It seems as if everybody has a “key” to the Christian life––some list of things to do, some technique, or some spiritual practice that will improve your life. But what if your identity as a follower of Christ is not ultimately dependent on what you can do? And what if living the Christian life isn’t about merely improving your life? In this message from Colossians 1:24–29, David Platt explains the good news that Christ Himself dwells in His people. If you’re a Christian, your transformation into Christ’s likeness, your eternal hope, and everything in between is secured through this glorious reality––Christ in you.
Well if you have your Bibles and I hope you do, let me invite you to open with me to the book of Colossians. I want to invite you to open with me to Colossians 1. We are going to look at Colossians 1:24–29, and we are really going to camp out in one verse, Colossians 1:27. We are really going to camp out in seven words. Seven simple powerful life-changing words that I am convinced if we can get our arms and our hearts and our minds around these seven words, it would utterly revolutionize our Christianity. It would utterly revolutionize our lives.
So I want us to camp out on those seven words and consider what they mean, for what it means to live the Christ life, what it means to be a follower of Christ. Colossians 1:24, Paul is writing to the Church at Colosse and he says:
I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me (Col. 1:24–29).
Colossians 1:27, seven words at the middle of that verse, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Now what I want us to do is I want us to let those seven words unpack the life of the Christian. I am convinced that if we would grasp this truth, this picture, “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” it would change the way we view our Christian life. I am convinced that some of the most basic fundamental truths of Christianity are contained in these words and yet they are truths that the majority of Christians have yet to get our hearts and our heads around. So let’s go word by word, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
The Empowered Life seen in Colossians 1
We will start with Christ. The Christian life is the empowered life. It starts with Christ. We have got to understand that the book of Colossians was actually written by Paul to this church because they were facing some false teachings in the church. They were threatening to undermine the very foundation of their faith, especially undermining the person of Christ. And so what we see happening all throughout Colossians 1, really the whole book, but especially chapter 1 is he is giving a portrait of the supremacy of Christ. He is painting one of the most beautiful portraits we have of Christ in any part of Scripture. And I want you to go back with me to verse 15, and I just want you to see the portrait of Christ here.
Verse 15 says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Col. 1:15). He is the image of God. “Firstborn” is a word that basically means supreme. It doesn’t mean that He was created. That is what we are about to get into the next verse. He wasn’t created, but He is supreme over all creation. He is the firstborn over all creation, the image of God. This is God revealed in the flesh. Look over in chapter 2:9. It says, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Col. 2:9). This is God revealed in the flesh. He is the image of God.
Then you go to chapter 1:16 and 17 and see He is the author of creation. It says, “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:16–17). He is the author of creation. You were created by Christ. Not only has He been the creator, but He is always the creator. He is sustaining creation. All things hold together because of Him.
If He takes His hand off of creation, everything ceases. The only reason that the grass outside this auditorium is standing up like it is because Christ is sustaining it. The only reason that any one of us is breathing is because He is sustaining our breath right now. He sustains it all. He holds it all together. He is the author of creation from start to finish. We are created by Christ.
He is the image of God, the author of creation. He is the head of the church. Verse 18, “And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy” (Col. 1:18). We have talked about how we are the body of Christ and He is the head, which means He is sovereign, not just over all creation He is sovereign in the Church.
He is the image of God, the author of creation, the head of the church and He is the Savior of the world. Look in verse 19 and 20, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Col. 1:19–20). Not only did Christ create all things, but the only way that all the things that have ever been created can be reconciled to God is through Christ, through His blood shed on a cross. He is the Savior of the world, of all creation.
Now this is the picture of Christ in Colossians 1. And if that Christ is any where near your life, then it completely changes everything. The beauty of Colossians 1:27 though, is the fact that this Christ is not just near our lives, this Christ is in you! Think about that. The image of the invisible God, the author of all creation, the head of the church, and the Savior of the world, He dwells in you, Christian. He lives in you, He resides in you. This Christ resides in you. God deliver us from a small concept of the one who lives in us.
