My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you (Galatians 4:19, KJV )
The Apostle Paul uses a remarkable analogy to describe the labor of ministers and the maturity of the believer. He compares the struggles and toils of the minister to labor pains and the “baby” that is born as Christ in the believer. Let me focus on the birth of Christ in the character of the believer in this devotional.
What does it mean to have Christ formed in the believer? The Galatians were already saved, and certainly had Christ already dwelling in their hearts(spirit) Was this a second born again experience? Certainly not. It brings us to the mystery of what constitutes our being. It is the beautiful dynamic of the human spirit and the soul. The soul is the man, the you, that lives here on the earth. The natural world was not created for spirits, including the human spirit, to live and function in. The “you” that lives here and now, that is conscious of yourself, thinks, feels, and makes decisions, etc is the soul. The spirit lives on the earth in the soul.
It is the spirit that relates and contacts God. The soul relates and contacts the physical world. Your character, that is visible to your neighbors, your family, and friends, etc is not a direct function of your spirit but of the soul. When Jesus came into our hearts, He came into our spirit for that is the part that connects directly with God. But the spirit is not what directly determines your behavior here on the earth. The process by which the soul is being transformed progressively to take on the character of Christ, that is, thinks, feels and makes decisions as Christ does, is what is meant by Christ being formed in the believer.
If the human spirit directly lived on the earth, then all believers will spontaneously behave like Jesus as soon as they get born again. The reason we do not is that the spirit has to live in and as the soul on the earth and that means through the way you think, feel or make decisions which is essentially what the soul is. It should become obvious why the renewal of the mind is crucial for our full development in the faith.
What is the difference between Christ dwelling in your spirit and Christ being formed in you?
APPLY THE WORD
Do you know why we go through the headaches of preaching and teaching the Word, including publishing daily devotionals such as the one you are reading? It is the labor of ministry for Christ to be formed in you. It is the Spirit’s deep-seated desire to see you grow in your faith. Let the Word build and form Christ in you!
Pray for the entire Body of Christ that the Lord will bring us to the place of maturity as His Spirit leads.