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. (Galatians 2:20)
I have long considered Galatians 2:20 to be my (if there is such a thing) “life verse” – expressing my hope and desire to live the crucified life and Christ in me. But admittedly this verse has also been most mysterious to me, as I have long wondered just how one goes about to crucify oneself with Christ. Yes, “by faith,” I know, but what does that mean? Does it mean I believe that I am crucified with Christ and so I am? I have not found things to work out that way.
By the grace of God I now see the answer, in verse 19, and it clarifies some issues for me.
For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ … (Galatians 2:19-20a)
Rather than a declaration of faith and hope that I am somehow mystically united with Christ in his crucifixion and am therefore dead to the law – no, that is not it; that’s close, but not quite it. I think it’s more like this:
- By faith, I am united with Christ, from beginning to end;
- I am united with Christ in his obedient life under the Law (hence his obedience to the Law is accounted to me);
- When Christ took upon himself all my guilt for transgressing the Law, the just penalty of the Law killed him, nailing him to the cross – and me as well, being united to him. Christ’s death under the Law is also imputed to me.
- Once the Law had by killing him administered its righteous justice upon Christ for my sins, and upon me in him, it had/has no further claim in that wise (i. e. for justice) upon either Christ nor upon me in him. That claim is fulfilled and done away.
- When Christ arose, I-united by faith to him-rose also. The life I now live-having been killed by the Law, I am now dead to the Law-is the life of the resurrected-no longer crucified-Christ in me.
So I do not in this sense crucify myself with Christ; the Law crucified me with him, so that I died under it. United with the living Christ I am dead to the law, alive to God.