by the Rev. Hugh Martin
Text: “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.
HERE is a marvellous thing, calling for thoughtful examination, and surely worthy of it. “Christ liveth in me,” says Paul.
Is this a highly figurative statement, or has it actual reality to rest upon? Is it really true that the believer can have solid grounds for saying, “Christ liveth in me?” Glorious things are spoken of the people of God, but few things could be said of them more glorious than that Christ – God manifest in the flesh – liveth in them. Is this marvellous assertion the high-wrought utterance of religious mysticism, or is it the simple expression of a spiritual fact?
We may observe that the text is far from being a solitary or unparalleled statement in the Word of God about Christ living in them. The truth contained in it is even declared to lie at the foundation of all personal and living Christianity: “Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” To convey this astonishing privilege of having Christ living in them, is the great end for which the gospel ministry is established and exercised: “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again till Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.” The realizing of this great marvel among the Gentiles is “the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to God’s saints, to whom he would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”. It is the great object, for the attainment of which Jesus knocks, by His gospel and His Spirit, at the hearts of sinners: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him.“
It is the realization of the great covenant promise: “For ye are the temple of the living God: as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” It is the object for which believers are commanded to abide in Christ: “Abide in me, and I in you.” It is the scope of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians: “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” Nay, it is the grand and ultimate aim of Christ’s own intercession; it is the utmost and terminal desire of His heart, as expressed unto the Father on their behalf; it is the resting place of His heart concerning them, where He sees of the travail of His soul and is satisfied: for even thus does His intercessory prayer for them terminate: “That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
But in none of these statements, confirmatory and parallel to the text as they evidently are, is this great truth set forth so simply and emphatically as in the text itself: “Christ liveth in me.” We propose to consider the causes and consequences of Christ living in the believer. The rich meaning and import of this truth may thus in a measure open up to us; while its intense and glorious literality will become manifest.
I. And first, as to the causes of Christ living in the believer: how is this marvellous fact actually realized? To what causes can it be assigned?
1. The great leading cause is the Holy Spirit. This great effect is to be attributed to Him – to the operation and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Regeneration, which is the Spirit’s work, is the implantation in a soul, formerly dead in trespasses and sins, of a new life, a vital principle of holiness. The will is renewed; and from being ungodly and at enmity to God, it is turned to choose God, satisfying itself with Him as its supreme good, subjecting itself to Him as its sovereign Lord. This is a new life – spiritual, God-ward, altogether new – a new creature. With this new principle of life, this new creation in the soul, the Spirit of God, who is the author of it, maintains a vital and uninterrupted connection, thereby dwelling in the believer henceforth as in a living temple. It is in virtue of this indwelling, this in-living of the Spirit, that Christ lives in us who are believers. For, in all this, the Spirit acts as the Spirit of Christ. For “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” And “hereby we know that he abideth in us, by his Spirit which he hath given us”.
Christ, as God the Son, is of one substance, power, and eternity with God the Holy Spirit. Christ, also, as “the Son of man”, had the Spirit bestowed on Him without measure. His human nature was formed, in body and soul, and sanctified from the first, by the special operation of the Spirit. He was anointed with the immeasurable plenitude of the Spirit. By the light of the Spirit, “the man Christ Jesus” thought all His thoughts; by the grace of the Spirit, He willed all His purposes; by the strength of the Spirit, He wrought all His works; till finally He, “through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God”, thereafter rising from the dead by the Spirit of holiness, and ascending to pour out that Spirit of truth and consolations which He had promised so graciously to His disciples. In His Godhead, our Lord is one with the Spirit; and as man, by the Spirit He was what He was. Christ, therefore, sends His Spirit, not to speak of Himself, but to take of what is Christ’s and show it unto us; to create us again in Christ and like Christ; to dwell in us as in a living temple; as in living men to whom He has given a new and Christ-like life. When He does this, can we fail to see that there is something here which in no respect falls short even of the great marvel of our text: Christ living in us? Christ, the eternal Son, lives in us when the Spirit lives in us; for the Spirit and the Son, with the Father, are inseparable in their joint possession of the all-fulness of the Godhead. And Christ, as God-man, the Son of man, the very Christ that tabernacled with men upon the earth, lives in us when the Spirit living in us confines Himself to revealing Christ as the God-man – whose glory His disciples saw in human flesh as the glory of “the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth”. It is as the agent and ambassador of the God-man that the Spirit is given in the Church.
