Christ In You
I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
The Christian life isn’t a self-help program. We aren’t given a set of exercises to perform in order to achieve results. Instead, God works in our hearts and changes us from the inside out, transforming our desires and motives so that our new choices in behavior will be genuine and not contrived.
Our role in this transformation, though, isn’t completely passive. Paul reminds us that the first step in this transformation process is a fresh perspective on death and life. He considered himself to be “crucified with Christ,” which means he applied Christ’s sacrifice on the cross to his own selfish sins and, as many times as necessary, counted his selfish desires as dead. In place of Paul’s selfish desires in residence, Christ Himself lived in his heart, transforming him little by little, day after day.
Even though Christ transforms our hearts, we take responsibility to recognize selfish motives and actions, consider them to be dead, and replace them with God-honoring thoughts and behaviors. The Christian life, then, is lived at the moment of choice when we pick life over death and Christ over our selfish demands.
We may be confused from time to time, and we may be disappointed that we aren’t changing as fast as we’d like, but we can take heart that Christ Himself has taken up residence inside us. As we pay closer attention to His instructions and trust Him to use us, we’ll gradually take on more of His character. We’ll love people with His love, serve with His humility, and stand strong on hope of the future because we remember the promise of the Resurrection.
When your number one goal in life is to die to yourself and put God first, you can rest assured you have a goal that will last a lifetime.
People who are crucified with Christ have three distinct marks: (1) They are facing only one direction, (2) they can never turn back, and (3) they no longer have plans of their own.
A. W. Tozer
We read in Philippians that “Christ emptied Himself” and for most of us that phrase is beyond our comprehension. We live in a world of self. We exalt self. We are told to “find self” and to please self. We often teach that we as individuals are the center of the universe and that we ought to seek to engage in activities that are good and beneficial for us. But when we come to Christ, self has to die so that Christ might live and reign in our hearts. When Christ is Lord of our lives, our goals are changed from pleasing self to pleasing Christ. It’s not a matter of willing our conduct to change or that our outward visible actions to comply with some expected standard. It’s a matter of giving up our decision making power and submitting ourselves to the directions and instructions of Christ. Paul in Philippians makes the case that just as Christ gave up His rights and submitted Himself to the will of the Father, we too, have been called to give up our rights and submit ourselves to the will of Christ. Let’s read those verses:
“Therefore if there is any encouragement and comfort in Christ [as there certainly is in abundance], if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship [that we share] in the Spirit, if [there is] any [great depth of] affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love [toward one another], knit together in spirit, intent on one purpose [and living a life that reflects your faith and spreads the gospel—the good news regarding salvation through faith in Christ]. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit [through factional motives, or strife], but with [an attitude of] humility [being neither arrogant nor self-righteous], regard others as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this same attitude in yourselves which was in Christ Jesus [look to Him as your example in selfless humility], who, although He existed in the form and unchanging essence of God [as One with Him, possessing the fullness of all the divine attributes—the entire nature of deity], did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped or asserted [as if He did not already possess it, or was afraid of losing it]; but emptied Himself [without renouncing or diminishing His deity, but only temporarily giving up the outward expression of divine equality and His rightful dignity] by assuming the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men [He became completely human but was without sin, being fully God and fully man]. After He was found in [terms of His] outward appearance as a man [for a divinely-appointed time], He humbled Himself [still further] by becoming obedient [to the Father] to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also [because He obeyed and so completely humbled Himself], God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow [in submission], of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess and openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord (sovereign God), to the glory of God the Father. So then, my dear ones, just as you have always obeyed [my instructions with enthusiasm], not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation [that is, cultivate it, bring it to full effect, actively pursue spiritual maturity] with awe-inspired fear and trembling [using serious caution and critical self-evaluation to avoid anything that might offend God or discredit the name of Christ]. For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure. Do everything without murmuring or questioning [the providence of God], so that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish in the midst of a [morally] crooked and [spiritually] perverted generation, among whom you are seen as bright lights [beacons shining out clearly] in the world [of darkness], holding out and offering to everyone the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to rejoice greatly because I did not run [my race] in vain nor labor without result.”
Paul tells us that if we wish to become a reflection of Christ, there has to be a transformation in our hearts. As he opens Philippians 2, he is begging the church to allow the “encouragement in Christ,” the “consolation of love,” the “fellowship in the Spirit,” and “any affection and compassion” to bring us together in unity by “being of the same mind, knit together in spirit, intent on one purpose, the spreading of the gospel.” You can almost feel the heart-throb of the Holy Spirit through these words. You see, God loves His people as a father loves his children and He loves them equally and I think that anything less than this must grieve Him. There is no selfishness in God nor in Christ. Selfish and self-centered thinking has no place in the hearts of those who have been “crucified with Christ.” Paul is saying to us that we work with God in setting aside our selfish desires and we take on the desires and nature of Christ who was unselfish in all He did.
To live the “crucified life,” Paul says we must be truthful with ourselves and we must allow our hearts to inspected by the Holy Spirit. Those who are “crucified with Christ” do “nothing from selfishness or conceit [through factional motives or strife] but with and attitude of humility [being neither arrogant nor self-righteous] and regarding others as more import than yourselves.” Further Paul says, “Do not merely look out for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.”Many times good things may be done but if they are done with wrong motives and wrong attitudes, they bring no pleasure to God.
This crucified life, Paul says is one in which we seek to “have the mind of Christ in us.” In the following verses (which I encourage us to read again) he paints a picture of what having the mind of Christ means. Paul tells us that though Christ had every right, was fully God and equal to the Father and Holy Spirit, He set all that aside and “emptied Himself.” Now if Christ could go as far as setting aside His position as God and becoming a tiny baby in a manger, couldn’t we in response to such an act of humility at least not try to demand our way? Couldn’t we at least give up some of our self-interest driven desires? Couldn’t we at least consider the good of others more important than our preferences? If Christ had just stepped down from heaven’s throne and became human that was more than enough of an example for us. But He went farther down in humility “even to the death on the cross.” What selflessness that Christ displayed in that act. The holy, righteous Son of God became human and as that human “became sin” for us, died in our place, paid our sin debt and gave us hope of the resurrection. Could we not take the time and ask the Holy Spirit to enable us through His work to empty ourselves of selfish motives, desires and demands? Could we not ask Christ to live and rule in us so that we might become His servants carrying out His plans even as He carried out the plans of the Father. I think that if Christians everywhere would make this their focus and become “crucified with Christ,” most if not all of the conflicts among them would cease and the results of the people of God working together for the same goal and mission of Christ would be mind-boggling. It begins with you and me and it begins today. Ask the Holy Spirit to “crucify” you with Christ. I ask every believer to reflect on their baptism. Symbolically one of the things baptism represents is that we die to our old selves and we are resurrected to a new life in Christ. Go back and read the passage from Philippians. Do a spiritual inventory and then ask God to give you “the mind of Christ.
Dr. John Thompson