Galatians 2:19-20. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
We ended yesterday’s reading trapped in the condemnation of the law, and wondering if there could be any possible escape. Asking if there might even be a whole new way to live.
Well praise God there is! And we find it in Galatians 2:19-20. Possibly the greatest summation of the gospel and of our union with Christ in all of scripture. It’s definitely the first. Up until this moment nothing like this has ever been written. In John’s gospel, Jesus introduced us to the truth of our union with him by the Spirit (abide in me and I in you). But union with his cross? Joined to Jesus’ death and resurrection? That’s a whole new level of mystery. A whole new level of God’s grace. But it’s the only way to understand how we are set free from the law, from sin, and from death itself.
For Paul, our union with Christ means that we, like Jesus, have died to the law. This kind of language would be blasphemy to the legalistic Jews. But it is actually good news. Out from under the condemnation of the law is our only hope. Remember, the law could never bring life, only death. It could demand love, but never produce it. It could reveal sin, but never cure it.
But let’s be honest, dying to the law is just as difficult for us today as it was for the Jews in Galatia. Like them, we simply can’t see how we can live to God apart from a merit system. Give me a checklist. A how-to. A formula. Christian principles and practices to live by. Give me a system I can control. A God I can control.
But it is only in dying to the law in all its forms that we can live to God. Only when we give up on all our self-salvation schemes can we begin to live from God’s love and grace. Living under law could never produce unconditional love, as the law would always be conditional. But in dying to the law, we are made alive in Christ’s freedom to now love without condition. We are free to receive grace and then allow that grace to bring about transformation into Christ likeness.
But how? How have we died to the law? And how are we alive to God? What exactly is Paul talking about? He’s talking about our union with Christ. And more specifically union with his death and resurrection.
Crucifixion: died to the law.
Resurrection: live to God.
And then comes verse twenty. As we already said, all of scripture, all of redemptive history, all of the work of the Spirit has brought us to this moment. To these words. I have been crucified with Christ.
This is the fullness of the gospel of grace. Not only did Christ die FOR you, freeing you from the penalty of sin, but YOU DIED WITH CHRIST, freeing you from the power of sin. Without this co-crucifixion with Jesus, yes, you would be forgiven, but then still stuck in the never ending cycle of sin. Sin – repent – repeat. But in Christ you are much more than forgiven. You are FREE! Free from sin’s power to condemn and control your life. You are much more than just forgiven. You are resurrected. You can live to God!
Galatians 2:19-20 is not about making a daily decision to die to sin and live to God. It’s about making daily decisions that flow from the reality that you have ALREADY died to sin and you ALREADY have been raised to life. The gospel is an event that happened to us, and our life today is a life of faith in that event. It is a participation in the death of Christ so that law, sin, and death no longer have any power over us.
“To live is Christ” is therefore much, much, more than self-denial or the “imitation of Christ.” It is a whole new identity, a new reality a new nature. It’s a whole new life and a whole new way to live. Alive through death. Living by dying.
Is it hard for you to “live to God” without conditions being placed on your life?
You in Christ
How does being dead to the law and alive to God offer your heart freedom today?
Christ in you
Where can you let Christ’s unconditional love flow out of you today?
Playlist: Dead to the Law.