Expository Teaching By Jonathan Roiz: Galatians 2:20-21
Galatians 2:20: 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.
I do not know a better epitome of Christian experience than this. This is the daily walk of a true child of God, if he liveth after any other sort, then he liveth not a Christian’s life at all. Christ living in us, ourselves living upon Christ, and our union to Christ being visibly maintained by an act of simple faith in him, this is the true Christian’s life. – Charles Spurgeon
I have been crucified with Christ. Let’s focus on these five amazing words and meditate on the depths of what is being spoken. It’s a powerful illustration of a true repentant believer and follower of Jesus Christ. A profound explanation of a change of heart. A dead person who has been regenerated as described in Ezekiel 36:26: And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh, revealing that even our faith is a miracle. We are seeing an example of someone who has been humbled by the experience of having been justified by faith alone just as Paul described in Romans 3:21-26: But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. We are witnessing a deep transformation in a person who has been sealed by the Holy Spirit as described in 2 Corinthians 1:22: and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. Or in 1 Corinthians 6:19: Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? Have you ever seen a fatherless child experience the grace and love of being adopted by someone who was not responsible for them or their situation, yet through unbending love declared that child their own. An indescribable, overwhelming sense of purpose, love and redemption of all the darkness of their past floods into heart and to show their appreciation in a life of complete obedience to those who adopted them just as we have been adopted by God into His family. We have been crucified with Christ because when He was on the cross, we were on his mind. Every sinful thought and deed He bore for us. The wrath that we deserved pierced the depths of Jesus, feeling the justified anger and justice of His father which we should have endured. We should have been abandoned by God, separated from Him for eternity, but before the formation of all creation, He choose us for salvation, for He shows mercy on whom He will have mercy, not because of our merits or worthiness but because of the awesome, unexplainable grace of God. So when He bore our sins, the wrath we deserved to atone for our unfaithfulness to a Holy sovereign God, we were crucified with Christ. In this humble acknowledgement we realize our union with Christ and are a new creation, just as 2 Corinthians 5:14-17 says For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. Note that when he says “all” he is referring to the elect, not just Jews but even gentiles, all, we must consider who is communicating this to.
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Galatians 2:20 is really a summary for Romans 6, so let’s go there and read this chapter.
Romans 6: 1-4:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
What a beautiful portrait is painted in these words. We were once dead in sin, we then were crucified with Christ so that we maybe dead to sin and buried with Christ so that we be resurrected into a new life in Christ.
Let’s look quickly at Colossians 2:13-15
13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
It is no longer I who live. We are crucified with Christ, yet buried with Christ. The story did not end at the cross. Christ was buried and we were buried with him, Christ conquered death and resurrected and we were made alive in Christ. Take a moment to read Romans 5:14.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Do you see this prolific overview of what was accomplished at the cross and the gift of salvation we have been given. We have been united with Christ, that’s why the church is called the body of Christ, our sins He bore on the cross, the wrath we deserved He endured on the cross and what is the end result, buried with Christ to be alive to God in Christ Jesus. Set free from sin, no longer enslaved. Look deeper at verses 9-10, 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Those whom God has accepted in the Beloved and sanctified by His Spirit will never totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere to the end; and though they may fall through neglect and temptation into sin, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, bring reproach on the Church and temporal judgments on themselves, yet they shall be renewed again unto repentance and be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. The atoning work of Christ was not general, it was specific for those God elected and gave to Christ as stated by Jesus in John 10:28-30, I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” The atoning work of Christ at the cross and in resurrection accomplished the perfect plan that was laid out by our Holy sovereign God, once for all, payment paid for all those predestined to salvation, never having to be repeated.
So Romans 6:12-14 goes on to say 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
but Christ who lives in me. So as we just read, through the atoning work of the cross we have been freed from the slavery of sin, let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. As a new creation not only do we live for Christ, but He lives in us. This is the beautiful mystery of the trinity in action. Christ lives in us in two ways. The one life consists in governing us by his Holy Spirit and directing all our actions; the other, in making us partakers of his righteousness; so that, while we can do nothing of ourselves, we are accepted in the sight of God. The first relates to regeneration, the second to justification by free grace. Think about it, God living in us, convicting us of sin, guiding us, comforting us, revealing truth, enabling us to understand and is a gift-giver and fruit-producer. In 2 Corinthians 13:5 Paul tells us to examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! And we should do just that examine ourselves daily, if you profess to be a believer of Christ is there a change you? Do you hate your sin, do you feel like an immigrant in this world, disconnected from everything the world enjoys because Christ liveth in you? The omnipresent God now dwells in you; do we truly grasp the honor and privilege to be the temple of the Holy Spirit, the bride of Christ? Or do we simply know all the right spiritual words to speak yet in the same breath udder vulgar language and enjoy seeing filth. We do works by going a church building and fulfilling all the respectable roles in a building rather than being and behaving as the church all throughout the week. We are consumed by self and lack passion for evangelism and passion for preaching the Gospel, which we are commanded to do. We customize our worship to produce feeling, but doxology without theology, in reality is just emotional idolatry. We seek new revelation through prophecy by man, for the most important thing in life to you is you and what God can do for you, rather than being satisfied with possessing the errant, sufficient word of God which speaks all truths and reveals all revelation, breathed by the almighty God. We struggle with Biblical truths such as election because we hold a low view of God and a high view of man, trusting more our free-will then the sovereignty of the creator of all, our most Holy and awesome, unchanging, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscience God who we owe everything to, our life from dust to mortal fresh, from a dead totally depraved sinner to regenerated child of God saved by grace.
