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Nevertheless I Live…Yet Not I
By David A. DePra
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives 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 from Galatians contains perhaps one of the most amazing statements ever written by the apostle Paul. The verse begins to make sense only once we realize that the definition of Christianity is, "Christ in us." (Col. 1:27) Therefore, his words to the Galatians in this passage are merely an extension of that reality – he is giving us what amounts to a definition of the Christian LIFE. In short, if Christianity is, "Christ in us," then the Christian life is, "Christ lives in me, and the life I now live I live by the faith of the Son of God."
But the trouble is, many of us do not realize that Christian is, "Christ in us." Much less do we really have a clue as to what Paul is really talking about in Galatians. Most of us have not been taught. Worse, we have probably been taught WRONG.
What is Paul talking about in this verse?
Christ In Us
Christianity is CHRIST IN US – and of course, the impact CHRIST IN US. Paul is certainly talking about much of that impact. There is a life to live, which we call, "the Christian life." And Paul is telling us HOW to live the Christian life in this verse. And he is also telling us the BASIS for being able to live it.
If there is one thing that the Body of Christ needs to see in this day and age it is that Christianity is CHRIST IN US. Failure to see this Truth, and failure to continue in it, is really the root of all error and heresy. When Christianity is made to mean something other than, "Christ in us" – whether by direct teaching or redefinition – not only will false teaching abound. But HIS LIFE WITHIN US will itself suffer. For how can the life of Christ in us prosper if we are focused on something else?
Interestingly enough, Galatians 2:20 was written to a church that had indeed drifted away from the Person of Christ, who was IN THEM, into other areas. Paul tells them at the beginning of the letter:
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Gal 1:6-9)
I’m not sure what God needs to say to His people to get them to realize the seriousness of this matter. And yet we treat these words as if they are merely the next scripture lesson in Sunday school. Few ever consider that THEY might have drifted away from Christ to ANOTHER GOSPEL, or that they may have never really heard the Truth of Christ in us. This is such a serious matter that Paul says that anyone preaching another gospel is in big trouble. The word, "accursed," means, "devoted to destruction."
The New Testament makes it clear that the essence of Christianity is CHRIST IN US. The purpose of the giving of the Holy Spirit is to make us into witnesses, i.e., living evidence of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit was given to reveal TO US Christ, and to reveal IN US Christ. The purpose of all ministry – all the gifts of the Holy Spirit – is to EDIFY each believer IN CHRIST, and to present us each MATURE IN CHRIST. And as Paul wrote to the Galatians, his very life is the result of a ONENESS in Christ Jesus. Again – Christianity is CHRIST IN US. Make it something else, and you are getting off the track big time.
But the church has so often been off the track. The Galatians no longer walked in the Truth of Christ in them, but had turned Christianity into a bunch of laws and rules to keep. And believe me, they were GOOD and NICE laws. You bet they were. They always ARE – for good and nice laws are the only kind we are going to think can keep us righteous. Their error was so severe that Paul said to them:
My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you. (Gal 4:19)
Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace. (Gal 5:4)
Paul was saying to them, "You have formed your life according to rules and laws, thinking that this is what will keep you in Christ. But you have done this, not because you have faith in Christ. No. You have formed your life according to rules and laws because you DON’T have faith in Christ. You have completely lost the Truth that rather than form your life according to laws, God wants to form Christ in you AS your life. And you have forgotten that you don’t have to do anything to keep you in Christ, for Christ is already IN YOU."
Christians have been repeating the same error ever since. We still don’t understand that if Christ is formed in us that we are going to obey God all the more. But we won’t be obeying Him as the MEANS of anything. We will be obeying Him as the RESULT. In short, all obedience is supposed to be, not the MEANS of faith, but the OUTCOME of it. Yet so many of God’s people have no concept of this basic Truth of Christianity.
But wait. I would imagine that the Galatian church would say to Paul, "Paul, you have us all wrong. We are keeping our laws and rules. Sure. But it is really Christ keeping them through us. We agree that Christ must live through us. He is. There is no problem here."
