7. The Indwelling Word
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.” Col. 3:16. Rightly understood, this text solves the problem of Christian living. So let’s spend a few minutes to see how much is involved in it.
It can’t be doubted that there is power in the word of God, far above that of any other book. The Lord through the prophet Jeremiah rebukes the false prophets, who speak their own words instead of the words of God, and says: “What is the chaff to the wheat?” “Is not My word like as a fire? Saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” Jer. 23:28, 29.
The word hidden in your heart protects against sin. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” Ps. 119:11. And of the righteous we read that the reason why none of his steps slide, is that “the law of his God is in his heart.” Ps. 37:31. David also says: “By the word of Thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer.” Ps. 17:4.
The word of the Lord is the seed by which you are born again. The Apostle Peter says: “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently; being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” 1 Peter 1:22, 23. When you become Christ’s you are born again by the Spirit, and the word of God is the seed from which you are developed into a new creature in Christ.
The word has power to give life. It is itself “quick,” that is, alive, and powerful; and the Psalmist prays to be quickened, made alive, according to the word, and then says: “This is my comfort in my affliction; for Thy word hath quickened me.” Ps. 119:25, 50.
Jesus states this plainly in John 6:63: “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” This shows that the power of the Spirit of God dwells in the word of God.
With the knowledge that the word of God is the seed by which you are born unto a new life, and that hiding the word in your heart keeps you from sin, you may easily understand 1 John 3:9: “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” How simple! There is in the word that divine energy which can transform your mind, and make you a new creation “which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Of course the word can do this only if you receive it in simple faith. But the word does not lose any of its power. If your soul thus born again retains that sacred, powerful word by which you were born, it will keep you still a new creature. It is as powerful to preserve as it is to create.
Jesus, our great example, gave us an illustration of this. When tempted on every point by the devil, his only reply was, “It is written,” followed by a text of Scripture that met the temptation exactly. If you would stand fast you must do the same thing. There is no other way. Here is an illustration in David’s words, “By the word of Thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer.”
In speaking of the casting down of the “accuser of our brethren,” the heavenly voice says: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.” Rev. 12:11. The word of their testimony is the word of God that the Psalmist delighted in. They overcame Satan by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of God.
This can only be done when you have the word of God abiding in you. The Spirit is given to bring truth to your memory in time of trial; but if you haven’t learned it then you won’t be able to remember it. But if you have hidden the word in your heart, the Spirit will remind you of it when you are tempted. He will bring to your memory just the word that will foil the tempter.
Every Christian can testify as to the power of the word at such times. When inclined to congratulate yourself on some real or fancied superior attainment, what a powerful check are the words, “Who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” 1 Cor. 4:7. Or when harsh and bitter thoughts are struggling within you for control, what power to quell those turbulent emotions lies in the words, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.” 1 Cor. 13:4, 5. When provoked almost beyond endurance, how the gentle rebuke, “The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men,” helps you to be calm. Add to this the many “exceeding great and precious promises” which bring victory to your soul as you grasp them by faith. Thousands of aged Christians can testify to the miraculous power resting in a few simple words of the Scriptures.
Where does the power come from? The answer is found in the words of Christ: “The words which I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” What spirit are they? The Spirit of Christ. So the power of the Spirit dwells in the word. Truly, Christ himself dwells in the word, for He is the Word.
Can you understand the mystery of inspiration? Only if you can understand the mystery of the incarnation; for both are the same. “The Word was made flesh.” We cannot understand how Christ could be all the fullness of the Godhead, and at the same time be in the form of a servant, subject to all the infirmities of mortal flesh. Neither can we understand how the Bible could be written by fallible mortals, exhibiting the peculiarities of each, and yet be the pure, unadulterated word of God. But it is certainly true that the power that was in the Word that was made flesh, is the power that is in the word that the apostles and prophets have written for us.
Now you can begin to appreciate the power residing in the word. “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.” Ps. 33:6. Christ, by whom the worlds were made, upholds them “by the word of His power.” Heb. 1:3. The power that resides in the words of revelation, is the power that could speak the worlds into existence, and can keep them in their appointed places. Surely it is worth your while to take time to study and meditate on the word.
In doing this you bring Christ himself into your heart. In John 15, the Lord exhorts you to abide in Him, and to allow Him to abide in you; and then a few verses later He speaks of you abiding in Him, and His word abiding in you. John 15:4, 7. It is by his word that Christ abides in your heart; for Paul says that Christ will dwell in your heart by faith (Eph. 3:17); and “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Rom. 10:17.
Many people earnestly long for Christ to come and dwell in their hearts, and they imagine that the reason why He does not do so is because they are not good enough, and they vainly set about trying to get so good that He can condescend to come in. They forget that Christ comes into your heart, not because it is free from sin, but in order to free it from sin; and possibly they never realized that Christ is in the word, and that if you will make it a constant companion, and will yield yourself to its influence, you will have Christ dwelling within. When you have hidden the word in your heart, you meditate on it day and night, and you believe it with the simple faith of a child—then you have Christ dwelling in your heart by faith, and you will experience His mighty, creative power.
Isn’t this thought encouraging? When you come to God in secret prayer, and the Spirit brings to your remembrance some precious promise or needed reproof, isn’t it encouraging to know that as you accept them, Christ is coming into your heart with the same power that created the worlds from nothing? Doesn’t it clothe the word with new dignity? No wonder David could never tire of sounding its praises. May the thought that God is in the word be a fresh incentive to you to gain strength for your work by taking more time to feed on the source of divine strength.
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