Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Is It Me? Or Is It Christ in Me?

Grunt. Don’t grunt. Grunt. Don’t grunt. I wondered which way it is.

Do we “grunt” to be more like Christ, or is it a work He performs in us? What’s our part? What’s His? These questions usually come to mind when I hear someone say, “Jesus has won the victory for us. Rest in that victory.” Yes, Jesus’ death defeated sin’s power over us and set us free from sin’s penalty of eternal separation from God. But in my daily Christian life, I feel the tug of war between good and evil, between what I want and what God wants for me.

So grunt? Philippians 2:12 (NKJV*) teaches,

“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

We have a part to play in our spiritual growth, and it’s going to take some fierce respect and love for God because we are in a fierce spiritual battle. As Satan’s kingdom wars against God’s, as the world’s ways war against God’s holy principles, as our sinful nature competes for supremacy with the Holy Spirit’s leadership, we are called to fight.

To “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12) and to flee what’s evil and pursue what’s good (1 Timothy 6:11, 2 Timothy 2:22).

Are we capable of winning in our own strength? No, for Jesus taught in John 15:4,

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”

Bearing good fruit on our own is as likely to happen as a branch bearing fruit after it has been cut from the vine.

Fruit is God’s work in us—“the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace …” (Galatians 5:22).

So don’t grunt?

The satisfying, joy-giving, strength-supplying answer I’ve discovered hinges on the word with. Perhaps you treasure this word too. Life is a partnership with God. Jesus is God’s Immanuel—God with us (Matthew 1:23). Life is about walking with Him, a spiritual hand-in-hand partnership in which we say yes to Him and He works in us and through us. Our yes takes many forms, from reading the Bible and praying to showing love to others. We can’t be fully effective for God’s kingdom if we aren’t abiding in the Source of truth and love, wisdom and power.  

Christlikeness develops as we go through life responding to God in faith, following Him, and practicing His Word. It takes our work of refusing what’s natural—pursuing our own way—and instead pursuing God’s way. It takes realigning our thinking and desires to God’s. A grueling process, but one that reaps contentment, purpose, and much joy and peace.  

As we become more like Christ, we are becoming more and more conformed to His ways of love. Since love is the greatest commandment (Mark 12:30), we can measure our spiritual growth by measuring the purity and strength of our love. We grow in love as we purify our souls with the truth (1 Peter 1:22) and draw near to God. 

Let’s allow our faith and love to flourish. We can remember who is holding our hand in this partnership called life, and trust God and love Him with all of our hearts. He is doing a great work in us, and we have the privilege of helping to make it a reality.

“Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.” 1 Peter 1:22

*All Scripture verses are taken from the NKJV.

© Copyright 2018 by Katy Kauffman, used with permission.

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