CHRISTIANS HAVING CHRIST IN THEM AS THEIR LIFE
Most people have the concept that a Christian is one who observes rules and regulations, has a high morality, and is honest and upright. Although this is good, strictly speaking, such a person is not a Christian but a moralist. A Christian is not defined by how proper or lofty his behavior is but by Christ’s living in him. A Christian is one who has Christ in him as his life.
We think that if a person were spiritual, he would be meek, would not lose his temper, would speak gently, would not act hastily, and would not be irritable. We must realize, however, that such a quiet and good-tempered person is just a sculpture. Of course, there are some people who are born calm, steady, and good-tempered. For instance, there may be a certain mother with several children, all of whom are naughty and unruly. Everyone around the children gets angry with them, but the mother does not get angry. No matter how bad her children behave, she maintains her composure. Is she spiritual? No, it is because she was born this way. Therefore, whether or not a person is spiritual cannot be judged by his outward appearance. Not everything that shines is a lamp running on electricity. We still must ask what the source is.
Some people are born calm, others are trained to be calm, and still others pretend to be calm. The outward expression and attitude of a person do not necessarily show that he is spiritual. If we want to know whether or not a person is really spiritual, we have to inquire as to the source of his expression and attitude—is it Christ or himself?
Living out calmness by oneself is completely different from living out calmness by Christ. Only when we have Christ as our life are we really Christians, and only when we live out calmness by Christ are we really Christians. A person who merely lives out virtues such as calmness, meekness, and propriety is not necessarily a Christian. Only a person who lives by Christ is a Christian. Many Christians are truly calm, meek, and proper. They have a high morality and are the best among all men. These are Christians who live in Christ. Their living, daily walk, and behavior are really convincing. Hence, we cannot judge a Christian only according to his outward living; we must also judge him according to his inner life. A person is a genuine Christian only when he has Christ living in him as his life. We must hold tightly to this principle, this main point.
LIVING BY CHRIST TO LIVE OUT CHRIST
If we apply this principle or main point in examining our own living, can we say that we live and walk by Christ today? Today all of our living, our speaking, and our behavior, including our thoughts and judgments on every single matter, should not be according to ourselves but according to Christ in us. The question is not whether we are Christians who do good or evil but whether we are Christians who live by ourselves or by Christ. Are all of our words, our thoughts, and even our views and judgments about every matter according to ourselves or according to Christ? Do they come from our life or from Christ’s life? This is a big question.
Husbands and wives ought to love one another. A Christian husband should love his wife. Likewise, a Christian wife should submit to her husband. This is similar to the Chinese saying: “The husband sings, and the wife sings along.” However, the Bible does not require Christian couples to only be in harmony with each other. Rather, the Bible requires that the husband love his wife not by himself but by the Christ who lives in him and that the wife submit to her husband not by herself but by the Christ who lives in her. Thus, a Christian wife has a few possibilities in being a wife. One possibility is that she would not be submissive to her husband. However, this would be improper and unsuitable for a Christian. Another possibility is that she would be very submissive to her husband. However, with such a submission there are also two possibilities. One possibility is that she would submit to her husband by herself. The other possibility is that she would submit to her husband by Christ, by living in Christ’s life, and by having Christ’s life as the power, origin, and source of her submission to her husband. This second submission is not mere submission but a submission that comes out of Christ.
Hence, there are at least three kinds of wives. The first kind of wife does not submit to her husband. The second kind of wife submits to her husband by herself. We can praise this kind of wife as a good wife but not as a spiritual wife. The third kind of wife not only submits to her husband but does so not by herself but by taking Christ’s life as the origin, power, source, and center of her submission. This kind of submission is not only good but also spiritual.
If the virtues we live out in our daily life are not Christ living out from within us, at the most we can say that we have done well and rightly, but we cannot say, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” People will appreciate our virtues, but we cannot say, “It is Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith of the Son of God” (Gal. 2:20). Furthermore, we cannot say, “Even now Christ will be magnified in my body”; neither can we say, “To me, to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:20-21). We may know how to be meek, how to behave well, and how to be quiet, but we may not know Christ. We may live in our meekness, proper behavior, and quietness but not in Christ. We may know the power of morality but not the power of Christ. We may live in an ethical atmosphere but not in the Spirit of Christ. Therefore, we may be moralists who gain others’ praises without living in the Holy Spirit or living Christ’s life. We may be able to say that we are moralists and well-behaved persons, but we may not be able to say that we are Christians.
Although we have been saved and have Christ’s life, when we live by ourselves and not by Christ, we are not Christians who live out Christ practically. We may give all the ground in us to meekness, quietness, and good behavior, but we may not give any ground to Christ. Every day we may still be living by ourselves with fear and trembling, being full of meekness, quietness, and humility yet without Christ. People may praise us for our meekness and quietness, but they cannot see Christ in us because Christ has vanished from us.
If in our daily living we enjoy Christ, depend on Christ, fellowship with Christ, and are filled with Christ, then we can say that for us to live is Christ. Then what we express will spontaneously be meekness, quietness, and proper behavior. Moreover, people will sense a special flavor in us—the fragrance of Christ. This is not being a moralist or a virtuous man; this is the living Christ living Himself out from us. This is proof, not only by our life but also by our living, that we are Christians. What is a Christian? A Christian is one who has Christ in him and who lives by the Christ who lives in him.
(The Crucified Christ, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)