Commentary on Galatians 2:20, 21

Crucified with Christ.

"I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." Christ was crucified; He was "delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our justification." Rom. 4:25. But unless we are crucified with Him, His death and resurrection profit us nothing. If the cross of Christ is separated from us, and outside of us, even though it be but by so much as a moment of time and an hair's breadth of space, it is to us all the same as if He were not crucified. No one was ever saved simply by looking forward to a cross to be erected and a Christ to be crucified at some indefinite time in the future, and no one can now be saved simply by believing that at a certain time in the past Christ was crucified. No; if men would see Christ crucified, they must look neither forward nor backward, but upward; for the arms of the cross that was erected on Calvary reach from Paradise lost to Paradise restored, and embrace the whole world of sin. The crucifixion of Christ is not a thing of but a single day. He is "the Lamb that hath been slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8, R.V.); and the pangs of Calvary will not be ended as long as a single sin or sinner exists in the universe. Even now Christ bears the sins of the whole world, for "in Him all things consist;" and when at the last He is obliged to cut off the irreclaimably wicked in the lake of fire, the anguish which they suffer will be {85} only that which the Christ whom they have rejected suffered on the cross.

 Where the Cross Is.

Christ bore our sins in His own body on the tree. 1 Peter 2:24. He was "made a curse for us," in that He hung on the tree. Gal. 3:13. On the cross He bore not only the weakness and sin of humanity, but also the weakness of the earth. Thorns are the sign of the curse, the weakened, imperfect condition of the earth (Gen. 3:17, 18; 4:11, 12); and on the cross Christ bore the crown of thorns. Therefore, all the curse, every trace of it, is borne by Christ,—by Christ crucified. Wherever, therefore, we see any curse, or wherever there is any curse, whether we see it or not, there is the cross of Christ. This can be seen again from the following: The curse is death, and death kills; the curse is in everything, yet everywhere we see life. Here is the miracle of the cross. Christ suffered the curse of death, and yet lived. He is the only one that could do it. Therefore, the fact that we see life everywhere, also in ourselves, in spite of the curse which is everywhere, is positive proof that the cross of the Crucified One is there bearing it. So it is that not only every blade of grass, every leaf of the forest, and every piece of bread that we eat has the stamp of the cross of Christ on it, but, above all, we have the same. Wherever there is a fallen, sin-scarred, miserable human being, there is also the Christ of God crucified for him and in him. Christ on the cross bears all things, and the sins of that man are on Him. Because of unbelief and {86} ignorance the man feels all the weight of the heavy burden, but the load is on Christ, nevertheless. It is easy for Christ, but heavy for the man; if the man will believe, he may be relieved of the load. In short, Christ bears the sins of all the world on the cross. Therefore, wherever sin is found, there we may be sure is the cross of Christ. 

Where Sin Is.

Sin is a personal matter. A man is guilty only of his own sins, and not of those which another has committed. Now I can not sin where I am not, but only where I am. Sin is in the heart of man; "for from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness; all these evil things come from within." Mark 7:21-23. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." Jer. 17:9. Sin is in every fiber of our being by nature. We are born in sin, and our life is sin, so that sin can not be taken from us without taking our life. What I need is freedom from my own personal sin,—that sin which not only has been committed by me personally, but which dwells in the heart,—the sin which constitutes the whole of my life.

 Bound by Sin.

"His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins." Prov. 5:22. "For though thou wash thee with niter, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before Me, saith the Lord." Jer. 2:22. My sin is com- {87} mitted by myself, in myself, and I can not separate it from me. Cast it on the Lord? Ah, yes, that is right, but how? Can I gather it up in my hands, and cast it from me, so that it will light upon Him?—I can not. If I could separate it but a hair's breadth from me, then I should be safe, no matter what became of it, since it would not be found in me. In that case I could dispense with Christ; for if sin were not found on me, it would make no matter to me where it was found. If I could gather up my sins so as to lay them upon Christ crucified apart from me, then I would not need to put them on Him. They would then be away from me, and that would clear me. But no works of any kind that I can do can save me; therefore, all my efforts to separate myself from my sins are unavailing.

