The founder of the Salvation Army said to his fellow “soldiers”: “Faith and works should travel side by side, step answering to step, like the legs of men walking. First faith, and then works; and then faith again, and then works again—until they can scarcely distinguish which is the one and which is the other.”
In the New Testament we have this idea of grace versus works. So, we have James 2:14-17:
what use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
Then we have Ephesians 2:8-9:
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
But then we have Ephesians 2:10:
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
What does it mean to be crucified with Christ?
Please read with me Galatians 2:19-20:
For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
I. All believers have been crucified with Christ.
a. To be a Christian means that I believe that Jesus died and rose again for me. I trust in Him for salvation, I confess my sins to Him and I commit to Him.
b. If you are a Christian you have been crucified, wow! That is a strong picture. I believe that Paul used this word picture for dramatic effect. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is entirely true, but there is a reason that Paul used a dramatic picture here. In a metaphorical way we have been crucified with Christ. We no longer live, but Jesus lives within us.
c. Let’s talk about Galatians. Paul writes to the churches of Galatia to counter these false apostles who have bewitched them (Gal. 3:1). The churches in Galatia have come to an error of works salvation. They have started believing that they had to live by the law. Paul is extremely assertive in this short New Testament letter. Look at Galatians 1:6-9: [Listen as I read]
I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
d. So, Paul is writing about law versus grace and, you know what? I think we need the same message. We have similar issues. No, we don’t have issues with the Jewish Law. But as Christians we go two different ways.
1. We believe we have to earn our salvation.
a. We know this is not true. I read earlier, Eph. 2:8-9, we are saved by grace. Grace is unmerited favor. If you look at Gal. 2:21 Paul writes that if righteousness could come by the law, then Jesus died in vain. He died needlessly.
b. But, when we add legalistic standards for Christians we become a cult, and we make Jesus’ death on the cross in vain.
c. We do this if we practice Christianity religiously. Most in our churches are not guilty of this at all.
2. Or, we throw away any moral law. In this case the Christian’s life does not match his faith. This is a problem.
a. We do this when we do not preach what Jesus preached and what this verse is saying. Jesus said in Luke 9:23: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”
b. If Jesus taught that why don’t we preach this?
c. How can we preach this message without teaching/or showing that we work out our salvation? We were created for good works.
d. As a Christian, the Holy Spirit changes us. Think about the following:
I recently read a book which someone at my church recommended. The book tells the life of Louis Zamperini. Zamperini was in the 1936 Olympics held in Germany. He was famous for setting records for how fast he could run the mile.
Later he was planning to enter the next Olympic competition but it was canceled because of WWII. Zamperini entered the war and served on a B 24. He was shot down and spent 47 days at sea and then around three years as a Japanese prisoner of war. He was badly mistreated in the POW camps.
Following the war he dealt with post traumatic stress disorder. This caused him to plunge into alcoholism which brought on a host of other problem. He was married and had one child, but his marriage was being threatened with divorce. Every time he closed his eyes at night he was plagued with memories of his time as a POW. He was filled with hate and wanted to kill one particular guard (Mutsuhiro Watanabe (nicknamed “The Bird”), who was later included in General Douglas MacArthur’s list of the 40 most wanted war criminals in Japan. Finally in 1949 as the 31 year old Billy Graham was preaching an evangelical crusade in Los Angeles, Louis’ wife gave her life to Christ at the crusade. She eventually convinced Louis to also attend. Louis attended once and was convicted but left in anger during Graham’s invitation. Louis’ wife Cynthia convinced him to attend again. He did and started to leave again during the invitation. But he was convicted and went forward giving his life to Christ.
Following the conversion his life changed dramatically. He went home that night, and at the time when he would usually drink alcohol to excess, he dumped his alcohol down the drain. His hate was changed to forgiveness. His marriage lasted until his wife’s death. He never had nightmares of his time as a POW again. He later went back to Japan and spoke to the guards who were accused and convicted of war crimes. He forgave them. But the one guard who was the worst to Louis, Mutsuhiro Watanabe (nicknamed “The Bird”), was thought dead and Louis never was able to talk to him. Later they found out he was alive and Louis was scheduled to meet with him and wrote the letter below. But he was not able to meet with him as Watanabe declined the invitation. Someone was supposed to take the letter to him, but no one knows if Watanabe received it.
e. I believe, when we really know Jesus, we really know Him. When we are saved we commit to Him, and in time, our life will show it.
e. Paul says in this verse that he has died to the law. How? He died with Christ to the law.
f. He has been crucified with Christ. I have to believe that people would have cringed when they heard him use the verb “crucified.” They would have known what crucifixion meant. Historians cannot tell us apart from the Bible much about crucifixion. People were afraid to write about it. Many times we can find extra Biblical evidence for many things, but not crucifixion. Scholars get much of what we know about crucifixion from the Bible. We are told a few things though. The Romans would crucify people publicly and they would crucify people at set times of the year in order to make a statement. They wanted their enemies to see crucifixion and think, “Don’t mess with us.” The Romans did not invent crucifixion. They copied it from the Greeks and maybe even another country.
g. People would have this image of crucifixion in their mind when Paul used that term.
h. But the point is that we died with Christ when we became a Christian. We died to our old self. We died to sin.
For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
Romans 6:4 (see also Colossians 2:12)
Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
What does it mean to be crucified with Christ? It means that when we became a Christian we died to our old self. We died to our sin nature. So, how do we live?
II. All believers are to live by the faith of the indwelling Christ (2:20b–21).
a. Paul says that he no longer lives, but Christ lives within him.
b. Does Christ live in you?
c. If you are a Christian the answer is yes. Yes, Yes, Amen.
d. The Holy Spirit indwells us.
e. How did Jesus do His miracles on earth? He laid aside His glory to become man. He had the Holy Spirit with Him. He was fully human and He is fully human, but the Holy Spirit was with Him. You know the Holy Spirit is with you as well. The Holy Spirit is in you. In 1 Corinthians 3:16 Paul wrote that we are the Temple of God. He used the same word which would describe the part of the Temple where God resides. God resides in us. We have the Holy of Holies in Us. Amen!!!
f. So, as believers we do good works because Jesus dwells in us and He does those good works.
g. How did Louis Zamperini change his life? He didn’t. Jesus changed him. When he became a Christian Jesus said, “I am not having any of that.” Jesus said, “I am taking over this house and I have some cleaning up to do.”
What does it mean to be crucified with Christ?
I think the evidence is overwhelming that when Paul talked about being crucified with Christ he was talking figuratively that he identified with Christ’s crucifixion in order to show that he had died to the law. Paul identified with Christ’s crucifixion in order to say that he lives by faith or in faith and not in the worldly ways. I believe that Romans 6 helped make the strong case that we die to our old self and then live “in Christ.” That is what Paul meant.
Now, I believe that as Christians we can sometimes push Jesus aside. He lives within us, but… We don’t want Him here. We do not make Him welcome. We just let our old self reign in us. So my challenge for you today is that you let Jesus live within you. Make Him feel at home. Let your worldly self die and by faith let Jesus live. Jesus lives within you. The Holy of Holies is in you!