The Christian life is the empowered life. Don’t let that just go by you. Right where you are sitting, this Christ, if you have trusted in Him to save you from your sins, He is dwelling inside of you. He has made your life His home. It is a mammoth truth. The Christian life is the empowered life.
Now how does that affect us? What does it mean for Him to live in us?
The Transformed Life in Colossians 1
The Christian life is the empowered life and second it is the transformed life. It is Christ in you. Now this picture that Paul gives us in verses 26 and 27, he is talking about a mystery. A mystery that has been hidden, that has been kept. And basically it is a picture of not something that God has been trying to hide and finally the secret is out, instead it is something that He has been waiting to reveal throughout the history of redemption up until this point.
There is a picture that Old Testament saints had of God that is completely different when you get to Colossians 1:27. This is an astounding truth on the pages of Scripture that gives us a completely different picture than what we had seen to this point. This mystery that is being revealed and the mystery is Christ in you.
You think about it with me. You go throughout a journey of the Old Testament and you look at God’s relationship with His people. Over and over again the truth that resounds is that God is showing His mercy and His love and His grace to His people. The truth that resounds over and over again is God is with you.
Genesis 12, 15, I am with you Abraham. Genesis 26, “I am with you Isaac.” Genesis 28, “Jacob I am with you.” Genesis 39, four different times, the Lord was with Joseph. When you get to Exodus, “How could I go to Pharaoh and speak?” God says, “I will be with you Moses.” He passes the mantle of leadership on to Joshua. “Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will never leave you or forsake you.” Twice in Joshua 1:1–9. “I am with you. Don’t forget. I am with you.” He says it to Gideon, “You are going to go and fight the Midianites. I am with you. Don’t forget that.” David, “I am with you.” Solomon, “just as I was with David, I am with you.” Through His prophets, over and over again, Isaiah and Jeremiah—“Do not fear.” Why? “Because I am with you.” “Don’t be afraid.” Why? “Because I am with you.”
This is the truth that penetrates the Old Testament. God with His people. God dwelling with His people. God tabernacling with His people in the temple. His glory dwelled with them in the temple. They had a picture of God with them.
When you get to the New Testament and Jesus comes on the scene and it says, “His name will be called Immanuel” which means what? God with us. This is a picture of who Christ is.
But then you get to John 13:33 and He says, “I will only be with you a little longer.” Red flags go up. God with us is going to leave us. So you get to Colossians 1 and with that picture of the Old Testament showing over and over again “God is with you”, you get to this picture that is, “the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints” (Col. 1:26). Get this: to you, it is now disclosed to you! “To them God has chosen to make known” (Col. 1:27), literally says, “God is pleased.” God found great pleasure in making known “…among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery” (Col. 1:27). Not God with you, but Christ in you.
This is, I am convinced, the most astounding truth in the Bible. Christ in you. And not just in anybody. This is talking about the Gentile people, the pagan Gentiles who were not a part of the chosen people of God. And you have got Christ, the image of the invisible God, the author of creation, the head of the church and the Savior of the world. He is going to make His residence in the hearts and lives of pagan Gentiles coming together with Jews. And they are going to be the place where He lives. He lives in you. That is the picture here. Christ in you the hope of glory.
This is the truth I am convinced, that many of us are trying to live our Christian life apart from. We don’t realize what a mammoth truth this is, I am convinced of this. I am convinced of this because the way that so many of us live our Christianity. This picture of Christ in you changes everything. I am convinced believe that Jesus died to forgive us of our sins. He died for our forgiveness and we believe that and that is a good thing. And He did die for our forgiveness. But I want to remind you that Jesus did not die just to forgive you of your sins. He died so that He might live in you.
Here is the truth. Jesus died for you so that He might live in you. Jesus died on a cross for your sins and He rose from the grave so that He could live His life through you. He is no longer just our Savior. As awesome a truth is that He saves us from our sins, that is not all. He is not just our Savior. Ladies and gentlemen, He is our life. He is in us, and He is our life in us.