 Christ Bears the Sin in Us.

It is evident from what has been said that whoever bears my sins must come where I am, yea, must come into me. And this is just what Christ does. Christ is the Word, and to all sinners, who would excuse themselves by saying that they can not know what God requires of them, He says, "The Word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it." Deut. 30:11-14. Therefore, He says, "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Rom. 10:9. What shall we confess about the Lord Jesus?—Why, confess the truth, that He is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart, and believe that He is there risen from the dead. "Now {88} that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?" Eph. 4:9. The risen Saviour is the crucified Saviour. As Christ risen is in the heart of the sinner, therefore, Christ crucified is there. If it were not so, there would be no hope for any. A man may believe that Jesus was crucified eighteen hundred years ago, and may die in his sins; but he who believes that Christ is crucified and risen in him, has salvation.

 All that any man in the world has to do in order to be saved, is to believe the truth, that is, to recognize and acknowledge facts, to see things just as they actually are, and to confess them. Whoever believes that Christ is crucified in him, which is the fact in the case of every man, and confesses that the crucified Christ is also risen, and that He dwells in him by and with the power of the resurrection, is saved from sin, and will be saved as long as he holds fast his confession. This is the only true confession of faith.

 What a glorious thought that, wherever sin is, there is Christ, the Saviour from sin! He bears sin, all sin, the sin of the world. Sin is in all flesh, and so Christ is come in the flesh. Christ is crucified in every man that lives on earth. This is the word of truth, the Gospel of salvation, which is to be proclaimed to all, and which will save all who accept it.

 The Gospel Not Magic.

In the tenth chapter of Romans, as already noted, we learn that Christ is in every man, "a very present help in trouble." He is in the sinner, in order {89} that the sinner may have every incentive and facility for turning from sin to righteousness. He is "the way, the truth, and the life." John 14:6. There is no other life than His. He is the life. But, although He is in every man, not every man has His righteousness manifested in his life; for some "hold down the truth in unrighteousness." Rom. 1:18, R.V. Now Paul's inspired prayer was that we might be strengthened with might by the Spirit of God in the inner man, "that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;" "that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God." Eph. 3:16-19. The difference, then, between the sinner and the Christian is this: that, whereas Christ crucified and risen is in every man, in the sinner He is there unrecognized and ignored, while in the Christian He dwells there by faith.

 Christ is crucified in the sinner, for wherever there is sin and the curse, there is Christ bearing it. All that is needed now is for the sinner to be crucified with Christ, to let Christ's death be his own death, in order that the life of Jesus may be manifested in his mortal flesh. Faith in the eternal power and Divinity of God, that are seen in all the things that He has made, will enable any one to grasp this mystery. The seed is not quickened "except it die." 1 Cor. 15:36. "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." John 12:24. So the one who is crucified with Christ, begins at once to live, but it is as another man. "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." {90}

 The Life of the World.

"But Christ was actually crucified eighteen hundred years, and more, ago, was He not?"—Certainly. "Then how can it be that my personal sins were upon Him? or how can it be that I am now crucified with Him?"—Well, it may be that we can not understand the fact, but that makes no difference with the fact. But when we remember that Christ is the life, even "that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us" (1 John 1:2), we may understand something of it. "In Him was life; and the life was the light of men,"—"the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." John 1:4, 9. 

 Christ is larger than the Man Jesus of Nazareth, whom the eyes of all men could see. Flesh and blood,—that which the eyes can see,—can not reveal "the Christ, the Son of the living God." Matt. 16:16, 17. "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit." 1 Cor. 2:9, 10. So no man, no matter how well acquainted he was with the Carpenter of Nazareth, could call Him Lord but by the Holy Ghost. 1 Cor. 12:3. By the Spirit, His own personal presence, He can dwell in every man on earth, and fill the heavens as well, a thing which Jesus in the flesh could not do. Therefore, it was expedient for Him to go away, and send the Comforter. "He is before all things, and in Him all things consist." Col. 1:16, 17, R.V. Jesus of Nazareth was the manifestation of Christ in the flesh; {91} but the flesh was not Christ, for "the flesh profiteth nothing." It is the Word which was in the beginning, and whose power upholds all things, that is the Christ of God. The sacrifice of Christ, so far as this world is concerned, dates from the foundation of the world. While Christ was going about doing good in Judea and Galilee, He was in the bosom of the Father making reconciliation for the sins of the world.

