“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
What God is seeking for each of us is NOT just that sin would be rendered powerless over us (this is good!) – but that HE could do His amazing work through us (way better!).
Sin has always been the great barrier to God’s work… even in Christians.
If the goal for each of us is to love and please God, then it begins with the simple understanding that we are “dead to sin and alive to God.”
Until we apply this truth to our lives (by faith) we will always struggle to be what God wants us to be (and our struggles are the source of our frustration and consternation at our own failures). The solution is never to work harder to become better Christians… the solution is to live in what God’s work has accomplished for us. Faith isn’t working up righteousness… faith is living in the righteousness that God has already provided to us. It’s that simple.
This is the lesson of the apostle in his powerful declaration to the Galatians.
He spells it all out for us… 1) The old self (everything I used to be [both good and bad]) died with Jesus; 2) By dying, I am now able to live a new kind of life; 3) that new life is Christ actually living in me, and working through me, to do what Christ is able to do; and 4) everything depends on trusting in Jesus (applying what He has done) because of His immense love for me.
Now, most of us will nod our heads at this verse. “Cool story, Paul… sure wish it could apply to me.”
But this is the whole point. Paul is not describing something that is only available to the “specially-called” or the “super-spiritual…” He is telling all the Galatians (and us) what is available to each of us through the work of Jesus.
Paul’s experience can be our experience. Because the same Jesus that brought salvation to his soul is also the same Jesus that brings the same salvation to our souls.
The focus is NOT Paul. The focus is Jesus. And what He has done applies to “anyone who believes in Him!”
This is the wonder of the Christian faith. The only limits to our experience of God are in the limitations we place on it.
IF we do not believe that we are freed from the power and influence of sin – we have limited the work of God in us (and we will always struggle with sin).*
IF we do not believe that we have died with Christ, then we are not buried or raised with Him either.
And if we do not believe that the old self is dead and gone (because of Christ’s work) then the new life cannot fully come.
And IF the new life does not fully come… Christianity is really no different from all the other religions of this world – powerless to break us free from our own failures and limitations (except by unlimited human effort and relentless will power).
If you have struggled with sin, I have tremendous news for you… God’s mercies are new every morning. He is the God of new starts, and new beginnings.
Today, is day one. Your new launching point. Your new opportunity to truly take stock of what you have because of Jesus’ work – and to truly experience the power and glory of being resurrected to new life in Christ.
*This is the real meaning behind Romans 7:14-25!