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. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose (Galatians 2:20-21).
The Apostle Paul is fearless before the threat of the crowds. He isn’t intimidated by the opinions or accusations of others; their disapproval doesn’t impede the gospel ministry to which God has called him. He doesn’t even fear the accusations of the Law, for he knows that his own Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, has already endured the curse of the Law when he hung on a tree, the cross (cf. Galatians 3:13; Deuteronomy 21:23). And what was the upshot of that for Jesus—banishment from God as one who is accursed or vindication from God as one who is righteous?
Cruciformity in the cause of Christ never ends with the curse of death. It always leads to the glorious dawn of the resurrection from the dead. “I have been crucified with Christ,” Paul says. But he doesn’t stop there, with death. He goes on to speak of the resurrection life he now lives: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (2:20). Paul is tried like Jesus, executed like Jesus, raised like Jesus, and thus now he, like Jesus, lives to God. His life is continually marked by cruciformity. But so too is it continually sustained by resurrection power!
Realize, then, that a gospel-rooted life inevitably leads to a crucified life. If we’re truly rooted in the saving work of Jesus Christ, we will experience an ongoing kind of death, a continual crucifixion with Christ. We cannot be firmly rooted in the gospel and not experience a kind of sacrifice and suffering that we might very well call death. If there’s no death in our life, there’s probably no gospel either.
However, we should have great confidence in the fact that resurrection awaits us on the other side of every experience of crucifixion. “I have been crucified with Christ.” But that doesn’t mean we stop living. That only means Christ lives in us. His resurrection life takes over our earthly life. So while we may end up dying to what we hold dear in this life, we will nevertheless live to God, for the same one who raised Jesus from the grave will raise us up as we give up our life in service for him.
This is why, then, we can only live this cruciform way of life in one way—namely, by faith. Without faith not only is it impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6), it’s impossible to live a cruciform, gospel-rooted life. But this faith that marks our new resurrection way of life is not faith in something abstract or obtuse. It is faith in the crucified Christ, the one “who loved me and gave himself for me” (2:20).
If we truly wrap our life around the life of Christ, if Jesus truly lives within us, then the Christ who is in us will do what Christ did in his earthly life: he loved others and gave himself for others. So, too, this life in us will cause us to do the same. Cruciformity is, then, conformity to the self-giving action of the Son of God. What shape did Jesus’ own loving and giving take? It took on the shape of the cross. That’s where he demonstrated his love for us and gave himself for us.
Adapted from Galatians: Gospel-Rooted Living by Todd Wilson