And yet Paul knew this wasn’t true. How? I mean, Christians are to obey God. What is the difference between what the Galatians were doing, and what Paul knew they needed to do – let Christ live through them?
Well, the Galatians were certainly trusting in the works they were doing FOR Christ, instead of trusting in Christ Himself. That is a given. But there has to be more. For Paul said to them, "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you." (Gal 4:19) He didn’t say, "You need to stop trusting in your works, and start trusting in Christ," as true as that may have been. No. He wanted Christ FORMED in them. What does that mean?
This word, "formed," means, "inward transformation." This is something far beyond just the focus of their faith. I believe that Paul’s statement, "Yet not I, but Christ," shows that he was conscious of Christ in himself. There had come a consciousness to him that Christ was separate from himself, and yet in him. "Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives IN me," says that. It says NOTHING ELSE BUT THAT. And I believe that this is what he wanted for the Galatians. He wants Christ FORMED in them – he did not say that he wanted them changed to be like Christ – he said he wanted Christ formed in them. For Christ to be formed in them, it would require that they be conscious of Christ in themselves – that He was separate from themselves, and yet that they were at one with Him.
Paul is talking about a relationship, indeed, a CONDITION in Christ, if you will, wherein the believer is conscious of Christ in themselves. This is not about, "being taken over," or about feelings, or about what many today call, "the power of the Holy Spirit in them." No. This is about Christ in us – and the fact that He is real in us. According to Paul, if this becomes our experience, we will flow with Christ in us – voluntarily. It doesn’t mean we won’t sin, or make mistakes. It just means that there will have been a work of the Cross that has gotten us to the place where all of this is possible.
It is a fact that you and I will never know what it means to have Christ live in us until we are brought to total defeat trying to live for Christ. This is actually WHY so few of us know anything about it. We are either not taught, not helped, or we won’t allow ourselves to be brought to the end of our own efforts. But if we still think there is a possibility that we can live for Christ – even if we CALL IT, "Christ living through us" – then we aren’t going to understand. Christ cannot live through us, and we won’t be conscious of Him, if we are still conscious of our own supposed righteousness, and are trying to obey God in the power of it.
The Galatian error was that they were trying to live like Christ – and trying to say it was Christ doing it through them. The key was for them to see they couldn’t live like Christ, and to come to the end of themselves. Only such a death to themselves would result in Christ being able to live in and through them.
God’s goal is never to form us like Jesus. No. He wants to form Christ IN US. We are to be, "formed together with Christ." Neither are we supposed to live like Jesus. Rather, Christ is to live THROUGH us. Can we see in these Truths that Christ is separate from us, but that we are ONE with Him. Can we see that we are nothing, but that it is good, because He is everything?
Law-keeping won’t get us far in God’s goal. There are, of course, other professing Christians who don’t care at all about obeying God. So many today have little reverence for God, or any seriousness about obeying God – unless it pays them to obey. But don’t think for a minute that the problem there is disobedience to the law, or that the solution is to obey the law. Nope. The problem is the same as it is for those who are under the law. These folks don’t believe Christ, don’t know Him, and have simply formed their life, not according to law, but according to license. I think it is probably true that they are WORSE in the eyes of God, and the consequences for their deeds are probably worse in this life. But in the end, unbelief is unbelief. Both legalism and license are error, and both miss the mark entirely of CHRIST IN US.
The Evidence Within
Legalism and license are root errors, to be sure. Anytime Christianity is made to focus on something other than CHRIST IN US, there will be bits and pieces of one of them, or both. But there are other errors in the church, too. For example, Christians talk about God, "doing His will in their lives." What they mean is that God wants to do a THING – involving circumstances, events, and relationships – in their life. They call this THING, "God’s will." But the fact is, God’s will for each of us is not a THING. It is a Person: CHRIST. He wants us to be formed together with Christ, or as Paul said, wants to form Christ in us. THAT is His will. This doesn’t mean God won’t provide us with what we need, or that He doesn’t care about the things of our lives. But it does mean that God seeks first CHRIST IN US, and then adds everything else, indeed, uses everything else, unto that end.