You look throughout history, some of my heroes in the faith that I read about, and study, listen to, they all talk about the point in their Christianity where they realized that it was not about them, it was about the life of Christ in them. Ian Thomas said this. He was a leader with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. He was working in London and all kinds of slums doing ministry. He had been a Christian for seven years, and he was doing all kinds of stuff. And he said, “I had been reduced to a state of complete exhaustion spiritually until I felt that there was no point in going on.” I am convinced many of us are there today, doing all kinds of things in complete exhaustion.
Then one night in November, just at midnight, I got down on my knees before God and I wept in sheer despair. I said, ‘Oh, God, I know that I am saved. I love Jesus Christ. I am perfectly convinced I am converted. With all my heart, I have wanted to serve thee. I have tried to my uttermost and I am a hopeless failure.’ That night, things happened. I can honestly say that I had never once heard from the lips of men, the message that came to me then. God that night simply focused upon me the Bible message of Christ who is our life. And the Lord seemed to make plain to me that night through the tears of bitterness. ‘You see for seven years with utmost certainly you have been trying to live for me on my behalf the life I have been waiting for seven years to live through you.’
You see the difference? He said, “I got up the next morning to a entirely different life.”
George Mueller was asked, “What is the secret behind all you have done?” He said, “There was a day when I utterly died, died to George Mueller, his opinions, his preferences, his taste and his will. Died to the world, its approval or censure. Died to the approval or blame even of my brethren and friends. And since then I have studied to only to prove myself approved unto God.”
Hudson Taylor, the missionary to China, his whole biography is titled Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret. And the secret to his life and ministry was a point at where he realized that his entire life was intended to draw on what he called the “unfathomable riches of Christ”, “inexhaustible riches of Christ”. It was Christ in him. And he talked about it in letters he wrote. He said, “It freed me up to realize that everything that I did was not of my own volition or my own accord or my own personality. Christ was in me. He was living His life through me. This is the picture. Jesus died for you so He might live in you.
Now I want to show you, I want to try to show you, how I believe that we have missed this. I am convinced based on Colossians 1:27 that authentic spiritual transformation happens from the inside out. It happens from the inside out.
I want you to look in your notes there. You’ve got a diagram; kind of a bulls eye looking thing. And I want you to see at the very center of that diagram is a picture of Christ in you. And then you have concentric circles coming out from that. I want us to think, just think, about how Christ affects our mind.
And Christ affects the next circle there—your emotions. The way you feel. It is obviously affected by what you think. What we think affects the way we feel. “Our body” is next, affected by our mind and our emotions. “Our Will”, is the next circle, affected by that. What we do, what we choose to do, we always act based on what we believe. It is just a fundamental truth. We always live out what we believe. Our lives always correspond with our beliefs.
You say, “Well there’s are a lot of things that I believe that aren’t coming out in my life.” Well I think that is a picture of the fact that you don’t really believe those things. Because we always live according to what we believe.
“Our Will”, and that affects how we relate to each other—our relationships. And ultimately the outside circle—mission. Because all of that affects the purpose for which we live, the mission for which we live.
Now here is the deal, when you look at this picture of man at the core of who we are that affects our mind, our emotions, our body, our will, our relationships with other people and ultimately our mission or purpose of our lives, when we think about Christianity, this is the picture. Where do we focus most of our energies? We focus most of our energies on the outer circles. People all across this room, who are focused on relationships. How can I be a better husband or better wife? I need to work on my marriage or I need to work on my parenting. I need to work on my dating. I need to work on my friendships. And so we see areas of our friendships that we need to work on relationships, our will.
We know that there are all kinds of things that we are supposed to do as Christians. We are supposed to have a quiet time. We are supposed to have time in prayer and study. We are supposed to do this or that. And so we are trying to think, “How can I fit that in to everything else that I have got going on? What can I do? How can I make those behaviors, habits in my life?” We know in our body we are supposed to be pure so we think, “Ok what can I do to be pure?” We have all got different sins that we struggle with. And we say, “Well how am I going to try to conquer this sin or conquer that sin?” And our emotions and our mind amidst this world with the plethora of things that are constantly coming at us in our minds, how do we keep the mind of Christ?
