Question & Answer
I know that as a Christian, Christ lives in me in the person of the Holy Spirit. But I’m confused about my responsibility. How can I tell when the Holy Spirit is operating and when it’s me?
Thank you for writing. Your’s is not an easy question to answer, especially in a few words. To get the full picture of who we are as humans and how we operate you will find Norman Grubb’s book Who Am I? very helpful. You are not alone in your confusion about human responsibility. Many Christians, upon hearing the truth of their union with Christ, struggle needlessly with this question. The problem is due mainly to the misunderstanding of how we function as human beings.
Our human responsibility hinges on our one God-given capacity, which is our freedom to make choices. The Bible word for our choice-making ability is faith. The key to the whole of life is that all choices stem from the choice we make as to who we contain, not what we do. Norman Grubb has summed it up by saying “Life is not a matter of becoming something but of containing someone.”
Before we are born again, we are indwelt by Satan who stole us from God at the fall. He is our inner boss and he uses us to do his evil deeds through. “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit who is now working in the sons of disobedience–and we too were by nature, children of wrath” (Eph. 1:2-3).
At our new birth we exercised our free faith choice when we invited Christ to be our Lord and Savior. This faith response was our only responsibility in the matter. Eph. 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works so that no one can boast.”
Now that we are born again, the life of Christ operates in and through us by our repeated use of this came God-given capacity–faith. We simply recognize that Christ is here within–not in some far off place requiring us to call on Him in times of need. No, no, no! This idea is part of the graveclothes that have remained with us as a result of the fall.
Let’s keep it clear. In our new life Christ has become our very life by joining Himself to us. The Bible says it this way: “Christ your life” and “He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit with him.”
He has become the real we, Christ in our human form, “Christ is we.” “So normal Christian living as Watchman Nee so well puts it is this mysterious’ combination of the duality in the unity” (Who Am I? p. 101). God the Positive using us the negative to express Himself through. Thus we see that it takes the two (God and us) to make the one functioning “right” person. For this reason it can never be just us operating. It has to be Christ as us. But we can know that it is not the Holy Spirit operating in us when we sin. When this happens we have slipped back under the control of our old boss, Satan. Our failure to trust Christ in us as us gives him this temporary control.