Published April 5, 2012
John 15:1-5; Rom. 6:1-7; Gal. 2:19b-21
Bible Studies for Life, Apr 15
I heard a story recently of a little girl who had grown curious about the idea of Jesus coming to live inside of her. As she thought about this event, her mind began to race. So, she went and asked her mom, “If Jesus comes to live inside of my heart, won’t it explode?”
As her mom thought about the question she replied, “Yes! When Jesus comes to live in your heart, it will explode. It will explode with love.” In our lesson today we are exploring the truth that Jesus lives in believers.
Crucified with Christ - Galatians 2:19b-21
In Galatians 2, Paul tells us that, as believer, we have been crucified with Christ. The emphasis is that the old self is dead, crucified with Christ, and a new man lives.
In other words, when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, there is a death which happens. We die to self. In Christ, we no longer live for ourselves and our desires. Instead, the old self has been crucified with Christ, and resurrected to new life in Christ.
Paul said, “Christ lives in me.” In this new life, we live by Him and for Him. In fact, the emphasis is really on Christ living through me and you.
This truth of crucifixion of the old man and new life in Christ has radical implications. This means I do not exist for me, but for Him. This means that my purpose in life is not to chase after the American Dream, but to spend my life bringing glory to the King of kings in all things. This life is not about making me much of me, but about glorifying Him and making His glory known. John the Baptist stated, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn. 3:30).
Raised with Christ - Romans 6:1-7
Jesus’ living in the believer not only means we have been crucified with Christ, but that we have also been raised with Christ. This new life in Christ has been freed from the bondage of sin. Paul said we are “no longer enslaved to sin” (vs 6). This does not mean that we are not tempted to sin, but that now, in Christ, we are free from the bondage of giving in to sin.
In Christ, we have died to sin and been freed from its control. In Christ, we have been freed to pursue Him. In Christ, new life has been breathed into us. While we retain our physical appearance, new life in Christ is the beginning of lifelong transformation into His image. In Christ, life finally makes sense.
Paul said we are raised with Christ so that we may “walk in a new way of life” (vs. 4). The idea is that we are raised into an entirely new way of living. In Christ, we have new purpose and new meaning and new desires.
I remember a deacon who would always tell me, “Jesus will change your want-tos.” His point was that a relationship with Jesus Christ changes our desires.
Shortly after my salvation, one of my old buddies stopped by wanting me to go out with him and do the things we once did together. I explained to him that I no longer did those things. He stated, “I miss the old Jeff.” I told him the old Jeff is now dead and not coming back.
He looked at me as if I were speaking Greek. I shared my testimony with him and assured him that the new Jeff, in Christ, loved him in a way the old Jeff was not capable.
Productive with Christ - John 15:1-5
Jesus living in the believer also means that He uses the believer for His glory. Not only are we saved by Him, we are also used by Him in His work. In Christ we are freed to serve Him. We are to share the Gospel in both word and deed. We are to care for others. We are to be His hands and feet in a world of hopelessness.
What a joy it is to be used by the Lord to fulfill His good purpose in the world. The key to being used by Him is abiding in Him. In fact, He warned that apart from Him we can do nothing (vs. 5).
Jesus also pointed out in this text that there is also the difficult task of pruning. He said, “Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit” (vs. 2).
Pruning is very difficult and painful. Yet, the Father is always in the business of conforming us to the image of His Son. He prunes us so we may be more like Christ, thus bearing more fruit.
Our church campus has several Crepe Myrtles. These trees are beautiful. I love it when they are in full bloom. But, in order for these trees to thrive and bloom properly, they have to be pruned.
The trees do not have to be pruned in order to simply exist. However, their pruning makes them more beautiful and also encourages new growth. I am thankful for these trees. They serve as a constant reminder to me during the hard times of spiritual pruning, that God is in the business of conforming me, my family, and the Church we serve into the image of Jesus Christ.
That is His goal for each of us in pruning us by His grace. That is why every time those trees bloom, it reminds me that resurrection always follows crucifixion. Martin Luther is quoted as saying, “Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.”
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