“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.” Gal. 2:20 ESV
This is a passage of scripture that the cheap grace or the easy-believism people like to exploit. This is one of those scriptures they use to say that Christ does it all and that we do nothing. But, the faith they say they have is some obscure faith that merely professes to know Christ, but the evidence is not there of a life truly crucified with Christ, for they still live to the flesh. For, no death to sin or living to God and his righteousness is required.
So, let’s break this verse down and see what it is truly saying.
I have been crucified with Christ
“I” is key here. For, “I” is not just an expression of an individual person, but it also signifies our self-life, our pride, and our selfish wills. So, this could be read to say that my pride, my self-life, and my selfish will was put to death with Jesus on that cross.
But, they will say, that Jesus did that for us when he died on the cross. For, he who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross so that when he died our sin died with him. True. But, not everyone is crucified with Christ. And, this is where faith enters in, with which they agree, only the “faith” they speak of is often a mere acknowledgment of that fact, and then it is an applying of what Jesus did for us to one’s life, only it is more like a carte blanche for them to then continue in sin without guilt or remorse.
So, while it is true that Jesus, in his death on a cross, put our sin to death, we still have to die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness. Our faith in him is not just saying to Jesus, “You do it all. I believe you did it. Therefore, I am saved and on my way to heaven.” James, in the book of James, warned about such thinking when he exclaimed that even the demons believe and they shudder.
So, this is talking about us agreeing with God about our sin, by surrendering our lives to him, by humbling ourselves before him, and by willingly dying with him to our self-life, our pride and our selfish wills. What he did for us on that cross paved the way to where we could die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteous in his power and strength, but it is not automatic or all people would be saved and bound for heaven.
No longer “I” who lives
And, let us look at this also. What did it mean for Jesus to die on that cross? He had to give up his life on this earth to put our sin to death. He had to be willing to be falsely accused, falsely arrested, mocked, spat upon, scourged, thought to be a criminal, and hung on a cross so that we could be free from our slavery to sin.
So, if we are crucified with Christ, we have to be willing to die to ourselves, to our wills, and to our reputations in order for us to be free from our slavery to sin, too. And, when Jesus died, he put sin to death. When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, and we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, we also die to our old lives of living for sin and self, so that we can now live new lives in Christ Jesus, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:17-24; Rom. 6:1-23; Lu. 9:23-25).
But Christ lives in me
When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, and we die to sin and self, and our self-life is put to death with Jesus on that cross, our pride, our selfish wills, and our “My do it” is put to death with him on that cross. But, we still live in flesh bodies. Our flesh is still at war with the Spirit and the Spirit is at war with the flesh. So, this is going to be a battle we face daily where the flesh will try hard to resurface. So, this dying with Christ to sin is not once, but it is daily that by the Spirit we must be putting to death the deeds of the flesh.
Yet, by coming to Christ in God-given faith, and by putting our self-wills on the altar, and by submitting ourselves to Christ and his cross, we are then indwelt with the Spirit of God so that Christ (God) is now living within us. But, it isn’t just that the presence of God is now within us, but it is that his life now lives and thrives within us in place of our self-life, for this is what it means to be crucified with Christ to where we no longer live but Christ lives I us. We still exist, but “self” is put to death so that Jesus can now reign!
So, what this means for us is that, as we daily die to sin and self, and as daily we surrender our lives to God and to doing his will, he is able to live his life out through us, and we are able to live the Christian life he designed for us to live through his power and strength, for it is no longer us trying to please God in our own strength, but we are now surrendering ourselves to the Lord where we are now allowing him to live his life out through us.
And, the life I live
Again, we still live in flesh bodies. We are still going to be tempted to sin. We still have the propensity to sin against God. So, we walk by faith. But, this faith is not some intellectual assent to who Jesus is or some casual acceptance of what he did for us on that cross. This is God-given and divinely persuaded faith which submits to the will and purposes of God.
And, it is a life that we consciously live by the power of God within us in submission to his will and purposes for our lives, too. It is a walk of faith, whereby daily we are, by the Spirit, putting sin to death, and whereby we are moment by moment surrendering our lives over to the Lord Jesus, and whereby we are allowing his life to be lived out through us for his glory, honor and praise.
Again, context is everything. We can’t pull scriptures out of context to make them say what we want them to say in order to appease our sinful flesh. So, in the context of Galatians, as a whole, we read that Jesus gave himself for our sins to DELIVER us from the present evil age. It also warns us against trying to be perfected by our human flesh instead of by the Spirit. And, it warns against us using our freedom in Christ as opportunities for the flesh, too.
And, then we are instructed that we must WALK (in lifestyle) by the Spirit so that we do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. And, then it names for us some of those works of the flesh, which are idolatry, sensuality, impurity, sexual immorality, and the like. And, then we are warned that those who practice (walk in) such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:16-24).
And, then it warns us against being deceived, and it tells us quite frankly that we are going to reap whatever we sow in this life. If we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction (decay, death). But, if we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will then reap eternal life (Gal. 6:7-8).
And, then we need to read Galatians in the context of the whole of the New Testament, too. And, there we find other scriptures which, in context, agree with what is said in the book of Galatians, that we must die with Christ to sin and we must live with Christ to his righteousness if we want to be saved from our sins and to have eternal life with God.
For, if we profess with our mouths that we are no longer in the darkness, and that we are now in fellowship with God, but in lifestyle (in practice) we are still living to please our sinful flesh, especially while denying that God requires from us repentance and obedience to his commands, then we are still in the darkness, we don’t know God, he doesn’t know us, and we don’t have eternal life with God. And, these are not my words. They are what the scriptures teach. So, we need to take this seriously, for our eternity depends on us knowing and living the truth.
[See: Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:16-24; Gal. 6:7-8; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 2 Co. 5:15; 1 Pet. 2:24.]
To Be Like Him
An Original Work / March 16, 2014
Based off Scripture
Crucified you are with Jesus.
To be like Him, oh, you’ll be,
Because He died at Calv’ry,
So from sin you’d be free.
Oh, what joy He brings into your life,
Giving life with Him endlessly.
Oh, what plans He has for your life.
Share the gospel faithfully.
Show the people He loves them.
Now His witness you’ll be.
Tell the world of sin about Jesus,
How He died for them on a tree.
Purifying hearts, He saves them,
Who believe on Christ, God’s Son.
Turning now from their idols,
New lives they have begun.
Jesus saves from sin; we’re forgiven.
Over sin, the vict’ry He won!
When He comes again to take us
To be with Him evermore,
There will be no more crying.
Gladness will be in store.
Heavens joys will now overtake us:
We’ll be with our Lord evermore.