How to Appropriate the Life of Christ in Us

by Wayne A. Barber

In our last segment, we took a close look at Colossians 1:27, where the message of #/"Christ in you, the hope of Glory" /#stands out. This is the message the church needs so desperately. Living grace is Christ living His life in and through the believer. So many of us understand "saving grace" but so few understand "living grace." Let us hear Paul in Galatians 2:20:#/ "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me."/# In this article we want to see how we appropriate this life of Christ who lives in us. Paul is not speaking about how to get saved, but how to live once you are saved. #/"The life I now live"/# (v. 20) is in the present tense-the life I am now living. "In the flesh" refers to his physical body. Isn't it interesting that when we get saved, we still have the same body? Nothing changes on the outside, but so much is different on the inside! Paul says, "I live by faith in the Son of God." He has learned that to appropriate the life within him is to put no confidence in his own fleshly abilities. This is such a radical difference in Paul. He no longer trusts his religious flesh. He now knows what he cannot accomplish for God, and wants God to be the One who accomplishes through him. To do that is to put his total trust into Christ and His Word. Flesh cannot in any way be in the picture. Paul says in Philippians 3:3: #/"for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh." /#In Romans 13:14 he says: #/"But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts."/# To walk by faith is to put our trust in only Christ. This submission to Him, and to His Word and Will, appropriates the life of Christ within us. Faith in Christ crucifies the flesh! The motivation to do this is simple: #/"The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me" /#(v. 20). He loved ME! He delivered Himself up for ME! Oh, the wonderful life that is ours in Christ! All He requires of us is to bow down before Him and say yes to His Will and to His Word. To do otherwise, Paul says in verse 21, would #/"nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly."/# The word "nullify" is athéteo. It means to make void, to set aside. Just think of what Paul says here. If one chooses not to walk by faith as a believer, then he immediately "sets aside" the grace of God in his life. He now has no "enabling power" to be what God demands him to be. And if righteousness came through the Law, then Christ died for nothing. If Paul could accomplish anything good that God would call "right" in his own efforts, "then Christ died needlessly." Oh, the joy of discovering the message of "living grace"-the message of Christ living His life in and through the believer. What is required to appropriate the life that is within us is simply to walk by faith. To say "yes" to Christ and to His Word and to His Will. The rest is history! So what is our problem? We have too much confidence in our own flesh. We have made a Divine relationship into a religion of works and recognition of flesh. Instead of God being glorified, we are glorifying man's ability to do what God demands. How about you? Is the message of "Christ in you the hope of glory" being seen in the way you live? Wayne Barber is senior pastor of Hoffmantown Church, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Before answering Hoffmantown's call, Wayne served for 18 years as senior pastor of Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tenn., followed by 2-1/2 years as a conference speaker and teacher.