Formed in Us
by Marcus Brecheen
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”Galatians 2:20
Created to Be
When I was a kid, my parents decided to convert our garage into a room in our house. It was a great idea. Our family had grown and we needed the extra space, so they hired a man from church who was good at construction. Every day after school I would go into the garage to see how much progress had been made. The contractors created this new space with all sorts of materials: wood and sheetrock, paint and insulation, carpet and windows, and wiring. To this day, this extra room is still a vital part of my parents’ home.
The work Jesus does in people’s lives is much the same. Most days I don’t notice the progress at all. Other days, His work seems amazingly profound. He does things I would have never thought about. Sometimes I’m surprised at how many things need work! My theology has weak spots, and my selfishness shows at strange moments. My prayer life is awkward, and some days I can’t tell the difference between temptation and sin, and I feel horrible either way.
I’m grateful that as a young believer, I discovered some very strange, yet interesting language when I read Galatians 4:19. It says, “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you.” God promised to form Christ in me. The key here is that God is the one doing the forming, not us.
So what does it mean for God to form Christ in us? It’s a progressive change over a lifetime, which is called sanctification. When we are first saved, our spirits are justified and immediately put in right standing with God because of Jesus’ sacrifice, but our souls—mind, will, and emotions—must be sanctified, as it says in Ephesians 5:26, “with the washing of water by the word.” It’s clear, based on this Scripture, that we have a role to play too. The more we devote ourselves to God through worship, prayer, and reading and memorizing Scripture, the more our love for Him will grow. Jesus being formed in us is a work done by God when we devote ourselves to Him and follow in Jesus’ footsteps.
The glory of the gospel is that Jesus is not only the way of salvation but also the sustainer and grower of our life in God. Christ is formed in people. He lives today on the earth, through you and me. That is the gospel. Are you being washed by the Word? You’ll be amazed how life-changing it is to devote yourself to reading God’s Word and following in Jesus’ footsteps.
Father God, Your faithfulness is so unyielding, yet we can live so many days thinking You’re not there at all. Sometimes we are audacious enough to think we need a better deal from You. On our best days, we know You permeate every place we call our own. And Your mercy is new every morning. We welcome You into every part of our lives and say, in Your mercy, form Christ in me. Do whatever is necessary to finish this process, to Your own glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
For Further Study
- Romans 8:31–39; Galatians 4:3–7; Ephesians 1:11–14; Philippians 1:6