Posts Tagged Galatians 2: 20

Arise

John 11: 44

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

This puts me in remembrance of the Israelites in captivity in Egypt. God repeatedly said to Pharaoh, “Let My people go!” Jesus came to earth proclaiming liberty to the captives and freedom to prisoners. We saw that Galatians 5: 1 reads, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free.” Most people who read this daily devotional are blessed to live in countries where they enjoy political and social freedom. The troubling truth, though, is that far too many of us are weighted down with grave clothes and are not living the life of freedom mentally, emotionally or spiritually that Jesus’ victory provides us.

The greater part of us are well acquainted with spiritual death. We were lost, just floundering our way through life when Jesus reached out and brought us into fellowship with him. That fellowship gave us new life, a redeemed life. It is a miracle and a daily joy but sometimes we forget how it felt to be dead. Do you remember what it was like before you had hope? Do you remember the daily frustrations and continuous trials?

Life in Jesus offers hope, but it also yields freedom. The more intertwined our lives become with his, the more free we live. It is amazing, truly. I have been a Christian as long as I can remember. Though, I can’t remember a time when Jesus wasn’t precious to me I have found a different way of living, a different flavor to my Christianity if you will. We have an ability to life our lives with and through him. Recall the words of Paul, “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God,” (Galatians 2: 20). Beyond mere Christianity is life in Christ and that is our real objective. It is living with him and for him in every moment of our existence. The concept is so far beyond what I originally learned that I still find it a mind stretching experience. Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that if she would drink of the water he offers, she would never thirst again yet how many of us are spiritually parched. There is life and freedom in Christ. Those are not mere words. That kind of truth, however, only comes through laying down our own lives. How does one do that?

Here is my advice. Seek God with all your heart and might. Our Christian walk is often characterized by phases of growth often resulting in a different relationship with the Trinity. I began one of those deeper walks thirteen years ago which completely transformed my life. It began, though, with seeking him. Through that my life and his life have become one amalgamated existence. There no longer is any me without him. And, truthfully, I have become part of him too. This intertwining has changed every aspect of my life: my health, nutrition, relationships, patience, level of spiritual revelation, peace, even every day tasks are easier and I am more successful in the things I do because he is in the midst of them. He really is in everything, even your breath and this shakes the grave clothes from your body so that the life you live is one of vitality, joy, peace and, when we are doing it right, even ease. He gives us the grace to live above our ability, wisdom or knowledge. He gives us a lighter step and clearer eyes.

Shake the grave clothes from your frame. Arise and live. There is fullness of life in Christ Jesus and I honestly want every drop of it in you. My desire is that you live in overflowing abundance of his grace and goodness. Let my people go! Be free! Enjoy a life intertwined with Jesus.

No More Condemnation

Romans 8: 1 – 2

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

Isaiah 61: 1 is Jesus’ commission. It is the passage he read which marked the launch of his public ministry. Let’s see what that means to this passage from Paul to the Romans. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners.” The Tree of Life version says that Jesus’ job was to free “those who are bound.” Bondage is, therefore, no more to those who are in Christ.

The prisoners are set free because Jesus set us free from the law of sin and death. This is the very essence of Jesus’ proclamation of liberty to the captives and freedom to prisoners. We are no longer under the condemnation of the law because we have been set free.

This is a difficult passage in one way. Although it is great news, we can find it difficult in application because it touches on sin, judgment and forgiveness, all of which are very full and challenging topics. Here is what we all need to understand, though. Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death. Where Jesus exists there is life, light and liberty. Therefore, if you feel under condemnation, I would have you approach Jesus directly because he did not leave his blood on a cross so that you should live under condemnation.

This is not a license to sin. Who in their right mind thinks such a thing? We are to live our lives honorably to the Lord, our lives being our worship. “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,” (Galatians 2: 20). Surely that is an intense statement of purpose. That is the only law worthy of our conversation, that we live our lives to Christ who willingly died for us. But doesn’t that statement also call us up to higher ground? I want you to live a life which honors Jesus’ sacrifice. That does not mean dead works. It means purposeful worship through your work, your daily workout, your diet, and even your driving practices. It means living with Jesus beside you every step of your day. It explicitly does not mean that you should feel condemned because you do or don’t do some of the things your church buddies think you ought. You better be able to take all you are and all you do into the very presence of the Almighty. If you cannot, then deal with that issue, but don’t let the law, or other people’s version of it put you under condemnation.

