Holding to Truth

holding to truth in love for the building up of the Body of Christ

Is Christ being formed in you?

If you’re like most of us, you may never have considered such a question—“Is Christ being formed in you?”—whether for yourself, or  for those you love and care for. You might even endeavor to develop certain Christian practices or good works, but with little concern for whether Christ is being formed in you or in others.

However, when the apostle Paul said in Galatians 4:19, “My children, with whom I travail again in birth until Christ is formed in you,” he had a deep concern in his heart for the believers brought forth through his gospel preaching. He was not satisfied that they were merely regenerated, children of God. He was travailing like a mother with birth pangs for something much more than this.

Christ revealed in you, Christ living in you and Christ formed in you

Paul reminded the distracted Galatian believers of his own personal conversion. He said that though he was a zealot for the religious traditions of his Jewish forefathers, “it pleased God…to reveal His Son in me…” (Gal. 1:15-16). So from Paul’s salvation, he was converted from an outward religion to an indwelling Person. Christ was revealed IN Paul. This indicates that from the very beginning of our Christian life, God wants to give us an inner revelation of Christ IN us (Col. 1:27).

Then Paul went a step further to say that he had died to the religious law so that he might live to God. Then he went on to say, “I am crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me…” (Gal. 2:20). So for Paul to live, was not the law or any religious observances, but the living Person of Christ. Paul’s old man had been crucified with Christ and now Christ lived IN Paul, in His resurrection. This indicates that not only do we need the living Person of Christ revealed in us at our conversion, but we also need this wonderful Person to live in us throughout our entire Christian life.

However, Paul had a further expectation, for which he labored as a mother in the travail of child-bearing. He said, “My children, with whom I travail again in birth until Christ is formed in you” (Gal. 4:19). Paul exhausted himself with the goal that Christ would be formed in all His spiritual children.

What does it mean for Christ to be formed in you?

For something of life to take its “form” refers to the maturity of that life. When we first see a child as an infant, we marvel at the miracle of life and are full of anticipation. Yet, we wonder what the child will be like, what its “form” will be, when it reaches full growth. Then, when we watch a young one quickly grow and eventually receive a college degree, we may have some sense that their life has taken “form.” There is now the outward expression of their inner being.

Similarly, with every believer, there should be the expectation and travail that the Christ they’ve received in their divine birth would not only be revealed in them and live in them, but also be formed in them. That is, there should be the travail for every believer to reach maturity, to come to full growth.

How can we cooperate so that Christ may be formed in us?

First, we must allow Christ to permeate our whole being and saturate all our inward parts. In Ephesians 3:17, Paul prayed “that Christ may make is home in your hearts through faith…” This should also be our daily prayer as well as our daily exercise to allow Christ to saturate our mind, emotion, and will. When Christ occupies our inner being in such a way, He is formed in us.

Second, everything other than Christ must diminish, and Christ must become everything to us in our experience. We can’t instantly let go of all the things that replace Christ, but we can pray to allow the Lord to be everything to us so that all the other things are gradually displaced and diminish.

Third, we can pray to fellowship with the Lord in such a way that we allow Christ to mingle Himself with us, permeating and saturating us until He is completely blended with us. For more on this kind of prayer of fellowship with the Lord, you may also want to read my post, 14 Words to Enrich Your Fellowship with the Lord.

Eventually, we need allow Christ to be fully constituted into us. In Colossians, Paul first spoke of Christ being in us (1:27). Then he spoke of Christ being our life (3:4) and finally of Christ being “all and in all” (3:11), that is, constituted into us. He then gave us a practical way to allow Christ to be constituted into us by saying, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” (3:16).

Praise the Lord that we can cooperate with Christ’s constituting work by daily eating, digesting, and assimilating His living word. As we allow the word of Christ to dwell in us richly, Christ reconstitutes us with Himself, so that He may be formed in us  (John 6:35, 57; Matt. 4:4).

Finally, as the issue of Christ being formed in us, we will become sons of full age, heirs to inherit God’s promised blessing, and will mature in the divine sonship (Gal. 3:14, 26, 29).

