Studies in Galatians – Wayne Barber/Part 8
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2004|
|Verse 20 is all we’ll be looking at today. It says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me.”|
Christ Lives in Me
We’re going to be looking at verse 20 today. And I’ve been telling you now we’re coming to a place that’s going to get a little deeper. Remember that? I’ve been in a narrative. It’s been fun to follow the story line, but now we’re going to dig down and I want you to go down with me. I’ve already prayed, God, take us on down so that we can understand what Your Word has to say.
Verse 20 is all we’ll be looking at today. It says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me.” Now, to get into that, I have to review. I want to keep explaining to you why I review. You can’t look at this passage unless you understand the context in which it’s found. The apostle Paul, in verses 11-19 of chapter 2, has had a bold confrontation with Simon Peter. Peter had grown weak. Boy, you talk about growing weak, he had. He had just cowered down when certain men, legalizers, Judaizers, the party of the circumcision, had come over to Antioch. Man, he was brave when he was with James and John. But when he went over into Antioch it was a different story all together.
Now, these were the same people that were discrediting Paul, which caused him to write what he writes in this epistle to the Galatian churches. And Peter for sure knew how they could hurt him back at home. These were the Jews who believed that circumcision, the Law of Moses, was the way of righteousness; and, of course, they didn’t even look at salvation, but that’s the path of righteousness. In Galatians 2:12 it says, “He withdrew and held himself aloof from those Galatian believers.” Here he is over in their territory, and here are the Gentile believers; here he was in their territory and all that had to happen was these people to come amongst them and he cowered down. He cowered down, drew a line and said “I can’t fellowship with you Gentile believers anymore because they’re here.” That was a big mistake. The apostle Paul got right in Peter’s face.
The odd thing is, again, how strong and clear he was in Jerusalem, but how weak he is here in Antioch when these Jewish men came over that way. They were called the party of the circumcision. You know what this does to me? It shows to me the pull that the Law and those who preached the Law still had on Simon Peter. Let me ask you a question. How much pull does the Law have on you today? You hear the message of grace, but there are certain people that influence you a different way. And when you’re around them you do different.
Well, let’s review. Verse 11: “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.” And the word “condemned” means guilty as charged. “For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles.” Now, the Gentiles were brothers in Christ. He saw that. “But when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.” Now, one word I’ve not brought out is that word “fearing.” It’s phobeo. Phobeo means to be terrified, in this context. Now, can you believe that? When they came around, Peter, of all people, was terrified of them being there. These legalistic Judaizers were so threatening to him that it caused him to withdraw and hold himself away from those Gentile believers. He fell into the trap of pleasing men instead of pleasing God. How often that happens in our life. We would rather see a man or somebody smile back and be nice to us than we would God’s pleasure.
Well, Peter’s hypocrisy was contagious. It says in verse 13, “And the rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.” Somebody had to do something quick; and do something quick Paul did. In verse 14, “But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas [Simon Peter] in the presence of all, ‘If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?’”
You see, what happened was, when he went over to the Gentile believers, he ate with them. There were no food laws. He demonstrated to them that the Law was not his master any more, that he now was saved by grace, just like they were saved by grace. And the Law had no place in it. Now, by siding—it was non-verbal commitment—but by siding with these Judaizers, what he was saying now is, “the Law that I said that I am not even under any more, we’re going to put it upon you.” And what Paul is saying is “you’re a total contradiction in terms, Peter. I mean your whole lifestyle is messed up here by what you’re doing.”
He says in verse 15, “We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles.” Peter, we were born Jews. Now, what that means is not only they were not proselyte Jews—that could be a Gentile who later in life wants to become a Jew, goes through the rite of circumcision, etc., gets back up under the Law of Moses. He said we didn’t come in that way—we were born of Jewish parents, circumcised the eighth day, put up under the Law of Moses. We were raised up to obey the Law. But Paul’s point is, did all of that save us? Did our obedience to the Law do anything to justify us? Just because we’re Jewish, does that do anything? He says in verse 16, “Nevertheless, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus.” That word “knowing” is that little word we have seen so often, ethnos, to perceive clearly. There came a point in time—as they grew up the only path to righteousness that they were ever taught was the Mosaic Law—but at some point in time the Holy Spirit revealed to them, gave them a clear perception that that Law could not save them. There was nothing in it that could save them. They had to be justified through faith in Christ Jesus.
