Verse of the Day Devotion: Galatians 2:20
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; 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 up for me.” – Galatians 2:20
Paul, in this passage, is laying out a distinction of our new life in Christ in opposition to our old life of sin. In the verse just before this, he states that the law by which He lived under in his past he no longer lived under. “For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.” Galatians 2:19. The ‘law’ referenced here is the Mosaic Law. He has come to the realization, through his conversion to The Way (Christianity) that salvation did not come through obedience to the law. There was no hope in being saved through his own deeds. In our focus verse, we see the reality he has come to understand.
When Christ died on the cross, it was not that we died physically with Him. It was that He died for us, and the penalty for our sins was paid through His death. Paul puts it this way in his letter to the Church in Rome. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23. When He died, our sins were paid for because He had never sinned and therefore His death was for our benefit. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17.
Because of this, we are to set aside our old life and put on our new life. “if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Ephesians 4:21-24.
We are to put away those things from our old life that is sin and displeasing to God and put on those things which are good. “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:25-32.
It is important to understand that we are saved completely by the work of Christ on the cross: His death, burial and resurrection. And this is purely the work of God and not by anything we could ever do. It has nothing to do with following any rules. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:9-10. All that is required is that we accept the work He did for us.
True acceptance of what He did is shown by loving Him above all else. We are called to love the Lord with everything we have: all our heart, soul, mind and strength (see Luke 10:27). And how do we show that love? “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15. We are not to keep His commandments because they will save us, we are to keep them to show our love for Him. And this love shown by the keeping of His commandments is proof that it is no longer we who live, but it is Christ who lives within us. It was not us who saved ourselves, it was God’s sacrifice that saved us. Put another way, it was not the keeping of the law, or following specific rules that saved us, it was Christ. The keeping of His commandments is only the proof that it is no longer us who live, but Christ who lives in us. Paul wants to make this very clear here in Galatians 2. Remember, one sin condemns us. We all have sinned; therefore we cannot save ourselves. So the following of the law is of no effect, except to show our love for Jesus because of His salvation we have accepted. What a beautiful picture of the grace and mercy of God.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.