And so what we do is we spend all of our energies trying to get these things right. Trying to get these things to line up with the truths we see in the Bible. Trying to live out the Christian life. And so what we do is we go to Bible studies and we come to worship and we talk about how we need to live better and we walk away with practical things that we need to now do to live better. And sometimes we make commitment to those practical things.
The only problem is two weeks later those commitments have faded off in favor of other commitments we have found out that we need to make. And we are constantly working on these outer circles and as a result, many of us are completely frustrated in our Christian lives and discouraged and defeated in the middle of it. And I am convinced that there is a reason for that. The reason is this. The Christian life is impossible.
You can’t do it. You can’t live this life on your own. You can’t fix all these things and get them right and it is designed that way. It is designed so that the only way that these things can be a reflection of Christ is if He is living His life in you. Because He is the only one who has been able to live the Christian life. And the beauty of it is, He is in you to enable that to be a possibility for you. We have got to guard this.
Listen to Ian Thomas. When I read this, I was so convicted.
“Beware unless even as a Christian you fall into Satan’s trap. You may have found and come to know God and the Lord Jesus Christ, receiving Him sincerely as your Redeemer. Yet, if you do not enter into the mystery of godliness and allow God to be in you, the origin of His own image”—listen to this—“you will seek to be godly by submitting yourself to external rules and regulations and by conforming to behavior patterns imposed upon you by the particular Christian society that you have chosen and in which you hope to be found acceptable. You will in this way perpetuate the pagan habit of practicing religion in the energy of the flesh. And in the very pursuit of righteousness commit idolatry in honoring Christianity more than Christ.”
What a picture. Idolaters. We fall into this trap all across the church. Idolatry. Honoring Christianity more than we honor Christ. So I urge you today, stop trying to live the Christian life. Stop and let your heart and your life get a hold of this mammoth truth. Christ, the image of God and the author of creation, and the head of the church and the Savior of the world to whom belong inexhaustible, and inexpressible riches. Let Christ live in you. Let His life overflow from you, so you are not longer consumed with trying to make the Christian life a reality and you are letting Him do that in you. Christ in you affects all of those things.
Listen to this, Jesus has no desire to improve you; He desires to transform you. It is a big difference. It frees us up. We can stop reading the self-help books. Even the Christian self-help books, we can stop reading them because no matter how much we follow the things that we read there, we are still living a Christianity that is based on rules and regulations and principles and if we can put into practice, then everything will be ok. And it is not true. It is a lie from the adversary. Only Christ can satisfy. Only Christ can fill. Only Christ can change our minds, our emotions, our body, and our will to be in a way that honors and glorifies God. So let Him do His work in transforming you. He has not died to give us a whole new ethical way to life. He has died to give us life in Him. And there is a radical difference between the two.
Christianity is nothing less than the outliving of the indwelling of Christ. Christ in you transforming your mind. Christ transforming your emotions so you begin to feel what He feels. What happens, church, when Christ becomes the fountain from which all of our emotions overflow? Christ transforming our body so that we are not living against the legalistic rules that say this is purity and this is holiness, but so that He is developing His holiness. The one who is holy is holy in us. In our will we begin to think and Romans 12:2 becomes reality. We are transformed according to His will. Now we know His will and we approve of it and we enjoy it and it affects is the way we relate to each other. I know that there are marriages struggling. I know there are families struggling. Christ is our hope. He is our only hope. Christ in you. So look to Christ and draw on the riches of Christ. He affects us from the inside out. The transformed life.
The Exchanged Life in Colossians 1
And that leads us to this next picture. Christ in, not just with, but He is in you. The exchanged life. The empowered life, the transformed life and the exchanged life. I want you to look at two options when it comes to what is at the core of this picture. Two options: on the left, “sinful nature,” that is one option. And this is what we are all born into. We are all born with a sinful nature at our core. Every single one of us has a sinful nature at our core. It is not just that we sin, that is not our problem. It is that we have a sinful nature. All of us do. A nature that is bent toward self, toward things of this world; that is bent away from God. It is a sinful nature that we all inherited from Adam. Thanks a lot Adam and Eve, but that is what we have got. We have a sinful nature. All of us do. It is evident in all of our lives that we have a sinful nature.