Now, this is so powerful. Peter, you didn’t get saved because you were Jewish. You didn’t get saved because you obeyed the Law. That kept you intact; that kept you behaving yourself; but that didn’t cause you to be saved. And then he goes on. He says, “Even we,” and he is talking to Peter. Peter, both of us, “even we have believed in Christ Jesus.” He says, Pete, as two Jewish boys, we have believed in Christ Jesus. We realized that the Law could not save us, “that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law. Since by the works of the Law shall [how much flesh be justified?] no flesh be justified.”
Then he says in verse 17, “But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners.” And, boy, this is something we all need to understand. We’re born into this world either Jew or Gentile. And every person that’s born is born into sin. And that’s what he is telling you. Whether you’re Jewish, whether you’re Gentile, whether you’re religious or whether you’re rebellious, you’re all born into sin. We’re all born into sin.
He says then, “is Christ then a minister of sin?” And what he is saying is, all of those laws we obeyed, Isaiah classified it where it’s just nothing more than filthy rags, sin before God, because man can’t produce righteous works. Then he says, “Are you telling me that if we put the Law back on these Gentiles, make them circumcised, that somehow that’s going to save, do anything for them?” He says, “No, you’re making Christ a minister of sin.” Basically he’s saying, this is the most ridiculous thing, Peter, you have ever done. And he says, “May it never be!”
And then in verse 18, the most powerful statement to me, he says, “For if I rebuild,” and Paul is speaking for himself right now. He says, “For if I rebuild what I’ve once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor.” And that word “destroyed,” I had never seen it before until the last time I spoke. It’s kataluo. It means to cut you free from something. And what a beautiful picture salvation becomes. The moment you bow before Jesus you cut yourself free from the bondage and the condemnation, the control of the Law. And he says, “Peter, why in the world would you want to go back and put the handcuffs back on?” And Paul said, “I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to go back and rebuild what I have once destroyed.”
You know, you can understand the pull of the Law on a Jewish person like Peter. Even Paul, which Paul has gone beyond being pulled back to it, but you can understand the pull. They grew up that way. That’s all they ever knew. And you can understand why it continued to be a tendency to go back to it.
But my problem is, this epistle is not written to Jewish people that have continued under the bondage of the Law. This epistle is written to Gentile believers who have bought the lie. They have been taught grace like nobody has ever been taught grace. Paul taught them. And they have gone back up under the Law. Now, what appeal did the Law have to these Gentile believers? I can understand the Jewish guy, but I can’t understand the Gentile. And then it dawned on me. All of our flesh—it doesn’t matter if it’s Gentile or Jew—all of our flesh responds to the Law. We enjoy doing something for God. Granted, it might be for different reasons, but we all enjoy the credit we get for that which we have attained. And it just hit me that nothing has changed. Like Ecclesiastes says, there’s nothing new under the sun.
You say, that’s not true today. Now, get off my back, this is back then. This is the 21st century. Yes, that’s exactly right. But when we in the 21st century start emphasizing “doing” over “being,” then we have fallen into the same trap. See, we’re not recognizing it, but we’re falling into the same trap. Anytime I think I’ve got to do something so God will love me more or be pleased with me more, then I’ve automatically fallen back into that trap. My flesh would rather do something for God than have God do something through me. It’s the old playing-church game. That’s all it is.
Well, in Peter’s case, by withdrawing fellowship from the Gentile believers, he didn’t make a verbal statement. It was a non-verbal statement, but he denied everything he stood for back in Jerusalem with James and with John. He said by his actions that circumcision and the law was necessary to achieve righteousness. By withdrawing and holding himself aloof, he was embracing the message of Law without having to say a word. And this is why Paul had to get into his face. When it came to the message of grace nobody defended it and nobody stood for it like the apostle Paul. And we’ll see why in just a few moments.
He says in verse 19, “For through the Law [I love this] I died to the Law, that I might live unto God.” You see, Paul was just as much a part of the Law as Peter when he grew up. But he says “I died to the Law.” What he means by that is the Law told me to do certain things that I couldn’t accomplish. The Law can never accomplish what it demands, and therefore he died to the Law. It demands death for failure to accomplish what it, the Law says. And he said, “I died to it.”
