“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.”Galatians 2:20 (ESV)
In the verses just before this one, Paul talks about the fact that no one can be justified before God by following the Law. Obedience to God’s commands – while to some a worthy endeavor – is not able to make a person righteous.
Paul was born and raised in the religion of Judaism, where it was taught that simply obeying all of God’s laws and commands and striving to be holy were enough to make a person justified and righteous and acceptable to God. And yet, Christianity taught something radically different.
The gospel taught Paul that only God could make a person justified, and that this was not a result of good works. It was a matter of faith.
Paul highlights the fact that, as a follower of Jesus, he has “died to the law” so that he might “live to God.” And how was this possible?
Because he had been “crucified with Christ.” It was no longer him who was living; it was Christ living in him that made him righteous and good.
Living by faith in the Son of God was the means to justification, the only way to be accepted by God and made right before Him.
And the same is true for us.
As Christians, this human, earthly life that we are living is not all that there is. If we have been united with Christ through believing in His death and resurrection – believing that He “loved us and gave Himself up for us” – then it’s not what we DO that matters. What truly matters is that Christ is living and working IN us to make us who God wants us to be.
Christ lives in us. Christ is perfecting us. Christ is leading us and shaping us and making us righteous before God. And that presence and work and power and perfection is ours, not because of our good works or our obedience to His commands, but because of faith.
So, because of faith and because of His love and because of His grace, we are fully accepted by God. And, out of that, we go on to obedience and good works. We strive to obey God’s commands and walk in righteousness, not because we are trying to earn something, but because His grace is fully alive in us and we have ALREADY received something.
How can you be more fully surrendered to God’s work in you this week? In what ways do you need to be reminded of God’s total acceptance and love for you? How can you live a more “crucified” life – one that is dead to sin, dead to works-based righteousness, and alive to grace?
For further study, read Galatians 2:11-21.