I was put to death on the cross with Christ, and I do not live anymore—it is Christ who lives in me. I still live in my body, but I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself to save me. – Galatians 2:20 NCV
This bold statement of our death was preceded by Paul’s explanation that we who have given our lives to Christ by faith, have in essence, died to trying to save ourselves. He says we died to the law, so we can now live for God. The Law represents your attempts to be holy by your own power.
It can be easy to add our own interpretations of what Paul is saying here. Indeed there are many things we have “died” to, so personally this statement can be a long laundry list of specifics, but in context this is speaking of one particular thought. So reading and thinking about this in context is important if we want to gain the full truth being revealed here. If you read this passage in context you can see that Paul is preaching that we are not justified by the law. In other words, we are not made holy and pure before God by following a set of rules of right and wrong. This is our natural human thinking. In reality we all know every wrong demands justice, but justice is not doing some good every time we do a wrong. Justice is about punishment for the wrong. Doing a good deed never undoes the wrong. If that were the case I could kill someone who I didn’t like and then simply go save another person from dying to undo my other wrong and be clean. No! You have to pay for your sins. All of them. This is the great error of all other non-christian beliefs.
The flaw in most human thinking is that we think doing some “right”, some kind of equal opposing good deed will nullify the wrong. Humanity deludes themselves this way to cope with our own inherent evil.
The problem is any good we do, never wipes out or nullifies any wrong. It is like you are a glass of pure water. You pour in some arsenic. The water is now poisoned. I can add some more pure water into my glass to attempt to purify it. While I may dilute the poison somewhat, I still am impure and contaminated. I am worth nothing more than to be discarded and poured out, unclean as God has described. Also to make matters worse, because we are already polluted by sin, the good we try to pour in is also dirty and thus we are defiled all the more. As Paul preached, the Law only exposes our impurity and is the standard that shows our filth before Holy God. Good deeds never wipe out our sins. Each sin is still in need of being paid. Justice demands to take an equal eternal punishment of death from the sinner for every sin committed, since each sin is a violation against the eternal holiness of God for which we were created. He who has broken one law, has broken the entire law (James 2:10). Once broken it is broke, and you and I cannot repair it. Bleak and despairing thought indeed.
Paul’s point in this passage above is not about all the many sins that I have “died” to (even though it is true all our sins were nailed to the cross), but rather in this context, what primarily was crucified with Christ is our root of sin…The sin of self-sufficiency; Pride.
Pride is the thought that I can do anything good on my own and save myself in any way. I cannot, neither can you. We all need God to save us. This is why the Word became flesh, Jesus, and came among us to die in our place.
Isaiah 64:6 made it crystal clear. ” We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”
So the day we fall on our knees and cry out to Jesus saying, “My God have mercy on me a sinner”, realizing we have no good in us apart from his life, that is when we are crucified with Christ, born-again so that we can then and now live for God. Christ’s blood alone can pay for my sin, apart from that, eternal death on my part for every one of them is my lot!
So, when we do good, it is not done tainted for personal reasons of payment for past wrongs done, to supposedly balance the scales, but rather out of pure love; love for God and love for man. With my sin paid for, I can love purely and do good things purely, even if by human measures it is tainted with sin. My sin is paid, so no poison remains.
This is the pure saving cleansing love of God at work in us.
….nevertheless, I live still in this crucified body with Christ. I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.
Praise God, because of the love of God, I have died to the Law and now I live.