Jesus said, "Seek you first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you." If that is what we are supposed to be doing, why don’t we see that God will be doing that? Christ IS the kingdom of God – His Lordship over us, IN US. We need to see this Truth.
Then there are other errors. Today we have many talking about a THING called, "the anointing." They speak of, "the anointing," being in a place, or about, "the anointing," being on their ministry, or life. Some even promise that you can PARTAKE of their anointing if you partner with their ministry, and send them money. And yet the Bible talks about only ONE anointing. It is the presence of THE ANOINTED ONE, Jesus Christ:
These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which you have received of him abides in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. (1 John 2:26-27)
Gee, that is so clear, I’m not sure how we could miss it. The anointing is IN YOU. In EACH believer – because CHRIST is in us. The name, "Christ," means, "the anointed one."
Now if you didn’t pick it up, note how John begins that passage. He says that he is telling them that the anointing abides IN THEM, "so that no man seduce you." In other words, one of the fundamental ploys of spiritual seduction is that people will try to say that you have to come to THEM, or come under THEIR authority, or join THEIR movement, or belong to THEIR church or group, if you want THE ANOINTING. John is saying that this is a lie, and of a seducing spirit. He is saying that the anointing is IN YOU, because Christ is in you. He even goes so far to say that if it comes down to it, you don’t need anybody to teach you, because Christ, the Truth Himself, is IN YOU.
Again – can we see how our realization that CHRIST IS IN US – in each believer – is fundamental. Get that settled, and know what it means, and so much else becomes clear.
If you want to do an eye-opening experiment, here’s one to try: Watch Christian television for a month. If you belong to a church, watch what goes on at your church. Keep track of how often there is any reference made to CHRIST IN US. Keep track of how many times there is teaching about God wanting to do a work in us by the Cross, and how many times it is taught WHY and HOW. Keep track of how many times EDIFICATION in Christ is taught, explained, or highlighted as THE PURPOSE of the Holy Spirit today.
I will promise you there won’t be many times. What you will hear is all about the THINGS God wants to do for you, IF you do this or that. You will hear about the need to convert the heathen, and you will hear about great moves of God, and about signs and wonders. You may hear some messages about God’s desire to set you free from certain things, and you will be given ways to cooperate with Him. But you will not hear much about what is really THE PURPOSE of God today – to present each of us mature in Christ.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: (Eph 4:11-13)
From the day of Pentecost in the upper room in Acts 2, God has wanted a people who would be living evidence of Jesus Christ. He puts CHRIST IN US, and then seeks to EDIFY or BUILD us up in Christ. The result is supposed to be Christ SEEN through us, and Christ living and working through us. And yet, despite this being THE PURPOSE, there seems to be so little teaching about it. The very leaders of the church don’t seem to know about it; don’t seem to have any personal experience with it.
If you want to know where the Holy Spirit is operating, read John 14 through 16, and a few other places in the Bible, and determine whether this is going on at the place in question, or in the ministry in question. You will find that Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would always focus on HIM – reveal HIM, testify to HIM, etc. The Spirit will also convict of sin and error. It is easy to talk about Jesus – the cults all do it. But those who worship God will do it is SPIRIT and in TRUTH. You cannot continue on in error about Jesus for long before the Spirit will insist upon Truth. The point is, Christianity is about the Person of Jesus Christ. It starts there and never leaves. Everything else is built upon the FOUNDATION OF JESUS CHRIST.
Crucified WITH Christ
Now, all of this is groundwork. We must get back to Paul’s words to the Galatians.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives 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)
I want to take this phrase by phrase, because I think that it works well to do so. Paul is really giving quite a progression in this verse. He starts by saying, "I am crucified with Christ."
It is easy to miss what that phrase says, but also what it does NOT say. You will notice that Paul does NOT say that Christ was crucified FOR him. No. He says, "I am crucified WITH Christ." We need to know what this means, because the rest of the verse is built upon the Truth of it.
