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Psalm 119:10-11 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not
wander from your commandments! I have stored up your
word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

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Monday, May 30, 2011

I Have Been Crucified With Christ - Part One

Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I have taken on the joyful task of spending a few blog posts on Gal 2:20. I feel this will be a benefit to me (and you) for several reasons. First, it will give me a clear understanding of what Paul is speaking to the Galatians regarding their position in Christ and what it truly means to be "crucified." Second, I will begin to grasp in a deeper way what it means to live for Christ. Third, I believe this verse exhorts us to truly live by faith. And fourth, I see where it gives me a reason for my faith... because He loved me.
So, today I begin with the first part of the verse. "I have been crucified with Christ."
The way Paul begins this verse has significance. The word "I" seems fairly important. He states, "I have been crucified" rather than "we." This gives me the assurance that I am known by God personally. Not just collectively as in a large group of people, but as an individual. My mind tries often to comprehend what that means. Sometimes I visualize God as a King or an Emperor. I see Him looking out over a huge city filled with lots of people. Each one is unnamed. This perception is so not how God is. He is intimate with all of us. Visualize if you will the same King sitting on His throne looking out over the people, and at the same time, like a wind blowing amongst them, knowing each one by name.
Christ didn't die on the cross for a group of people. He died for individuals. You and me. He knows each one of us by name. He knows the color of our hair and how many we have. He designed our minds to operate in a certain way. He chose the color of our skin, who our parents would be, and why we may dislike lima beans. God knows each one of us intimately and He was crucified not for a group of unnamed people, but for individuals. For you and for me.
Having been crucified with Christ causes me to ask a few questions. What does it mean for me to be crucified? What did I put to death when I was crucified with Christ? And what is meant by "have been?"
Let me first ponder the "have been" part. I think of a couple of things pertaining to this. First, it could mean that when I made a decision to fully follow Christ I was crucified with Him. Or maybe it means that when He was on the cross taking the punishment for my sin, I was crucified there with Him.
I am inclined to go with the latter. Paul tells us in Ephesians that He knew us before the foundation of the world. God chose us before the foundation of the world, so I am thinking that "have been" means that I was crucified with Christ the day He gave His life for me on the tree. I was on His mind that day. He didn't die in hopes that maybe one day I would accept His free gift. He died knowing I was already His. What a comfort that is.
What does it mean for you and me to be crucified? We know that Paul didn't hang on the tree with Christ. The only two people on Biblical record who were crucified with Christ were the thieves on the cross. So what is Paul explaining to us when he says “I was crucified with Christ?” I think if we look at Romans chapter six we get a little bit more understanding of what the true meaning of us being crucified is. Rom 6:6 tells us that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. Being crucified with Christ means that we're dead to sin and we're dead to the law. Our old man has died. Sin no longer has dominion over us. Just as Christ defeated the power of sin, we too no longer allow sin power over us.
So when I read the beginning of Gal 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ," I realize that Christ didn't die for a group of unnamed people, but he died for me as an individual. I was on his mind while he was on the cross. And that my victory over sin and the law occurred before I was ever born. Paul tells us in Gal 5:24 that those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Therefore we are to work daily at destroying the power and influence of sin and our life. If we are to live by the spirit, let us also walk by the spirit.
So my prayer for you and me today is that we will become dead to the law and to sin, and begin walking in the grace that God has given us through Christ Jesus. Jesus tells us in Luke chapter nine that anyone who would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Are you willing to be crucified? Are you willing to be dead to the desires of your flesh? Are you willing to live for Christ and offer yourself a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God? Picking up your cross daily needs to be an intentional act of our will. It doesn't happen simply by accident. In order to make your life a living sacrifice, you need to desire the things of God and not the things of the world. One must fall in love with Jesus and desire Him more than anything else. To do that you must get to know Him by reading His word, praying, and spending time with Him. Are you willing to do that?
Lord Jesus I pray that you'll help me understand what it truly means to be crucified with you. To give up my fleshly desires. To live for you alone. You took my sin on the cross so that I didn't have to, and I know that I could never repay you. So, today I offer up my life to you.
May the Lord bless you today as you offer your life to him.

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