It is the God-man whom the Spirit reveals and glorifies in the Church. It is within the limits of what He Himself revealed and wrought in the God-man that the Spirit restricts Himself in working in the Church or body of the faithful. He lives in them as He lived in Christ. He works to reveal in them progressively the truth which He implanted and developed in unclouded spiritual splendour in the mind of “the man Christ Jesus”; to establish in them progressively the grace with which He replenished the heart of “the man Christ Jesus”; to conform them, in a word, to Christ, “the firstborn among many brethren”. And how then can the Spirit’s indwelling, in-working, in-living in them be other than most adequately expressed by the doctrine that “Christ liveth in them”? Christ, by His Spirit, lives in them. By His Spirit He quickens them to new and spiritual life, and by His Spirit He takes possession of them as His living temple. It is as a living temple that He always regards them and acts in them. Their faculties, as of living men alive from the dead, He animates and controls. Whatever in their thoughts, affections, purposes, actions, is opposed to His own, He sets Himself to suppress; and their faculties themselves He undertakes to sanctify, to form, and mould, and guide into harmony with His own. Nay; their whole character, their very natures as spiritually living men, He works by His Spirit to assimilate unto His own. So far as this work advances, the very thoughts that He thinks they think; the affections He entertains they entertain; the purposes of His mind are theirs also; His work is their work; His nature theirs. And up to the limit to which this blessed result of the work of the Spirit been achieved, how can a better, a briefer, a more perfect expression be found for it, than to say that, to this extent, “Christ liveth in them”?
It is, then, literally, profoundly true that Christ lives in His people. He lives in them by His Spirit which He has given them.
2. Another cause of Christ living in the believer – holding, indeed, a different place, but indispensable – is the gospel. The Spirit is the efficient cause, the gospel is the formal cause of Christ living in His people.
We know nothing of Christ save as revealed and set forth in the Word: “the word of the truth of the gospel”. God is manifest in “the man Christ Jesus” – the invisible, inaccessible Godhead is brought near and manifested in Christ; but it is in the gospel that the manifestation is given. Take away the gospel, and you take away Christ. He has bound Himself inseparably to His gospel in all His dispensations to the sons of men. He has seated Himself in the chariot of His gospel, and all His goings forth have been, and to the end of time will be, seated there. He has clothed Himself with His own gospel, and in these robes alone does He appear in His Church below. He that is blind to the gospel is blind to Christ. He that believes not the gospel believes not on Christ; he that rejects the gospel, rejects Christ. When we receive Christ, it is by the heart; and it is into the heart that we receive Him; but we can in this life receive Him only as He is offered to us in the gospel. When another gospel, therefore, was preached in the Church at Galatia, Paul felt that the Christ in them was endangered: “My little children, of whom I travail in birth until Christ be formed in you.” When he said to the Church at Colosse, “Christ in you the hope of glory,” – knowing that by means of the gospel only could Christ be in them – he added, “Whom we preach, teaching every man, and warning every man.” If Christ’s word dwells in you, Christ dwells in you. “Let that, therefore, abide in you which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son and in the Father.” And if you continue in the Son, He continues in you, according to the sacred oracle: “Abide in me, and I in you.”
3. Another cause why Christ lives in believers – holding still a different place, but equally indispensable, is faith. The Spirit is the efficient cause on Christ’s part; the gospel is the instrumental cause on Christ’s part; faith is the instrumental cause on the believer’s part.
The place and operation of faith in this matter are attested emphatically by the apostle in his prayer for the Ephesians: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” The new life which the Spirit gives in regeneration, acts all its operations by faith. It acts primarily by faith in all things. All its goings forth and energies are in the acting of faith: and it is this that reconciles Paul’s apparent contradiction that he himself lives, and yet that it is Christ that lives in him. It is thus brought about that while he himself lives, and Christ lives in him, these are not two lives, but one. It is by faith that they are really one.
“I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” Does Paul, then, retract the assertion, “I live,” by saying, “yet not I, but Christ liveth in me”? Does he deny that he lives, by declaring that Christ lives in him? Nay, he asserts it; he reasserts it; for he goes on to say, “And the life which I now live in the flesh.” And how does he make these two lives to be really one? Why, “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.” By the faith of Him I live on Him; I live His life; He lives in me. By faith I receive the living Christ. By faith I retain the living Christ living in me. By faith I live the life which Christ lives in me.