I believe this is a very freeing verse, but I also think it is saturated with personal responsibility to the Lord Jesus. I will not make his blood of no consequence nor shall I take his and the Father’s sacrifice for granted. At the same time, I will not let another use Jesus’ martyrdom as an opportunity to imprison the beloved. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery,” (Galatians 5: 1).

Where Am I?

Galatians 2: 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 delivered Himself up for me.

This is a beautiful verse, one full of the grace of God and the sacrificial love of Christ. Yet, there was a day when the ideas expressed here challenged me. I wasn’t sure I wanted to die. Even though I pursued God relentlessly, there was a part of me that held back. There was a part of me who had reservations. What does it mean to die to self and live to Christ? What happens when we completely give our lives over to Christ so that the life we presently live is Christ in us?

When I was a young Christian I was on fire for Christ but I wasn’t sure what this meant. Maybe many of you have grown past this but perhaps there are just a few who can relate to the challenge I wrestled with. I wanted to be with Christ. I desired deep, meaningful fellowship with Jesus but I didn’t want to give up who I was. I wondered, “If I give myself to you wholly will I get lost? Where am I if I am in you? Am I afraid of losing my identity? Who will I be? Will I be me?” For all my faults, I liked who I was and I wasn’t sure I wanted to stop being me.

This may sound silly to you but I wondered if I would still get to do the worldly things that I enjoy doing such as kayaking and bike riding. I had some thoughts in the back of my mind that I could not be holy and enjoy these activities. Of course, you know the answer. Jesus loves kayaking and Father is an avid cyclist. We do those things together. In fact, many times I rather ride or kayak without other people because that is Dad time. When we all get to heaven, I fully intend to go kayaking with Jesus. I may do it every day. Who knows? They enjoy all those things. The Scriptures say that God “richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6: 17). He isn’t trying to take these things away from us. He is the one who is supplying them. The meaning of a life in and with Christ is that we get to do all these things with the Father, the Son and the Spirit. These activities are actually more fun now than they were because I get to spend that time with some of my very best friends.

I am still me even though I have given myself to Christ. I am just becoming a better version of me. I am Ivey 2.0. The life of Christ is in me. It is coursing through my veins, suffusing my muscles. He is even in my breath. He isn’t taking away from my former life. He has given me new life, more life, and better life. I am dying to the brokenness of the world and being reborn daily by the renewal of my mind in Christ. He opens new doors in my heart, mind and spirit and with each one he breathes new and abundant life into me.

If you have ever been concerned about getting lost in Christ, I have only encouragement for you. There is no downside to letting your former self pass away because the reborn, renewed self is so much more fun to hang out with. If you truly die to self, you will arise with healing in your wings. Jesus will only move into the rooms of your heart which you allow though. You may have been a Christian for 40 years by now but there may still be areas of your heart that are verboten to God. My advice is: throw open the doors and invite Him in. It is all good.

Say “Yes”

Galatians 2: 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.

Here is the result of our death and burial. We have a new life. This newness of life came with our communion with Jesus in his resurrection. What, though, makes our new life any different from our old life? I mean, what is the point of a new life if it looks like the old one that we buried? Paul points out the way. This new life, the life that Jesus bought for us but that we are living out in our mortal bodies is not one of solitude, isolation or independence. The life we now live is the life of Christ within us. We live by faith and in the love which he showed when he gave up his life for us. Now, we give up our life for him. Our lives, these lives which we have dedicated to the Lord, this life which he bought for us at Calvary, we live intertwined in the Christ who loves us and gives us life. We live his life because he is alive within us and we are renewed. We say, “Yes,” to Christ and he fills us with his resurrection power of life and liberty.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,” (Colossians 2: 6 NIV). These verses make sense on the surface of our brains but when we really consider them, they are much more complex than we may first appreciate. However, this verse really is at the heart of the Christian message. This life we live we live in and through him. Doing just that makes all of the difference in our existence.