But there’s something else here. The tense of “I died” is aorist indicative active. Aorist indicative active is the tense that means “I turned my back on it; I chose not to go that route anymore.” There came a point in time in my life, he tells to Peter, Peter, I turned my back on it. I’m not going back to it. You’re still falling into that trap, but I’m not going back to that Law.” If one single act of obedience to any Law could produce righteousness, he says later on, then Jesus died needlessly.
Now, my mind begins to work when stuff like this happens in Scripture. When was it that Paul came to that conclusion? I know he was not seeking after God. I know he was not in a seminar or a revival meeting when he got saved. What was he doing? He was on the Damascus road going to arrest Christians, hopefully to kill them. That was his whole purpose in life, get rid of this thing called the Way. Get rid of these people called believers. And on that Damascus road he met the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. And in that instant, on that road, automatically, he understood it was something beyond what somebody could teach to him. It was something the Holy Spirit of God had to reveal that all of his years of righteous, of obedience, obedience to the Law, and all those years of what he gained according to that Law, all of a sudden was nothing when he was made prostrate there before the risen Lord Jesus Christ. All of his past came clear to him in that moment as the Holy Spirit revealed the Lord Jesus to him. He felt condemned in the presence of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ.
That’s what has to happen to every one of us. That’s what salvation is all about. You can try to do good things all of your life and that won’t save you, and God is not impressed. But when you are bowed before Him and the Holy Spirit of God has revealed the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, you know in an instant you’re condemned. But you know in an instant He loves you and wants to save you, and that’s where salvation takes place. And that’s what happened to the apostle Paul. And look what he says on the Damascus road. He said, “Lord, Lord, what would You have me to do?” Not “Law, what would you have me to do,” but “Lord, what would You have me to do?” He had a brand new Master in an instant of a moment when the Lord Jesus Christ was revealed to his heart.
And he tells Peter, “Peter, in that instant I saw the futility of that Law. I saw everything about it. I could not attain what the Law demanded, and I fell and I bowed before the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter, you can go your way if you want to, but I will never go back. I will never go back to a Law that held me in bondage for so many years.” Paul’s righteousness is now only through Christ, not through the Law. All that he used to be is dead. All of his religious efforts to be righteous are now dead. The Law has no condemning power over him because the sentence of death has been carried out through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.
So what’s Paul’s argument? He says to Peter, “If we as Jews live such religious lives, and that didn’t come close to saving us, then, Peter, what are you doing? Why are you siding with those who say that obedience to the Law is the means of righteousness?” When we add anything to grace we destroy the message at that moment. Righteousness can only be produced through our surrender to the Lord Jesus and His Word. You see, Christ living in Paul now enabled him to be what God demanded him to be. This is where we’re headed. This is what grace is all about. It’s either religion or it’s grace, one or the other. You can’t have both. They can’t mix.
Now, it’s so important here what Paul didn’t say. Sometimes you have to be careful to notice this. Paul didn’t say he was free to do as he pleased, and we’ll see that in a moment. He’s not free from his responsibility to God; no, sir. You’re going to be a slave either way you go. But he is free from the means of the Law to attain and to accomplish that responsibility before God. That’s why he says in verse 19, “For through the Law I died to the Law [why?] that I might live unto God.” So a person who goes back up under this “I’ve got to do” mentality, performance mentality, is a person who is not living under God. He’s living unto himself and doesn’t even know it. He’s not serving God, he’s serving a Law and he’ trying to attain something that God has already won and bought for him. Paul had become a brand new creature in Christ. Christ now lives in him. He wrote in Philippians 2:13, “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
And now we enter into verse 20. Do you see the context? You see a man that, like Simon Peter who has been so bold at certain times, who denied Jesus and now he even denies the message of grace for fear of what people are going to say about him. And it shows the fact that he hasn’t yet become resolved that the message of grace is the only way. It’s the only way. It’s what the gospel says.
Well, let’s ease into verse 20 and see what Paul says about himself as he continues. First of all, Paul makes a proclamation: “I have been crucified with Christ.” Now, that little phrase “I have been” is perfect passive indicative. I want you to learn it. It’s not in English, and that’s why we do not understand it. Perfect tense means something happened over here that puts me into the state of being I’m in over here. And we’ve got to understand that. You people who believe you can lose your salvation wrestle with the perfect tense. Perfect tense means it happened; it happened, therefore, this is why I am where I am right now. And in passive voice means that Paul didn’t initiate the action. You say, what’s that? In verse 19 he is active voice; he initiated it. He turned his back on the Law. In verse 20 it’s passive voice; God did something. When you turn away from the Law and you bow before the resurrected Christ, He then does something in your life.