And as a result, no matter how hard we work on those outer circles to do things that are good and to do things that are right, we still have a fundamental problem at the core of our being called a sinful nature. And this is huge. Please hear me. This is huge. Because I am convinced that there are many people in the church that have gotten things straight on some of those outer circles and are living the Christian life and doing the Christian deal and marrying a Christian and teaching other Christians maybe in a small group or a ministry and we are coming to worship and we are doing all of these things, but there has never been a change at the core of our being. And I am convinced that it is possible to do all the good things that a Christian does and yet still miss out on what it means for Christ to transform the core of who we are.
“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matt. 7:22–23). We have got to guard against this. A sinful nature at the core because even our religious activity can be rooted in the sinful nature.
The beauty of it is that this is not the only option. Jesus has exchanged His life with us and so you have got the sinful nature on the left and you have got the spiritual nature on the right. So in the inner circle on the right side write “spiritual nature.” Jesus has exchanged His life for us. Here is the beauty of what Christ did on the cross. Don’t miss it. He took your sinful nature and He crucified it and in its place He put Himself. He put the Spirit of God, the spiritual nature, He put inside of you. Christ in you. It is a complete life exchange. Jesus takes all the ramifications of your sinful nature, death most namely, and He takes that upon Himself. In exchange He puts His Spirit inside of us, the spiritual nature. This is what exactly what Paul is talking about.
Turn back to the left and go to Galatians 5. I want to show you this. Galatians 5:16. This passage talks about the interplay between the sinful nature and the Spirit, the nature of the Spirit, the flesh and the Spirit. Listen to what he says in Galatians 5. Just a couple of books back to the left. Galatians 5:16. He says, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law” (Gal. 5:16–18).
What he does is gives us basically the acts of the sinful nature in verse 19–21 and then the fruit of the Spirit in verse 22. And you get down to Verse 24 and it says: “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:24–25).
This is good news. Paul is talking to these folks, the church in Galatia, and he is saying, “You have been given the Spirit inside of you and yet so many of you are still living like you are in bondage to the sinful nature.” And he says, “You have been delivered from that. You don’t live according to the sinful nature anymore. You live in step with the Spirit. Now the Spirit is in you.” Ladies and gentlemen, there is a word there for us today. And it is a good word.
For far too long the church of Jesus Christ in which Christ dwells, has looked exactly like those you live according to the sinful nature. And the beauty of Galatians 5 and the beauty of Colossians 1:27, ladies and gentlemen, is when you trust in Christ, your sinful nature is crucified. It is rendered powerless, completely powerless. And you are no longer in bondage to sin. Not one of you in this room who has trusted in Christ is any longer in bondage to sin. You know why? Because Christ is not in bondage to sin and Christ is in you.
Therefore, you don’t have to live as a slave to that sin any more because Christ has conquered it and you don’t have to defeat it because He has already defeated it for you. The Christian life is not about us going out and trying to defeat the sins and temptations we struggle with. Christ has already taken care of that. It is living in the life that Christ has already paid the price to give us. So we are delivered from the sinful nature. He exchanges, puts the Spirit in us. Christ in us. Jesus has exchanged His life with us.
Galatians 2:20 what does he say? “I am crucified with Christ, but nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” I am crucified with Christ. Sinful nature gone, out of the picture. Christ lives in me and the life that I now live in the body, I now live by faith in Him who loved me and gave Himself for me. He has taken your sinful nature and He has crucified it to a cross. You are no longer in bondage to it any more because Christ is in you and He has transformed the very core of your being.
The Mission of Christ Fulfilled
Now why has He done this? Why has Christ exchanged His life with us? He has done it to fulfill His mission through us. And here is the picture. When Christ is in you, then it is almost like… The picture here, it is almost like the incarnation all over again. Not in the same sense, not us being fully God and fully man, but incarnation is built on the word being made flesh. That is the picture of the incarnation. God, the Word, made flesh in Jesus.