“Dear Lord Jesus, bring us into the experience and enjoyment of Yourself as the One Who has been revealed in us, is now living in us and will be formed in us at our maturity. Lord, praise you that by such an experience and enjoyment of You, we are becoming sons of full age, heirs of God’s promised blessing, and mature in the divine sonship.”

This post is inspired by message two of the 2012 International Chinese-speaking Conference in Taipei, Taiwan, given by brother Lin Huong. The title of the message is, “Galatians—Christ Formed in Us.” It follows the review of message one entitled, “The Heart of the Divine Revelation – an overview of the four focal books” (via agodman.com). In the following weeks there will be similar reviews of the other messages given in this conference via newjerusalem12.wordpress.comclarkruss.wordpress.com, and achristianoncampus.wordpress.com.

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!

26 Replies

  1. “Until Christ is formed in us” – this is such a longing in Paul’s heart and certainly also in God’s heart. Lord, give us this same aspiration. Paul had to correct and admonish the Galatian believers but he still labored for Christ to be formed in them. This forming comes out of Christ living in us. When Christ is our living in all kinds of situations, then He is being formed in us. Lord, become my living in every place and at every time.

  2. cs

    I appreciate being asked such a profound question. Many of us have the assurance of salvation, but how do we know if Christ is being formed in us? Our only assurance is that if we cooperate with Him, we will gradually grow and mature in life until Christ is formed in us. I also appreciate being given these four ways to cooperate: 1) by allowing Christ to spread into our inward parts so that He can make His home in our hearts, 2) by giving Christ the ground to become everything to us in our experience, 3) by letting Christ mingle Himself with us through prayer and fellowship, and 4) by letting the word of Christ dwell in us richly by eating, assimilating, and digesting His word until we are constituted with Him.

  3. It’s something to realize that it is Christ formed and expressed out of us, not our own “light” that we shine forth. May all believers in Christ step away from self-improvement, to praying for Christ to be formed in them, to be revealed in us, until we all are full grown in Christ. I appreciate your second practical point, that we can’t instantly give up other things, but that we should pray that the Lord would grow to be more and more to us, such that those other things naturally fall away because we have been filled with Christ. I must confess that I still seek other entertainment other than Christ and the church; “Lord, may You in me and in the saints be more and more enjoyable to me, so that all other things fall away”.

  4. I’m impressed that Christ being formed in us is the full growth of Christ in us, the outward expression of our inward being. As believers in Christ, we are happy at the fact that Christ is in us. Yet, many of us would admit that there is not enough expression of Christ in our being and our living. Others may not be able to see and touch the Christ who is within us. Our desperate need is for Christ to be formed in us. I’m pleased that you gave us some practical ways to allow Christ to form Himself in us. May we be those continually opening to be mingled with Him, and may we allow His living word to dwell in us richly.

    I’m further impressed that it doesn’t stop with us, but that we can be one with the Lord in our caring for other believers that Christ may be formed in them as well. May we join with the apostle Paul in travailing that Christ would be formed in our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

    1. Thanks for the encouraging comment. I believe that we need to be continually reminded that our Christian life is not just to accomplish some outward things, as important as they may be. Rather, in all our daily living and Christian service, may there be a deepening consciousness of allowing Christ to be formed in us and of travailing in our prayer and care that Christ might be formed in others also.

  5. Joyousme

    Well I have never been asked such a lovely question all my life. I have been asked at few! Thank you.

    Reading the Bible, I have not noticed this question. Therefore I have not thought about it. Thank you coz now, am going to study this area and put it thoroughly into practice.

    The word of God is rich. We give God the praise.

    1. Tom Smith

      May we ask this question while in the Lord’s presence, “Is Christ being formed in you?”–first concerning our ourselves and then concerning those that the Lord has placed on our heart. Then we need to cooperate with the Lord in prayer and fellowship to afford Him the way to carry out this forming in us and others. This life-process begins with Christ being revealed in us (Gal 1:15-16). It continues with Christ living in us (Gal 2:20). Finally, it consummates with Christ being formed in us (Gal 4:17). May this become our travail for the believers even as it was with Paul so that Christ may be all and in all (Col 3:10-11).

  6. Joyousme

    Thank you for mentioning the word (travailing) in prayer. Praying for others that Christ be formed in them too.