Mark also very specially that it is by faith in a dying Christ that Christ lives in His people. It might have been supposed that it must be by faith in a living Christ that Christ should live in us; but it is not so. It is by faith in a dying Christ. “I live by the faith of the Son of God,” says Paul. Be it so. But under what view of Christ, and in what aspect of Christ’s relation to you and His work for you, do you exercise your faith in Him? “Who loved me, and gave himself for me,” is Paul’s answer. It is as Christ loving him and dying for him that Paul exercises faith in Christ, in order that Christ may live in him. Nay, this singular verse, with its rich and unfathomable wonders, both begins and closes with this truth: that it is by faith’s communion with a substituted, crucified, dying Saviour, that this Saviour lives in His people: “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.”
It is this great truth that the Lord Himself sets forth in His startling discourse concerning eating His flesh and drinking His blood. For it is faith’s participation of His sacrifice of Himself in death, in the wounding of His flesh and the shedding of His blood, that He is there describing: “The bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. . . Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.” And then He comes nearer to the doctrine before us: “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” And at last He exactly states it: “As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.”
The apostle Paul, also, in writing to the Corinthians, puts this truth in a very beautiful light – the truth, I mean, that it is by faith in a dying Saviour that that Saviour lives in us – when he says, “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our body.” If I would have Christ living in me, I must be crucified with Christ; if I would have Christ living in me, it must be by the exercise of faith in Christ dying for me.
Nor is this mysterious. For if I would have life reigning in me, I have a prior death that reigns in me to dispose of. I have a judicial death, a death in the anger of God – a wrathful but righteous sentence of death – barring me from all life and blessing; strengthening and rivetting in me the dominion of spiritual death; my death in trespasses and sins. I must, therefore, find a life that shall suppress my death, and that shall not itself die in doing so; that shall not expire in the effort, but shall conquer and live on – the true and only life everlasting. Such a life is Christ’s death. Marvel not at this. Christ’s death is vital, Christ’s death is life, Christ’s death is life eternal, swallowing up death in victory, suppressing my death, and living for me and in me – eternal life still. The life that I need is a life that can live in the midst of death, seeing that I am dead under the law of God, and dead in trespasses and sins. Show me Eternal Life made under the law of God, and giving itself in death for my trespasses and sins. Show me a life in the midst of death, if you would show me a life that can live in me.
A singular demand! But one that is exactly met in Christ – the Living One – the Life, giving Himself a sacrifice in death for me, and living still – living in the inviolable depths of His Divine person. And He was never more living than when He was actively and livingly giving Himself in death for me, laying down His human life, that, in the unabated life and living energy of His Divine person, and in the legal triumph of His mediatorial office, He might – after the power of an endless life which His death never for a moment interrupted – resume that human life once more. Give me that death of Christ in which, even when dying, He lived and conquered. Give me that death of Christ in which through death He destroyed him that had the power of death – that death of Christ which, far from extinguishing the life which He brought from heaven to me, only broke open for me that “fountain of life” (Psl. 36:9) in His Godhead (which had otherwise been for ever sealed and inaccessible), till there poured forth from it “a river of the water of life,” sweeping away and swallowing up death in victory. Give me that death of the Prince of Life. It is a vital death: it is a real life: it is the very life for me; for it is the life which can live in death – the only life that can live in me. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live. If I would have Christ living in me, it must be by the faith of Christ dying for me. The life which I live in the flesh I must live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.
Apart from Christ, what am I, and what is my position or place? I am shut up within the gates of death. And apart from me, what is Christ? He is “the Life” – Life eternal and inviolable – no death in His lot at all. What, then, is Christ’s death, if in redeeming love He dies for me; if He gives Himself a substitute, a sacrifice in death for me; if He comes into my place and stead, and dies for me? What have I here but Eternal Life bursting open the gates of death, and coming in to join and identify Himself with me? And as He bursts them open, and comes in, do they close again, and imprison both Him and me? Is the Fountain of life, is Godhead in “the man Christ Jesus”, the prey and prisoner of death? God forbid. He is not death’s prisoner: He is death’s plagues and death’s destruction. He has come to me, not in the suppression, but in the unabated energy and in the glorious triumph of His character and power as the Life Eternal; His triumph being this: that in dying He has burst the gates of death; Christ crucified, the only life that could ever find its way into me, and that has done so by dying for me.
Yes; give me life in the midst of death, if you would give me a life that will suffice for me. The cross alone meets my demand. For this is the marvel of the cross, and of the decease accomplished there. It is Life in the midst of death. Not Life extinguished in death and by death. But Life living in death: Life living death down: Life, by being crucified, crucifying death dead. I am crucified with this Life. No wonder, therefore, if “nevertheless I live”.