I was thinking yesterday about raising teenagers. There are so many things that you want to caution them about; drugs, sex, alcohol. I found myself thinking that loving them could end up sounding like a litany of “don’t’s.” How effective is it, I wonder, just telling children not to do this and not to do that. There must be a better way. Then I thought, maybe they need to understand that they are too valuable, too prized to damage their lives with things that will hurt them. Then I realized this is the same message that pastors must consider.

It is no good for pastors to spend Sunday after Sunday telling their congregations what not to do. Besides, we all know the list of the things we ought not be doing. The real message is you are too beloved to do these things. I want you to say, “Yes,” to Christ, to living in him. Christ is true liberty. He is true peace and happiness. When we focus on loving him and, just as importantly, his love for us, then we don’t need those things. We don’t even want them. In truth, they become repugnant to us. And if you want to know the whole truth, they are weak copies of the true pleasures in life. Getting drunk or high will never give a person the high they can experience in the presence of God. If one ever experiences being in the manifested presence of God, then alcohol and drugs lose their attraction. All of the world’s pleasures attempt to mimic the exultation we feel in Christ but they always fall woefully short.

So, my plan is to continue to encourage you into an ever deeper relationship with Christ. Crucify and bury the old man with his fleshly desires. Receive the fullness of the renewed life that you have in Christ. It’s not about saying, “No,” to sin; it’s all about saying, “Yes,” to Christ. If you do and if you continue to, then you will not have a sin problem. Those things will just lose their hold over you.

Christ is calling. What will you say?

The Exalted Life

Galatians 2: 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 delivered Himself up for me.

So many times we try with all our might to be like Jesus. We pray to the Father to make us more like Jesus and ask Jesus to help us conform ourselves to his image. As is clear in this passage, though, that is not what we are to do. We don’t have to be like Jesus. Isn’t that a relief? We are taught to surrender our lives to him so that he lives through us. This is a very atypical thought for a society like ours. Our society tends to be very “self” oriented and because we have been indoctrinated into this thinking we strive with all our might to accomplish lofty goals in ourselves. While it is laudable from one perspective, that really is the worldly perspective. God never called us to be saints apart from himself. He called us into deep relationship with him wherein he lives an exalted life through us. It is his job to live the life of Christ through us as we are the Body of Christ. Our task is to get out of ourselves. It is, in a nutshell, to get ourselves off of our minds. If we listen to our language we sometimes find that the pronoun “I” is much used, even overused. It is not so much a question of what God wants you to do, but rather what you will allow Him to do through you. “I” no longer live. “I” am dead. The life I now live is the life of Christ in me. If we, the church, can get this message deep down into our spirits, we will most certainly see an enormous change in ourselves, our churches and our community.

Help, I’m Dying

Romans 6: 4, 6

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life . . . knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him.

I wish to share with you today about healing. Now I realize that the verse I chose in order to discuss health and healing looks more like a discourse on dying. Ultimately that reflects the point I wish to make though. Healing is in death. If you want to walk in all of the enormous benefits of Jesus’ triumph, including perfect health, then you must die.

Galatians 2: 20 reads, “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 delivered Himself up for me. This is generically spoken of as dying to self. We are to crucify ourselves, our flesh or worldly selves, and take on the life of Christ, joining with him in holy union so that he lives through us and we live in and through him. Ephesians 4: 22 and 24 give us an even more clear understanding: “In reference to you former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” 

Our old self was crucified with Christ and buried with him but we tend to continue wearing grave clothes instead of donning the robes of righteousness given to us by Christ Jesus. The renewed life is in doing as Paul teaches us in these passages; take off the old self and bury the carcass. Then put on Jesus in his fullness and glory. Jesus told us that in the new age, the age in which we are living, that he would live in us, he is the glory and righteousness within us. “In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (John 14: 20). This is the great revelation and triumph of the New Covenant. The Messiah has come, Emmanuel – God with us.

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you” (Romans 8: 11). You see, it is God within us which is health and healing to our bodies. The healing power of God is alive in us right now. We just need to live to that truth instead of living in the world and its decay. We shuck off the old self, don the new life in Christ and ask Jesus to fill every cell of our bodies.

