I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me….
“Things have come to a pretty pass,” said a famous Englishman testily, “when religion is permitted to interfere with our private lives.”
To which we may reply that things have come to a worse pass when an intelligent man living in a Protestant country could make such a remark. Had this man never read the New Testament? Had he never heard of Stephen? or Paul? or Peter? Had he never thought about the millions who followed Christ cheerfully to violent death, sudden or lingering, because they did allow their religion to interfere with their private lives? But we must leave this man to his conscience and his Judge and look into our own hearts. Maybe he but expressed openly what some of us feel secretly. Just how radically has our religion interfered with the neat pattern of our own lives? Perhaps we had better answer that question first.
One picture of a Christian is a man carrying a cross: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
The man with the cross no longer controls his destiny; he lost control when he picked up his cross. That cross immediately became to him an all-absorbing interest, an overwhelming interference. There is but one thing he can do; that is, move on toward the place of crucifixion!
19–20 These verses contain four propositions: (1) “Through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God”; (2) “I have been crucified with Christ”; (3) “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me”; and (4) “the life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Determining the meaning of each of these statements will aid in understanding Paul’s intention in this section.
Stating “through the law I died to the law” further expounds the assertion Paul made at v. 18 that he is not a transgressor of the law. When Paul speaks of “dying to” something elsewhere, he means to say metaphorically that all relationship to that entity has been cut off (cf. “died to sin,” Ro 6:2, 10–11; “died to the law,” Ro 7:2–6). So here he contends that the believer cannot be a transgressor of the law because one who has trusted Jesus Christ has been cut off from any (intended redemptive) relationship to the law. Paul does not indicate that the believer is cut off from the law in any and every sense—the context of this statement is the propositio, in which he sets forth his thesis statement regarding justification and observance of the law—but in both the “legalistic” connotation and in the sense of the law functioning as the nomistic guideline for life (as argued by Paul’s opponents), the believer is “dead” to the law and thus no longer in relationship to it (cf. Burton, 132–33; Bruce, 142). This death to the law came about “through the law,” i. e., the believer’s death to the law is through the law because he died in Christ’s death (Ro 7:4). Paul will further expand on this statement in the probatio section of 3:19–4:7, particularly at 3:19–25.
“I have been crucified with Christ” speaks to the believer’s incorporation into the work of Christ. This is the basis of Paul’s earlier statements regarding the believer’s death to the law and living for God. This is a “Spirit-ual” identification with Christ (i. e., “of the Spirit,” “sourced” in the person of God’s Holy Spirit) in his death. It indicates that union with Christ by faith includes one’s being united with him in his experience of death to the old order, to the law.
The statement “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” extends this incorporation into Christ beyond death to the law to life in Christ. The Christian’s life is “hidden with Christ” (Col 3:3). The believer is transferred by virtue of incorporation with the crucified Christ to the sphere of resurrection life in him (cf. Matera, 103; Bruce, 144). The believer’s life is now lived out under the ethic and guidance of Jesus Christ by means of the Holy Spirit. Just as sin was the operative power of the former life, exercised through the law and the self, now Christ lives both in and through the believer.
Paul goes on to explain, “The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” The present life in the mortal body is, for the believer, a life that is lived “in Christ.” This is life lived in union with Christ, through faith in him who is the “Son of God.” This is a life of commitment to him who “loved me and gave himself for me.” The title “Son of God” both defines Jesus’ identity as God’s Servant and describes the close bond between him and the Father. It also emphasizes the greatness of Jesus’ sacrifice, as he gave himself up to be crucified in order to provide redemption for lost humanity. This sacrificial activity made the way clear for the faith life of union with Christ Paul describes here.
In these verses Paul has expressed the crux of his theology of the Christian life: the believer has died to the law by virtue of incorporation into Christ, with whom the believer has been co-crucified. Life is now lived in union with him in a daily existence of faith “outworked” (cf. 5:13–6:10). The law has no dominion over the believer, who lives now in the ethical sphere of Christ’s life by his Spirit, whose power it is that energizes and empowers one by faith in Christ’s person and work.
21 As a result of all of this, Paul says, “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” In typical rhetorical fashion, Paul ends the propositio by refuting the charge of his opponents against him (cf. Betz, 126; Longenecker, 94). The faith life of the believer does not in any way nullify the grace of God. In context, the specific “grace” being referred to by Paul and his accusers is undoubtedly the covenant grace of God toward Israel as expressed through the Mosaic legislation. But, contrary to the theology of the Judaizers, righteousness does not come by means of law observance. If that were so, Paul says, “Christ died for nothing!” If God had intended the law as the means of providing his redemptive grace, there would have been no need for Christ’s crucifixion and death. But the law could not provide and was never intended to provide this righteousness. This righteousness could only come through the gracious promise of God, and now specifically as realized in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
2:20 The believer is identified with Christ in His death. Not only was He crucified on Calvary, I was crucified there as well—in Him. This means the end of me as a sinner in God’s sight. It means the end of me as a person seeking to merit or earn salvation by my own efforts. It means the end of me as a child of Adam, as a man under the condemnation of the law, as my old, unregenerate self. The old, evil “I” has been crucified; it has no more claims on my daily life. This is true as to my standing before God; it should be true as to my behavior.
The believer does not cease to live as a personality or as an individual. But the one who is seen by God as having died is not the same one who lives. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. The Savior did not die for me in order that I might go on living my life as I choose. He died for me so that from now on He might be able to live His life in me. The life which I now live in this human body, I live by faith in the Son of God. Faith means reliance or dependence. The Christian lives by continual dependence on Christ, by yielding to Him, by allowing Christ to live His life in him.
Thus the believer’s rule of life is Christ and not the law. It is not a matter of striving, but of trusting. He lives a holy life, not out of fear of punishment, but out of love to the Son of God, who loved him and gave Himself for him.
Have you ever turned your life over to the Lord Jesus with the prayer that His life might be manifest in your body?
2:21 The grace of God is seen in His unconditional gift of salvation. When man tries to earn it, he is making it void. It is no longer by grace if man deserves it or earns it. Paul’s final thrust at Peter is effective. If Peter could obtain favor with God by Jewish observances, then Christ died for nothing; He literally threw His life away. Christ died because man could obtain righteousness in no other way—not even by law-keeping.
The deepest heresy of all, which corrupts churches, leavens creeds with folly, and swells our human hearts with pride, is salvation by works. “I believe,” writes John Ruskin, “that the root of every schism and heresy from which the Christian Church has suffered, has been the effort to earn salvation rather than to receive it; and that one reason why preaching is so ineffective is that it calls on men oftener to work for God than to behold God working for them.”
 Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
 Rapa, R. K. (2008). Galatians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, pp. 586–587). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1880). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.