And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God. This can be taken several ways and we will look at them. For example in 1 Corinthians 10:23-27 states “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Then in verses 31 goes on to say so, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Well this is providing some guidance on our life in the flesh, that we should always consider our neighbor, perhaps alcohol or food affects them negatively, so we think of them first and their salvation and needs rather than pleasing our own desires bringing glory to God in all that we do. But let’s get a little deeper. In Romans 5:15-23 he breaks it down for us.
15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So let’s look at Philippians 3:3-21 to understand this section the life I now live in the flesh.
3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
He goes on to say in verse 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
In the closing of verse 20 he mentions “who loved me and gave himself for me”. Again we return to the cross, that before the formation of creation God elected you and I for salvation, an unexplainable mystery of God’s sovereign will and grace as explained in Romans 9:14-23 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory.
As 1 John 4:10 says In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
John Calvin once wrote; For if any merit of ours had moved him to redeem us, this reason would have been stated; but now Paul ascribes the whole to love: it is therefore of free grace. Let us observe the order: “He loved us, and gave himself for us.” As if he had said, “He had no other reason for dying, but because he loved us,” as Romans 5:10 says For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
He gave himself. No words can properly express what this means; for who can find language to declare the excellency of the Son of God? Yet he it is who gave himself as a price for our redemption, Atonement, cleansing, satisfaction, and all the benefits which we derive from the death of Christ, are here represented. The words for me, are very emphatic. It will not be enough for any man to contemplate Christ as having died for the salvation of the world, unless he has experienced the consequences of this death, and is enabled to claim it as his own.
Galatians 2:21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
If a man can be saved by his own works, and willings, and doings, then Christ’s death was an unnecessary piece of torture; and, instead of being the most glorious manifestation of divine love, it was a shameful waste, putting upon Christ a terrible burden of suffering which was totally unnecessary. - Charles Spurgeon
I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law. There is great emphasis in this expression; for how dreadful is the ingratitude manifested in despising the grace of God, so invaluable in itself, and obtained at such a price! Yet this heinous offense is charged against the false apostles, who were not satisfied with having Christ alone, but introduced some other aids towards obtaining salvation. For, if we do not renounce all other hopes, and embrace Christ alone, we reject the grace of God. And what resource is left to the man, who “puts from him” the grace of God, “and judges himself unworthy of everlasting life?” There is a clear example of this in Acts 13:46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.
Then Christ died for no purpose. There would then have been no value in the death of Christ; or, Christ would have died without any reward; for the reward of his death is, that he has reconciled us to the Father by making atonement for our sins. So it follows, that we are justified by his grace, and, therefore, not by works. We see the works false theology of catholism and now in many protestant, evangelical congregations who water-down the Gospel, are more liberal on sin in the name of love, more focused on social justice then the proclamation of repentance, a high view of self and low view of God, thinking that it was their free-will that caused them to make a decision for salvation and their on-going decision-making skills maintains their salvation, that if they do enough works such as prayer and fasting that they can be baptized by the Holy Spirit because they were told falsely that evidence of tongues is a sign of having the Holy Spirit when in fact it is a free gift at the moment of salvation. If we could produce a righteousness of our own, then Christ has suffered in vain; for the intention of his sufferings was to procure it for us, and what need was there that a work which we could accomplish for ourselves should be obtained from another? If the death of Christ be our redemption, then we were captives; if it be satisfaction, we were debtors; if it be atonement, we were guilty; if it be cleansing, we were unclean. On the contrary, he who ascribes to works his sanctification, pardon, atonement, righteousness, or deliverance, makes void the death of Christ.
So let us through study of His word and in deep prayer seek a higher view of God and a lower view of man, humbling ourselves to the sovereign will of the Father.
29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.