We know that Jesus certainty was crucified FOR Paul, and for us. Jesus tasted death for every man, and died a death that none who receive Him will have to die. Paul knew that. But that isn’t what he is getting at in this verse. He clearly states that he was crucified WITH Christ – and there is no question that he deliberately intended to say it that way. We know he deliberately intended to say it that way because of his next words, "nevertheless I live." So Paul REALLY IS referring to a death that he, himself, died WITH Christ on the Cross.
It is upon this great Truth -- that we are CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST -- that everything in the Christian life stands. Because you see, if all that happens was that Christ was crucified FOR us, then really, dying becomes a THING – an ACT -- that Christ did FOR us. But we ….. well …. we really don’t die, do we? No. If I die FOR you, you are still alive, the way you were before. There is absolutely no change at all in your condition. And if Christ merely died FOR us, then this, in and of itself, really would not do anything to change US.
Now, I realize that if Christ died for us that there would be LEGAL benefits. In fact, it is upon the Truth that Christ died FOR us that the doctrine of, "justification by faith," is based. We say that because Christ died for us, our sin is imputed to Christ, and His righteousness is imputed to us. This is a great Truth. But it describes only the LEGAL and MORAL aspects of what Christ did for us.
Justification by faith means that the righteousness of Jesus Christ is IMPUTED to us – i.e., we are declared righteous by God if we believe. It is one thing to say that. But it is another to say that the very life of Christ is IMPARTED to us. And the fact is, unless His righteousness IS imparted to us, then the imputation of His righteousness would not be a moral transaction. It would be a lie – for God would be declaring righteous a bunch of people who He is happy to leave unrighteous. The only way in which it is moral for God to impute righteousness to the unrighteous, is if He also imparts to them the LIFE OF CHRIST which makes them righteous. And we do have this righteousness IMPARTED to us through the resurrection.
There are millions of Christians who easily accept that God has declared them righteous by faith. This is good. But we need to realize that we are also partakers of His very righteous life. Imputation is legal. Impartation is living.
Now, what does this have to do with being crucified WITH Christ? Just this: Saying Christ was crucified FOR you covers the legal aspect of the redemption, and covers how we are declared or imputed with the righteousness of Christ. Paul himself taught that in Romans. But once Paul says that he was, "crucified WITH Christ," he is no longer talking about merely the imputation. He is pointing to the IMPARTATION – which he covers in the rest of the verse. Paul is telling us a great Christian Truth. He is saying, "I was crucified WITH Christ, and THAT is how I can now say, "Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me." Paul is saying that because he was a partaker of the DEATH of Christ, he is now IMPARTED with the life of Christ.
Can we see what is going on here? Paul is saying that he actually DIED in Christ. He is saying that the Cross wasn’t just what killed Christ – but it killed HIM. He was crucified WITH Christ – he was on the Cross in Christ. And he died. But, Paul says, "nevertheless I live. Yet not I, but Christ in me."
This is not merely, "positional Truth." It is not LEGAL Truth. It is not poetry. It is a living, dynamic reality, filled with POWER and IMPACT. It is the power of the Cross.
Paul taught this Truth at length in Romans 6. Note his words carefully, and how they describe being ONE with Christ in death, and then in resurrection:
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: (Rom 6:3-8)
Paul is describing the fact that we were in Christ on the Cross. Or, to put it another way, Christ did bear our sin on the Cross, but He really bore US. Sure. This is why Paul says that we are baptized INTO His death, and that we were PLANTED TOGETHER in His death, and that, again, we are crucified WITH Him. This is not legal language. It is dynamic language.
The fact is, if you weren’t crucified WITH Christ, it might be true that God could set you free from all of the consequences of sin – but you would not be set free from SIN ITSELF. No. Why? Paul said why: "He that is dead is freed from sin." In other words, a death must take place in you or you cannot be set free from sin itself. Indeed, all of the believer’s freedom from the power of sin itself is dependent on the fact that we are crucified WITH Christ, and that our old man of sin is destroyed as to his power over us. Indeed, unless you have DIED WITH CHRIST, you cannot LIVE WITH Him. Unless you have died, you cannot be raised in Christ! You cannot be born again.