Now Jesus leaves and the mystery is revealed that He will live in each of us, and His Word will be made flesh in each of us. And so as He lives in us, He reveals Himself and His glory through us. This is the beauty of Christ in you. How is God revealing Himself to the world? Not through dwelling in the temple. He is revealing Himself to the world through dwelling in His people. Dwelling in you and me. We are the revelation of the nature of Christ to us. And Christ is in us. We show a picture of Christ to those around us. That is the picture.
Let me show you an example of that. Look back in verse 24. This whole passage is context of Paul talking about his ministry and he says in verse 24, “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church” (Col. 1:24).
Now I want you to think about that with me. Paul says he fills up what is lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions. What is that all about? In regard to Christ’s sufferings, were Christ’s sufferings not enough? Absolutely they were enough. The whole picture that he painted at the end of verse 20 is He has paid the price for our sins through His blood shed on the cross. His sufferings were more than enough.
But here is the picture that Paul has given us here. Jesus Christ suffered and died on a cross so that He might live in people. So that He might die for their sins and live in them. But the problem is that as Paul writes this letter from a prison in Rome, he knows that his goal is to get to Spain because there were people there in Spain that still didn’t know the mystery. They didn’t know that Christ had died for them. Hadn’t heard about that. And he wanted to get there. Romans 15:20, “My ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known.” “I want to get there because this mystery needs to be revealed to them.”
Now how is it going to be revealed to them? Paul says, “It is going to be revealed through me filling up in my flesh what is still lacking in regards to Christ’s afflictions.” Christ has paid the price for their sins. They need to know that and they need to see that in my life. That is why Paul all throughout his letters talks about how he embraces sufferings. He wants to know the fellowship of sharing in the sufferings of Christ. Why? Because when he suffers to make the gospel known, then the world sees clearly in him, the Christ of the cross. Let that soak in. When he sacrifices his life to make Christ known in him, then the world sees the picture of Christ in his sacrifice, sees the Christ of the cross.
Here is the principle. Christ suffered to accomplish salvation; we suffer to spread salvation. Christ is making His love and His sacrifice known throughout the world. How? Through the sacrificial love of His people in whom He dwells.
Joseph Soane is a Romanian pastor who has faced all kinds of persecution. He said it best, “Christ’s cross was for propitiation”—to make us right before God—“Christ’s cross was for propitiation. Ours is for propagation. In other words, we take up our cross because we want to show the world a savior who died so that they might know His love.
Now this has huge ramifications for a world where a billion people have never heard the name of Jesus and most of them are in very tough to reach places. Many of them in places that simply don’t want the gospel. So the question we must ask is, “Will we embrace the cross of Christ so that they might enjoy the Christ of the cross?”
Church this is a huge question. Will we embrace the cross of Christ so that they might enjoy the Christ of the cross? In the Middle East in a part of the world where the overwhelming majority of the people, have no relationship with Christ and no knowledge of the mystery of Christ, there are many parts of the Middle East that don’t want to know about the mystery of Christ, and yet there are believers in the Middle East who are literally sacrificing their lives to make the love and the mercy and grace of Christ in them known around. Christ is in them and Christ is in us and the question for them and for us is, “Will we sacrifice our lives so they will come to know the love of Christ?” Because, don’t miss it, it is in sacrificing our lives, that they will get the clearest picture of the love of Christ on a cross. And when we show that kind of love then they will come to know the hope of glory, Christ in them. Christ for them. That is the picture.
Jesus has exchanged His life with us to fulfill His mission through us. That leads us to the picture of the hope.
The Secured Life
The Christian life is the empowered life and the transformed life and the exchanged life, it is also the secured life. The secured life. I love this picture, hope. This is not a dream or a wish or a maybe in Scripture. This is an absolute certainly. “Hope”—absolute certain that glory awaits. Absolutely certainty and trust in glory. And you can have that when you get the picture here.
