Crucified With Christ
Text: Galatians 2:20
Proposition: As a Christian who is saved by grace through faith in Christ the first life of self gain for your self glory has to die and it has to die daily as Christ now lives in us. It’s the putting to death of that old self’s ways that being crucified with Christ is all about.
Introduction: There’s a story about pride that begins with the lion, the king of the jungle. One day the lion being filled with pride decided to make sure all the others knew it. He went to the panther and asked, "Who is the king of the jungle?" The panther replied, "Why you are, of course" The lion gave a mighty roar of approval. And so he went to the tiger and then to the leopard and each time it was the same challenge of pride. Then the lion came to the elephant and demanded once more, ‘Who is the king of the jungle?’ At first, the elephant ignored him. So the lion again roared, “Who is the king of the jungle?” The elephant immediately grabbed the lion with his trunk, whirled him around in the air five or six times and slammed him into a tree. Then he pounded him onto the ground several times, dunked him under water in a nearby lake, and finally dumped him out on the shore. All the animals watched as the lion stood up wobbly and shaky. Then the lion looked up at the elephant and said, "Look, just because you don’t know the answer is no reason for you to get mean about it!" That’s the resistant nature of our old pride soaked self. The message for Christians is clear, you are not the king of you!
This morning we’re going to look at just one verse, a verse that describes the essence of how to get past the seductive and destructive pull of pride that comes from the inner region self and our sin nature. It’s a verse that is all about learning how to silence the pull of sin to self glory.
Have a look at Galatians 2:20.
I. From Forensic Facts to Effectual Faith.
What I mean by forensic facts are the underpinning truths of what it means to be a Christian. Forensic facts in a criminal case are fingerprints, DNA samples, paint scrapings and the like. They present the evidence for how things happened. In Galatians 2:20 Paul makes this startling statement, “I have been crucified with Christ…”. That statement is a forensic truth, when Jesus was crucified on the cross it was my sin that was charged to Him, it was my place that He took that day because my sin, my pride filled self-glorifying ways caused me to be an opponent and rejecter of God. The consequence or wages for such an act of defiance is death. So it’s true, my justification is best described by my sin being crucified upon Christ that day. Do you remember that statement I made a couple of weeks ago as we worked our way through this chapter? I said that when it comes to all kinds of legalism the common mistake is to confuse salvation with sanctification. What I mean is that legalism takes the works of sanctification, the very things we are supposed to do once we are born again, and it puts them in the place of how to gain righteousness, how to be receive salvation. The whole process of Judaism was taking works of eating or not eating certain foods, observing certain days above others as essential and even marks on the body like circumcision as the tools by which we obtain righteousness. They mistook sanctifications call for the way of salvation. So Paul starts with a forensic statement, “I have been crucified with Christ”, and then he makes that same statement move from being forensic salvation truth to effectual sanctification truth. He says, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”. Paul was standing right in front of them, alive and present and yet he says that it is no longer Paul who stands before them. Paul has moved from the forensic fact that when Christ died on the cross it was his sin that put Christ there. In that sense we all as Christians can say, “I have been crucified with Christ”. That now means that I am justified by Christ’s death on the cross alone. There’s nothing I can bring or do that will improve on that work of Christ that now declares me righteous before God in Christ. That’s a forensic fact! The Jews that were in Antioch in Galatia that day needed hear this, Peter who had sat with the Jews separating himself from the Gentiles that day for fear of offending them needed to hear this. Even Barnabas, Paul’s best friend needed to hear this. Don’t mistake the way of salvation for the way of sanctification. It’s why Paul says, “it’s no longer I who live but Christ lives in me…”. Paul has been born again and he now knows for the first time in his life that he is not the king of the jungle! He’s talking about how effectual faith will start to show up in us as we see the deception of sin in us. It was Jeremiah who once said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” That’s the extent of the subtly of our sin nature, that’s how persistent it is in declaring itself king. So what does effectual faith look like, how do we die daily as Paul once said? What is effectual faith?
II. Effectual Faith Recognizes Self’s Old Ways and Chooses Christ Ways.
Imagine if the Romans had only meant for crucifixion to be a behavior modification tool. They crucify you for three hours and then before things get deadly they bring you down from the cross and patch up your wounds. They speak warm and encouraging words to you and tell you they really do like you. They send you home with a warm fuzzy blanket and ask that you would now be a brand new citizen for Rome. What’s wrong with that understanding of Roman justice? The answer is that it wouldn’t change the people on the inside. Even though they would bear the evidence of crucifixion on the outside, the inner person would likely be even more resistant and set on doing what they wanted to do.
The point Paul makes is that something in me has to die and die again and die again. The tenacity of self, directed by sin, has established in all of us our way of doing things, our ambitions, our view of right and wrong and even our view of how to serve God and please him. So it has to come to… ‘it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me’. So how does that work? What does it look like? Well it begins by learning to recognize the persistent ways of the old you. When you begin to watch for them, when you intentionally want to see them the Holy Spirit will show them to you. Then when you see that old way of me first or me hiding, or me doubting then remember that Christ lives in you. Ask for His view, look for His values, see how He serves the Father and pleases Him and take the step of obedience and faith and move forwards with effectual faith. It’s why Paul then says, “and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” What he means is that this is not just a way of making a decision every now and then, it needs to become ‘the life I now live’. Though we are still in the flesh with all it’s carnal tendencies, even the flesh that is also the good part of you, your character and personality and beliefs and friendships, that part of the life I now live in the flesh, ‘I live by faith in the Son of God…’. Faith by this definition is more than a belief or a conviction, it is an active process of putting to death my old ways and walking forwards as Christ in you leads, corrects, directs and empowers. It’s not theory, its practice and practice and practice. It’s the difference between a pilot who flies Microsoft flight simulators, who continually does ground school but never climbs into a cockpit, never takes flight and never actually lands on the runway. The only way he becomes a pilot is by practice, practice, practice. Your faith is meant to move you from theory to practice. It’s the practice of walking with Jesus Christ who loves you and Who gave Himself for you.
Then comes the crunch. If you choose to continue in your old self ways and serve God with efforts that mistake sanctification for salvation, doing things that are good in order to be good with God, you will be living in your own strength. Look at what happens when you do that, verse 21, “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” You set aside the grace of God that gave you the only basis for actual righteousness, the body and blood of Jesus Christ. You set aside that grace when you offer efforts of your own for righteousness. Rest in Christ for that. If you can be good enough for God on your own, then Christ died in vain. You belong to the King, you have been crucified with Christ and the life you and I now live, we live by faith in the Son of God who loves us and gave Himself for us. You are not the king of the jungle.