Therefore, as always I would have Christ live in me more and more, let me have communion more and more with Christ dying for me. For thus only is the death suppressed that is always rising up over me to claim me, through the sin that is always dwelling in me (for sin rises up in me, and death by sin). Thus only is that ever-rising death suppressed and set aside, even by my faith ever bringing in the death of Christ for me. For if by sin being ever in me, death enters by sin, by faith there ever enters also death for sin, Christ’s perfect death, always conquering death, and always giving life to me. Only by bearing about in the body the death of Jesus, can the life also of Jesus be made manifest in my mortal body. Only as Christ crucified does Christ live in His people. Only as always crucified with Christ do I continue to live. I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live. I not only get my life, I live it, by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me. Not only as Christ crucified does He come into my soul, it is as Christ crucified that He dwells and lives there. Faith in Christ dying for me is the means whereby Christ lives in me.
Such, then, are the means and causes by which Christ lives in His people – the Spirit, the gospel, faith – the Spirit working faith in us by the gospel. Christ as revealed in the gospel, and therein apprehended by faith, comes into His people’s hearts by His Spirit, and there He dwells and lives.
II. Secondly, consider some of the consequences of Christ living in His people.
1. And first, their holiness is hereby secured. For what is their holiness but their likeness to Christ? And how true must that likeness be, if verily Christ Himself lives in them! So far as Christ lives in you, believer, so far you will inevitably and exactly be like Christ. For, whether living in His own person or in you, there is but one Christ, unchanged – the same yesterday, today, and for ever. He will not contradict Himself; He will not misrepresent Himself. He will not live in you any otherwise than He lived in the days of His flesh upon the earth. It is just the very Christ whom we read of in the gospel, and just as He lived when tabernacling with men upon the earth, who lives in you.
What Christ was then in His own person, exactly that will He be in you, to the extent to which, by faith, you have Him living and dwelling in you. In you, as in Himself, He will still be the same meek and lowly one; the same kind and condescending one; the same dutiful, diligent, obedient Son; the same submissive sufferer. To the extent He is in you by faith, He will, as in Himself, still go “about doing good”: or you will, as He lives in you. In you, as in Himself, He will long after lost souls, and love the souls of the saved: or you will, as He lives in you. In you, as in Himself, He will say in you: or you will say in Him – the ever same, unchanged, obedient one: “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me,” “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” – the same submissive one: “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt! The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” – the same forgiving one: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” – the same relying one even in death: “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.”
All this will He be in you, as all this He was in Himself. All this will He be in you to the full extent to which He lives in you. He will reproduce Himself in you. He will re-present Himself in you. Even as He was, so will you be also, in the world. His thoughts will be yours; for the same mind that was in Christ will assuredly be in you, when Christ Himself is in you. His will surely will be yours; for He will work in you to will and to do of His good pleasure. His work will be yours; for “he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit”. Surely Christ living in you is the truest and profoundest security for your being like Him: for your being made holy even as He is holy.
And mark how holiness on this principle – holiness thus secured – cannot – fail to be based upon humility and pervaded therewith, as all true holiness must be. You live – you live a holy life; but you have no credit, you have no ground of glorying, thereby. For it is really not you that lives; it is Christ that lives in you. The thoughts of purity and light and wisdom that you think, are not your own; they are the mind of Christ – they are Christ living in you, thinking His own truth in you, wielding by His Spirit your faculty of thought, and bringing its perceptions of heavenly knowledge into harmony with His own. The purposes of meek obedience and uncomplaining patience which you cherish are not your own; they are the will of Christ – they are Christ living in you, willing His own purpose in you, wielding your will by His Spirit, and bringing its desire and choice into unison with His will. Your good works are not your own; they are Christ living in you, working in you to will and to do of His own good pleasure. You resign all ground of glorying: you renounce all claim to honour. Nay, far more: you renounce, indeed, your very self. It is not I, it is Christ. Christ is all in all. “By the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain, but I laboured more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God was with me.” “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” Oh, who that knows himself in all his sinfulness and emptiness, would not renounce himself, that he might be filled with Christ, that he might have Christ reproduced in him, Christ living in him Christ, the chiefest among ten thousand, the altogether lovely, fairer than the sons of men!
