Our Indwelling Christ
For years after my ordination there was a constant hungering for something in my experience that I did not have. I felt that there must be depths to the Christian life which I had never sounded. For my own salvation and for the sake Of others, I felt that I must have this deeper experience. But what was the new experience that I craved and felt I must have? I did not know, yet I felt there was something. Blunderingly I resorted to self-condemnation. Days of dissatisfaction and almost discouragement followed. This went on for some time, during which I continued praying earnestly for that which, for a while at least, seemed to be beyond my grasp.
Then I began questioning myself: Had I not accepted of Christ as my personal Saviour? Had I not confessed my sins? Did I not believe they were forgiven? Yes, certainly. Never for a moment did I question it. More than that, I claimed such beautiful promises as, " Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee."
I frequently read the many promises of help contained all through the Scriptures. Nor did I lose sight of the fact that our Saviour is at the right hand of the Father, pleading in our behalf, and the words of the apostle Paul were always precious to me, " Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help In time of need." Heb. 4: 16.
But I still cherished the desire for a deeper and closer experience. And our God, whose ear is ever turned earthward to hear the supplications of His children, came to my rescue, and a new chapter seemed to be opened before me in the revelation of our Lord in a new and living way. A new set of verses loomed before me. Among them was, " To whom God 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." Col. 1: 27.
The mystery began to unfold. Slowly it dawned upon me that as truly as Christ could live in human flesh nineteen hundred years ago (and that was the mystery of godliness, for the apostle Paul emphasizes " without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh." 1 Tim. 3: 16), just so truly can He live in our human flesh to-day. That is indeed the mystery of the gospel. Rom. 16: 25.
Joy filled my whole being as I thought of the wonderful truth of self dying and abdicating the throne entirely, so that our Lord could come in and actually live in my mortal flesh. Not that He would come just to help me in my weakness, but that it would be Jesus Himself living out His own life in my heart, because I had given it to Him. This precious truth is clearly taught in such scriptures as Revelation 3:20 and Galatians 2:20. My actions would not simply be like His, my words would not merely resemble His words, but actually the " indwelling Christ " would speak His own words through me.
I was so overjoyed by the thought that as I met a fellow minister the next morning on the main street of the city in which I was working, I told him all about it. But I did not seem to meet any responsive chord; in fact, he did not make any reply at all. I sought for someone else to rejoice with me in my new experience, but could find no one. It seemed so strange to me that I began wondering if after all I could be wrong, and possibly going too far.
Again I searched the Bible and studied the " Testimonies." And I did not have to search long before my confidence was reassured. The beloved John understood this mystery, for he said, " Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world." 1 John 4:4. Yes, He is not only with us, but He is in us. He is living in " mortal flesh " to-day as He did nineteen hundred years ago. 2 Cor. 4: 10, 11.
It solves the whole problem of holiness, and perfection, and victory. The presence of Christ in the burning bush made the ground holy. Ex. 3:3-5. Moses was told to remove his shoes, for the ground was holy. If His presence on this sin-cursed earth could make the ground holy, then His presence in our bodies, which are made of the dust of the ground, can make them holy too.
This thought of the indwelling Christ is frequently emphasized in the spirit of prophecy. In " Steps to Christ," page 80, we read, " Henceforth through the Spirit, Christ was to abide continually in the hearts of His children." Again we read, " The light, and love, and power of the indwelling Christ shone out through them, so that men, beholding, ' marveled.' " He is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. So His " indwelling " presence in our lives to-day will have the same effect as it had on the disciples of old. As this glorious truth, for such I must call it, dawned more and more upon me, I found it to be so different from my previous conception that I hardly knew how to relate myself to it. It changed the whole aspect. I had to begin right at the bottom again. Previously I prayed for the Lord to help me live my life, but now I pray for the dear Master to live His own perfect life in my heart. Before going into the pulpit, I used to ask the Lord to help me explain His word and give His message. But, oh, it is so much better to believe that the " indwelling Christ " will speak His own message through lips of clay.
Why should we fondly believe that if heaven will add a little help to whatever strength we may have, then we can overcome in time of temptation and trial? Man is so reluctant to realize his own utter inability and uselessness in time of temptation. It is hard for us to learn that we have nothing ourselves to which help can be added. Let the " indwelling Christ " meet the temptations entirely and completely, without thrusting self into the battle at all. Ours is the choosing, the yielding: His is the victory. " Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord." 2 Chron. 20: 17.
Our Master enters the soul temple with all power, with the same power that He possessed when upon earth in human flesh nineteen hundred years ago. The secret lies in " putting self aside," crucifying the old nature and self, abdicating the throne of the heart, so that Christ may dwell and rule there. But even after He has taken control, we still have the necessity of choice every day and every hour, whether He shall remain on the throne or not. It will ever be our privilege and responsibility to will that Christ shall reign for us. Then we can say with the apostle Paul, who had learned this experience, " For me to live is Christ."
A City Evangelist.