What is it He did? What happened back here that puts Paul in the state of being he is in right now? He says, “I’ve been crucified with Christ.” The word for “crucified” there is sustauroo. It comes from two Greek words: sun, which means intimate, can’t be separated; and stauroo. Now the word sun, again, is with. There are two “withs,” and we’ll talk about that later on. There are two “withs.” There is the “with of association,” like we’re with each other right now, but anybody can leave at any moment. So, therefore, we’re with each other right now; that’s meta. Sun means we’re together and nobody can separate us. That’s the “with” he uses here. And then the word stauroo means to crucify, to destroy or to kill, to put to death. And Paul says “I have been crucified with Christ.” There has been a death.
Oh, we need to understand this. Technically, when Christ was crucified, Paul says, “I’ve been co-crucified with Christ.” Now, think about this. This is where we’re going to go down another level. When Christ was crucified, what he’s saying is, I was on the cross with Him. By the way, you were there also. He not only had you on His mind, He had your sins upon Himself, and He became sin for you and me. He took our sin to the cross.
Christ took all that Paul was as a sinner to the cross. Paul had no awareness of this, that the debt had already been paid. These people that have to do this and do that and do this to earn their salvation, what do you mean? Jesus has already paid the debt. You say, “well, that’s universalism, isn’t it. If that’s the case everybody is saved.” No, no, no, no. Until you put your faith into Jesus it doesn’t become yours. Technically he was on the cross with Jesus, but experientially and positionally, that had to occur when he received Jesus into his heart.
You see, even though He technically died for the sins of the whole world, not everybody has received what He has paid for; and that’s what salvation is all about. Experientially it came into Paul’s life on the Damascus road with the Lord Jesus, the resurrected Christ stopped him in his tracks and he understood that the Law will never cut it and he received Jesus into his heart. What had happened on the cross now became his and he was a believer.
Crucifixion means death. Now, listen to me, when Christ came into Paul in the person of the Holy Spirit, the old Paul died. All of his rights to himself died. All of his rights to think as he pleased died. All of his rights to do as he pleased died. He signed the death warrant to his rights to himself when he received Jesus into his heart. He turned all of his emotional impressions, all of his intellectual beliefs, into a moral verdict against the disposition of sin which says I can do what I want to do as I choose. He says, “I have been crucified with Christ.” The old legalistic Saul became the apostle Paul. He’s a brand new person.
What made him different? The Holy Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ came to live in him. Second Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, new things have come.” So there has been a death. I’ve been crucified with Christ. I have no rights to myself. I have no right to do as I please, to think as I please. I bowed down and I lost them when I received Jesus into my life. The Law is not my master. Jesus now is my master.
Turn to Romans 6:1-5. Romans and Galatians are commentaries on each other. Remember, Galatians is Paul writing Romans when he’s mad. And so it’s the same. He just expands what Galatians is talking about. Only two epistles that you can find this beautiful doctrinal teaching of grace as clear as it’s in Scripture; Romans 6:1-5, Paul does a wonderful job explaining this. “What shall we say then?” he says to these Romans. “Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?” You see, what I just said a moment ago has got to start you. The moment you become a believer you have to understand that grace never means I have the right to do as I please. You never have that right. And so he starts off that way, and he says, “Do you think that grace allows you to do what you want?”
Then he says in verse 2, “May it never be! How shall we who died to sin,” and another way of explaining sin is the right to do as I please. That’s what sin is. You take the middle letter of the word “sin” and you’ve got everything you need to talk about. The middle letter of the word “pride” is the same thing. We died to the right to do as we please. “How shall we… still then live in it?” We died. The big “I” has been taken out of the equation.
Then he says in verse 3, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” That word “baptized” means immersion, yes, but it also means identification. If you have a bowl of dye, a great big bowl of red dye and you took a white cloth and you that white cloth and baptized it into the dye, you have submerged it into the dye. Well, that’s good. It’s in the dye. But something else has happened. The cloth has become identified with the red dye and now, not only is the cloth in the dye, but the dye is in the cloth. You don’t have white cloth anymore, you’ve got a red cloth. And this is what happened in salvation. Not only were we baptized into Him, but now He lives in us.