  7. Joyousme

    Lord Jesus, may You, in me, and in other Christians be glorified. Amen.

  8. Francis

    Christ (Christos= 5 fold graces of Apostolic, Prophetic, Evangelistic, Pastoral and Teaching graces) that was upon Jesus the Son of God, to make Him The Christ. We who believe in Him therefore need to be filled with the same Spirit of Christ on order to expand His Kingdom in the earth, and thus, we all mature to the fullness of the stature that is in Christ Jesus. Thanks for this article Tom.

    1. Tom Smith

      In Ephesians 4:8-11 we see that our ascended Lord Jesus presented us to the Father as the captives that He delivered from Satan’s captivity. The Father gave us as gifts to Christ for the building up of His Body the church. The apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers are given by Christ to His Body for the perfecting of the saints (v. 12), so that we might be equipped to carry out the direct building work to fulfill Christ’s promise that “I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). This is how Christ carries out His commission in this present age. Yes for this we need to be filled with the Spirit of Christ so that through us He can spread His kingdom throughout the earth. As we participate in this process we are definitely being matured in Christ’s life to arrive at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13). Thank you for your comment.

  9. Andre Rivet

    Yes, this question is amazing. Thank you for your bringing this subject. It’s all about our approach and focus. If the people of this world, and there are not many, who give there entire self up in the Olympics and this only for a corruptible crown, how much more should we give everything up for the incorruptible one …

    1. Tom Smith

      That’s right. We have something so much more glorious…the eternal glory of Christ spreading from our spirit, through our entire soul, and eventually transfiguring our body to be conformed to His glorious body. Today, our real workout is to experience Christ in every area of our daily life and allow Him to be fully formed in us. May we give Him the cooperation He is seeking with more diligence than the Olympic athletes. We have a much better reward.

  10. prince alex

    great am really blessed.

    1. Tom Smith

      Glad you were blessed by this post. May this desire of the apostle Paul, for Christ to be formed in us, also become the desire or our heart. Every day may we ask the Lord Jesus to take further ground in our heart, to make home in our heart until Christ is fully formed in us. Thanks for sharing your appreciation in a comment. For a further appreciation of this point, you may like to read Message 23 of the Life-study of Galatians by Witness Lee. You can find it on the ministrybooks.org site.

  11. Dina Anderson

    I am tremendously blessed by this post. Thank God for your faithfulness and obedience. My prayer is Christ be formed in my life and the life of all who are in my sphere of influence so that the Kingdom of God will be advanced in the Earth. It is my prayer that all who come across this message will likewise be strengthened and changed with a deeper revelation of Christ who is indeed our Hope of Glory. May He indeed be formed in us and the glorious Light of His Life in us will shine and capture the hearts of those in darkness. God bless you. Thank you sincerely.

    1. Tom Smith

      I’m so glad that you were blessed by our post: “Is Christ Being Formed in You?” It is a great blessing of the Lord to realize God’s heart’s intent to make His Son, Jesus Christ, everything to us in our daily experience. When we see such a revelation, we really need to pray and and give Him the ground in us to be formed in all our inward parts as indicated in the conclusion of the post. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  12. Joshua

    Thank you Tom for this message. Though about 8 years have past since you penned down this Rhema, it is still refreshing to many soul;s. I am indeed blessed.

    1. Tom Smith

      I’m so glad you were blessed by this post on “Is Christ being formed in you?” Sadly, I’m afraid that many dear believers miss this precious truth and the experience of it. May we be enlightened by the Lord through Paul’s words in Galatians 4:17 that God desires for Christ to be formed in our being and cooperate with Him to afford the way to be formed more in us every day. Thanks for taking the time to share your appreciation in a brief comment.

  13. Lilian

    Wow the Word is living now. Refreshing my soul now. Yes not about my outward work but the inner me where Christ is form and can be manifested afterwards. Not unto me but unto His name. Thanks for penning this.

    1. Tom Smith

      I am so glad the word touched you. God’s word is not just for educating our mind but for spiritual supply in order to renew us inwardly and transform us to the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18). Thank you for sharing your enjoyment in a brief comment.

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