‘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 for me’, Gal. 2.20 NASB
Paul’s letter to the Galatian churches tells us of a problem that threatened the early church because it divided Christians from Gentile and Jewish backgrounds. The apostle Peter had received special revelation from God on this sensitive issue and had taught, ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him’, Acts 10. 34-35 NKJV. However, Peter changed his stance, ‘for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy’, Gal. 2. 12-13 NKJV.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul addressed the issue and showed that Peter had changed, due to fear of disapproval from the Jerusalem saints. He was prioritizing himself and his reputation and, by so doing, was protecting his ego.
For Peter, and any Christian, to act in this way is a denial of the work of the Lord Jesus at the cross. Paul explains that we have been crucified with Christ. He makes it a personal statement since it is all about ME, ‘I have been crucified with Christ’. This has to do with the death of ME, I and MYSELF. We need to learn the following truths.
It is a completed act in the past with continuing effects. Crucifixion is not something that we do, but is something that Christ has accomplished for us!
The passive voice indicates that we did not crucify ourselves, God did it to us.
Paul is referring to a spiritual experience which took place when Christ became my substitute and paid the price for my sins. As a result, as far as the law of God is concerned, I died and therefore the law is satisfied and has no claim on me.
Before my salvation I was dead to God but alive to self. Now I am dead to self and alive to God.
‘I’ is ego in the New Testament Greek language. It is no longer about me (my ego). That is all dead and gone. As a person, it is no longer ‘me’ and all about me; it is Christ and all about Christ. When I was saved, the Lord Jesus took up residence in my heart by the Holy Spirit, Rom. 8. 9-11, and so a good definition of a Christian is a person in whom Jesus Christ lives. Now the reality of His life will keep showing up in my thoughts, desires, and obedience. By residing within me, He is affecting all of my life.
As a Christian, my life is not about the old ‘me’ and feeding my ego. Selfishness ought to be a thing of my past life, which is now dead. If ‘I’ am still alive, i.e., the flesh, I should not think that I am now living for Christ. Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that becoming a Christian changed our priorities and focus. Actually, it was more radical than that. Instead of me trying to live for Christ, becoming a Christian is Christ living in me.
How do I live this new life? How do I enjoy it to the full? Faith is the answer. Just as we live physically in the sphere (atmosphere) of oxygen, we live spiritually in the sphere of faith. Christ does not operate automatically in a believer’s life; it is a matter of living the new life by faith in the Son of God. It is, then, faith and not works or legal obedience that releases divine power to live a Christian life. This faith, stated Paul, builds on the sacrifice of Christ who loved us and gave Himself for us. In essence, Paul affirmed, if He loved me enough to give Himself for me, then He loves me enough to live out His life in me.