A Hard Saying
Do you know what it means to live in Christ and for Him to live in you?
When Jesus said, “Believest thou not that I am in the Father and the Father in me?” (John 14:10) - He was talking about the spiritual relationship He has with His Father. He then extend the relationship to include His followers, “I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you” (John 14:20). Do you understand what this means? Do you appreciate the implications of such a relationship?
Who Can Understand?
At a Passover during His ministry, Christ said to His audience, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (John 6:56). Many who heard this disputed amongst them-selves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (John 6:52). They did not understand the symbolic significance of Christ’s flesh and blood, nor did they appreciate how Christ would live in them, and conversely, how they would live in Him. As a consequence many said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” (John 6:60). And they turned away from Him, “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” (John 6:66).
Do you believe Christ when He said that you can be part of that unique relationship? Or, is it a hard saying for you as well?
Many think that to abide, or live in Christ is merely about submitting and being dependant on Him. Naturally this is part of the Christian way of life, but there is a deeper and more profound concept being revealed that many of His followers did not perceive. Comprehending spiritual concepts does not come naturally. It requires God’s help to understand the things of God.
Later Jesus promised His followers that after His death He would send the Holy Spirit to help them understand, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” (John 14:16-17). He said, “…the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26). And the Book of Acts records that He did indeed keep that promise, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4).
The Apostle Paul explains how the Holy Spirit helps us to understand, “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no-one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God,” (I Corinthians 2:11-12).
A Mind Like God’s
The spirit of man that Paul mentioned imparts intellect that enables man to understand the things of this world. It is our conscious awareness, our individual persona, the very essence of who we are. It enables us to process and store knowledge, to reason and make choices, form opinions, attitudes and to experience emotion.
Similarly the Spirit of God is the intellect, mind and persona of God. God is a spirit, “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24). And He is holy, “holy and reverend is his name” (Psalm 111:9). He is Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is not a third person – it is the Spirit of God. It is His very mind and essence - the same mind and spiritual essence that is in Jesus Christ, “Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me” (John 14:11). Christ is also holy, “…thou Jesus of Nazareth… …I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24). And He is also spirit – “now the Lord is that Spirit,” (II Corinthians 3:17). Even though both Christ and the Father are Holy Spirit they are two separate beings. Two separate beings with the same Holy nature.
At baptism a small portion of the same Holy Spirit is placed within us, “…Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Spirit)” (Acts 2:38). Not only to give understanding of things spiritual, but also to develop a mind like God’s, “Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” (II Corinthians 1:21-22 see also 5:5). It is the same mind that is in Christ, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (Philippians 2:5-6). Having the same mind makes Him equal to God. And it is through the Holy Spirit that He dwells in us, “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (Romans 8:11 see also I Corinthians 6:19). That is what makes us different from the rest of the world, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (II Corinthians 13:5).
Nowadays we understand how genes from both human parents combine to produce a child. A likeness to the parents is often apparent in the physical characteristics and nature of their children as they grow. We can see the characteristic of the parents in the child and conversely we can see the same characteristics the child has in the parents. Sometimes the likeness is so profound that having seen the son one has seen father, which is exactly what Christ said of Himself and His Father (John 14:7-10). Jesus was talking about the spiritual nature of His Father reflected in Himself. Eventually that same nature will be reflected in us.
The spirit received from God combines with the spirit of man renewing the mind to form a new person, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17, see also Galatians 6:15). Paul talked about the ‘old man’ prior to baptism and the ‘new man’ afterwards. The old man with his worldly ways is symbolically crucified, or put to death, with Christ at baptism, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20).
From that point on we “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). We “put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of him who created him” (Colossians 3:9-10). Equipped now with a new spiritual perspective that is aligned with God’s, we can “be renewed by the spirit of your mind and that you put on the new man, which was created according to God, in righteousness and true Holiness” (Ephesians 4:17-24). We take on the same nature that can be found in both Christ and the Father. As the old man diminishes, day by day the nature of God increases, “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” (II Corinthians 4:16).
When answering a question from Nicodemus, Christ said, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Baptism is the birth by water. By complete immersion the old man is committed to the depths from which the new man arises. The spiritual birth takes place at the resurrection when the individual is raised as a spirit being. He went on to say, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you ‘You must be born again,’” (verses 6-7).
Having already developed a mind like God’s, the body will be resurrected as spirit in an instant at a specific time, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (I Corinthians 15:52). But the mind needs to be prepared beforehand because that is not something that can occur instantaneously. It takes a lifetime of careful preparation to bring the mind to spiritual maturity. The process is much like that of a child developing in its mother’s womb until it is ready to be born. Between baptism and resurrection is the time when crucial changes need to take place to prepare the mind, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2). And when Christ comes we will be ready for our spiritual birth, to be resurrected complete with a spirit body, “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Mathew 24:30-31).
Over time we grow in grace and knowledge toward the fullness of the stature of Christ as He is formed in us, “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:13). And, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,” (Galatians 4:19). This is what God proposes for all of mankind – it is the purpose of our existence here on earth. He is preparing us for His kingdom. It is through the Holy Spirit that both the Father and Christ live in us. We remain as physical human beings, but we share the same spiritual nature of mind as both Christ and the Father. God can recognise that nature, or likeness of mind in us. That is why He refers to us as sons and daughters, “And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (II Corinthians 6:18). We are to become part of His very household, "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;” (Ephesians 2:19).
Those called by God, who are willing to repent, submit to and depend on Him for every need will be given His Holy Spirit upon baptism (Act 2:38). With the help of that Spirit the true meaning of Christ’s teaching will be revealed to us. The Spirit not only gives us understanding, it is the very mind and essence of God Himself that converts our mind to become like His. Both the Father and Christ are Holy Spirit and it is through that Holy Spirit that they dwell in us.
Do you now understand what Christ was revealing to His followers when He said, “I am in my father and he in me ands I in you”? It is very encouraging if we find the words that confused so many of Christ’s audience are no longer a hard saying. Having a mind that comprehends true spiritual concepts is sure evidence of Christ in us.