Galatians 2:20 (NASB) “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 gave Himself up for me.”
Our memory verse this week is a favorite of mine and if you read the blog a couple of weeks ago you know it is part of the song “Crucified with Christ” that I shared. But what does Paul mean when he says that he has “been crucified” with Christ?
The primary motive for crucifixion lay in the assumption that such a gruesome form of execution would instill in the onlooker’s respect for law and order, as defined by the crucifiers. Paul’s perspective of the crucifixion was more than just the literal crucifixion; it was other-worldly, even apocalyptic. It was a cosmic event where all the powers of darkness conspired to kill Christ. The cross is the event that involved the death of the old cosmos and the birth of the new creation. Once we believe, our union with Christ is in His death and resurrection. Jesus was faithful in His obedience to the law so that the law shall have no hold on us if we believe in Him.
The believer lives for God by dying to the law. The law shows a man that he is a sinner and that he comes ever so short of perfection and righteousness. The first thing that a person must do to live for God is to die to the law and too self-righteous works.
When one believes Jesus Christ (God’s Spirit) lives in the body of the believer and the believer is to allow Christ to live through his body. God takes that believer’s faith:
- Counts his faith as his having died in Christ.
- Counts his faith as his identification with Christ in death.
- Counts his faith as his having already been punished for sin in the death of Christ.
The believer lives for God by trusting the grace of God, that is, by trusting Jesus Christ who is God’s righteousness. If a man sets aside the grace of God and seeks righteousness by the law, then Christ died in vain. The only way a believer can live for God is by trusting the grace and love of God, that is, by trusting the death of Jesus Christ for His righteousness.
The language of participation in Christ’s cross points to a relationship that runs far deeper than that of a disciple to a teacher. Participation in Christ’s crucifixion is the form of the death in which we are torn away from the cosmos in which we once lived and we are now in the cosmos of the new creation.
Our participation with Christ—our union with Him—is the fundamental basis for all of the other gifts we receive from God. By faith, we are joined with Christ. We become, in one sense, one with Him, or as Paul puts it here, “crucified with Him”—Christ living in us. There is an intimate union of the believer with Christ. And it’s because of that union with Christ that we are found just, before God. It is in that union with Him that God sees us in Christ, and because of Christ’s perfect righteousness, He declares each of us to be just.