In 2 Corinthians 13:5, the apostle Paul asks the Corinthian believers a question: ‘Or do you not realise about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you?‘ We might find this phrase, ‘Jesus Christ is in you’ surprising, or perhaps we just read over it without thinking too much about its significance. But what does this phrase mean? And what is its importance for our Christian lives today?
In saying, ‘Jesus Christ is in you’, Paul was not speaking poetically or metaphorically. He truly meant that Jesus Christ is literally, practically dwelling within the believers. Many other verses in the Word of God confirm the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ actually dwells in His believers.
We too, like the Corinthians, need to realise this fact about ourselves. Christ is not merely outside of us, a Helper in our time of need, but He dwells in us, living in and with us all the time.
How can Christ be in us?
Christ is the holy God incarnated as a man, and we are fallen sinners. So how can Christ live in us? To accomplish His desire to dwell within mankind, God took some tremendous steps. First, God Himself became a man named Jesus Christ. This man, Jesus, lived a genuine human life on this earth, yet without sin. In His living, His actions and His speaking, He fully expressed God.
After living and experiencing everything of human life for thirty-three and a half years, Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Through His redemptive death, we can be forgiven of our sins and brought back to God. But this is not all. After three days He rose in victory from the dead, and in resurrection, He became the life-giving Spirit. As the Spirit, He is available to everyone and will enter anyone who believes into Him. Thus, when we pray to receive the Lord Jesus, God actually comes to live within us today.
8 verses that reveal Christ is in us
Although many verses reveal the wonderful truth that Christ is in His believers, we’ll highlight just eight here.
- ‘But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is life because of righteousness.’ — Romans 8:10
We human beings were created by God with a body on the outside and a soul and spirit on the inside. Our spirit is our deepest part, created to contact and receive the Spirit of God. When we received Jesus as our Saviour, He cleansed us of our sins and He came into our spirit as life. Thus, because Christ is in us, our ‘spirit is life because of righteousness.’
- ‘Because the God who said, Out of darkness light shall shine, is the One who shined in our hearts to illuminate the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not out of us.’ — 2 Corinthians 4:6-7
The apostle Paul describes the believers as earthen vessels that contain ‘this treasure.’ What is this treasure? It is Jesus Christ, in whose face we see the glory of God. Christ lives in us earthen vessels as a precious treasure, revealing to us the glory of God from within.
- ‘But when it pleased God…to reveal His Son in me.’ — Galatians 1:15-16
We might think this verse should read, ‘It pleased God…to reveal His Son to me.’ But in the original language of the New Testament, Greek, the verse reads ‘to reveal His Son in me.’ God’s plan is to reveal His Son in us, from within, rather than to us, from without. Or, to put it another way, God reveals Christ to us from within us. To those who have Christ in us, God is pleased to reveal in us more of the wonderful Person of Christ.
- ‘I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.’ — Galatians 2:20
Here, Paul did not say ‘I live in a Christ-like way’ or ‘I glorify Christ through my behaviour.’ No, he said, ‘Christ…lives in me’, clearly telling us that Christ lives in His believers. The Christian life is not a matter of behaving like Christ, but of allowing Christ Himself to live in and through us.
- ‘My children, with whom I travail again in birth until Christ is formed in you.’ — Galatians 4:19
Paul viewed the believers in Galatia as his spiritual children. He had laboured to help them receive Christ at their salvation, and in this verse, he continues to labour on them so that the Christ they received would be fully formed in them. Christ lives in us from the time we are saved, but He wants to be formed in us in a definite way. Day by day, we need to give Him the opportunity to be formed in us. As we do, Christ will be able to express Himself more fully through us in our daily life.
- ‘That Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith.’ — Ephesians 3:17
When we believed into Christ, He came to live in our spirit, the deepest part of our being. But Christ also wants to make His home in the rest of our inward being: our hearts and our souls. By living in our spirit, Christ is the new source of our new life. But our soul—our mind, emotion, and will—can still choose to ignore Him as our new source and go on just as before. In this case, Christ is in us, but He’s limited in us, kept only in our spirit. So He cannot be expressed through us very much. The Lord Jesus wants to make His home not only in our spirit, but also in all the parts of our soul.
- ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory.’ — Colossians 1:27
This verse shows that Christ is in us in a particular way: as our hope of glory. When we believed in Him, Christ came to live in our spirit. Now He is making His home in our hearts. In the future, when He returns, He will even spread to our body outwardly so that God’s glory can shine through us in a full way. The Christ who lives in us is our hope of such glory.
- ‘When He comes to be glorified in His saints and to be marvelled at in all those who have believed.’ — 2 Thessalonians 1:10
Christ’s second coming will surely be a marvel. But according to this verse, the most marvellous thing will not be the outward display of His coming; it will be His glory revealed from within His believers. The Christ in us, who lives in us and is being formed in us, will be revealed from within us, and even our bodies will be transformed to match Him.
What a glory to God, a marvel to man, and a shame to the devil, that people on this earth would choose to receive Christ and allow Him to grow in them and express Himself through them throughout their lives!
Seeing in God’s Word that Christ lives in us
We encourage you to get into these eight verses, and others like them, with the help of the notes and cross-references in the New Testament Recovery Version. God’s Word can give us a proper and solid understanding of this precious truth, that Christ lives in us, and help us to realise about ourselves, just as Paul exhorted the Corinthians, that Christ is indeed in us. Such a realisation will enrich our experience and enjoyment of Christ in a practical, daily way.