2. As a second consequence of Christ living in the believer, take the mutual love that subsists among the members of Christ. Hereby “we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” Hereby we know that we ourselves live, that Christ lives in us, because we love them in whom Christ lives. Our love to Him inevitably goes forth as love to them. Nay, our love to them is just our love to Him – our love recognising, receiving, resting on Him, as living in them also. For if Christ lives in them, then His word is literally and profoundly true. “He that receiveth you receiveth me.” “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” When a Christian brother ministers to me in Christian love, it is not he, but Christ living in him that ministers to me. When I, in turn, minister in love to my brother, it is to Christ living in him that I minister. Thus in His people Christ Himself ministers to me here: and hereafter Christ will own me as having ministered to Himself in them. Not a cup of cold water, given to us in the name of a disciple, should fail of being met with gratitude to Christ for it now; nor shall it fail of obtaining, from Christ, its reward at last.
Hence, also, the secret of that pure and exalted feeling of honour and esteem with which the blessed grace of love to the brethren is characterized. For when I truly love a believer, it is with an emotional ascription of honour to him as one of the excellent of the earth. I recognise him as a child of God – as an heir of God. I recognise him as a king and a priest by the Divine appointment and in the estimation of our Father who is in heaven. But honourable and exalted as this, his recognised rank and renown, must be, my estimate of him rises higher still when I recognise the truth that Christ lives in him; when I recognise Christ Himself living in him. Then I not only honour him in Christ, but I honour Christ in him. Nor does the element of his earthly rank or estate enter into this consideration at all. That dwindles into insignificance, and comes not at all into account. Nay, his nation, kindred, people, tongue, become a matter of pure indifference. Christ living in him obliterates all distinctions of social or national estate, throws down all barriers of social or national separation. “There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free; but Christ is all, and in all.” “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Well, therefore, may this initial love be assigned as the grand evidence of discipleship: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
3. As a third consequence of Christ living in believers, observe the explanation and origin of persecution. It originates in the world’s hatred to Christ, and is directed against Him. It must be so, seeing that Christ lives in His people. To Saul, persecuting the church, Christ said, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” And it is no extenuation of the world’s guilt in hating the saints, that they do not believe that Christ lives in them – that they do not know or recognise Christ in them. Their rejection of those that are His, stands exactly on the same footing with their rejection of Him: “The world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” Depravity blinded the world to the glory of Christ when He came in His own person, and blinds them to the measure of His glory in which He comes in the persons of His people. The bitter Ishmaelitish laugh and jest with which you, the worldling, scorn the Isaac of God, the promised seed; the hard words or hard deeds with which you, born after the flesh, persecute him that is born after the Spirit, will bear no excuse from your assertion that you did not know, you did not think, you did not see, that Christ was living in him whom you were persecuting – that it was really the promised Seed of the woman, Messiah Himself, you were persecuting. For it is only your hatred and bitter prejudice that blind you. If you feared God and loved Christ, you would see Him in His people. It is they who say with the Psalmist:
me trusting in thy word,”
Ah, worldling, consider! In your dislike of those that are Christ’s; in your suspicion of them; your hard thoughts and hard speeches concerning them; your discomfort in their presence when their godliness, their Christliness, comes out; your scornful joy over their infirmities and failures – consider what a proof you have in all this of your deadly enmity to that Christ who lives in them. You cannot but know that as yet Christ lives in them only partially. If Christ is in them, the body is dead because of sin, though the Spirit is life because of righteousness. A body of sin and death is in them, as well as a living Christ. And that body of sin and death is a drawback on the completeness of the life and likeness of Christ in His people. They profess to give no more than a partial, though still a real, representation of Christ. They profess no more, though they long that it were far more, yea, long that it were unbroken and complete. But were it so, were their infirmities removed, their remaining corruption finally suppressed and extinguished, your deadly enmity would be increased. Were there absolutely nothing seen or extant in them any more save Christ – “Christ living in them” in the unabated fulness and energy of His holy grace and life – ah, you know that their society would be unspeakably more painful to you still! Their Christliness would rebuke you more powerfully than now; your withdrawal from them, if withdrawal were possible, would be more complete. Or if you could not escape their presence and their intercourse – if you found yourself in relations to them which you could not set aside – if you found them a people with whom, in their perfect righteousness, and holiness, and likeness to Christ, you could not but have to do, ah, would not your dislike to them, your rejection of them, your resentment against them and their piety, break out in manifold strength and bitterness? And what is this but just a proof that the more clearly Christ is revealed to you, the nearer Christ is brought to you, so much the more do you dislike Him. If therefore Christ were to come to you, not only in His own personal perfection in His people, but in Himself, in His own perfect person, you would fully and finally reject Him, and say, “Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways?” Ah! forget not that it is this, indeed, you do say, when now you reject His people. You reject and persecute Him in them; for “Christ liveth in them”.
