Deity indwelling men! That, I say, is Christianity, and no man has experienced rightly the power of Christian belief until he has known this for himself as a living reality. – A.W. Tozer
God, who does all his pleasure, is never constrained to manifest his presence anywhere. When Israel’s idolatry reached a tipping point, God’s Shekinah glory departed from the Temple (Ezekiel 11:22-23). Conversely, God’s manifest presence has been a sign of his pleasure and loyalty to the people he chooses. Both the Tabernacle and the Temple were places where God chose to reveal himself.
“And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory. “So I will consecrate the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. I will also consecrate both Aaron and his sons to minister to Me as priests. “I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God. “And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them. I am the LORD their God. (Exodus 29:43-46)
And the LORD said to him: “I have heard your prayer and your supplication that you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built to put My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. (1 Kings 9:3)
While it is true that God is present at all places, he also chooses to manifest his presence in particular places and ways to show his approval and pleasure. The Christian in Christ is a temple for God himself to dwell in; Christians together make up a holy temple for God to dwell in (Ep 2:22, 1 Cor 3:16, 6:17-20). This is a sign and seal of God’s fully identifying us with Christ. By taking up residence within us, he proves and seals that identification. God qualifies us to enter and remain in his presence, and then brings his presence into our very bodies.
Christ in You
First John 3:24 tells us how Christ is in us.
Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
Though Christ is ascended to Heaven, he dwells in us by his Holy Spirit who takes up residence within us, consecrating our bodies as his temples (1 Corinthians 6:19). The reason his life can now dwell within us is that the old life that was hostile to him has been put to death.
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
As Henry Scougal put it, “true religion is a union of the soul with God, a real participation of the Divine nature, the very image of God drawn upon the soul, or, I the apostle’s phrase, ‘it is Christ formed within us’. Briefly, I know not how the nature of religion can be more fully expressed, than by calling it a Divine life”.1
Every believer is so indwelt. No one is regenerated who has not received the Spirit; conversely, if you are truly born again, then you have received the Spirit. To speak of receiving Christ but not his Spirit is alien to the Scriptures. You cannot be in Christ, without Christ being in you.
But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (Romans 8:9-10)
His Spirit in Our Spirits
However, Christ in us is more than a sign and seal that we are in Christ. Christ’s indwelling means that we are able to commune with God through the interpenetration of our spirits by His Spirit.
For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. (1 Corinthians 2:11-12)
The believer in Christ emphasises Christ’s position becoming ours. Christ in us emphasises Christ’s life and active communion with the Father interpenetrating our spirits, enabling Christlike love for God. You could say that being hidden in Christ, we are, metaphorically speaking, covered in Christ from the outside and qualified to be in God’s presence, while Christ in us means we are communing with God in Christ from the inside. Our outward, objective standing is defined by being in Christ. Our inward, subjective state and experience is defined by Christ’s being in us. Being in Christ means we have the right to be in God’s presence; Christ in us is the reality of God’s presence in us and with us.
- The Life of God in the Soul of Man (Ross-shire, U.K.: Christian Focus Publications Ltd., 2005), 44. [↩]