“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no long 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 up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” Galatians 2: 20-21
Paul saved his greatest wrath for toxic additives to the grace of God. He expressed his strongest confrontation to anyone who tried to improve on the finished work of Christ on the cross. Christ alone is the solitary substitute for being made right with God. Anything less is cheap grace. Anything more is counterfeit grace.
“But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, ‘…how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” Galatians 2:14
Paul told Peter that he was not “straightforward about the truth of the gospel.” He refused to let Peter, regardless of his reputation, get away with pleasing the crowd, by diluting the crucifixion. By the time Paul made his case, in writing, he exclaims, “May it never be!” v. 17
The passion of this powerful Greek expression is not fully expressed in the English language. It may be the closest Scriptural evidence of Paul coming to the point of cussing mad, or spitting cotton. He was riled up, and bringing the hammer down on a pillar of the church for attempting to weaken the power of The Cross. Why?
For Paul The Cross was not just a belief in an historic event, that took place at one point in time. It was a personal expression of his living faith. He daily identified with his own death on The Cross, all the time.
Paul embraced the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on The Cross for his salvation, by personally identifying with Christ’s death, once and for all. The love of God was released to Paul, when he put his personal faith in the death of Christ, as the only way to be made right with Holy God.
Paul’s life of faith in Christ was revealed in him, by yielding his rights to God, and dying to them. He not only identified with the death of Christ on The Cross for him, Paul nailed his personal pride, prejudices and preferences to the cross every day. He said, “I die daily.” I Corinthians 15:31
The point of The Cross is death. The process of The Cross is death. The point and the process are essential to a life of faith in Christ. Identifying with Christ’s death on The Cross personally, and dying to self on The Cross daily are essential. They are two sides of the same coin, or parallel tracks that lead to the same destination. Never devalue one or derail the other.
Receiving Jesus as Savior involves yielding to Jesus as Lord. To do less gives no evidence of salvation, only impersonation. Identifying with Christ’s death on The Cross as a point in time without dying daily to one’s own selfish will, way and wisdom misses the point, and dismisses the process.
“I have been crucified with Christ: and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” v. 20
The crucified life releases the Christ life. Salvation begins with identifying with Christ’s death on The Cross. The life of Christ is released and revealed by continuing to identify with Him. Daily and moment-by-moment, death to self is expressed by yielding, and dying to personal rights. The Christ life will not be shared with the self-life. Those who elevate their self-life over the Christ-life can expect the shelf-life. Paul guarded against it.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.” I Corinthians 9:27 The Message
My wife, Dana often reminds me, “Dead men have no rights.” She is so right. Dead men cannot be hurt, offended, mocked, disappointed, discouraged, or disheartened, and they have no need to defend themselves. It is too late for that. They are already dead. There is no angst, anger, trauma and drama generated by walking by a coffin and calling the corpse, “Stupid.” What may have been true about that person, when they were alive, simply has no impact after that person is dead.
Note to self: Even dogs can be taught to respond to the command, “Play dead!” You would be a wise man to, “Pray dead!” Stay dead until Jesus releases His life in you.
The grace of God is poured out on The Cross in order to justify or make a person right in the eyes of God. God’s grace is not only available to makes a person right with Him, but also able to keep a person right with Him. No man made set of rules, regulations or rigid requirements can do that.
“I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” v. 21
Paul knew that identifying with, and embracing Christ’s death on The Cross was essential for a person to be made right with God. A lost person becomes a saved person by coming to the point in life when they know they must die in order to be made right with God. They must humbly accept Jesus as their substitute, and substitute no other.
The crucifixion of Christ was the prelude to The Resurrection of Christ. Death to self precedes personal revival. A person must come to the end of self-will and self-rule to be made right with God, and live under His authority.
God’s grace is released at the point of death, and through the process of death. It is not enough to die. There must be new life.“Christ lives in me…and I live by faith in the Son of God.”
Living by faith in the Son of God means dying to one’s own will, and no longer trusting man-made wit and wisdom as a way to be made right God or to stay right with God. Death to self precedes life in Christ.
Prayer provides the nails that keep a believer’s self-life on The Cross. When you come to The Cross, don’t just pray there. Stay there. Don’t forget the nails. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!