Verse 4: “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness.” And the word “newness” kind of means total qualitatively different way of living. You don’t live unto yourself as you did before you got saved. Now you live unto Him and He is your Lord and He is your Master.
He says in verse 5, again, “For if we have become united with Him [Oh, I love this!] in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.” Now, the word “united with,” that little word sun, “with;” which “with” is it? Is it meta, “association with”? Or is it “intimate with”? It’s sun. That’s the word. And phutos is the second part of the word. It means to be two things are grafted together. They become one, never to be separated again.
Now I’ve used the illustration of a biscuit here so many times you’re tired of hearing it, so I’m going to change it and use another one. This past week we were talking about how you make sweet tea. And I don’t know how to make anything. They said, well, you have to get the tea boiling and hot, then you add the sugar. I said, that doesn’t make any sense. Why don’t you put the sugar in it when it’s cold? And I was told very clearly it won’t dissolve when it’s cold. It only dissolves when it’s hot. And the difference is, when you put the sugar in when it’s hot, it will be sweet from now on, friend. You can’t ever take that sweet taste out of it. Why? Because there’s something about when it’s heated up, the sugar and the tea just sort of melt into one, and two different things become one, changing the dimension of both.
And that’s exactly what happens when you got saved. You are sweet tea for Jesus. And it dawned on me that, hey, that sugar won’t in any way dissolve in cold tea. It sits right down in the bottom of the glass. You’ve got to keep stirring it and stirring it and stirring it. And if you could do something to keep it in the bottom of the glass you could separate the two, but if it’s hot and put the sugar in, you can’t separate it.
That’s what he’s saying. He’s saying, listen, the Lord Jesus, you have been united together with Him. Remember, Jesus doesn’t like anything that’s cold or lukewarm. He kind of likes it when it’s hot, although He did say, “I wish you were cold or hot instead of being lukewarm.” Just get us hot. In salvation you’re spiritually hot, and the sweetness of His presence comes and meshes itself into us and forever more we’re changed, we can’t be separated from one another.
Now, what happened at salvation? Jesus came to live in you. There has been a death and a resurrection of a brand new person. Now, when we become a believer, what we were in Adam is gone. I hope we understand that everybody is either in Adam or in Christ. You only have two options: You are born into Adam; and only by putting your faith into Christ can you ever be in Christ. That’s what we call born again, or born from above. When we’re in Christ, all of our sinful past has been erased. All of the believer’s rights have been surrendered to Him. Christ has come into the believer to rule and reign in us. We, as Peter says, have partaken of the divine nature. Christ has come in, helped us experience the newness of life. He has given us a brand new beginning.
But there’s a problem, and this where people don’t understand. This is why you’ve got to start off understanding He is Lord. We still have the potential to sin. Peter was a believer, fell right back up under the Law. You think that’s not sin? You see, we all have the tendency to do that. Where does that come from? Well, Romans 6:6 beautifully brings it out. Paul uses the word “crucified” as a metaphor, and look what he does here. “Knowing this, that our old self, what we used to be in Adam, was crucified with Him.” It’s dead. It’s gone. You can never be what you used to be because God lives in you. It was put to death. Why? “That our body of sin might be done away with.”
Now, the first thing you’ve got to realize is you have a body of sin. Everybody is chasing around after the devil. That’s convenient. What is he going to do if he catches you? Gum you to death? Jesus yanked all of his teeth out at the cross. It’s not the devil that’s my problem. It’s not the devil that’s your problem. What my problem is is what I look at in the mirror every morning when I get up. I want you all to do something for me tomorrow morning when you get up. Say, “Good morning, body of sin,” just to understand where your problems are. It’s not your wife; it’s not your husband; it’s not your children; it’s not your neighbor; it’s not that person that won’t drive over 15 miles an hour in a 30 mile zone. You can’t get around them. It’s not that person; it’s you. It’s me. I’ve got to deal with me. I’ve got to deal with me every day of my life.
