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 nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. – Galatians 2:20-21
O wretched man that I am. Thanks be to God that I do not achieve the righteousness required for salvation on my own. I am utterly in capable. My flesh constantly wars against me. The battle is fresh and the conflict is heavy. Every day, the war rages on. I am so thankful for Paul’s letters. In the very moment I need encouragement or rebuke, the words of God recorded b Paul are of great help. I see two things in this passage that bring me strenght.
First, my debt has been paid in full. I was crucified with Christ. In God’s court, the condemned has been punished. His justice has been satisfied. Since I am not dead, this current life lived in my corrupt flesh is lived in utter dependence on Christ. He is what sustains me as I go about my daily activities. I am sturck by to implications from this truth. First being that my life is not my own. Paul explicitly states this when he said that we are not our own, we’ve been bought with a price. We are to glorify God in our bodies and lives. When I was talking with a friend of mine, he made an interesting statement. In regards to sin he simply, but emphatically stated, “I do not have the right!” That is a shocking statement in this country. America is built on rights and the free exercise there of. The culture has twisted it so taht everything is a right, everything is deserved. Sadly, the church has adopted this mindset to a large degree. What would our battles with sin look lik if when tempted, we screamed out “I have no rights!!”? My rights, my will, my volition, my life were all killed on the cross. I am not my own. I am a slave of God, purchased to do His good woks in the world. The second implication is that we daily need communion with God. We must be in constatn communication with our life source. If we fail at this point, we will fail in the other. Without feeding the truth of God into our souls, we will grow tired and wak, unable to figh the temptation. We are beauty starved. We settle for the imposter beauty of sin instaead of the genuine, deep beauty offered by the Word of God. In gazing pon the beauty of Christ, we receive life to our dead bodies, life to do and be all God has called us to.
The second truth I see is that I do not nullify God’s grace! There are going to be days when I do not live as though it’s Christ living in me. I am going to ract and to struggle and I will fail at some point. What do we do then? I think that’s why Paul included this verse as the last line in the paragraph. He lays out the ideal in verse 20. The ideal is a daily, striving communion with God that allows Christ to dwell and control our daily lives. But what happens when we fall short (as we all have)? Paul answers it clearly! We do no nullify God’s grace! Our actions, for good or evil do not affect our righteous standing before God. Jesus fulfilled the whole law perfectly. That perfection has been imputed upon me. The doctring is called substitionary atonement. Christ was our subsititute and he has made atonement for our sins. This is the essence of the gospel. Men no longer have to earn their salvation. In fact, they can’t! All they must do is turn to Jesus and in Him, their lives of rebellion are forgiven and not only are they forgiven, they are declared righteous. Holy, perfect, co-heirs and co-reigners with Christ! Martin Luther called it the “Great Exchange”, our sin for His righteousness. I couldn’t think of better trade.