When you read this verse in the context of chapter 2 you really get the sense that Paul is absolutely dumbfounded. For the life of him he can’t figure out why his Galatian friends have reverted back to trying to find favor with God by following a bunch of rules. He is flabbergasted how quickly they have forgotten that it was faith in the crucified/resurrected Christ that brought about reconciliation between the God who saves and the man who sins. And yet…
And yet, don’t we do the same. We walk through this life as believers with a “got to” attitude rather than a “get to” attitude. And as a result, instead of experiencing the liberating joy of the gospel we feel bound up by the incarcerating rules of legalism.
Do a mental checklist by answering these questions:
Do you ever feel like if you want God to bless you and be pleased with you that you’ve…
- got to go to church
- got to read your Bible
- got to pray
- got to tithe your money
The bad news is this: If you feel that way then you are for all practical purposes what Jesus called a Pharisee and you might want to check out what He said about them (Matthew 23 for example). You probably have little or no joy in being a Christian and little or no motivation to serve him and His Church. The good news is this: You don’t have to do any of that stuff to find favor with God. If you did then you would not need Jesus. And He would have experienced an excruciating death for nothing. But because of what He did on the cross and not because of ANYTHING you have done, you have favor with God. Your relationship is restored and your relationship is secure. You don’t have to worry that if you mess up that He will abandon you – because your relationship is not based on what you do but on what He did. Talk about liberating! This is why Paul went on to say later in his letter to the Galatians these words:
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
So you don’t “got to” do any of that stuff. Instead you “get to”. You have the marvelous invitation to get into His Word and to pray and to experience relationship with your Heavenly Father. You have the opportunity to join with other believers to regularly worship together and enjoy the nurture and fellowship of the redeemed. You have the privilege to demonstrate your gratitude to God in a practical way by giving to His Church so that the advance of the gospel can take place.
You and I “get to” do all this stuff because we can dare to say these audacious words:“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Here are the questions that this verse provokes me to keep asking and why this verse is so ponderable:
- Has my old sinful nature indeed been put to death (crucified)?
- Is it evident that Christ is alive in me?
- In what ways does my life (and my lifestyle) demonstrate that I am living by faith?
- Do I daily treasure the fact that Christ loved me so much that He gave Himself for me?
- How do I display my gratitude to Him for rescuing me?
Not I but Christ! May those words spur me onward each day to live a crucified life, a faith-filled life, and a life that reflects my gratitude to the One “who loved me and gave himself for me.”
(this post first appeared in March 2011 – I recycled it because I enjoyed re-reading what I had pondered 5+ years ago)