“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who 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 for me.”
This is one of the most important verses in the Bible. I pray that you will understand it. Paul begins by saying that he has been crucified with Christ. He identifies himself with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. Saul of Tarsus died when Christ died on the Cross. It is no longer the old Saul, but the new Paul. Nevertheless it is not Paul who lives, but Christ who lives in him. Paul is conscious of the fact that Christ lives in him through the Holy Spirit. (Read Rom 8.9b). Paul concludes by saying that the life he now lives as a new man in Christ is a life of faith. He continually abides in Christ. He depends on Him for everything. The emphasis is on faith. Being co-crucified with Christ, he (the old Saul) no longer exists. He has been buried, gone down into the grave, never to rise again. Now he (the new Paul) lives by the resurrection life of Christ – it is the Risen Christ who lives in him. As the old Saul he lived by the law – but now, through the Cross, he has died to the law, and in fact has died to himself. He no longer exists. Christ is everything in his life. Christ moves him. Paul lives by the grace and mercy of God. He, the chief of sinners, who persecuted the Church so savagely, has now become a radiant saint and outstanding servant of God.
It is the love of Christ that moves him, constrains him. What love! He deserved to die for the way he persecuted Christ, for the way he made havoc in the church. Though he was so ardent about the law, being a legalistic Jew, his legalism had driven him to become an enemy of Christ and the Church. Paul emphasizes the grace of God. And that grace was granted to him through the wonderful Calvary love of Christ – “the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me!” He loved me so much, He gave Himself completely for me. God gave us everything He had when He delivered up His only-begotten Son on the Cross. It was an immense sacrifice, the magnitude of which we are unable to grasp. There was nothing more left for God to give when He gave up Christ. “He loved me and gave himself for me.” Elsewhere Paul says, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord!” Paul knows that underneath everything – all the trials, assaults, hardships and tribulations of his life – is the unshaken (unshakeable), unfailing, inseparable, everlasting bed-rock love of God.