If we are inviting Jesus and the Holy Spirit to indwell us then ask them to fill you to overflowing. I am reminded of the freshmen physics course where the professor fills a beaker with rocks and asks the students if it can hold any more. When they answer in the negative he pours in small gravel bits. Oh my, now is it full, can it hold any more? “No,” they proclaim. So the professor trickles in sand. “Okay, how about now?” “Certainly not!” From below the desk top the professor produces a beaker of water and begins to add water to the first beaker.” 

So, I would ask you, “Is the beaker now full?” I suggest that it is not. If the Holy Spirit was the water we could analyze that, as with each medium, the Holy Spirit is filling the negative space or the empty space. I posit, though, that after the water is added to the beaker that there is still room for the Holy Spirit to fit in that beaker. He goes in and fills the molecules and the space between the molecules and he fills the atoms and so on down to the smallest atomic particle. That is the vision I wish to share with you for your body. As you cast off your old self and put on the new self, ask the Holy Spirit to fill you down to the smallest atomic particle. Ask him to saturate every cell of your body with his presence. 

Every day see your old self dead and buried and envision your new life in Christ filled with all that he is. Let your life in Christ permeate you. In death is resurrection. In death is life. I know it is paradoxical but you can handle the paradox because you have the mind of Christ. When you die to self you can live to Christ and when Christ is your life then all of the power of the universe is not only with you but within you. You only have to die.

Die For Me

John 13: 38

“Will you lay down your life for Me?”

This was a question Jesus posed to Peter? How would you answer him? Or are you just glad that he didn’t ask you this question? But then again, this is exactly what Jesus requires of each of us. We are required to lay down our life for Jesus and for the gospel. In Matthew 16: 25 Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Therefore, if we want life, then we must relinquish our life. It sounds like an oxymoron but we surrender our lives and take on the life of Christ, a life in him and of him. Paul revealed in Romans 6: 4 that “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” “For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians. 4: 11).

This dying or laying aside of our life doesn’t happen once for all. It is the constant laying aside of our ego laden needs and taking up the life of Christ with its mission of love and servitude. This is not an easy task because our ego seeks always to protect itself but this is the call of Christianity, of following after the Christ and walking in his ways.  

Paul further explained this idea in Galatians 2: 20 when he wrote, “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.” Our life of the flesh has been exchanged for a new life in the Spirit of God wherein we died and were reborn as a child of the Most High, a child of the Spirit. The person we were died and a new person was created in the new birth. Why do we attempt to still live as that old person if he or she died with Christ at the cross? That life we lay down and take up the new life that Christ bought for us at Calvary. That old man was dead in his sin anyway. There was nothing but corruption and decay in his bones but the new man is made in the very image of Christ Jesus, beautiful and radiant.

This is who you are in Jesus but only to the degree that you make a decision to let go of that corpse who is the old you. Believe me, the old man, that old self that each of us knows all too well is decrepit and is better off in the grave. We turned to Jesus and accepted him as Lord because we wanted this new life in him. Most of us were well aware of the state of our inner man. Most of us knew that we needed something, that we needed Jesus to take this sad thing that we were and to make something of it. And that is what he did. He exchanged our lives which were full of decay and death and gave us his life which is the picture of glory and beauty. We died, were crucified with him and were raised up with him in his glory and righteousness but we must make a decision to be renewed in our inner man. God has provided this new life but it is up to us to allow the life of Christ to be born in our inner man. It is not automatic. We have to choose to lay down our lives for Christ. He asks us just as he asked Peter, “Will you lay down your life for me?” This is a question each of us must ask ourselves because this is the essence of the new life, the reborn man and the life in Christ. This death and resurrection in Christ is what happens after we say the sinner’s prayer. We decide that to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1: 21). We choose to let our old self with all of its baggage and problems die and be put away. We give ourselves to Jesus as Lord, pledge ourselves to him and his service and we are raised up in him to a new person full of glory and righteousness.

Let go of yourself. You have died with Christ now bury that old man and let him rest in peace. Don your new life in Christ. Let go of the self-absorbed concerns and turn your life over to him. He will glorify and exalt you when you give your life to him. He will raise you up and give you the abundant life which is your inheritance and which he came to give you. Bury the old man and take up the life Christ has for you.

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