The cross has a present power in our lives. The cross has the power to free us from the world's bondage. "The world" speaks of the system and nature of this age. Corruption, meaninglessness, hopelessness, futility, warped values, and despair are all aspects of this world. Paul says the believer and the world are dead to each other! The two have parted ways.
Our position in one sense, objectively, forensically, is this: we have been crucified already with Jesus. We belong to Him (5:24). The best way to understand this phrase in 14b is, "I have been crucified with Christ" (2:19). So we died. But we live. There is a new "I." The old self has died—the rebellious, enslaved, unbelieving self died. Now there is a new "I," a new creation.
Paul wants us to know that when Christ died, we died to the world, and now we live a new life in Him. It does not mean that the world does not affect us. The deathblow has been dealt at the cross, but the world still has a lingering influence. One day, though, when Christ returns, there will be no more corruption. Now the Christian life is about becoming what we are! We are dead to this world and alive to Christ. The world is not the believer's treasure, Christ is.
On account of the cross, the cares of this world do not have to crush us because we have a different perspective than the world. You know that if God will give you Christ, He will give all you need ultimately. The enticements of the world do not have to persuade us like they do the rest of society because we have new affections. Greed can be replaced by generosity; lust with purity; anxiety with truth; envy with love.
Paul says, "Live this out! Live as though this world has nothing for you and Christ is everything to you! Die to the enticements and cares of this world, and live as though Christ were your ultimate treasure. The motto for the Christian is: the world has nothing for us; Christ is everything to us. This is the daily power of the cross."
Charles Spurgeon, in a sermon called "Grand Glorying," writes these amazing words:
What means he by this? Why, he means that ever since he fell in love with Jesus Christ, he lost all love for the world! It seemed to him to be a poor, crucified, dying thing, and he turned away from it just as you would from a criminal whom you might see hanging in chains—and would desire to go anywhere rather than see the poor being. So Paul seemed to see the world on gallows—hung up there. "There," he said, "that is what I think of you and all your pomp, and all your power, and all your wealth, and all your fame! You are on the gallows, a malefactor, nailed up, crucified! I would not give a fig for you!" ... And now observe the other Cross. There is Paul on that. The world thinks as little of Paul as Paul does of the world. The world says, "Oh, the harebrained Paul! He was once sensible, but he has gone mad upon that stubborn notion about the Crucified one! The man is a fool." So the world crucifies him ... So is it with the world and the genuine Christian.
Can you look at your idols—money, success, human praise, power, peer approval, wanting attention, ungodly romance—and say, "I would not give a fig for you"? See your idols for what they are: pathetic, crucified, dying things. They are not attractive to the person who sees them for what they are and sees Jesus for all He is.
Can you accept that you will be different from the world if you live out this verse? Others may deem you "crazy" or "foolish." So be it. Treasure Jesus, not the world. The cross gives us the power to do just that.
Tony Merida from Exalting Jesus in Galatians