If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.

“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?

galatians 2:18-3:5

I have heard the phrase sung, spoken and quoted so many times. “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live.” But how often has that been in its proper context, I wonder. Paul is actually quoting himself in his own rebuke to Peter who was avoiding the Gentiles and spending time with only the Jewish Christians.

Jesus’ crucifixion was not merely theologically important for the sort of mechanical reasons of salvation, we might call it the “in order to fulfill all righteousness” principle. Paul says there was a further implication for Christian conduct beyond that, there was a moral obligation to respond to the model set forth in the crucifixion. The Christian, including an Apostle, owes a life of a particular kind of quality to Christ, not merely as a representation of love but as a matter of obligation! Which, in this case, meant setting aside the old law as it was to embrace the Spirit and their fellow Christians who were also Gentiles, without forcing circumcision first.

That particular circumcision issue might be foreign to us now but the underlying principle is not. Having died in regard to the flesh, we must not measure fitness for Christ’s service against the fleshly standards we set but we must set our grace to match his! Having begun by the Spirit, we cannot finish by means of the flesh. We can’t take the Gospel to others and then select the “worthy” audience. We must remember the crucified Christ and affirm it is his life, not mine that I now live.

Ethan Kirl