Years ago I was listening to a sermon on CD from a Passion conference, and someone was preaching on this particular text and they used an illustration. I tried to find the sermon, but I think it went under water in Hurricane Katrina. And so I don’t have the sermon anymore, and I was trying to think about the illustration that I was listening to. But I want to use for you to get the picture here of Christ in you. So just follow with me for a second.
I want you to picture this particular container. I want us to picture this particular container as you. Ok? This is your life. Now, you were born with a sinful nature, empty of the Spirit of Christ. But when you trust in Christ to save you from your sins, then Christ will be in this particular container and Christ comes to live in you. So we take the top off of you and we put… There is Christ in you. Right?
So Christ is in you and He is not leaving you. Ephesians 1:13–14. He has sealed you by His Holy Spirit. Guaranteed your redemption. So when you have Christ in you, He is not going to check out at any point for all of eternity. He is in you. This is a tight seal. It is not going anywhere. Ok?
But the beauty is you get down to verse, look at verse 28. (Col. 1:28) “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ” (Col. 1:28). Now this is actually the more common picture that we have from Paul of our relationship with Christ. Not Christ in us, but us in Christ.
And so let’s bring another picture of Christ to the table, and lets write Christ on the front here. And not only is Christ in us, but we are in Christ. Right? Paul talks about this all the time—“Crucified with Christ; now I’m in Christ.” So there you are. You have got you. You have got Christ in you and now you got you in Christ. This is a pretty secure picture, I think.
But is gets even better. Go to Colossians 3. Look at Colossians 3:3, he says, “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in,”—who? Ah, now this is good. You see that Christ is in God. So let’s bring God into the picture. We will write God on the front of this, then we are going to put Christ in God and seal the container. So now this is the picture of you. Christ is in you and you are in Christ and Christ is in God. Because Christ is in you and you are in Christ and Christ is in God.
And what this means is that the adversary, if he wants to do anything to you, then he has got to find a way to get through God, which he doesn’t have a very good track record for. He has got to get through God the Father, and then once he gets through the Father somehow, then he is coming face to face with Christ. Which by the way it has happened before and he lost. He lost miserably. He thought he had won, but three days later Christ was back and he was defeated.
So if he gets through God then he has got to face Christ. And then he comes to you, but the problem is, once he gets through you he has still got to deal with round two with Christ who is living inside of you, the Holy Spirit of God. And so you have got the Christian life, don’t miss it, designed in such a way that your life is completely secure with the Holy Spirit, the living presence of Christ in you, you are in Christ and Christ is in the Father. There is absolutely nothing that can happen to you in this world apart from the grace and mercy and love and power and sovereignty of this God. And that is good news. You are completely secure in Him and you have nothing to fear! You have nothing to fear!
That is why Paul says when he is talking about suffering, “I am going to give my life so that they might know.” He says, “I rejoice in that.” Why do you rejoice in that? Because there is nothing that can happen to you in this world that will ever take away this picture, for all of eternity, Christ in you, you in Christ, and Christ in God. This is good news. This is the Christian life. I pray that God would give us grace to realize this picture. The hope of what? Christ in you, the hope of glory.
The Completed Life in Colossians 1
Last characteristic of the Christian life that I want you to see is the completed life. The Christian life is the empowered and transformed and exchanged and secure and completed life. Look at Verse 28 back in Colossians 1. It says, “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ” (Col. 1:28). Perfect. The goal here is apparently perfection. Completeness in Christ. You get back over to chapter 3:4 which we looked at just a second ago. Listen to this. “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:4). This is your hope. When Christ is your life, then there is going to be a day when you appear with Him in glory.
Philippians 3:20 and 21 said it this way, “One day our lowly bodies will be transformed to be like His glorious body.” 1 John 3:2 put it this way, “We shall be like him.” The aim, the purpose, the end gain of the Christian life is the day when every person on this planet who has trusted in Christ, who has received Christ in them will one day be complete in Christ and there will be no more struggle of sin, there will no more sorrow, no more pain, we will be complete in Him with Him.
