effort. All of this is the result of, “Christ in us, the hope of glory” -- the meaning of Christianity. All of this is the result of having received from above HIS life. The process begins, and we begin to experience all that Christ IS. We begin to experience Jesus Christ in his death – we are joined to, and implanted into, His death WITH Him, and we begin to experience Jesus Christ in His resurrection life.
All Things Given IN Christ
From here, we can move onto the last thing I want to mention for today. Christ in us, the hope of glory -- bringing us to the place where we lose our life, that we may find Him as our life -- bringing us to the place where we live in the reality of, “Yet not I, but Christ” -- bearing about in our body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Christ may be manifested in and through us -- you gather all that up and you begin to see that in Jesus Christ is ALL that God has for the believer – and in Jesus Christ is ALL that there will ever be – and in Jesus Christ, and through Christ, God will do ALL that He ever intends to do. There are NOT other people, experiences, other power, other things, that God's going to do – nothing aside from what He is going to do in His Son. No. It is all in Christ. Christ is the Alpha and the Omega. Jesus Christ is the beginning and the end. God Almighty has wrapped up everything that He has to give to human beings, and wrapped up everything He ever intends to do, in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ -- and there is nothing outside of Christ.
This is the magnitude of Jesus as Lord. In Him is redemption for the entirety of all of creation -- and we are joined to Him and have become one with Him in spirit. That is an incredibly awesome thought. Colossians chapter 2 -- just a little taste of this -- Paul talks about it to the Colossians, and to us. He is talking about Christ in Colossians 2:3:
In Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
So if, as a Christian, you want to come into the reality of wisdom -- if you want experience the treasures of God -- if you want to know God -- if you want to come into knowledge and discernment – you will not get it in any way, or by any means, other than to know Jesus. IN CHRIST is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. So in other words, only as CHRIST is unfolded can you and I come into the treasures and the wisdom that are wrapped up IN HIM. It's all IN Christ.
It is through the knowing; it is through the forming; it is through the coming into that inward realization of Christ in us that these things are unfolded to us. They are not found some other way or through some other means.
And Paul warns us – he says, “This I say – (i.e., that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid in Christ) -- lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.” In other words, lest any man should say, “It is by this or that means (other than in Christ) that you can come into the reality of God.”
And isn't that (i.e., this exact false teaching) everywhere in the church today? People suggesting that this thing or that thing is THE WAY. No. These are NOT the way! Jesus said, “I AM the Way.” And Paul warns about that here, and then over in Colossians 2:9-10. He says, “For in Christ dwells ALL the fullness of deity -- bodily.” He says, “You are complete in Him.” The awesome thought is that in Christ is the fullness of all that God is, and all that God has – BUT -- this is the SAME Christ with Whom we are joined and made one in spirit. He is IN US.
All of this simply gets back to Romans 8:32 where Paul states that God, “has given us all things freely in His Son.” Everything we have talked about today is freely given by grace. God has given us, “Christ in us, the hope of glory;” the great mystery; the great fulfillment of the purpose of God -- He's given us Christ in us the hope of glory freely. And in Christ He has given us freely all things. That is not only for His purpose in this life, but it is for the purpose of God through Christ unto the eternal ages.
That's the meaning of Christianity: Christ in us, the hope of glory” -- and everything that He means -- in this life, and then in the ages yet to come.
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