By David Kowalski
Though I have recently posted material against the passivity of quietism, I would not want to leave the false impression that the Christian life is something we can muster up in our own strength. The “Christ in us” lifestyle involves us as active individuals, but it begins with Christ. The New testament is filled with reminders that sanctification is of the Holy Spirit and that the life we live is one of expressing what Christ has worked into us.
In 1 John, John uses an interesting progression of terms to describe this expression of divine life. He says Christians are born of God, know God, have ongoing fellowship with God, abide in Him, and walk in His light. What starts with an experience, expands in an ongoing relationship with the Lord that guides and empowers our godly living.
The first three chapters of Ephesians are essentially a prayer with many lengthy digressions. An outline of the book shows that Paul begins to express the prayer in 1:15 but does not come to the conclusion of it until 3:15-19. In 3:15, he prays “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.” We must obediently express the nature of Christ — but we are only able to do so by being strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.
An imperfect illustration sometimes used to describe the divine/human fusion and cooperation that results in the “Christ in us” lifestyle is the true nature of coffee. What we call coffee is actually water infused with the product of coffee beans. It is “coffee water.” Without the water, we do not have coffee to drink, but it all starts with the coffee beans. Likewise, without our active participation/obedience, there is no sanctified, Christian living, but it all starts with Christ — and it is in His strength that we trust to overcome sin and love as we should. Likewise, the dynamic of our Christian living is largely determined by our continued nearness to its source.
“If you think you can walk in holiness without keeping up perpetual fellowship with Christ you have made a great mistake. If you would be holy, you must live close to Jesus.” – Charles Spurgeon
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