THE FORMATION OF CHRIST
"My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you . . ." Gal. 4:19
"Christ is formed in you"
It's vitally important here that we understand that there are two different aspects or ways that God works in the life of the believer. The one that we are more familiar with is conforming us into the image of His Son. This refers to the transformation process whereby the Holy Spirit changes us from glory to glory into the image of Christ. He uses the tools of suffering, trial, and tribulation, as well as beholding the Lord, to accomplish this task.
This is not what the Apostle Paul is referring to here in Galatians. Rather, he is speaking here of the actual "formation" of Christ inside the believer. Isn't that rather a strange phrase? "Until Christ is formed in you"? How could Christ not be formed with you? Isn't He completely formed already? Is He not already fully complete in every way? Of course, there is no deficiency in Christ.
Our Perception of Him
The fact of Christ not yet being formed within us has to do with our perception of Him. Paul was saying that the Galatian believers could not yet see Him clearly. Their perception of Him was not yet clearly defined. He was still out of focus to them. Yes, He lived within them, and yes, they could see Him. However, He was still ill-defined and they could not see His features clearly. He was an "unformed" Christ to them.
The Problem in Galatia
Remember what motivated Paul to write this letter. The legalists had come to the churches in Galatia and brought in their "gospel" of the law. The believers had been "bewitched" by the law even though Christ crucified had been preached to them by Paul and Barnabas.
They still believed that there was something they needed to do to fulfill the requirements of the Father. That there was still something they needed to do to please God. You see, they still didn't believe that it was useless for them to try and please God. The reason that the Judaizers' message found fertile ground in the hearts of the Galatians is because they still had an unformed Christ within them. They had not yet fully recognized the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ Fulfilled the Law
In what we call the "Sermon on the Mount," Jesus Christ raised the standard above the law of Moses. "You have heard it said that thou shalt not commit adultery, but I say . . ." He explained the Father's real intent behind the law to show us that no one could ever fulfill it. Then He proceeded to fulfill every law and requirement of the Father! Then, on the cross, He put to death every law, requirement, and standard used for pleasing God (Col. 2:14).
He fulfilled every law simply by living by the Father's life. Who else could fulfill the standard and requirements of the Father except the Father Himself? The Son fulfilled every requirement - in the only way He could . . . by living by the Father! He walked, ate, and breathed by the life of the Father. (see John 6:57)
The Unformed Christ
The reason the Galatians were susceptible to the legalists is because they still could not see the Christ within them clearly. Their revelation of Him was still immature and they could not see all of His features. They could not see that He who lived within them was the fulfillment of the law. They could not see that He continually pleases the Father within them and now the only thing left to do was to live by His life. ". . . that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the true knowledge of Him."