“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.” Galatians 2:19-20
As we meditate on the wonderful love of our God toward us, especially as shown in the willing sacrifice of our Master on the cross, it is understandable that we would focus on the fact that He died for us in our place – “the righteous for the unrighteous” (1 Peter 3:18). Our brother Paul offers us another crucial perspective, however, that challenges us to face the fuller implications of what our Master did.
There is no question that Jesus died for us, but have we been crucified with Him? I’m afraid I lived for a long time thinking that Jesus died so I wouldn’t have to. That’s only partially true. There is a very real sense in which He died so that I could die with Him. The gospel message consistently reminds us that sin has to die, and so we who were thoroughly sinful were facing eternal death along with it. What Jesus made available in His death as the righteous man who had no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21) was a way to have our sinful self die but also receive a righteous self that might go on living fully and endlessly.
Paul wrote to disciples in the city of Rome that through baptism our old selves were crucified with Jesus so that the power of the flesh to rule us might come to an end (Romans 6:6). He wrote to the disciples in Colossae that through the cross Jesus had made the circumcision (cutting away) of our old sinful nature a reality for us, again connecting to our baptismal sharing in His death (Colossians 2:11-12). Beyond the momentary act of baptism, the apostle called disciples to maintain the effects of our sinful selves’ death by choosing to take off the old self and put on the new self (Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:9-10).
The change that Jesus’ sacrifice brought about wasn’t limited to the legal record of our sins being canceled. It also fundamentally changed the “self” with whom we identify. We no longer live for self in the grip of sin. We now live for Christ, by His power, for His purposes, according to His commands and teachings. Our whole self is being shaped by Him now, and the old way we understood ourselves is meant to be as dead and powerless as our Master’s body that was brought down off the cross. Wonderfully, as we willingly let go of who we once were, we discover who we were created to be all along!
Sharing in His death and life with you,