What does Paul mean by the phrase “Christ is in you”?

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Christ is in you

The apostle Paul writes, “But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is life because of righteousness” (Romans 8:10). To have the Spirit of Christ (v. 9) is to have Christ dwelling in the heart as the principle of life (John 6:56; 15:4; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 3:16, 17). The indwelling presence of Christ in the human heart is the manifestation of the eternal love of God (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 1:1). “To whom God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

Paul presents his own experience saying, “But when it pleased God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called by His grace, to reveal His Son in me” (Galatians 1:15-16). It was the revelation of Christ to him in person on the way to Damascus (1 Corinthians 15:8) that changed his faith from Judaism to Christianity. And later, the experience of Christ dwelling within that led him to his successful evangelism to the gentiles. 

To illustrate God’s gift, the apostle Paul adds: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not out of us” (Corinthians 4:6-7). In this illustration, a human is merely the container that contains the jewel of Christ’s righteousness, which is given to every Christian (Matthew 13:45, 46). All who are saved by Christ have this treasure, some more than others, depending on their own reception of it by faith. 

Christ lives in you

The secret of a successful Christian life lies in Christ abiding within and living out in us the same perfect life that He lived on earth. Christ should not be a passing visitor, but He should abide in the heart, to provide a constant resource of wisdom and holiness (John 14:23; Revelation 3:20). “That Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith, that you, being rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17). It is our faith that opens up the heart to the Savior. Faith is a confident trust in God and His promises, and is a continuously preserving against sin (Romans 4:3). 

Then, the love of Christ constrains the believer (2 Corinthians 5:14), and the righteousness of Christ becomes a reality in his life (Romans 8:3, 4). And the believer can clearly say, “I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20). 

Christ formed in you

The believer abides daily in Christ until He fully reigns in his heart by faith. Paul adds, “My children, with whom I travail again in birth until Christ is formed in you” (Colossians 1:27). Paul speaks of Christ’s being formed within a person that accepts Him. When Christ dwells within, He lives out His own perfect life through the life of the Christian (Romans 8:3, 4; Galatians 2:20). The Christian’s thoughts become as the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5) and the love of Christ controls him (2 Corinthians 5:14). This process continues until the Christian reflects His Master in character (Ephesians 4:13).  

Christ glorified in you

The supreme vindication of Christ’s grace will finally take place when the whole family of God will be reunited again. “When He comes to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at in all those who have believed” (2 Thessalonians 1:10). Then, the universe will see the value of God’s infinite sacrifice and the success of His saving work. Thus, the Savior will be glorified in His children (Galatians 1:24; 1 Thessalonians 2:20; 2 Thessalonians 1:4). As the artist is glorified in his handiwork, so Christ will be glorified by the miracles of His transforming grace (Matthew 13:43). And throughout eternity, glory will be given to Him as His children make known more fully the wisdom of God in His wonderful plan of redemption, which has been “realized in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:10, 11). 

In His service,
BibleAsk Team 

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