I am talking here about a Truth so basic, and yet so powerful, that without it, nothing else is possible. If all Christ did was die FOR us – to provide a legal basis for forgiveness – then we are NOT new creations in Christ. We are merely, "forgiven old creations." If Christ merely died FOR us, then again, we might be forgiven FOR sin, but the POWER of sin is not broken, because we are still alive to sin. And really, if all Christ did was die FOR us, and rise from the dead FOR us, then there is no LIFE IN US. There cannot be new life in us because we were not raised IN HIM – His resurrection in that case was merely an historical event that happened, with no personal experience possible for us.
Thankfully, this is NOT what Paul said. He said, "I am crucified WITH Christ." And so are we, if we have accepted Christ. This means that everything having to do with the old creation – sin, self, darkness, and all the damage that goes with it – the POWER is all broken by the Cross. It means that the Christian life is a matter of progressively seeing this Truth, believing it, walking in it, and being set free.
Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he lives, he lives unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (Rom 6:9-14)
Unless we are, "crucified with Christ," the next part of Galatians 2:20 cannot be true. We cannot say, "nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ in me." Being crucified WITH Christ – being baptized INTO HIS DEATH – is the means by which we are raised WITH Christ to newness of life. These are not merely doctrinal Truths, or legal aspects of the redemption. They describe what is a CHRISTIAN IS – how Christ is in us, and how He comes to live through us. It is just that important.
Nevertheless I Live
Because Paul was, "crucified WITH Christ, "he was able to say, "nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me." Most of us limit the meaning of this verse. We usually think it means that when we obey God, well, then it is Christ doing it through us. And when we don’t obey God, well, then it is US. But the Truth here is much deeper.
Think about it. The Galatians probably would say that they were obeying God, and they problem would claim that it was really Christ living through them. But Paul, despite the outward obedience, said that, "he travailed until Christ be formed in them." Doesn’t this tell us that there is a huge distinction between outward obedience, and Christ in us? And that it is possible that outward obedience could have NOTHING to do with Christ in us? Sure.
Paul was trying to show them that CHRIST IN US is the key. He was trying to show them that they had to come under the power of the CROSS – to experience the fact that the had been crucified with Christ. And then – and only then – could Christ be formed in them, and live through them.
It is right here that we have our answer as to how to know whether you are conscious of Christ in you, or whether you are simply thinking your feelings and soul life is Christ in you. This is a problem, isn’t it? Thousands of Christians are having emotional and psychic experiences today and they think it is Christ in them. It is not. It is THEM. But how do we know the difference?
Christ in us, and our consciousness of Him, comes only through the Cross. There must come a death to us, if His life is to emerge – if Christ is to be formed in us. Most of the time people who claim great moves of the Spirit in them, and claim that God talks to them every five minutes, have had no dealings with the Cross. In that case, what they are experiencing is most likely NOT Christ in them. He is not what they are conscious of – but instead, they are conscious of a feeling or mood. But if you have carried a Cross, and it has put to death your SELF life, and Christ has emerged, you will know. You will have a consciousness of Christ in you, and you will know that He is separate from you. It won’t be weird or like you are possessed or something like that. But there will be a oneness present, where yourself and Christ are ONE, and yet you will know He is separate. That is simply the way it is.
Paul knew clearly that Christ was in him. In fact, he knew this so clearly that he was able to say, "Yet not I, but Christ lives in me."
Now, if we had ONLY that one statement, it would be significant. But we have many others. For example, we already read where Paul said to the Galatians, "I travail until Christ be formed IN YOU." What does that mean? Paul never once said the Galatians were not saved. He actually said they WERE SAVED – but had fallen from grace, and had forsaken the Person of Christ. So if we take his words at face value, it must mean that it is possible to be saved – have Christ in you – but not have Christ formed in you. The question then becomes, "What does having Christ formed in you mean? How does that work, or feel, or function?"
