I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.
1. The Sacrifice of Soul
… when Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin. (Isaiah 53:10)
Galatians 2:20 is a complete statement of “the life hid with Christ in God” in personal experience, and the prophecy in Isaiah that the soul of our Lord was made “an offering for sin” has exactly the same idea. The sacrifice of body may be an un-Christian sacrifice—“and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity [love, rv] it profiteth me nothing”; but the sacrifice of soul is a willing love-offering.
“I am crucified with Christ …” The teaching of self-realisation is the great opponent of the doctrine of sanctification—“I have to realise myself as a separate individual, educate and develop myself so that I fulfil the purpose of my being.” Self-realisation and self-consciousness are ways in which the principle of sin works out, and in Galatians 2:20 Paul is referring to the time and the place where he got rid of his “soul” in this respect. There is nothing in the nature of self-realisation or of self-consciousness in our Lord.
People will say glibly, “Oh yes, I have been crucified with Christ,” while their whole life is stamped with self-realisation; once identification with the death of Jesus has really taken place self-realisation does not appear again. To be “crucified with Christ” means that in obedience to the Spirit granted to me at regeneration, I eagerly and willingly go to the Cross and crucify self-realisation for ever. The crucifixion of the flesh is the willing action of an obedient regenerate man or woman. “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24). Obey the Spirit of God and the Word of God, and it will be as clear as a sunbeam what you have to do; it is an attitude of will towards God, an absolute abandon, a glad sacrifice of the soul in unconditional surrender. Then comes the marvellous revelation—“I have been crucified with Christ”—not, “I am being crucified,” or, “I hope to be crucified by and by”; not, “I am getting nearer to the place where I shall be crucified with Christ,” but, “I have been crucified with Christ” (rv), I realise it and know it.
2. The Surprise of Sacrifice
For to me to live is Christ. (Philippians 1:21)
“… nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” Paul still says “I,” but the “I” is so taken up with Christ that all he sees is Christ-realisation, not self-realisation. “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him”††—the “old man” is the scriptural name for self-realisation, and it is my “old man” that connects me with the body of sin. Sin is infinitely more than my “old man”; there is a supernatural body of sin which backs me up in wrong, it is an impulsion to wrong on the outside which is far more powerful than the disposition to sin on the inside. By the identification with the death of Christ Paul refers to, the “old man,” self-realisation in me, is crucified, and in this way the body of sin is “done away” (rv), not crucified, but destroyed. There are two mystical bodies—the body of sin ruled over by Satan, and the Body of Christ built up of the men and women who have been made one in Him. That is why Paul refers to our Lord as “the last Adam,” He is the Federal Head of a totally new conception of Humanity. When I am lifted by the Atonement into oneness with God I do not lose my personal identity, my identity becomes that of conscious union with God. Man’s relationship with God in the beginning was such that the consciousness of union with Him was a delight: as soon as sin entered that went and man became self-conscious: he realised he was no longer in union with God and tried to hide himself from His presence.
Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live” (rv)—“my personal identity as created by God and restored in Christ Jesus, is still there, but the “I” is no longer ruled by the disposition of sin, that has been identified with the Cross, and it is Christ who lives in me.” Paul’s whole life was so identified with Christ that it was not only not untrue for him to say “Christ liveth in me,” it was the only truth. When he says, in writing to the Corinthians, “I fear, lest … your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ,” he is referring to the fundamental simplicity of this relationship. Our Lord Himself continually reminded His disciples of this simplicity—“Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, …” (Matthew 18:3†); “I thank Thee, O Father, … because Thou … hast revealed [these things] unto babes” (Matthew 11:25)—out of the complication, out of the torture of self-consciousness, out of the strenuousness and effort, into the simplicity of the life hid with Christ in God, where God is at liberty to do with us what He likes, even as He did with His own Son.
3. The Summit of Substitution
He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him. (John 6:56)
“… and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God.”The doctrine of substitution in the Bible is “Christ for me” that it may be “Christ in me,” until the personal oneness can only be expressed in the language of our Lord in John 6. “The life which I now live,” says Paul, not hereafter, but the life you can see, the life I live in the flesh, the life exhibited through my tongue, through all the organs of my body, the way I eat and drink, and the way I do my work. That is the life Paul has the audacity to say he lives “by the faith of the Son of God.” It is the life of the Spirit made manifest in the flesh, and that is always the test of identification with Christ, not prayer meetings and times of devotion. If I have been identified with the Cross of Christ it must show through my finger-tips.
“… who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Paul is identified for ever with the interests of the Son of God in other lives, he attracted to Jesus Christ all the time, never to himself; he became a sacramental personality, wherever he went Jesus Christ helped Himself to his life. “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, was this grace given, to preach [i.e., sacramentally express] unto the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8 rv).
Oswald Chambers, Biblical Ethics (Hants UK: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1947).
Exported from Logos Bible Software, 1:02 PM November 30, 2013.