But it is very important not to make any mistakes here. This union with Christ is not a matter of emotions but of character. It is not something we are to feel but something we are to be. The vital thing is not the feeling, but the reality.
Living in Our Emotions No one can be one with Christ who is not truly Christlike. Yet often strong emotions of love and joy are taken as an indication of divine union in cases where essential proofs of a Christlike life and character are lacking. This is completely contrary to the Scripture declaration that "He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked" (1 John 2:6). Oneness with Christ means being made "partakers of [His] nature" (2 Pet. 1:4).
If we are really one with Christ, it will not be contrary to our nature to be Christlike and to walk as He walked; it will be in accordance with our nature. Sweetness, gentleness, meekness, patience, long-suffering, charity, and kindness will all be natural to the Christian who is a partaker of the nature of Christ. It could not be otherwise.
But people who live in their emotions do not always see this. They feel so at one with Christ that they look no further than this feeling. They often delude themselves by thinking they have come into divine union, when all the while their nature and dispositions are still under the sway of self-love.
Our emotions are most untrustworthy and are largely the result of our physical conditions or our natural temperaments. It is a fatal mistake, therefore, to make them the test of our oneness with Christ.
This mistake works both ways. If I have very joyous emotions, I may be deluded into thinking I have entered into the divine union when I have not. If I have no emotions, I may grieve over my failure to enter into the divine union when I really have entered.
Character is the only real test. God is holy, and those who are one with Him will be holy also.
Our Lord Himself expressed His oneness with the Father in these words: "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner" (John 5:19). The test Christ gave by which the reality of His oneness with the Father was to be known was the fact that He did the works of the Father. I know of no other test for us now.
Awareness of Christ's Presence Having guarded against the danger of an emotional experience of divine union, let us consider how the reality is to be reached. First I would say that it is not a new attitude to be taken by God but only a new attitude to be taken by us.
If we are really children of God, then our hearts are already the temple of God and Christ is already within us. What is needed, therefore, is only that we recognize His presence and yield fully to His control.
Since the day of your conversion the Lord has been dwelling in your heart, but you have lived in ignorance of it. During all that time, every moment might have been passed in the sunshine of His sweet presence and every step taken under His advice. But because you did not know it and did not look for Him there, your life has been lonely and full of failure.
But now that I make you aware of this, how are you going to receive it? Are you glad to have Him? Will you throw every door wide open to welcome Him in? Will you joyfully and thankfully give up your life to Him?
Will you consult Him about everything and let Him decide each step and mark out every path? Will you invite Him into your innermost chambers and share your most hidden life with Him?
Will you say "Yes" to His longing for union with you? Will you, with a glad and eager surrender, hand yourself and all that concerns you over into His hands? If you will do this your soul will begin to know something of the joy of union with Christ.
It seems too wonderful to be true that such poor, weak, foolish beings as we are were created for such an end as this. Yet it is a blessed reality. We are even commanded to enter into it.
We are exhorted to lay down our lives so that His life may be lived in us. We are asked to have no interests but His interests, to share His riches, to enter into His joys, to partake of His sorrows, to have the same mind He had, and to think and feel and act and walk as He did.
Will we agree to all this? The Lord will not force it on us because He wants us as His companions and His friends, and a forced union would be incompatible with this. It must be voluntary on our part. The bride must say a willing "yes" to the bridegroom, or the joy of their union is in question.
Can we say a willing "yes" to our Lord?
It is a very simple yet real transaction. There are three steps. First, we must be convinced that the Scriptures teach this glorious indwelling of God. Then we must surrender our whole selves to Him to be possessed by Him. And finally, we must believe that He has taken possession and is dwelling in us. We must begin to consider ourselves dead and to consider Christ as our only life.
Draw closer to God. Experience the presence of the Holy Spirit every month as you read Charisma magazine. Sign up now to get Charisma for as low as $1 per issue.
Dare to go deeper in your faith. Our "Life in the Spirit" devotional takes you on a journey to explore who the Holy Spirit is, how to interact with Him, and how He works in your life. Are you ready to go deeper?