Not I but Christ

Text: Galatians 2:15-20

Before entering the actual text, we must understand the context of this passage. Paul had planted churches in Galatia. He taught them all they need to know about Jesus and how they could have a good relationship with their Creator, leading to eternal life. But at some point later, other believers came who were circumcised, they taught the Galatians that the best way to fulfil their new faith was to be circumcised and to practice the elements of the Law.

This prompted Paul to write this letter and Paul is clearly angry and quite forceful in his writing. Leading up to Galatians 2:20, Paul explains why he is writing this letter, describes the basis of the authority of his apostleship, and briefly describes his relationship with the other apostles.  Paul cites his experience with Peter, who though was the pioneer in reaching the Gentiles, was hypocritical in his behavior when fellow Jews were in his presence among Gentile believers.

Immediately, this passage; Galatians 2:20, Paul states that we are saved by faith alone. Indeed, look at verses 15 and 16 of chapter 2: “We who are Jews by birth and not” ‘Gentile sinners’, know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we too have placed our faith in Jesus Christ so that we can be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing because by observing the law, no one will be justified.

After Galatians 2:20, Paul continues his discussion defending the Gospel: the difference between faith and works; that faith should lead to godly life with practical guidance for the Galatians to live out their faith in community.

This Bible verse expresses so concisely what our faith is about. Please note that Paul is writing to believers. The Galatians had already come to Christ.  Now if anyone here today has not come to a saving knowledge of Christ. That is, you have never decided that Christ took the punishment you deserved for your sin, that He died in your place, and that you have never invited Jesus into your life, to not only be Savior but to live as He directs you through His word, this message is still for you, for you will hear today what faith in Christ means for you and how to live that life of Christ.

Today, we will be looking at these points:

– Not I But Christ Crucified

– Not I But Christ Lives

– Not I But Christ’s Faith

1. Not I But Christ Crucified

Let’s look at the passage once again, Galatians 2:20:

“I have been crucified with Christ”

At first, especially how the verse starts out with the ‘I’ and ‘have’ – it seems to be self-focusing – but we quickly see that it is not.  ‘I have been’ makes it clear that I am a recipient of the action, which here is crucifixion.

How are we crucified with Christ?

The New Testament clearly teaches that the battleground for all conflict in the Christian life takes place in the area that the Bible calls the ‘sinful flesh’ (Rom 8:3; Gal. 5:16-21). If we fail to appropriate what it means to be dead to sin but living to God in Jesus Christ our Lord, then defeat in our Christian life is inevitable. We need to discover how we must die to our sinful flesh so that we will be able to affirm, ‘Not I, but Christ.’

This death we are talking about involves three important considerations:

a) Sinful Flesh was condemned – Ro 8:3-4; 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in? the likeness of? sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,

b) Sinful Flesh was crucified – Ro 6:4-6 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

c) The Sinful Flesh was canceled. It has no power. Again, look at Romans 8:6-7; “knowing this that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who is dead is set free from sin.

What does this mean to us?

Sin is dead to us! The old man is dead to us!

We buy into Satan’s lie when we are tempted and succumb. When tempted we need to resist.  If we are tired or weak, we need to call on the name of Jesus. Let us know our weaknesses so as to not offer opportunities. Remember 1 Cor. 10:13, where the Bible says that No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man, and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are capable of, but with temptation will also provide the means of escaping so that you will be able to bear it.

2. Not I But Christ Lives

Jesus lives here and now. Why does Paul say Jesus lives in me?

In this section, I need to ask three questions.

Where does Jesus live in?

How does Jesus live in?

What does Jesus live in?

First, where Christ live in? Now you may think I have lost it because here Paul is saying where Christ lives. Well, let’s turn to Revelation 3:20.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if someone hears my voice and opens the door, I will go into his house and have dinner with him, and he with me.

We may know this verse. It is often used in evangelism with unbelievers as a witness that Christ wants to enter their lives. But according to this passage, who is Jesus speaking to? He was addressing the church of Laeodicea. This is the church that Jesus charged when He told them ‘I know your actions, that you are neither cold nor hot.’ Jesus is ready to spit this church out of His mouth. We may have asked Jesus to be our Savior. But have we invited Jesus into our lives?

How Christ Lives In me

The question that comes to you today is not only where Jesus lives in your life, but how He lives in your life.  Is He not only Savior but also Lord, free to direct your life as He fit?

But there is the third question to ask:

What Christ Lives In?

1 Cor. 15:57 says the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters; be steadfast, remain firm, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your work is not in vain in the Lord.

You may wonder why so many Christians are not happy with the wonder of Christ that dwells in them. They are afraid of making Jesus the absolute Lord. They hesitate to open all the doors of the house where they live. Yes, He can go through the front door and enter the living room. He can enter the dining room and the kitchen, but there are other rooms in the house where they don’t want him to enter. So they keep these doors locked; the doors of these last inner corners of the human personality. They don’t want him to be at home in their hearts. This is exactly why they need the miraculous operation of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

We do not know victory because we defeat the world. The world is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life 1 John 2: 15-17.

Brethren, how will you overcome the lust of the flesh or the lust of the affections? How do you see the opposite sex? Whether in the street or in a crowd or what do you see on TV or in the movies? What comes to mind?

Also, how do you go with lust for the eyes, or lust for attraction? How do you spend your time compared to your time with the Lord? What catches your attention? What can you not live without? TV? or sport? or Shopping?

What about pride in life or lustful ambitions? Are you getting ahead to live a life in Christ? Do you try to impress others with what you have, what you know or who you are?

When we think of the things we do, think or expose, don’t you realize that as believers, we do, think and expose the Christ who is in us to these same things? Are you defeating the world or are you defeating by the world. If we have been crucified with Christ, then it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us. The sinful flesh has been condemned, crucified and canceled. It has no power over us, for the power of Christ now lives in us. Let us be sure to invite Christ fully, as Host and Lord of our lives so that through Jesus living in us, we can overcome the lustful affections, attractions, and ambitions of the world.

Look at Revelation 3:21, ‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with me on my throne, as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne.

3. Not I, But Christ’s faith:

Paul was speaking about his old self that was crucified with Christ. We know this because he now says, ‘the life I live’. So we do live in Christ. Note also that although the sinful flesh is dead in relation to the crucifixion with Christ, we still live in the body.

The Christian faith does not exist solely in the spirit realm. It is lived in the body, and the body must be submitted to Christ living in us. But what I want to focus now is on Christ’s faith. You see, a better rendering of the line would be ‘I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God.’

In conclusion, two aspects of this distinctive life are spelled out for us. As the Son of God, our Lord in His perfect humanity has chosen to live a dependent life. He lives by faith (check John 5:19, 30; 6:57; 8:28; and 14:10). We also must live by faith (Rom. 1:17; Heb. 11:6). This life of dependence should be distinctive. Anything less than this is to live in sin, and whatever that is not of faith is sin (Rom. 14:23).

May the Lord help us to live a life that will always be full of Christ in Jesus’ name Amen.