Living the Crucified Life by Faith Rather Than Sight

Christians often use phrases such a dying to self and crucified life. We use these terms so often that they easily become Christianese and begin to lose their meaning. But what do they really mean and are we even using them correctly?

The call to be a follower of Jesus requires us to count the cost and forsake all other gods. It is both a calling out and a calling to. We are called out of our depraved, sinful state and out of the world in which we live to become citizens of a new kingdom – God’s Kingdom. We are called to a life that is forever changed and continually lived by faith. We become joint-heirs with Christ Himself and we are no longer at enmity with God, but instead we are near to Him and made righteous based on the merit of Christ alone and not anything we have done. It is a total transformation and the gift of faith is the key that unlocks this transformation. This is cause for rejoicing and celebration! We are free from the bondage to slavery we previously experienced.

Sadly, though, we quickly forget our freedom and yoke ourselves up again to the chains of bondage (Galatians 5:1). In Paul’s epistle to the Romans, he tells us that believers are now free to be slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:17-22). At first glance, that sounds odd, doesn’t it? Freed from one thing to be a slave to something else? But, once understood, this concept will help you to walk in righteousness in a more victorious manner than you ever have before.

Transformed Life

You see, just as Christ died and was raised from being actually dead, so are we. The Christian has been brought into union with Christ by dying to our former self and being raised to a completely new life – one that is altogether different than our old life (Romans 6:5-6). Further in Romans Chapter 6, Paul describes this death to life transformation as having already happened to us; “you have your fruit, which results in sanctification—and the outcome is eternal life!” (Romans 6:22).  You have your fruit. That fruit of your new life and is described by Paul in Galatians 5 as the “fruit of the Spirit;” love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control…against such things there is no law.

Why, then, do we re-bind ourselves to the slavery of the law? The key can be found at the end of 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.”

We do an amazing job remembering the first part of that verse, the part about crucifixion. In conservative Christian circles we are quick to talk about how awful and depraved we each are. And this is true. But no child of God has ever been so depraved that God’s grace wasn’t greater than his depravity. I should always be humble enough to declare that no matter where I am, no one else’s sin is bigger than my own sin, which was heinous enough to send my perfect and holy Lord Jesus to a gruesome cross to pay the penalty for my sins. However, I can’t forget the last part of Galatians 2:20, because that’s what motivates me to persevere in my battle against the flesh.

Jesus loved you. Jesus loved you and demonstrated it by giving himself for you. That is a strong motivation to walk by faith, trusting fully in the One who gave himself. My motivation cannot be to please others, or earn my place as God’s favorite kid, or to maintain my own reputation. Those motivators will certainly have me walking by sight in no time. Those motivators have me focused on everyone but God, and they are tiresome distractors that are slavery disguised as piety. If I want to live an effective Christian life, I must focus on the One who loved me. I love the way the CSB translation states John 3:16. It reads “For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” Do you see how it gets to the point of that verse? God demonstrated His love for you and me and every born-again Christian by giving his Son. He loved you and gave himself for you.

Walk by Faith

The next time you’re tempted to try to sanctify yourself by walking by sight instead of by faith, remember the order. First, Jesus loved you. Then, he gave himself for you. Then, you were crucified and given the faith and ability to love him back through obedience and worship. The life you now live in the body actually belongs to Christ. And he has promised to be faithful in your sanctification. Live freely and confidently, knowing that he will finish the work he started in you and trust him to do what he says he will do. Living by faith is so much more rewarding than living by sight.

Kim

The Gospel PostScript