While washing dishes with a sponge in a sink full of warm sudsy water, I began to think about the sponge I was using. Before I could wash the first dish, I had to retrieve the dry, hard sponge from the corner of the sink. Once the sponge was in the water, it became soft and pliable as it soaked up the sudsy water. Two scriptural phrases that are similar, yet different came to my mind as the sponge was in my hand. The first phrase tells me that I am “in Christ” while the second one says “Christ in you.” What is the difference between these two phrases? Is not the end result the same with Christ and me becoming one? What difference does it make if I am in Christ or Christ is in me? While pondering these questions, God gave me a pictorial parable with physical facts for the mind and spiritual facts for the soul to help answer my questions. Let me share with you what I learned. I will write the spiritual facts in regular type and the physical facts will be noted in italics within parentheses.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!
II Corinthians 5:17
The “in Christ” scripture from II Corinthians 5:17 is the first one that comes to my mind. However, I have read that “in Christ” is used by Paul in his epistles 172 times, so this is not the only “in Christ” reference in scripture. When Paul uses the phrase “in Christ,” he is referring to the relationship that occurs when I accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior. At the moment of salvation, there is a blending of the life of God into my life. A oneness in will and purpose results in a vital union between Christ and me. I am now known as a Christian because my life is Christlike with Christ living in me and not just influencing me from the outside. Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Christ and sin cannot occupy the same space. Consequently, my sins were forgiven and forgotten when I accepted Christ as my savior and He now is in me.
(A dry sponge is placed into a sink of water and it then has the position of being in the water. This is similar to my being “in Christ”.)
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave himself for me.
According to Galatians 2:20, now as a believer in Christ I am not only “in Christ” but “Christ is in me” and I exemplify this when I live by faith and not by sight. Christ as the Holy Spirit now dwells in me and has the power to mold my character into the likeness of Christ. Acts 17:28 says, “for in Him (in Christ) we live and move and have our being.” However, the extent to which this happens depends upon how much I allow the “Christ in me” to have control of my life. Ephesians 5:18 concludes by saying “be filled with the Spirit.” The Greek word for filled means “to fill and disperse throughout one’s soul.” This word also implies that the filling is an ongoing process rather than a one time experience.I like the Amplified Bible translation that says, “ever be filled and stimulated with the [Holy] Spirit.” The ongoing experience of being filled with the Spirit infuses me with everything I need to live like Christ!
(The water is in the sponge only to the extent that the sponge soaks up the water. If the water is squeezed out of the sponge, it may be damp but it does not contain as much water as when it remained totally immersed. If the sponge is left on the edge of the sink where there is no water, it can completely dry out. In order for the sponge to be wet, it must be in water that it can absorb. This can be applied to the phrase “Christ in you”.)
Remain in me (Christ), and I (Christ) will remain in you.
John 15:4 is a scripture verse spoken by Jesus Christ that combines the two phrases of “in Christ” and “Christ in you.” I found a personal place “in Christ” when I accepted Jesus as my Savior and now I am in Christ who is immeasurably bigger than I am. However, at the same time, I know Christ is in me. Since Christ is so much bigger than I am, I can only have a fraction of who Christ is actually living in me. I need to be constantly filled with Christ so I can be more like Him.In order for my life to be fruitful, I need both positions of “me in Christ” as well as “Christ in me.” In John 15:5 Jesus goes on to say, “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus created me for a partnership with Him just as there was a union between Jesus and His Heavenly Father. Jesus says in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” Then listen to these words of Jesus found in John 15:9-11: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” It amazes me that Christ wants to be a part of me whether it be that I am “in Christ” or “Christ is in me”.However, scripture proves this to be true!
(The sink full of water is much larger than the little sponge. When the sponge is in the sink full of water, it is comparable to being “in Christ”. The sponge can only absorb a certain amount of the water at a given time which determines how much there is of “Christ in you.” If the sponge is out of the water it will dry out. If the sponge were a person, I could say that the sponge was thirsty for water. In John 4:10, Jesus refers to Himself as being living water. This is further developed in John 7:37-40The sponge can absorb liquid water.)
My Reader, do you know your personal position “in Christ” and “Christ in you”? I don’t know about you, but I know there are times I feel like a dry sponge. I know I am “in Christ” but I do not always take the time for the Holy Spirit to fill me so that “Christ is in me” to the fullest extent possible. Some churches offer times of “soaking” when people can come simply to be in the presence of the Holy Spirit and be saturated through taking time to pray, read scripture and listen for the voice of God. Don’t be a dry sponge, jump into the Living Water with me! Remember, in John 13:20 Jesus says, “I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you!”