Before the lunch hour rush at the restaurant where she was the waitress, a woman recited a memory verse to herself – Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” To her surprise, the words that came out as she greeted her first table weren’t the usual “Hello, are you ready to order?” but instead, “Hello, are you ready to live?” The couple had a sense of humor, and she even had the opportunity to share the verse with them.
In Galatians 2:20, Paul wrote a magnificent passage that revealed the manner of his life as a child of God. It is a passage I memorized at an early age due to the fact that it had been set to music, and we sometimes sang it in worship at my home congregation in Dyer, Tennessee. “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” (Gal. 2:20). This verse is full of paradoxes. A paradox is a seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true.
First, Paul wrote, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live.” Here is a paradox. In one sense Paul said he was dead, though not physically. Paul was dead to the old law of Moses and to the world. Both had lost their power over him; now he was alive to a better life than he had ever lived before. He had been crucified, yet he lived.
Second, Paul wrote, “Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” Here is another paradox. Paul was devoting his life to the cause of the great Redeemer. He was actively engaged in doing the Lord’s will. After his conversion, he began living for Christ, and Christ began living for him. So Paul could say, “I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me and is now ruling my life.”
Third, the last paradox is “The life which I now live by the flesh I live by (in, ASV) the faith of the Son of God.” The motivation for his labors was not in himself. The life of Christ was being reproduced in him. He was living in the flesh, yet by faith. Christ’s life was being lived in him. He was living as Christ lived. He was living as Christ wanted him to live. Christ’s principles were very much alive in Paul. Paul said that Christ dwells in a Christian’s heart “by faith” (Eph. 3:17), and that faith comes by hearing God’s word (Rom. 10:17). Although Christ is in heaven, yet He dwells spiritually in our hearts by faith. Just
as the branch derives its life from the vine by being connected with the vine, in like manner the Christian, by being in Christ and His Word abiding in Him, causes him to have that life that comes from Christ (Jn. 15:1-8). Christ abides in him, and He in him. There is no salvation apart from Jesus Christ. If we attain and maintain our gracious relationship with Him, then we must do as he said in John 15:4, “Abide in me, and I in you.” Not only must we attain that relationship, we have got to maintain it. We must continue in the faith if Christ is to continue to abide in us, and we in Him. John wrote in First John 2:24, “Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.” If we will do this, then God will ultimately present us “holy and unblamable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel” (Col. 1:22,23).
Fourth, Paul speaks in Galatians 2:20 of Jesus who “loved me and gave himself for me.” The love with which Christ had loved Paul inspired a responsive love in his heart for the Lord. So the life that Paul was then living in the flesh was motivated because of Christ’s love for him. The apostle felt bound to live for the Lord because the Lord had sacrificed His life on the cross to redeem him from sin, and to save him from eternal damnation. We too, should have that attitude. Do we realize what our redemption cost? It is true that Jesus died for all. First Timothy 2:6 says, “Who gave himself a ransom FOR ALL.” Yet, we should not lose sight of the personal side of this great truth. Each individual person is a direct object of Christ’s love. Paul said, “He loved ME, and gave himself for ME.” He did not say, “He loved US, but He loved ME.” Therefore, each one of usmay say, Christ loved ME, and gave himself for ME as if I were the only person in the universe, and the great evidence of Christ’s love for me was the giving of his life on the cross. He gave His all for me. “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his povertymight be rich (2 Cor. 8:9). All to him I owe. That is why I must give my life for Christ.
“Hello, are you ready to live?”