What does it mean that Christ is in us, more particularly in our spirits? How do we learn to pay attention to and live out of our spirits? Paul said that the he had been given a stewardship from God to reveal His long hidden mystery, now unveiled. He described the unveiling of this mystery as the revealing of God’s glory and summed it all up in the phrase, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
24 I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, 26 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:24-27 (NKJV)
Paul went on to say that the whole focus of his life was to present everyone perfect/mature in Christ (Col. 1:28-29). The idea being that Christ in us needs to mature in our spirits. While this may sound strange, think about natural birth. A child is born very dependent and over time grows. During this growth process the parents provide external controls while the child is developing internal control as they mature. This is the process of normal growth. However not all growth follows this process. If all goes well age and maturity are parallel processes. The same should happen spiritually, we should mature as we spiritually age, however we are called to discipleship, which carries the concept of discipline with it, both self discipline and discipline from the Lord. (see Heb. 12:5-7, Prov. 3:11-12, Gal. 5:23).
To capture the idea of spiritual growth look at the verses below.
80 So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel. Luke 1:80 (NKJV) 40
And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. Luke 2:40 (NKJV)
The first reference above is to John the Baptist, the second to Jesus. If they both needed to become strong in spirit then we are joining good company in acknowledging our need. This is why Paul wrote what he did in Galatians, which appears to be the first teaching letter he ever wrote.
19 My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, Galatians 4:19 (NKJV)
The Greek word translated as formed and the meaning from the Greek are below.
- μορφόω morphoō verb, Take on form, be formed, shape, fashion.
New Testament Usage
The only New Testament occurrence is at Galatians 4:19. Here Paul used the analogy of a woman’s travailing birth pangs to describe his intense desire and prayer that the nature and character of Christ “be formed” in the lives of the Galatian believers. In order that the morphē (3307), or essential nature of the Christ-life, may come into being in them, Christ must not only be in each of them, but must also grow or “be formed” in them. This process of maturity into Christlikeness is not a mere outward conformity to Christ but a progressive inward transformation of one’s character. Christian growth through the Spirit’s work is a major theme in Paul’s writings.
Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary, – Lambda-Omicron.
To successfully ‘walk in the Spirit’ we need to spiritually grow and mature, to develop strong spirits that enable us to walk out our calling. Given this is not automatic in future posts I will further break down and illustrate the ‘how.’