Crucified with Christ
By David Faust
It’s possible to study the Bible the way a hiker enjoys mountain scenery. Look at the big picture. Read straight through several chapters and try to take it all in. Ponder the panorama of God’s redemption story.
We also can study the Bible the way a scientist uses a microscope. Pay attention to the details. Look closely at every sentence. See what you can learn by examining a single word or meditating on a short phrase like “justified by faith” (Galatians 2:16).
A biblical text normally has a single meaning, but it can have many applications. Consider these memorable words from the apostle Paul: “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 2:20). This one astonishing verse compels us to think about
- what happened at the cross (“I have been crucified with Christ”),
- the work of the Holy Spirit (“Christ lives in me”),
- what it means to be saved by grace (“I live by faith”), and
- the depth of God’s love for the individual (“the Son of God . . . loved me and gave himself for me”).
According to a commentary by William Barclay, the apostle Paul “had tried the way of the law; he had tried with all the terrible intensity of his hot heart to put himself right with God by a life that sought to obey every single item of that law.” But this approach led to frustration, for the more Paul tried to keep God’s law, the more he realized his own imperfection and helplessness. When Paul finally cast himself on the mercy of God, Barclay says, “So great was the change that the only way he could describe it was to say that he had been crucified with Christ so that the man he used to be was dead and the living power within him now was Christ himself.”
MAKING IT PERSONAL
How does Galatians 2:20 apply to us? Here are three ideas that come to mind.
My sins were nailed to the cross. A classic gospel song asks, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” Yes, I was. He carried all of my mischief and mistakes, recklessness and rebellion in his body on the cross (1 Peter 2:24). He paid a price too steep for me to afford to give me a gift I could never earn. I was crucified with Christ.
My ego was nailed to the cross. That word, ego, literally appears in the original text of Galatians 2:20. Paul insists that his ego (Greek for “I” or “self”) no longer lives. In baptism, the old sinful self dies and we rise to new life (Romans 6:1-4). Instead of striving for recognition and approval, our goal should be to shine the spotlight on Christ.
My death was nailed to the cross. “He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies” (Romans 8:11). We don’t need to fear death when the crucified and risen Christ lives in us.
Whether we take a big-picture view of the Bible or focus on the microscopic details, let’s cultivate a vibrant relationship with the Lord. Then, like the apostle Paul, we can say with confidence, “I live by faith in the Son of God.”
Personal Challenge: In your personal journal or on a piece of paper, copy down the words of Galatians 2:20 in your own handwriting. After prayerful reflection, write a few sentences expressing how you will apply this verse in your life.