Paul said this of his life in Galatians 2:20-“ I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
When I analyze this verse, I am reminded that life can be lived in one of two ways: It can be lived in the flesh or it can be lived by faith. It can be a self-centered existence or a cross-centered existence. One way involves the pursuit of self-satisfaction. The other way involves the choice of self-denial. One way seems easier but leads to hardship and pain. The other way is hard but leads to contentment and peace. One way is in response to our sinful desires. The other way is chosen in response to the loving sacrifice of Jesus. Paul chose the latter.
Listen, if you are going to live by faith in the Son of God you will have to choose to crucify the flesh. You cannot walk in faith and live to satisfy the flesh. Jesus was crucified to pay the price of your sin, but you have to choose to crucify the flesh so that you live to sin no more. You see, Jesus didn’t pay the price for our sin so that we could go on sinning and just sort of access some cheap grace whenever we need it, but He died as an invitation for us to understand how sin grieves the heart of God, so that we can acknowledge what our sin cost our Heavenly Father, and so that we could be moved to desire to sin no more. Like, if we learn to appreciate how painful our sin is to God and how much it required of Him to remove it from us, we wouldn’t want to engage in any activity that could minimize or trivialize the weight of the cross Jesus had to bear.
Sin separates us from God. Jesus died so that our sin would no longer separate us from God. To choose the flesh would be to choose that which separates us from God.
Paul was deliberate about his choice. He wanted the fullness of Christ to dwell in Him.
Consider these verses this week as you think about what is involved in crucifying the flesh:
In Galatians 5:24-“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
Galatians 6:14-“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
Romans 6:1-7-“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 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. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.”
Romans 6:11-“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 6:13-“Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.”
II Corinthians 5:21-“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
II Timothy 1:12 says, “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.”
Paul chose to crucify the flesh and to live by faith, demonstrating that he was giving his life in exchange for Christ’s life. Paul nailed it. Have you been flirting with the flesh? Does it have you on a leash now? Are you forced to follow it? Are you a slave to your desires? Perhaps it is time to take a trip to the cross, to the place of crucifixion where you renounce the flesh and ask God to help you live the crucified life, the one that produces fruit, the one that grows and reveals your faith to the world around you. Let’s choose faith over the flesh.