We are in the habit of saying that Christ saves us by His death on the cross. In an important sense this is true, but it is not the whole truth. We need Christ in us as much as we need His death for us. By a dependence upon that one great past act of Christ when He died on the cross we have forgiveness, but to be cleansed from indwelling sin and to live the overcoming life we must have Christ Himself dwelling within us as a present living Savior. It is only as we receive Him into our hearts, and in proportion as we submit to His possession and control, that the life of holiness is in any sense possible. But He offers to come to us in His person, and to become to each and all an indwelling life, which will literally reproduce in us His own purity, and enable us to live among men as He lived.
Christ speaks of Himself as abiding in His people, and of His life flowing through them as the life of the vine flows through the branches. As at the Transfiguration, where, through the thin veil of His humanity, His divinity burst forth, so is the life of holiness. It is simply the outshining of the Divine life which is within us. "Sanctity," says an old writer, "is nothing else than the life of Jesus Christ in man, whom it transforms, so to speak, by anticipation, making him to appear, even here below, in some measure what he shall be when the Lord shall come in glory." If Christ be in full possession of our hearts, it will not be long before we are doing in our poor way some of the beautiful things He would do if He were here Himself in bodily form. That He may reproduce His own life in ours is the great purpose of His indwelling, and this is the secret of holy living.
There is none holy but the Lord, and He will come and take up His abode in the center of our being, and thence purify the whole house through and through by the radiating power of His own blessed presence. As to the woman of Samaria, who asked that she might drink of the living water, the Savior promised that the well should be in her; so to us, not His gifts but Himself will He give. If we get the Bridegroom, we shall get His possessions. How superior in permanency is the Giver over the gift The latter may be evanescent, but the former comes to abide. "We will come," Christ said, including the Father with Himself, "and make our abode with him." This is something which the Old Testament saints never knew. God was with Abraham, Moses, and Elijah; but God now dwells within the humblest of His saints who sincerely receive Him. This is the mystery hid from ages and generations: "Christ in you, the hope of glory." This is "the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the wisdom which none of the princes of this world knew." "Christ made unto us of God, wisdom, even righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." This is the great provision of the Gospel, a living personal Savior, Christ our life.
Heathen writers speak of virtue, which means to them the repression of evil; but of holiness — the outshining of Divine life — they know nothing. Christianity is the only religion in the world which teaches that God dwells within men, as certainly as of old the Shekinah dwelt in the most holy place. In His earthly life Christ said that the Father dwelt in Him so really that the words He spoke and the works He did were not His own, but His Father’s. And He desires to be in us as His Father was in Him, so thinking in our thoughts, and willing in our will, and working in our actions that we may be the channels through which He, hidden within, may pour Himself forth upon men, and that we may repeat in some small measure the life of Jesus on the earth.
— New Testament Holiness (2nd edition 1903), Chapter 8.