And then there is a passage in John 5, which really ought to make us think. John wrote about Christ in us:
If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (1 John 5:9-12)
According to John, the WITNESS OF GOD – or, the EVIDENCE of Christ – is found IN US. He is saying that outright – he is not mincing words about it. He is saying that the very witness of God, the testimony of the Truth, and the record of eternal life, is found IN THE BELIEVER. Now, really, there is only one way to understand this: CHRIST IN US is supposed to be so real to us, that CHRIST IN US stands as an abiding evidence to us, and a testimony to us. Our faith is not the proof of Christ, the Bible isn’t the proof of Christ, and the testimony of men is not the proof of Christ – all of those are secondary proofs – but THE WITNESS OF GOD is Christ Himself in us. He is supposed to be just that real.
I do realize that this may scare some folks, because they will begin to say, "Well, then I am not saved." But I think John is speaking of a stage down the road, not necessarily in the beginning of our walk. Furthermore, we live in a day and age where Christians are taught almost NOTHING about this, and this makes it quite difficult. If the Body of Christ had it’s priorities straight, these things would be business as usual, and not seem like something new. The fact is, Christ can be in us, but we may at times doubt it. This too, is shown as a possibility in Galatians and the rest of the NT.
John said much more about the witness within, and so did Paul:
And hereby we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. (1 John 3:24)
Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. (1 John 4:13)
The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (Rom 8:16)
It is impossible to escape the implications of what Paul and John is saying. He is saying, "THIS IS HOW WE KNOW that Christ is in us…." And how does he say we know? By reading the Bible? No – although I’m glad the Bible tells us the Truth. Does he say we know because a preacher tells us? No. John says that we know that we are in Christ, and that Christ is in us, BY THE SPIRIT that is IN US. There is an INNER testimony. There is a CONSCIOUSNESS of the Christ in us, by the Holy Spirit.
What we are seeing is that there is supposed to be a REVELATION within of Christ. Not a revelation of facts about Christ. Not even merely a revelation that we are supposed to be conscious of Christ in us. No. We are actually supposed to recognize that He is living in us. It won’t be our imagination. It won’t be feelings. It won’t be an intellectual or doctrinal knowledge. It won’t be religious. It will be revelation knowledge of the Person of Jesus Christ. In fact, we are not only supposed to KNOW Christ is in us, but He is supposed to actually be LIVING THROUGH US.
Paul said, "I was crucified with Christ. But nevertheless I live. Yet not I, but Christ." Paul is saying that he died WITH Christ, but that there was a fundament of who he is that has come through death and resurrection with Christ – and so Paul nevertheless lives. But, Paul adds, "I am IN Christ. So Christ is MY LIFE. I am ONE with Him."
Yet Not I, But Christ
The apostle Paul recognized that he was alive – but only as united in Christ. He still had an identity and a SELF. Sure. He said, "Nevertheless I live." But his identity was totally immersed into Christ, and that is why he added, "yet not I, but Christ."
It is hard to put this into words, without feeling like it is being left shallow and lacking, as to what Paul was saying. But let me repeat what I said earlier: Paul was conscious of Christ in him. He was conscious of the fact that the Person of Christ was SEPARATE from himself – and yet that they were as one. The entire verse is based on that consciousness. Paul is saying that Christ is in him, separate from himself, and that he was being formed with Christ.
This is, of course, amazing. Some Christians may not be believe it. Or, they might believe that I’m talking about feelings, sensations, or what has come to be called, "the anointing." I’m not. I’m saying that, at some point, we are supposed to be conscious of Christ in us. We will know He is in us.
Paul consciousness of Christ in him is brought out through the entire verse. Not only does Paul says, "Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me," but he says that the life that he lives is now lives, "by the faith of the Son of God." Note that – not by his OWN faith. Rather, the faith of the Son of God was operating through him, indeed, he was LIVING by it.
To be conscious of Christ in us, there obviously must come a change in US. Of course. Again, this is through the work of the Cross. The Cross will put to death everything that hinders our consciousness of Christ in us. And with the LIFE that comes forth will come the consciousness.
The question, and the prodding ON, to us is this: Are we conscious of CHRIST IN US? Or do we merely accept that He is on a doctrinal basis? Well, that is a good start. But Paul is not talking about religion, teachings, doctrines, or emotions. Paul is talking about something beyond that – about a LIFE in him that isn’t his own, but in which he does live. Sounds out of this world, doesn’t it? Well, what do we think the new birth is? – it is a birth into a new realm. What do we think a new creation in Christ is? – simply a nicer person? What do we think it means to become ONE with God Himself?
