What Does It Mean to Have Christ Living Inside You?

5 Mins read

Have you ever heard it said that Christians have Christ living inside them? There’s a good chance that you have, regardless of how long you’ve been a believer in Christ. But what does that term really mean? How could a body as limited as the ones that we are confined in be capable of housing God in the flesh?

Colossians 1:27 (ESV)
To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Paul, arguably the second most influential character in the New Testament (second only to Christ Himself), referred to the idea of Christ living inside believers as a mystery. How was it that a man who God entrusted to write the majority of the New Testament, plant countless churches, proclaim the Gospel to thousands of people, and completely change the world in his day considered the idea of Christ living inside His people as a mystery.


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It’s because the idea is completely unnatural to us. We believe that our lives are our own, and therefore, how we live them is completely up to us. To a certain degree that is true. God will not force anyone to offer themselves as a temple of Christ, a concept that we will discuss more in a moment. However, Paul taught us (and there are several other verses that support it) that when we accept Christ as our personal Savior, we have Christ living inside us.

What does that really mean? Even more importantly, what does that look like? Understanding what Christ living in us means, what it doesn’t mean, and how to embrace that responsibility is one of the most important aspects of true discipleship.

What “Christ in You” Doesn’t Mean
Galatians 2:20-21 (ESV)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Before we truly dive into what Christ living in His people means, it’s important to understand what it doesn’t mean. When Christ takes up His abode in your heart, it doesn’t mean that He possesses and ultimately controls you.


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When you accept Christ as your Savior, you are still free to make all your own decisions. It’s up to you to try to make decisions that line up with God’s Word and are ultimately pleasing in His eyes. If you choose not to, God still offers forgiveness for all of those who ask for it.

Christ living in you isn’t about His control over your life. It’s not a method of manipulation or anything negative. Instead, it is about experiencing God’s presence in every area of your life.

How Does Christ Live Inside His People?
John 20:22 (ESV)

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

The Holy Spirit is arguably the most misunderstood character in the Bible. He was present at creation, and in the Old Testament, He would “come upon” people to empower them with the supernatural strength that they needed to carry out a task that seemed impossible. He made His first appearance in the New Testament when Mary supernaturally conceived a child even though she was a virgin. He appeared once again when Christ was baptized, and the Spirit descended on Him in the form of a dove.

If you notice the common thread that connects all of those appearances, it’s found in the fact that the Spirit came upon people from the outside. However, that entire process changed after Christ’s resurrection. When He gathered His disciples together after He had risen from the dead, He “breathed on them.”

Without going into a lengthy word study, the Holy Spirit is considered “the breath of God.” That’s why Paul said that Scripture was “breathed by God” and “Holy Spirit inspired” in 2 Timothy 3:16. That means when Christ breathed on His disciples, and they inhaled the breath, they received the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is how Christ lives inside His people. His presence, while not physically visible is present inside the lives of believers, as is confirmed by this verse:

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Paul assures us that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. That means that He lives and operates in us and through us in order to fulfill God’s plan for us and the world around us.

What Does Christ Living Inside Look Like?
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Yes, you just read that passage, but the answer to this question is found within the last sentence. “So glorify God in your body.”

Glorifying God in your body simply means that you behave in a way that indicates to others that you have the Holy Spirit living inside you. It means that when we want to choose anger, we opt for forgiveness. It means that when we see others hurting, we don’t run away, we run toward them. It means that when we see a brother or sister who has made a bad decision, we go to them to restore them in the spirit of love (Galatians 6:1).

Essentially, glorifying God in your body means that you behave like Christ. Obviously, Christ lived a perfect, spotless, sinless life, which we understand we will never be able to achieve. However, we are called to strive for that level of holiness.

Think of it in a more practical sense if you will. You are the person that you are. The people who know you are familiar with how you walk, how you talk, and how you respond to situations that come up in your life. They know who you are and expect you to act in a way that reflects your identity. Once you allow yourself to become a temple of the Holy Spirit, you begin to exhibit traits that are like Christ.

Having Christ living inside you is a scary proposition. After all, it’s a great responsibility to have the God of all creation living inside you. But you don’t have to be afraid. God wanted to live in you, which is why He offered His only Son. He gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit so that we could constantly live in His presence.

A Closing Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit and allowing me to be a temple for Your presence on earth. Help me to live a life that is worthy of that calling. I am thankful for Your presence in every area of my life, and the fact that I have access to the kind of power that only comes from You. When I falter, correct me. When I start to stray, pull me back in. I want my life to be a reflection of the Christ living inside me. In His name I pray, Amen.



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