But let believers know what they are to expect at the world’s hands, and why. “Christ living in you” will not fare any better at the world’s hands than Christ sojourning in the world in the days of His flesh. The world is the same now as then. Christ in you is the same Christ as then. If they have kept His sayings, they will keep yours also; if they have persecuted Him, they will persecute you. The servant is not greater than his Lord; it is enough if the servant be as his Lord. And it must be so, if his Lord lives in him. Christ in His own person was the object of the world’s malice. Christ living in you will be so still.
4. But, fourthly, as another consequence of Christ living in you, take the words of Paul to the Colossians: “Christ in you the hope of glory.”
Christ living in you by His Spirit is the seal, the hope, the earnest of the glory to be revealed. Not the glory itself as yet. It is the seal only, not the substance: the hope only, not the realization: the earnest merely, not the fulness or completion. And the reason is, that as yet Christ lives in you not as He lives in His glory: when He lives in you as He lives in His glory, that will be your glory realized. When Christ as glorified shall live in you, you also will be glorified thereby. But not yet does Christ live in you as He lives in His glory. Christ lives in you as He lived in His humiliation, in His work and travail, in His sorrows and sufferings; His glory veiled in the tabernacle of His flesh and beneath the thick covering of His deep abasement. The Christ who now lives in you is not the Christ as sitting in the fulness of His blessed reward; but the Christ as labouring in the yoke and toil of His humble service; the Christ as going about Judea and Galilee doing good and suffering evil – overcoming evil with good – enduring the contradiction of sinners against Himself; living, indeed, a glorious life in the favour of His Father even then, but with His glory hidden. This is the Christ who now lives in you. Your life, therefore, also, is hid with Christ in God. To suffer with Christ is your portion now, even to fill up what is behind of the sufferings of Christ. Christ, when glory comes, will live in you in glory as He lives in glory Himself. Christ, before glory comes, will live in you in the world even as He Himself in the world did live. “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” Ought not you to suffer with Him, that you may be also glorified together? It is, then, only “the hope of glory”. But it is that hope most sure and blessed – most animating for duty, most comforting for patience. For living in you, and working in you, Christ will perfect that which concerneth you. He will gradually suppress, and finally extinguish, all that is not “Christ in you”; and He will then shine forth in you in the unabated splendour of His perfect image. You know not what you shall be; but you know that when He shall appear, you shall be like Him, for you shall see Him as He is. There will then be nothing in you but Christ. Already you have said, and do habitually say, “None but Christ for me” – and blessed be God, that is already realized in full perfection: Christ for me; Christ “who loved me, and gave himself for me;” Christ who “appeareth in the presence of God for me.” But then there shall also be realized fully that other cry, “None but Christ in me.” As yet, this is but the object of desire and hope, towards which there is only a progress as yet, but you will be satisfied when you awake in the attainment of it. Meantime, bear patiently the sufferings; for I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us. The seal, and earnest, and hope of that glory is Christ living in us already. Engage an in-living Christ more and more, by faith, by vigilance, by prayer, by diligence and dutifulness – engage the Christ that lives in you to mortify and crucify the sin that dwelleth in you. So will you realize and manifest His inward presence with you. And you will say, with growing faith and wonder, and with deepening apprehension of the rich grace and marvels of the saying, “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.” Amen.
* This remarkable sermon, now slightly edited, has appeared, to our knowledge, only in 1859 in The Family Treasury, from which it has been extracted and kindly sent to us by a reader in Melbourne, Australia. It is not included in the recently published Sermons by Hugh Martin, which is reviewed on page 309. -Ed
Hugh Martin (1822-85), was a Free Church minister and theologian. He distinguished himself as a mathematician while studying at Aberdeen, before he began his divinity course. He became minister at Panbride, near Carnoustie, in 1844, and of Greyfriars, Edinburgh, in 1858. Ill health forced him to retire in 1865. He was the chief contributor to The Watchword, edited by his friend Dr James Begg. He also published articles and wrote several books, among them, The Shadow of Calvary, Christ’s Presence in the Gospel History, The Atonement, The Prophet Jonah, Simon Peter, and The Westminster Doctrine of the Inspiration of Scripture. (See Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology) -Ed