Living for Christ vs. Living with Christ
One of the verses I memorized as a child was Galatians 2:20. Over time, it has become one of my favorites. I must admit, that my understanding of, and the significance of this verse over time, has changed dramatically. It says so much more than what I can recall as a young boy. It reads, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; 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."
As a young boy, it was more about being able to live a victorious life. This verse meant that Christ lived in me and that He would provide everything I needed to live out my Christian life successfully. As I've gotten older, the meaning of this verse and especially the application for me has changed considerably.
Being crucified with Christ is so much more than the idea I had when I was baptized. So much more than just being buried along with my sins, handing them over to Christ and getting a fresh new start as I came up out of the water. To be crucified with Christ is to recognize the severity of my sin and to know how much it cost God to pay the penalty and ransom me from my sins. We will never experience or comprehend the pain and agony that Jesus Christ experienced on the cross as God poured out His wrath on Him in order to atone or pardon us for those sins and what it was like to be separated from His Father. But, we must recognize and acknowledge that He died, His blood was poured out for us. The writer of Hebrews pointed out in chapter 9 that without Christ's death, without the shedding of His blood, there could be no forgiveness of sins. A huge price was paid on the cross. Until we recognize the sacrifice Christ made for us, we will fall short of living our lives for Him. 1 Peter 4:1-2 puts it this way, "Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same understanding -- because the one who suffers in the flesh is finished with sin -- in order to live the remaining time in the flesh no longer for human desires, but for God's will".
This is what the second part of Galatians 2:20 is referring to. It says, "nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me". The Christian Standard Bible (CSB) says it in a different way. It says, "and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me". We should've become dead to to our sins and sinful pursuits in life; no longer living for ourselves. This is what the title of this message is referring to, Living for Christ vs. Living with Christ. Throughout my Christian walk, I have often found myself living with Christ, having Him conveniently alongside me for whenever I needed or remembered Him. My agendas and goals were front and center on my radar. I was living for myself, bringing God along with me instead of living for Christ in my day to day routines and activities. After being saved, we have been allowed to live out our lives in the flesh until God calls us home or Christ returns. Our lives now should be focused on striving for, with great intention to the best of our ability and strength, a Christ-like life. This is His desire and will for us. That is a huge undertaking for a human in the flesh, but we have the Holy Spirit to guide, direct, and convict us to do so. The goal and end result of our sanctification process is to be transformed into the likeness of Christ. This includes our lives as employees in the work place, as students in school, or wherever God has put us. If someone were to ask you what you do, our response should be that we are ambassadors for Christ, and that He has called us to do that as a nurse, as a carpenter, an electrician, etc.
Notice also, what Paul said we ought to use as a standard or guide for living out our new lives as Christians. He said that he lives out his life by the faith of the Son of God, not by his own faith. This means that he strives to use the faith that Jesus Christ demonstrated in His earthly life as the standard.
How we live out our lives should not really be an option. If you notice, God's commands and His will for our lives do not begin with, I wish you would do your best to.... The law and commandments were pretty direct. Our instructions as written out in Scripture, including the epistles, are not suggestions. They are clear and direct commands. Paul ends this verse with God's purpose and motivation for doing what He did and why He did it. This should be the same thing that motivates us to live for Him; because He loved us and gave Himself for us.
Let's focus on living our lives for Christ, loving Him, and one another.