LIVING CHRIST IN OUR HUMAN VIRTUES
Moreover, in Philippians 1:21 Paul said that to him, to live was Christ. If a person is confused in his mind, muddled in his emotions, and indecisive in his will, he does not have the expression of love, light, holiness, and righteousness, and neither can he live Christ. Furthermore, in 4:8 Paul said, “Brothers, what things are true, what things are dignified, what things are righteous, what things are pure, what things are lovely, what things are well spoken of, if there is any virtue and if any praise, take account of these things.” To be true means not to be hypocritical and not to lie. To be dignified means to be worthy of respect and to invite reverence. To be righteous is to be right before God and man. To be pure is to be single in intention and action, without any mixture. To be lovely means to be lovable, agreeable. To be well spoken of means to be of good repute and to be attractive. In addition, there are virtues of excellence and things worthy of praise. These eight items are far superior to the principles of propriety, justice, honesty, and sense of shame taught by the Chinese philosophers. When I was young, I felt it was rather strange that Paul spoke about living Christ in chapters one, two, and three, and then in chapter four, instead of speaking about living Christ, he spoke about living out these virtues.
In 4:9 Paul went on to say, “The things which you have also learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things.” These things refer to the eight items that were previously mentioned. Paul seemed to be saying, “I have lived out these virtues, and you also have to practice these virtues which you have seen in me. In this way the God of peace will be with you. If you live out these virtues, you will enjoy the God of peace.”
EXPRESSING THE HUMAN VIRTUES BY BEING IN CHRIST
Then in 4:13 Paul said, “I am able to do all things in Him who empowers me.” All things refer to the virtues previously mentioned. When the young people read these eight items, the more they read, the more they will realize that they cannot do these things. They may say, “We have been saved for only a short time, and we are just ordinary people. How can we do these things? Perhaps only the older ones who have been exercised in these things for decades can do them.” However, Paul’s word here is a promise. He “who empowers me” is Christ, who is also the Spirit of Jesus Christ with a bountiful supply, as mentioned in Philippians 1:19. The Spirit of Jesus Christ is Jesus Christ Himself with a bountiful supply. He supplies and enables us to live out the things that are true, dignified, righteous, pure, lovely, and well spoken of, as well as any virtue and any praise. All we need is just to be in Him, and He will empower us to live out these virtues.
The phrase “in Him who empowers me” does not sound like proper Chinese. Consequently, the translators of the Chinese version of the Bible rendered this verse as “I am able to do all things by Him who empowers me.” They rendered in as by, that is, by depending upon. Suppose I cannot walk; then I have to walk by depending upon someone who gives me support. This is the meaning of by. But the Bible does not say “by Him” but rather “in Him.” This is hard to comprehend. Let me use electricity as an illustration. For example, there are electric lamps, telephones, and other appliances in a house. But if there is no flow of electricity, then the lamps will not light up, the telephones will not work, and all other electrical appliances will not operate. When the electricity is transmitted, then the electric lamps, telephones, and appliances will be “in the electricity”; consequently, the lamps will light up, the telephones will work, and the motors of the other appliances will begin to operate. Strictly speaking, the electric lamp lights up not by the electricity but in the electricity. Christ is like the electricity; He is the One who empowers us just as the electricity empowers the electrical appliances. We are able to do all things in the “electricity,” in Christ, who empowers us.
EXPERIENCING CHRIST’S INDWELLING
Now let us see how we can experience Christ’s indwelling. The Lord Jesus was thoughtful. He did many things, none of which was foolish. He spoke many words, none of which was unclear. Whenever He spoke, He spoke just the right amount, neither too much nor too little. His emotions were well balanced. He exercised His anger when warranted but with restraint, and His love was also tempered. Furthermore, His will was steadfast. All His expressions were love, light, holiness, and righteousness. He was true, dignified, righteous, pure, lovely, and well spoken of. Furthermore, He was virtuous and praiseworthy. He was the real goodness and the genuine beauty; He was God. In some ways, we are like Him. He has thoughts, and so do we. He has emotions, and so do we. His will is steadfast, and so is ours. Jesus loves, and so do we. Jesus is honest and upright, and so are we. Jesus is holy, and so are we. Jesus is righteous, and so are we. Although there is a difference in degree, we are of the same kind because we were created in His image.
The Lord Jesus is not only wonderful but also mysterious. When you open up your heart and receive Him as your Savior, He comes into you and dwells in you to be your life and everything. How does He come into you? The Bible says that He died for us, was buried, and was resurrected. Now He has become the life-giving Spirit. Today He is the omnipresent Spirit; He is everywhere. Whoever believes into Him and calls upon Him, He will enter into this one to be his life and content. This is the most marvelous thing in the world. The Lord comes into us to dwell in us, and this is what we refer to as His “indwelling.” The indwelling Christ is the embodiment of God and the life-giving, omnipresent Spirit. He has a mind, emotion, and will; He is also love, light, holiness, and righteousness. In the beginning we were created in His image, so we also have a mind, emotion, and will, as well as love, light, holiness, and righteousness. However, we were only an empty shell without the content and reality. We were just like the empty glove that was made in the form of a hand. One day, God became flesh as the Lord Jesus. He lived the human life, died, resurrected, and became the life-giving Spirit. The life-giving Spirit is the Lord Jesus with His mind, emotion, and will and the God who is love, light, holiness, and righteousness. The Spirit enters into us like the hand that fits into the glove to become its content and reality. Thus, we are no longer those who are empty, without content. Our created human virtues are no longer merely a shell because Christ is in us as the reality.
(The Subjective Experience of the Indwelling Christ, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)