Christ Lives In Me
The motivating force behind our service to God is our loyalty and love for Jesus. If our appreciation for Him is lacking, then so will our service in the kingdom of God. Jesus pointed out that the result of our loving Him is the keeping of His commandments (John 14:15, 21; cf. 1 John 5:2,3). But at this time I would like for us to notice a slightly different angle than just the fact of the necessity of keeping the Lord's commandments. We want to consider the depth of our commitment and love for Him. The level of commitment is described very well in the words of Paul in the letter to the Galatians, so we will take his words as our text.
"For through the Law I died to the Law, that I might live unto God. I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me." (Galatians 2:19-20).
Other Ways Will Fail
"For through the Law I died to the Law, that I might live unto God." (Galatians 2:19).
Paul's earlier dedication to the Law of Moses was unquestionable. He cherished it. It was the center of his life. It was his identity. Its friends were his friends and its enemies were his enemies.
Not only did he love the Law, but the Law provided him with great rewards as well. It gave him purpose. It gave him power and prestige. It was his future path to greatness as it had made him a leader of men. It filled him with a wonderful sense of pride (Philippians 3:4-6).
But one thing it did not do; it did not make him alive unto God. The day came when Paul had to "die" to the Law. He had to part ways with its promise, rewards, prestige, power and such. It was the only way to "live unto God."
Likewise for us as well. Because of our circumstances, it probably will not be the Law of Moses that is our focus. But whatever it is that we love and trust; that we are focused upon; that is the center of our lives; we must be willing to set it aside in favor of putting Christ Jesus in its former position. We must have the same attitude as Paul did; that when compared to knowing Christ, the other things we love are but rubbish (Philippians 3:7,8).
Crucified With Christ
"I have been crucified with Christ..." (Galatians 2:20a).
When did Paul's "crucifixion with Christ" occur and to what does it refer? Essentially, it happened when Paul said "no" to self and "yes" to Christ. It happened when he became committed to trust and obey Jesus in everything, and to put away those things that did not fit in with living for Jesus. To sum it up in one word, Paul was "crucified with Christ" when he "repented."
This "crucifixion" is spiritual, or figurative, in nature, though it has visible results in one's life. And just as Christ's literal crucifixion occurred before His burial, so does ours. We repent, and then we are buried in anticipation of rising up from our spiritual grave to live a new life. "...knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, and that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is free from sin." (Romans 6:6,7).
How tiresome it is to hear people suggest that grace is meant to assure us of eternal life whether we truly repent or not; that we can continue to sin "that grace may increase" (Romans 6:1,2). That is not how it is at all! While God does provide grace to His children who stumble and sin (1 John 1:8-10), He does not permit a careless, nonchalant attitude toward disobedience. As he made it abundantly clear to the Gallatin disciples, not only is it possible to fall from grace and be severed from Christ, some of them had already done that very thing ! (Galatians 5:4).
Christ Lives In Me
"...and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me..." (Galatians 2:20b).
When had it been that Jesus began to live in Paul? This new life began when Paul arose from baptism. It is when we are "baptized into Christ" that we are "clothed with Christ" (Galatians 3:27). Again, referring back to the letter to the Romans; "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore, we are buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:3,4).
Paul's new life began when he arose from baptism. First came the crucifixion with Christ (repentance); then the burial with Christ (baptism) followed by being raised up with Christ (to walk in newness of life). So strong is Christ's presence in the life of one who so walks that Paul even exclaims that is no longer he who lives but Christ lives in him! Think about this; how ludicrous it would be for me to claim that I am in this kind of fellowship with the Son of God if my daily living is given to neglect, selfishness, envy, strife, bitterness, hatreds, malice, immorality, deceit, materialism and so forth. If my interests are clearly of the world, as made evident by my speech, conduct and manner of dress, then my claim to be what Paul describes here is a false claim.
Living By Faith
"... and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me." (Galatians 2:20c).
Paul's life was righteous in Christ. It was not a righteousness of his own. He had not devised his new life, Jesus had. Paul had merely surrendered himself to Jesus, putting his faith in Him.
This life, Paul realized, was his only hope. Seeing the need to "live in the flesh...by faith in the Son of God" does not nullify the grace of God. Some say that being saved by grace means we are saved no matter how we walk, but the Bible does not teach that (2 Corinthians 5:10). Grace does not nullify the need to "live by faith". It does not take away the need to love, trust and obey Jesus.
Righteousness does not come through the Law of Moses, nor by any other scheme or plan save one; the gospel of Christ .
Grace brings to us salvation, but also responsibilities. As those responsibilities are met, we are living by faith. There is quite simply no other path to God; if there is, the "Christ died needlessly." (Galatians 2:21). But there is not. His death was an absolute necessity, and there is no other way to the Father but by Him (John 14:6).
By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 5.3; March 1998