That is why He is called in Colossians 1 the firstborn among many brothers. We are a part of the family. Hebrews 2:10—so that we might be a part of His family. That is why He is bringing many sons and daughters to glory. That is why Romans 8:28 says, “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” What is His purpose? “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified” (Rom. 8:29–30).
One day, ladies and gentlemen, we will be complete in Him and it is worth sacrificing our lives in light of the fact that we know, we know we will stand before the Father complete in Jesus Christ. Christ in you now means Christ in you forever, victory, completion of the Christian life. Christ in you the hope of glory. He has given us the empowered life. God deliver us from a small concept of Christ. He has transformed us from the inside out. He is transforming us even as you sit here right now. 2 Corinthians 3:18—He is transforming you from glory to glory with ever-increasing glory. He is making you more like Christ, moment by moment.
And He is doing it. He is doing it. Not you doing it. You don’t transform. He transforms you. He is not improving you, He is transforming you. He has exchanged your life with His. He has taken your sinful nature. He has crucified it so that you might live in His righteousness and His holiness, His redemption, His power. He has exchanged. You have His Spirit at the core of who you are. He has secured you in Himself and there is nothing that can touch you in this world apart from going through His Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit of God and He will one day complete you. Praise be to God for this most astounding truth. Christ in you the hope of glory.
Will you bow your heads with me? As we bow our heads and close our eyes and just think about, reflect on this picture, I have two questions for every person in this room. Question number one: Is Christ in you? I am not asking if you have been baptized or if you are a member of a church. I am not asking if you have gone to church all your life. I am not asking if you are a leader in the church. I am not asking if you are on staff in the church. I am asking, “Is Christ in you?” Has there been a fundamental change at the core of your being where Christ has put His Spirit inside of you? Where you have said I bring nothing to the table. Not one iota of what I can do can make me right before God. Only Christ can do that. Have you trusted in Him to save you from your sin, live in you, dwell in you?
If you have never done that, if Christ is not in you, then I urge you right now in these moments to say to Him “I want you to live in me. I have a sinful nature that I want you to exchange for your righteous nature. I trust in you to do it, not by one bit of anything that I can do. I trust you to do it all by your grace. I can do nothing to get this, but you give it to me freely.” I know that as you express that to Him, as you trust in Him, the Bible says Christ dwells in you. He comes to live and reside in you. Is Christ in you?
Question number two: For those of you who can say with absolute confidence, “Yes, Christ is in me. I know Christ is in me.” My question is, “Is Christ your life?” I know He is your Savior, He saved you from your sins, but is He your life? Is He transforming you day by day from the inside out and have you given up on trying to transform yourself? Have you given up on trying to live the Christian life on your own? Have you confessed it is impossible, I can’t do it and so I give up and I need you to do it for me? Is Christ your life?
And if you have gotten caught in the sinful nature, caught in self-sufficiency thinking that you can do this thing on your own, I want to urge you today to say to Christ, “I want you to be my life. I am going to die to myself because I want you to live in me. I want this Christian life. Christ in me, the hope of glory.”
I am going to pray and if you need to answer one of those two questions in your life—do you need Christ to be in you or do you need Christ to be your life, maybe for the first time in a long time to really be your life—then maybe you just need to kneel and say, “Christ I want to die to myself today and I want you to live in me.”
Father, I pray that you would deliver us defeated Christianity. Father, I pray that you would raise up a people who know and are experiencing the transformed, exchanged, in power secure, and completed Christian life. God we pray that you would deliver us from rules and regulations that we follow that keep us from experiencing the joy of Christ in us the hope of glory. God, I pray that people today would trust in you. For the first time, you would radically revolutionize the core of their being by your Spirit. And we pray that you would raise us up as a people that display to the world what it means for Christ to live in us the hope of glory. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen
How can we apply this passage to our life?
What does the word “firstborn mean when it is used to describe Jesus in Colossians 1?
According to the sermon, how does authentic transformation happen?
How is Jesus the head of the church?
What are the implications of Christ exchanging his life with ours?
According to the sermon, why has Christ done all of this?