Monday, August 18, 2014

THE EXCHANGED LIFE (Galatians Chapter 2)

Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  And the life I now life in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Hudson Taylor, the founder of China Inland Mission, once referenced this verse with regards to that which he called “The Exchanged Life."  In a particularly challenging period of his ministry he came to the realization that it is impossible to live the Christian life in one’s own strength and that is necessary instead to depend entirely on Christ.  The Christian life is not about our own doing (trying harder to be better), but Christ living and doing in and through us.

Paul was addressing those who were seeking—as a result of false teaching they had received--to be justified through the works of the law.  Legalists had infiltrated the church in Galatia and were promoting a slavish observance to the Law as means to attaining righteousness.  Paul speaks in this verse to his own experience whereby he had been elevated in salvation by grace to a higher plane of living through union with Christ. 

Paul had himself been in the place of the false teachers.  He had lived the life of a fully invested legalist.  His was an impressive religious resume—“If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, blameless” (Philippians 3:4-6).  Paul had possessed that which the false teachers were proclaiming, but everything changed for Paul when he met Jesus.  “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish” (Philippians 3:7-8).  The life Paul possessed by way of Christ’s indwelling presence was infinitely superior to that of his previous experience. 

Paul’s “Christ lives in me” experience was not unique to him, it represents the condition which is true for every born again believer.  Kenneth Wuest commented on this matter, “It is no longer a self-centered life that he lives, but a Christ-centered one. His new life is a Person, the Lord Jesus living in Paul. And through the ministry of the Holy Spirit the Lord Jesus is manifest in his life. The new life is no longer, like the former one, dependent upon the ineffectual efforts of a man attempting to draw near to God in his own righteousness. The new life is a Person within a person, living out His life in that person. Instead of attempting to live his life in obedience to a set of rules in the form of the legal enactments of the Mosaic law, Paul now yields to the indwelling Holy Spirit and cooperates with Him in the production of a life pleasing to God, energized by the divine life resident in him through the regenerating work of the Spirit. Instead of a sinner with a totally depraved nature attempting to find acceptance with God by attempted obedience to a set of outward laws, it is now the saint living his life on a new principle, that of the indwelling Holy Spirit manifesting forth the Lord Jesus. That is what Paul means when he says: And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.  (Wuest, K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Studies in the Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament: Grand Rapids: Eerdmans).”

The believer in Christ is indwelt by the Risen Savior!  This glorious truth differentiates Biblical Christianity from mere religion.  The One who has triumphed over sin and death works a radical transformation in the life of the believer.  The Risen Christ takes up residence in his heart.  Christ is not far from him--He indwells him (Cf. Colossians 1:27)!  The believer doesn’t merely look to Jesus for life, He is his life (Cf. Colossians 3:4).  Christ’s resurrection power is availed to him and courses through his being (Cf. Ephesians 1:19f).  His immeasurable love fills his heart (Cf. Ephesians 3:14f).  As a branch to a vine he derives life and fruit-bearing power from Jesus alone (Cf. John 15:5).  His is not a dead, dry, powerless religiosity (Cf. Colossians 2:23; Galatians 3:3), but a “river of living water” flowing from his heart experience (Cf. John 7:38).  In a moment-by-moment submission to and dependence on Christ, the believer is empowered to do that which he could never hope to do in his own strength (Cf. Philippians 4:13).  “Christ lives in me!”  The “Son of God” who “loved me and gave himself for me” now resides in me (Cf. Galatians 2:20).  It is a glorious and wondrous truth that it represented to us in this verse!

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