I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (verse 20)
In writing to his friends in Galatia, Paul is deeply concerned to preserve their freedom in Christ. He wants to ensure that they not shift away from simple faith in Christ and begin to place faith in their own actions instead. The specific issue had to do with circumcision and other elements of the Jewish law. Some within the church were insisting that Gentiles who had come to faith in Jesus were also required to keep these aspects of the Jewish law or they wouldn’t be saved. Paul vehemently objects. “By observing the law no one will be justified” (2:16), he says.
Instead, there is a brand-new reality. Using himself as a model, Paul invites the Galatians, and us, to reaffirm our new position in Christ: “I died to the law, so that I might live for God”(2:19). If that’s true (and it is!) it spells an end to relying on human effort. If “dead men tell no tales,” they certainly don’t keep up with observing religious laws either. They simply can’t.
So, along with Paul, here’s my new reality: “I have been crucified with Christ.” On the cross, Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” He gave up his spirit and died. Speared in the side, he gushed blood and water, the separated clot and serum a sure sign death had occurred. That’s my position, too. Crucified. Dead to any possibility of my own effort making me acceptable in God’s sight. It is finished.
But there’s more. The cross was not the end for Jesus. Hallelujah, Christ arose! So, too, for me. “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” The Resurrected One lives his life right here, right now. I hear all those great Easter hymns ringing in my ears. I discover that I am actually caught up in them in Christ. Hallelujah!
So, don’t you see? How could we ever think we could add anything extra to secure our salvation? How could circumcision or diet or religious observance of any kind do anything for me if I’m dead, and then resurrected in Christ? Rather, “the life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God.” That’s it. Full and complete. Faith alone, in Jesus. How could there ever be anything more?
And my new reality is fully sealed because the Son of God, whose life now fills me, “loved me and gave himself for me.” It’s as personal as that. I was in his sights when he went to the cross. He was committed to me before I ever knew him. In love, Jesus himself paid the price for my forgiveness and salvation. How could I ever add anything that would make that salvation more secure?
Oh, I am now called to loving obedience, that’s sure. I will allow his life in me to shape me and conform me more and more, day by day, to his likeness. This is the joy of the journey.
But I am crucified and made alive in Christ. It’s a new reality. Everything is changed.
O Lord Jesus, thank you that in your death and resurrection you cleared a pathway of salvation and transformation for me. I have been crucified with you, dying to the old bondage of sin and the law. I have been made alive with you, your very life filling me, so that it is now you who live. My life is yours. Strengthen faith within me by your Spirit that I may walk in this reality. Thank you that your unending love preserves me.
Reflect: Pause several times today to remember this new reality: It is no longer you who live, but Christ himself who lives in you. As you remember, submit your hands and feet and mind and mouth and thoughts and affections to him again. Give thanks.