 The scene on Calvary was the manifestation of what has taken place as long as sin has existed, and will take place until every man is saved who is willing to be saved: Christ bearing the sins of the world. He bears them now. One act of death and resurrection was sufficient for all time, for it is eternal life that we are considering; therefore, it is not necessary for the sacrifice to be repeated. That life pervades and upholds all things, so that whoever accepts it by faith has all the benefit of the entire sacrifice of Christ. By Himself He "made purification of sins." Whoever rejects the life, or is unwilling to acknowledge that the life which he has is Christ's life, loses, of course, the benefit of the sacrifice. 

The Faith of the Son of God.

Christ lived by the Father. John 6:57. His faith in the word that God gave Him was such that He repeatedly and positively maintained that when He died He should rise again the third day. In this faith He died, saying, "Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit." Luke 23:46. That faith which gave Him the victory over death (Heb. 5:7), because it gave Him the complete victory over sin, {92} is the faith which He exercises in us, when He dwells in us by faith; for He is "the same yesterday, and today, and forever." It is not we that live, but Christ that lives in us, and uses His own faith to deliver us from the power of Satan. "What have we to do?"—Let Him live in us in His own way. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." How can we let Him?—Simply by acknowledging Him; by confessing Him. We can not understand, so as to explain the mystery of Christ in us the hope of glory, but everything in nature that serves to sustain our life teaches us the fact. The sunlight that shines upon us, the air that we breathe, the food that we eat, and the water that we drink, are all means of conveying life to us. The life that they convey to us is none other than the life of Christ, for He is the life, and thus we have constantly before us and in us evidence of the fact that Christ can live in us. If we allow the Word to have free course in us, it will be glorified in us, and will glorify us. 

The Gift for Me. 

"Who loved me, and gave Himself for me." How personal this is. I am the one whom He loved. Each soul in the world can say, "He loved me, and gave Himself for me." Leave Paul out of the question in reading this. Paul is dead, but the words that he wrote are yet alive. It was true of Paul, but no more so than of every other man. They are the words which the Spirit puts in our mouths, if we will but receive them. The whole gift of Christ is for each individual "me." Christ is not divided, but every soul gets the whole of Him, just the same as if there were not another {93} person in the world. Each one gets all the light that shines. The fact that there are millions of people for the sun to shine upon, does not make its light any the less for me; I get the full benefit of it, and could not get more if I were the only person in the world. It shines for me. So Christ gave Himself for me, the same as if I were the only sinner in the world; and the same is true of every other sinner. When you sow a grain of wheat, you get many more grains of the same kind, each one having the same life, and just as much of it, as the original seed had. So it is with Christ, the true Seed. In dying for us, that we may also become the true seed, He gives to every one of us the whole of His life. "Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift."

 Christ Not Dead in Vain.

"I do not frustrate the grace of God; for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." This is the summing up of the case. It is the substance of what has preceded. If righteousness came by the law, then there would have been no use for the death of Christ. The law itself can do nothing except point out men's duty; therefore, to speak of righteousness coming by the law, means by our works, by our individual effort. So the text is equivalent to the statement that if we could save ourselves, Christ died for nothing; for salvation is the one thing to be gained. Well, we can not save ourselves; and Christ is not dead in vain; therefore there is salvation in Him. He is able to save all that come unto God by Him. Some must be saved, else He has died in vain; but He has not {94} died in vain; therefore, the promise is sure: "He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand, He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied." Isa. 53:10, 11. "Whosoever will," may be of the number. Since He died not in vain, see to it "that ye receive not the grace of God in vain."

E. J. Waggoner.