The word “destroy;” the King James version says “destroyed,” The New American Standard says “done away with”. Why they translated this way, I don’t know. You check it out to see if it be so. The word is katargeo. It means to be shifted into neutral. Kata, down, argeo means to be disengaged. When power has been disengaged, when it has been made idle or inactive, disengaged. Now, when Christ came into our life He didn’t take the transmission that causes sin and throw it out. But what He did is He disengaged the transmission. Are you with me? In other words, we still have the potential to sin, but because He lives in us now and He is our Lord, and if we’ll live under His Lordship saying yes, to Him, then all of that power of sin is continuing to stay in neutral. It can’t do a thing to harm me. But when I do like Peter did or others have done, and I step back up under the Law, immediately what I’ve done is shifted it right back into gear, and that’s when sin takes over in my life. And all believers need to understand that. You start with the understanding when you come in, not only are you under grace, He now is Lord. The big “I” has been removed, and whatever He says we yield to; He empowers what He says. So that’s what Paul is trying to clear up, what happened at salvation.
But one of the things it’s doing in the context of Romans, in the context of Galatians, being in Christ now means that the Law has no claim over us anymore, no control. And it has no condemning power. Look in Romans 7. If this doesn’t excite you, this would be a good morning to get saved. In Romans 7:1, he says, “Or do you not know, brethren?” And I love that agnoeo. Are walking around without this understanding? I want to say this to people all the time, especially when they blow up in your face and send you emails. I want to say, do you not have this understanding? Bless your heart. Are you walking around without this understanding? Do you not understand this?
He says, “Brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law).” Not the law—there is no definite article there—just anybody who understands law. The Gentiles were in Rome; that’s who made the law. The Jews understood it from a different perspective. What is the rule about law that we have got to understand? “That the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he [what?] lives.” So as long as you’re alive the law has jurisdiction over you. You can’t get free from it.
He says, “Hey, as long as you’re living, the law has jurisdiction over you.” Now, he makes that very clear. Then in verse 2 he says, “For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband.” Now, don’t make this a marriage passage. Make the main thing the plain thing. What is he saying? In order for me to be free from one relationship and have a relationship with Christ, what has to happen? There has to be a death. Oh, you see where he’s headed? What did we just read back in chapter 6? “I am crucified with Christ.” There has been a death.
He says in verse 3, “So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man [she tries to have a relationship with another one], she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.” And what he’s saying is, you can’t co-exist with two relationships at the same time. It’s kind of like what he’s saying to Peter. Peter, what are you doing? You’re either under grace or you’re under law? You can’t mix the two. One has got to go for you to be under the other.
And then he says in verse 4, oh, I just love this, “Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law.” Oh, praise God! How did that happen? He tells you, “through the body of Christ.” What does he mean? When He was crucified you were crucified. And when you receive the One who accomplished all that the law demands and He comes to live in you, you’re set free, cut free from the law. It can never control you. It can never condemn you again. The only way it has any potential is if you choose to go back up under it. That’s what Paul is trying to get across. He says, “To Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit unto God.”
There has been a death, the death warrant to our self-esteem has been signed. My right to do to myself has been revoked. I’ve died; I’ve been crucified with Christ. That’s what Paul is saying. The law’s demands have no power over a dead man. It’s a magnet, yes, to the flesh. It continues to pull to the flesh. But as long as we turn to Him who conquered that pull and conquered that magnet, and as long as we’re saying yes to Him, then that law can do nothing to us. The power of sin which it produces; sin functions, and it takes opportunity with the law it goes on to say in chapter 7. But as long as we’re saying yes to Him the power of sin has been disengaged.
So Paul makes a proclamation. What I used to be is dead. I’ve been crucified with Christ. Peter, are you listening to me? Is your theology straight? Do you understand this? For you to be back up under the law is only a choice you have made. Christ has set you free. You have a new Master, not the law, but the Lord Jesus Christ. So he makes a proclamation. Does that excite your heart this morning like it does mine?
But then he states a paradox. A paradox is a statement that apparently contradicts itself. He said “I’ve been crucified with Christ.” Then he said, “and it’s no longer I who live but Christ lives in me.” It’s no longer I who live. So complete has Paul’s death in Christ been that his whole personality is now merged with Christ. It’s not me anymore. It’s Christ living in me. Christ lives in me, present active zao. Zao is the verb, and it’s the word that means the essence of life. And he’s saying Christ is the essence of my life. You see something good in me, then point back to the essence of my life. He’s my Lord. He’s my Master. When I say yes to Him, He manifests His presence in my life. He’s the essence of my life. That’s what he says in Philippians 1:21: “For to me to live is Christ,” same word. He says over in Colossians 3:4, “When Christ, who is our life returns.” He says Christ, present tense, is living in me right now.
