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  • Marshall Segal

The Required Death (Galatians 2:20)

For 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. —Galatians 2:20

Crucified with Christ? That sounds awful, not awesome; terrifying, not liberating. How could my death—the surrendering of everything I have here—possibly be twisted into “good news”? It could only be so if my life depended on dying.

Death is required of every one of us because of our refusal to live for God. When we turned away from Him to our own selfish desires and pursuits—and we all have—we forfeited our right to life. We all must die.

In God’s infinite and mysterious mercy, he made a way for us to die and so live. By sending his own Son to suffer and die on behalf of those condemned to death, He satisfied His own wrath, receiving our punishment on Himself, and purchasing life—real life—for us.

Being crucified with Christ, through faith, means I am treated as if I have received the just punishment for my sin (as if I were crucified). I died. It is finished. When my sinless Savior breathed His last, my old sinful self died with Him. And while sin still remains in me for now, His end was declared and secured as the nails were driven into the wood.

John Piper says,

What does it mean to be crucified with Christ? I think it means this: First, that the gruesome death of the all-glorious, innocent, loving Son of God for my sin is the most radical indictment of my hopeless condition imaginable. The crucifixion of Jesus is the open display of my hellish nature. And, second, when I see this and believe that he really died for me, then my old proud self which loves to display its power by climbing ladders of morality and intellect and beauty and daring dies. Self-reliance and self-confidence cannot live at the foot of the cross. Therefore, when Christ died, I died.

I died with Christ, and he lives in me. Christ living in me means that not only am I not as good as dead before God, but when he sees my life, he sees the perfection and beauty of Christ, the sinlessness of Jesus. He no longer sees the work of my flesh, but the work of Christ. We are seen, accepted, embraced, and adopted in him. God sees his precious Son in us!

We are accepted based on Christ’s living, but we live. We live. Again, Piper says, “A Christian is a person who has died with Christ, whose stiff neck has been broken, whose brazen forehead has been shattered, whose stony heart has been crushed, whose pride has been slain, and whose life is now mastered by Jesus Christ.”

Our gospel-centered, faith-based, grace-saturated living strives with every faculty of our new selves to bring each aspect of our lives into conformity with the gospel. Everything we are and do depends wholly on the grace of God flowing from the wounds of Christ, but we are not spectators in this new life. We are not passive. We live, remembering our unshakable identity as children of God and wielding untold power by the Spirit that resides in and with us.

So, brothers and sisters, look to Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith, know that when He died He died for you; and live, really live, with Him and for Him forever.


For Reflection

  1. What does it mean to die with Christ?

  2. What does it mean to live with Christ?

  3. How does your identity in Christ change how you work today?


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