The Indwelling of Christ in Believers
Ephesians 3:17
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith. Whether we regard this clause of the prayer as representing the result, or the purpose, or the source of the spiritual strength spoken of in the previous clause, it is in very close relationship with it. Its own meaning is perfectly clear.

I. THE INDWELLER - CHRIST. There is a threefold idea suggested by the term.

1. The believer is regarded as a temple or house to be divinely inhabited. It is originally a house in ruins, to be restored as a beautiful temple of the Lord. Judging by the analogy of restoring a ruined house, the first operation is a cleansing out of the rubbish; the second, an opening of the windows to admit the pure air of heaven, and a kindling of a fire on the hearth; the third is a closing up or all the cracks or openings in the walls by which the wind or air finds access; and the fourth is the furnishing of the rooms with such articles of convenience as our taste and our means may enable us to procure. Similarly, when the Lord takes up his abode in the sinner's heart, the process, though not successive in point of time, includes, first, the application of the blood of Christ to "the heart sprinkled from an evil conscience;" second, the opening of the windows of the understanding to displace the tainted atmosphere of man's thoughts, and the kindling of the fire of love Divine in the heart; third, the watchful closing up of those avenues in the soul through which sin so easily finds access; and fourth, the furnishing of the soul with the needed graces of the Spirit.

2. The indwelling is here ascribed to Christ. It is elsewhere ascribed to the Holy Spirit: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16). It is likewise ascribed to the Father: "He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him" (1 John 4:16). These varying forms of expression find their solution in the doctrine of the Trinity. He that hath seen the Son hath seen the Father, and be that hath the Son hath the Father; then, again, he that hath the Son hath the Spirit of Christ: "The Spirit of God dwelleth in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you ... the Spirit is life because of righteousness" (Romans 8:9, 10). Therefore, when the apostle speaks of Christ dwelling in our hearts, he refers to the Spirit's indwelling, for Christ dwells in his people by his Spirit. But there is a distinction in the modes of this indwelling: the Father dwells in us by love (1 John 4:16); the Son by faith (Ephesians 3:17); the Spirit lies hid in the heart, working the faith in the one case anti the love in the other.

3. It implies an abiding habit of life. Christ does not come as a sojourner or as a wayfaring man, that turneth aside to tarry for the night, but as a constant dweller. Herein lies our security for the continuance, the power, the comfort, of this life.

II. THE SEAT OF INDWELLING - THE HEART. This is the true shrine. The word signifies the seat of religious knowledge as well as feeling. Thus Christ sits at the very center of spiritual life, himself the very Life of that life (Galatians 2:20), controlling all its impulses and movements. The objects we most desire we treasure in the heart. The heart wearies of many things, but can never weary of this Divine Visitant, who can speak with commanding voice when the soul is disturbed by suggestions of sin. "If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart" (1 John 3:20). The Lord is the supreme Possessor of the heart "now sprinkled from an evil conscience."

III. THE SUBJECTIVE MEANS OF THE INDWELLING - FAITH. This is not to be regarded merely as the means of our justification, or as the root of our spiritual life, but as its continuously sustaining principle, according to the apostle's teaching: "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and. the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). This is the faith that worketh by love, that purifies the heart, that overcometh the world. It is the principle of spiritual communion; it is that by which we realize the presence, the excellence, the power, of Christ in us; it is that which radiates all grace and peace through the believer's heart. - T.C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

WEB: that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that you, being rooted and grounded in love,

The Indwelling Christ
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