I don’t know how many people come into the building and say “Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, shut up, you’re in God’s house.” And little Johnny says, “Whose?” “You’re in God’s house.” Little Johnny grows up thinking every time he gets near that big building down the street he better be quiet because God lives in that building. No, He doesn’t. He lives in you and I. He came in. Yes, He is omnipresent, but He came in. We brought Him in here. He lives in you.
Now listen to me. The One who fulfilled the Law now lives in you. Now what are you doing trying to fulfill what He has already fulfilled? Are you with me? You see, this is the whole point. What are we trying to add to what He has already accomplished? And the One who gave the law, the One who fulfilled the law now lives in us. And when we obey Him, the fruit of His Spirit is love, against which there is no law. We read last week from Matthew 5:17. He said, “I did not come to abolish the law, but to [what?] fulfill it.” We read in Romans 8:3, “for what the Law could not do weak as it was to the flesh, God did sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh as an offering for sin.” He condemned sin in the flesh. He took care of the law. How? As a man, the God-man. He represented us and then He went to the cross for us. What in the world are we doing going back up under the law mentality? Spurgeon said if I do something for God and ask Him to bless it, it’s like taking dirty filthy rags and pinning them on His spotless garments and saying “Oh God, would You accept this from me?” He’s not interested in what I can do for Him. He’s interested in what He wants to do in and through me.
Let me just show you this. What a wonderful truth here. He lives in us, right? Now watch this. “For if while we were enemies,” Romans 5:10, “we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled.” This is the death, reconciled is. Watch this now. “We shall be saved” not by His death, “but by” what? “By His life.” Now, where is that life? It’s in me. Romans 6:10, “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.” What is He doing? He lives in me, pulling me towards the Father at all times.
Do you realize how many hurdles we have to step over? He’s given us a prejudiced will to do what is right. It’s His heart, His nature, in us. When a person chooses to sin as a believer, how many hurdles he has to step over to get that far away of what God is saying. If you tell me, “You’d better leave here and live the Christian life,” then Jesus better get inside of me. Now listen to what I’m about to say, because He’s the only One who ever lived it. “Oh, I live it every day.” No you don’t. Quit thinking more highly of yourself than you ought to think. Get out of His way and let Jesus be Jesus in you. Stop trying to impress Him. He isn’t impressed. The only time He’s impressed is when He looks at us and sees Himself.
Well, how do I appropriate it? That’s next week, but let me just read this to you. Oswald Chambers said this about Galatians 2:20: “No one has ever united with Jesus Christ until he is willing to relinquish not sin only, but his whole way of looking at things. To be born from above of the Spirit of God means that we must let go, we must let go before we lay hold. And in the first stages it is the relinquishing of all pretense. What our Lord wants us to present to Him is not goodness, not honesty, not endeavor, but real solid sin. That’s all we have. That’s all He can take from us. And what does He give in exchange for our sin? Real solid righteousness. But we must relinquish all pretense of being anything, all claim of being worthy of God’s consideration. Then the Spirit of God will show us what further there is to relinquish. There will have to be the relinquishing of my claim to my right to myself in every phase. Am I willing to relinquish my hold on all I possess, my hold on all my affections, and on everything and to be identified with the death of Jesus Christ? There is always a sharp painful disillusionment to go through before we do relinquish. When a man really sees himself as the Lord sees him it’s not the abominable sins of the flesh that shock him, but the awful nature of the pride of his own heart against Jesus Christ. When he sees himself in the light of the Lord, the shame and the horror and the desperate conviction come home. If you’re up against a question of relinquishing go through the crisis. Relinquish all and God will make you fit for all that He requires of you.”
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Dr. Wayne Barber
Wayne has taught the message of “Living Grace” around the world. He is president, founder, and principal speaker of Living Grace Ministries and Senior Pastor of Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He learned to exegete Scripture by studying for 10 years with Spiros Zodhiates, one of the leading Greek scholars.