How to Live Christ
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21)
It’s a famous quote from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians. But is it merely a slogan to us…or something we experience personally in our Christian life?
To Paul, living Christ was a life or death matter. For him to be martyred was simply to enjoy the Lord’s presence to a higher degree. But for him to continue living on this earth was that he might “live Christ.”
I’m afraid that many of us take this expression for granted. We may give little consideration to what it means to “live Christ” and consider it beyond the reach of our living as a believer today.
But the Lord Jesus set forth Paul as a pattern to all of us who believe in Him (1 Tim. 1:16). This means that our Lord wants everyone of us to “live Christ” as Paul did.
But what does it mean to “live Christ” and how can we practice to live Him in our daily life?
What does it mean to live Christ?
In footnote 1, on Philippians 1:21 in the Recovery Version it says,
Paul’s life was to live Christ.…Christ was not only his life but also his living. He lived Christ because Christ lived in him (Gal. 2:20). He was one with Christ in both life and living. He and Christ had one life and one living. They lived together as one person. Christ lived within Paul as Paul’s life, and Paul lived Christ without as Christ’s living. The normal experience of Christ is to live Him, and to live Him is to magnify Him always, regardless of the circumstances.
As the note points out, to live Christ is the normal living of a Christian. It is to have one life and one living with Christ. Since Christ lives in us, we need to live in oneness with Him. Paul and Christ had one life and one living and it should be the same with us today.
However, I believe that most of us spend the majority of our Christian life living independently from the Lord. After receiving Christ, we may only go to Him when we feel we have a need.
But for the most part, we live independently from Him–acting according to our own thoughts, feelings and choices. Possibly we do things “for Him,” according to our own preferences.
Sadly, this kind of independent living will never fulfill God’s eternal purpose. It will not enable us to experience the real growth in Christ (Eph. 4:15). Neither will it bring us into a living in the reality of Christ’s Body, the church (v. 16).
How can we live Christ?
First, we need to learn to pray before doing things.
To pray before doing things does not mean we need to stop all activity and have some formal prayer. We just need to turn to the Lord Jesus in our spirit (2 Tim. 4:22), to contact Him instantly, before doing things. We can begin by calling on the Lord’s name, “Lord Jesus!”
This is to take the Lord as our source in everything.
Then we might inquire, “Lord, are You saying this? Are You doing that? Are You going there? Such inquiries enable us to sense the feeling of His Spirit in our spirit (Acts 16:6, 7).
It may be in small details like eating. For example, we often eat things just according to our taste…even if it’s not good for us. That is our habitual living…even to our own harm. How about asking, “Lord, are you eating this?”
The Lord also cares about our time (Eph. 5:15-16). How about asking, “Lord, are You spending the time doing this?” Even if it’s not evil, it may simply be a waste of our precious time, time that could better be spent in prayer, reading God’s word, or preaching the gospel.
Whether the Lord within us would lead us to speak the gospel to our neighbor or to clean our room, we need to take Him as the source in all things.
We need to let Christ be the Alpha and the Omega…and every letter in between. He must be the Beginning and the End in all our Christian living (Rev. 22:13). But will we let Him be that to us?
We can start by building up the habit of coming to Lord first thing each morning. Then we can continue by practicing to contact Him before doing things, initiating every action by taking Him as the source.
Second, we need to pray while doing things.
We need to continue our prayer. Even if we’re doing something that we feel the Lord has initiated, we still need to stay “switched on” to the flow of His Spirit so that it becomes Him doing the things with us and through us.
Otherwise, it is just our capable self accomplishing the tasks at hand…but with no spiritual value.
For example, the Lord might touch you to make a meal for some guests. But, is your meal preparation done by living Christ, or just the display of your excellent cooking skills?
If you enjoy Christ while cooking, your guests will be touched with Him. They won’t merely be impressed with how great of a cook you are. But if you’re cooking from your confident self, that is what they will taste.
How much we need to stay in contact with the Lord Jesus in all things. We can call on Him, while we cook, drive, or write a text or email.
Third, we need to practice a kind of breathing prayer.
This leads us to a third thing—a kind of breathing prayer. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul said,
To stay in constant contact with the Lord in our spirit, we need to make our prayer more than a scheduled activity. Prayer needs to become our moment by moment breathing.
As we’re going about our daily activities, we simply need to breathe the Lord. The simplest way I know to do this is to continually call on His name–in every place and at every time (1 Cor. 1:2; Psalm 88:9).
When we say, “O Lord Jesus. Lord, I love You” or just “O Lord”…even “O… from our deepest part, our spirit, we keep the “power switch” on for the “heavenly electricity” the life-giving Spirit to flow into and through us.
Such an instant, moment by moment, contact also enables us to live Christ by the divine supply in our spirit.
Fourth, we need to enjoy the Word by reading it, praying it, singing it, musing on it, psalming it, and thanking with it.
Colossians 3:16-17 says,
Let the word of Christ, dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or in deed, do all things in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
In order to live Christ we not only need to pray. We need something else. We need God’s living Word.
Pray the Word
As we read, we need to turn whatever touches us into a short prayer. We can even turn the words of the Scripture we’re reading into the words of our prayer, praying back to God what He has spoken to us.
It helps to keep a little New Testament in your pocket, backpack, or purse. Using one on your cell phone works too.
Just read over a few lines and speak them back to the Lord. This will supply you to live Christ.
Sing the Word
It is even more enriching to sing the Word, to turn the Scriptures you’re reading into a simple song. I really enjoy practicing this.
Such a practice is according to Paul’s pattern in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…singing…”
Muse on the Word
It also very helpful to muse on the Scripture verses we have been praying or singing. By reconsidering God’s word, we’re like sheep or cattle, “chewing the cud,” ruminating on the word of God.
In this way we mind the things of the Spirit, set our mind on the spirit, to walk according to the spirit (Rom. 8:4-6). This is to live Christ.
Psalm the Word
When we put singing God’s word together with musing upon it, we get psalming the word. This is what Paul referred to in Ephesians 5:18-19,
Be filled in spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and psalming with your heart to the Lord.
We need to practice not only to sing the word, but to psalm it in a musing way. By such an enjoyment of God’s word, we’ll be infused with God, receive spiritual nourishment and be supplied to live Christ.
Thank through the Word
Finally, we should give thanks through the Word. Whatever we have enjoyed of Christ should become our overflowing thanks to God as a kind of consummation of our enjoyment of Him.
Verse 20 continues,
Giving thanks at all times for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to our God and Father.
By giving thanks in such a way, we’re kept in the name of the Lord Jesus. This also is to live Him.
May we all be encouraged to build up a daily practice of living Christ by our constant breathing prayer and by our continual contact with God’s word–not only by reading the Word, but by praying the Word, singing the Word, musing on the Word, psalming the Word, and thanking through the Word,
If this post has impressed you with what it means to “live Christ” and how to practice it, please share your appreciation in a brief comment.
References and Further Reading:
- Scripture verses and footnotes cited in this post are from the Holy Bible – Recovery Version with footnotes by Witness Lee. You can read it freely online at online.recoveryversion.org. You can also get your own free copy of the New Testament from Bibles for America (in the USA).
- This post was inspired Chapters 16 and 17 of the Perfecting Training by the same author.
- Here are two spiritual songs that touch the matter of living Christ:
About Tom Smith
Hi. My name is Tom Smith. I'm the writer behind Holding to Truth in Love, and I love the Lord Jesus and His life-giving Word. Please feel free to send me an e-mail through the contact page if you have any questions. I hope you'd take a moment to subscribe to the Holding to Truth blog. Then you'll be sure not to miss a post. Thanks!