Monday, February 22, 2010

What It Means to Live By Faith in Christ

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

The last four posts emphasized that satisfaction in God requires fighting our old ways of thinking and learning to find our pleasure in God. How we do that is summed up very well in this explanation from John Piper on how we live a new life by faith in God. Our hope of overcoming the old ways of living which led us to disappointment is grounded in the fact that Christian life is not just trying to make ourselves live with different habits and new rules – it is a change of heart that God works within us, creating a new person and putting to death the old one.

The aim of the death of Christ was to take our "old self" with him into the grave and put an end to it. "We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing" (Romans 6:6). If we trust Christ, we are united to him, and God counts our old self as dying with Christ. The purpose was the raising of a new self.

So who is the new self? What's different about these two selves? Am I still me? The verse at the beginning of this chapter
[Galatians 2:20, above] describes the new self in two ways: One way is almost unimaginable; the other is plain. First, it says that the new self is Christ living in me: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." I take this to mean that the new self is defined by Christ's presence and help at all times. He is always imparting life to me. He is always strengthening me for what he calls me to do. That's why the Bible says, "I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). "I toil . . . with all his energy that he powerfully works within me" (Colossians 1:29). So when all is said and done the new self says, "I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me" (Romans 15:18).

That's the first way Galatians 2:20 speaks of the new self: a Christ-inhabited, Christ-sustained, Christ-strengthened me. That's what Christ died to bring about. That's what a Christian is. The other way it speaks of the new self is this: It lives by trusting Christ moment by moment. "The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

Without this second description of the new self, we might wonder what our part is in experiencing Christ's daily help. Now we have the answer: faith. From the divine side, Christ is living in us and enabling us to live the way he teaches us to live. It's his work. But from our side, it's experienced by trusting him moment by moment to be with us and to help us. The proof that he will be with us and will help us do this is the fact that he suffered and died to make it happen.

(The Passion of Jesus Christ, John Piper, pp. 86-87 (Crossway, 2004) (also titled Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die)) - available free online as a PDF here.

So take heart and be encouraged! Christ dwells within us, and He Himself is supplying the grace, strength, and endurance we need to live our lives as Christians. Our part is to believe in Him and in the promises God has made to us. When pain or doubt overwhelm us, or when we are so tempted to sin that we just want to give in, we don't look to ourselves for strength to deal with it. We put our hope in Christ and pray for Him to overcome it by His strength. Living by faith means that we put our trust in Christ to do what we can't do ourselves.


Scott Jamison said...

I thought I'd let you know that I've started a list of Bethlehem Blogs and I've added yours (Bob Hayton recommended it).

Let me know if you want me to take it off the list or change anything.

Anthony Bushnell said...

This is great, Scott. Thank you for including me. I'll post the link to my blog.

dong said...