The following is a very insightful exchange between a man named Tom and Norman Grubb. I thought this would be of some help to those struggling to understand the teaching about us being “crucified with Christ” and what “Christ in me” means.
Q. I have been questioning what it means to have been “crucified with Christ” and to have “Christ in me.” I have been taught that Romans 7:14-25 is an accurate description of the normal Christian life; that we have within us two contrary principles, one inclined to sin, the other to obey; and that, so long as we reside in our mortal bodies, a never-ending and often-times discouraging struggle between flesh and spirit will be a natural part of our day-to-day lives. I find it hard to believe, however, that what I now experience is all there is to Christian sanctification. What does “walk by the Spirit” and “Christ in me” mean? It seems to me there is a power and liberty available to us that I have not yet tapped into. I am not looking for an easy, carefree life. I am merely looking for a consistent, true-to-the Bible walk of holiness before God, appropriating the power He Himself has promised me.
Tom M., Lemon Grove, CA
A. IN MY SMALL BOOK Who Am I? I have sought to explain the fallacy of the dreadful teaching (that many of us have been soaked in) that humans have two fiercely fighting natures in them. Paul himself totally wipes out the dog-eat-dog of Romans 7, in his Romans 8:1-2! I am so glad you have enough inner honesty to perceive that such a foot-dragging life of struggles in Romans 7 would be a pretty insufficient experience for the kind of victory in Christ Paul so glories in!
The truth is that we humans are never created with a “nature” of our own. We are “vessels,” “branches,” “temples,” “slaves,” “body members,” for Him who eternally manifests Himself in His nature by and as us.
But because persons are only persons by consciousness of opposites – light/dark, soft/hard, etc. – we had to go through the experience of the two trees in the Garden and thus started off occupied by the spirit of the false deity, Satan, the god of self-centeredness, instead of by the God of self-giving love.
Therefore, the Last Adam had to come to replace the first Adam, and He did it by going through an intercessory death on the Cross in which we participated (II Cor. 5:14). Out from the dead body went that sin spirit — the false deity who was expressing his nature by us (see John 8:44) and into the holy body, representing ours, came the true Deity with His nature (see II Pet. 1:4). Thus He arose, and we also, partakers of His divine nature.
Once we dare to recognize this reality and get out of the confusion of Romans 7, boldly making our faith confession that we are sons of God with one nature only, the Spirit will then confirm to us our word of faith. Then our reckoning of ourselves dead to sin (Rom. 6:11) becomes our realizing of Romans 8:2. Now we begin this liberated walk, for “the spirit of life in Christ Jesus set me free from the law of sin and death.” We learn to utilize our temptations as assets in giving us many chances of experiencing swallowing-up grace!