Christians are human beings who live immensely practical lives. But they have within them the very life of God Himself. Indeed, we are told that we do not belong to this world, this age, or to the Adamic race any longer. They only way in which this could be true is if we have CHRIST IN US, and He is real. Otherwise, Christianity isn’t real. It’s just a religion, with concepts that are all, "on paper."
The Faith of the Son of God
Paul said that the life he now lives, he lives, "by the faith of the Son of God." What is the faith of the Son of God? There are a number of times in scripture where this term is used. Sometimes it is called, "the faith of Jesus Christ." What does that mean?
Well, I don’t believe it is a fancy term for OUR faith. No. I believe it really is the faith of Jesus Christ. Think about it. If you have Christ in you, then you have the faith of Christ in you. It comes down to that in the end. If Christ is living in you, and wants to live through you, then His faith must be able to operate through you. And clearly, the only way this can come about, is if Christ is being formed in you, and you are growing in Him.
But how does it come about? It comes about the same way everything else comes about in the Christian life that is of any worth: Through death and resurrection. As you carry your cross, the fact that you are crucified with Christ becomes worked out, and dynamic in you. There is a DEATH that comes to those dimensions in you that belong to the old creation and it’s patterns. But then Christ is enlarged. The more you die, the more He lives in you. And when the life of Christ is enlarged, so is LIGHT, and so is FAITH.
In the end, faith is of LIFE. The faith of Jesus isn’t our faith. It is of HIM – His resurrection LIFE. So if you want the faith of Jesus, you must have the life of Jesus. But to have the life of Jesus, you have to be, "crucified with Christ." Paul gave that progression in our verse for a reason. Now we see it.
We might paraphrase the verse a bit to emphasize the progression: "As I am crucified with Christ, I nevertheless will live. But not I, Christ will be raised in me. And the life that I will then live, I will live with the faith of the risen Christ in me, who loved me, and gave Himself for me."
If we are willing to carry our Cross and be continually crucified with Christ, we will come to a consciousness of Christ in us. There will be a power to believe, and a power to overcome, and a power over sin, and death, and the things of this old creation that we could not have imagined.
This power operates when we put ourselves aside, and our agenda aside, and turn to Christ. I realize that most of us have done this a thousand times a day for years, and nothing seems to happen. But you cannot duplicate death and resurrection in Christ simply by trying to go through the motions like that. God knows we are sincere. He will get us there. But so often we try to do, under the power of our own religious efforts and flesh, what cannot be done except through death and resurrection. This is a question, not of our sincerity, but of LIFE IN US. If we want to come into this experience in Christ, God says, "Carry your Cross. Commit yourself to me at all costs."
Loved Me and Gave Himself
You can pick up much about NT Truth if, when you read the NT, you ask a few basic questions. For example: What does the Bible NOT say – in light of what is commonly taught today? Or ask: When you read the epistles, what things are being assumed by the writer, and the readers? What I’m getting at is this: Not once in the entire NT is there even a suggestion that God is NOT with a Christian. You don’t read anywhere Paul addressing the problem – because there is none. God is ALWAYS with us. The problem is when we don’t believe it. And the epistles are all written with the assumption.
Paul knew that Christ was IN each believer. So there was no need to question whether God was really WITH a believer. No. That is why the teaching of the NT is the Truth about Christ, and how to know and walk with Him.
You do not have to scream and yell and try to drag God down from heaven into your life. If you have received Christ, He is IN YOU. Rather, ask God to reveal Christ to you, and in you. He will – if you are willing to move into whatever it takes. And if you are willing, you will come to the place where, yes, you will say, "I am crucified with Christ." But you will also say, "But nevertheless I live. But not I, Christ lives in me."
Christianity is CHRIST IN YOU, the hope of glory. And just as Paul said, the Christian life is one where, "I life I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God, you loved me and gave Himself for me."
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