Galatians 2:20 (NIV)
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Our Verse of the Day comes to challenge us on this Good Friday! Whenever I read this passage, the weight of its message always challenges my heart. Too often, I believe, our thoughts are consumed with ourselves … our own plans and desires … and sometimes we lose focus on the purposes of God for our lives. Paul makes a very profound, experiential statement of faith; yet I wonder if we truly understand its significance for our own walk of faith. We have talked about the purpose of the crucifixion and the blood atonement for our sin that Jesus suffered for us, but do we see and identify with the death of sin that took place the cross in our personal lives?
Paul gives us is a powerful thought to embrace for ourselves. We are to personally identify with the crucifixion as though we ourselves (along with Christ Jesus) were nailed to that cross and put to death our own sin. As Paul wrote: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” (Cf. Colossians 3:5) And, “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” (Cf. Romans 8:13) Putting our sinful natures to death IS our personal identification with the cross of Christ! Moreover, our identity remains forever in Christ Jesus!
Romans 6:3-5 (NIV)
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we will certainly also be united with Him in a resurrection like His.
My friends, not only do we need to identify with the death to sin (buried in baptism), we need to see our resurrection to new life IN Christ. Just as we identify with His death, we can identify with His resurrection. We have been raised to new life in Him. And as we abide in Him and He is us, it is no longer we ourselves who live but Christ in us. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, that person is a new creation. The old has gone, the new is here!” (Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17) That new person is one who surrenders to live as Jesus did. (Cf. 1 John 2:6) Yes, the will of God is for our sanctification (Cf. John 17:17; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; 1 Thessalonians 5:23); that is, we should be separate or set apart for service unto God.
Romans 8:29 reminds us that God predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son. If we want to be like Jesus, we have to be crucified with Him. We have to put to death our sinful nature on the cross. It requires the sacrifice of our own wills. It demands self-discipline and sanctification out of reverence for God. The Apostles have communicated what Jesus clearly taught them. And so, perhaps it would be best to see how Jesus challenged His disciples. It still applies to us today:
Luke 9:18-25 (NIV)
And it happened, as Jesus was alone praying, that His disciples joined Him, and He asked them, saying, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” So, they answered and said, “John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” And He strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his crossdaily, and follow Me.For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?
This is the life of faith in Jesus that we are called to attain! And Paul has provided a practical perspective for me to apply to my life; namely, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” If I would but proclaim this one truth to my heart each morning when I awake, I would truly experience the sanctification God has made possible for my life. If I am dead to sin … if I no longer live but Christ lives in me (through His Holy Spirit) … then the desires of the flesh … my personal agendas … will all be nailed to the cross with Christ. I will no longer live for myself, but I will live in Christ and for Him. I cannot change who I was before I encountered Christ. I cannot undo the offenses, transgressions, and sins committed. I can only receive His gracious forgiveness … His merciful atonement for my rebellious spirit. Indeed, all those who belong to Christ Jesus have no other option.
So Now You Know…
Have a Blessed Day!
So, I say walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. ~ Galatians 5:16-25