“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20

One way of understanding the principle of practicing the presence of Christ is to identify what the apostles meant when they used the following phrases: “in Christ,” “in the Lord,” “in Him,” and “in Christ Jesus.” In Paul’s writings alone, you find “in Christ Jesus” 39 times, “in Christ” 35 times, “in the Lord” 43 times, and “in Him” 17 times. Such repetition should cause you to take notice! (Incidentally, there are more phrases worth your consideration, like “by Him,” “through Him,” and “with Him.”)

Our problem is that we often gloss over most of the occurrences of these phrases, especially if we have been saved for any length of time. The tendency is to view the prepositional phrases as fillers. They are decidedly not so. If you believe in the verbal, plenary inerrancy of Scripture then you must believe that God deliberately placed each word in its context with intent and exactitude. In general, the phrases are used to point out some specific blessing a believer receives in his relationship to Christ. Essentially, understanding and applying what God is communicating by His use of these phrases is the key to your identity as a child of God! Ignoring the phrase in its various contexts diminishes your understanding of who you are in Christ.

Practicing the presence of Christ is living according to your spiritual identity. Living “in Him who is true” is key to your soul’s foundation, your sense of assurance, your positional sanctification, and your standard of character and conduct.

The Greek word translated “in” is generally understood best by “in the sphere of.” Notice, it is not “in the circle of” but “in the sphere of.” If you are merely in the circle of Christ, then you miss the three dimensional significance of the phrase. Being within a circle brings to mind childhood games where you were in a circle as long as part of you was within the scribed marks on the ground. Above the ground did not count, merely having your feet touching within was enough.

A sphere is much different. When you are in the sphere of Christ, you are surrounded by Him, above, below, on either side, before and behind, all of you is in Him. You are enveloped by Him, and encompassed by Him. None of you is left outside the sphere. The picture also serves to illustrate that all your supply and service is to be found within Him. Being in Him separates you as well as protects you. Curses upon sin are shed by being within the sphere. All your soul’s good is supplied to you within the boundaries of the sphere.

Living in Him who is true is key to your soul’s foundation. Your salvation is all encompassed by Christ (2 Timothy 3:15). 1 John 5:10ff says, “This life is in His Son…I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” Your salvation’s foundation in faith provides the sphere in which you make your decisions, since the truth is in Jesus. 1 John 5:18 states, “…he who has been born of God keeps [guards] himself, and the wicked one does not touch him”. Colossians 3:17 states, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Living in Him who is true is key to your sense of assurance. The local church body is in Christ, just as individual believers are in Christ. Colossians 2:5ff reads, “…rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” Your obedience in the sphere of Christ is rewarded as God preserves you (Jude 1), and sanctifies you (Hebrews 10:10–14). 2 Timothy 2:1 commands, “…be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

Living in Him who is true is key to your positional sanctification. Ephesians 1:3ff reads, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him…In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins….” Philippians 3:9 begins, “and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness…but that which is through faith in Christ….” No wonder believers have hope even in the face of death! Believers are those who “die in the Lord” (Revelation 14:13) and “sleep in Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:14, 16), awaiting their resurrection day!

Living in Him who is true is key to your standard of character and conduct. In Him is our strength (Ephesians 6:10), answered prayer (1 John 5:14), hope in persecution (2 Timothy 3:12, 1 Peter 4:12), direction in our relationships (Ephesians 5:21–6:1), our faith, hope, love, our thinking, speaking, walking, our sorrow, rejoicing, and our conquering and triumphing. 1 Corinthians 15:58 reminds us, “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord!” Trust and obey.