I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
With these words, the Apostle Paul paints for all of us the picture of the Christian’s life. The reality of the new life we have in Christ as his “new creations” (2 Corinthians 5:17) is planted in the rich soil of the gospel: the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was at the cross where all of my sin, shame, greed, lust, selfishness, pride, and ignorance died. IT DIED. I DIED WITH IT. All of my sin died with Jesus on the cross.
Prior to knowing Christ, I was a sinner, in bondage to sin and only going to be a slave to sin apart from a divine intervention and transformation in my life. I may have had good works or deeds before knowing Jesus, but they were all empty and rooted in self-righteousness. Good deeds are possible without Jesus in a general, worldly sense. But anything that is done for the purposes of serving others for the glory of God is not possible without first being transformed from within by the power of God and trust in Jesus Christ. What took place at the cross was that all my sin was placed upon Jesus, where he endured the judgment of God and he bore the wrath of God for my sin in his body (2 Corinthians 5:21), making himself my substitute (Isaiah 53:5-6). In his place I received all of God’s grace and mercy. Grace is receiving something you do not deserve (salvation) and mercy is NOT receiving what you really deserve (punishment). In essence, at the cross a great exchange took place: I got all of God’s love and favor, and Jesus got all of my sin and judgment. So while my sinful self died with Jesus on the cross, I was given a new “self”, which is surrendered to God by faith in Jesus.
Because of the cross, and what Jesus did there to set me from from the chains of sin, I am now able to live by the words that Paul uses here. When he writes “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me”, he is essentially applying Jesus’ perfect righteousness to my life and testifying that whatever God honoring thought or action I have now is in essence Christ living through me. My surrender to Jesus as my Lord and Savior is a submission to God’s will to be done in me and through me for the glory of His name. So, I have been set free from sin to live for God’s glory, in God’s power, and to God’s worship.
So, now the life I live today, still in this fleshly body which is subject to the effects of sin and temptation, I live by faith in God. It is by faith that one is justified (Galatians 2:16) and made right with God. My life every single day is a constant process, struggle, and fight to surrender to God’s will in my life by having full faith in Jesus. But the promise of Galatians 2:20 remains true and unmoved: I am crucified with Christ (my old self no longer has power over me) and now I live in this life for the exaltation of Jesus, who loves me and gave himself (to death) for me. Every morning, afternoon, and evening is saturated with this gospel truth. Every relationship, job, task, and experience is deeply effected by the gospel. When faced with trials of many kind (James 1:3) I can consider it joy, because my old self is dead and my new self in Christ is alive. I don’t “have to be a sinner”, because Jesus has set me free to live righteously.
Yet I struggle against this flesh to seek my own way, to live by my sinful desires, and to ignore Christ for the sake of my own comfort and convenience. Praise God that my old self has been crucified, and I am no longer bound to only live apart from God. Now I can chose Christ instead of sin. So this life, which Jesus died to save, is now surrendered to him and sacrificed for him. And by God’ s will, we will persevere for his glory.