We Live by Faith

Wednesday, June 3, 2015, 4:17 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “The Lord’s Anointed,” which is based off Isaiah 61. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Galatians 2:20-3:14 (ESV).

Crucified with 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. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

What does it mean to be crucified with Christ, and how does that happen? Paul taught us about that first of all in the book of Romans, particularly in chapters 6 and 8. First off, Jesus Christ, God the Son, came to earth, took on human flesh, and was crucified on a cross for our sins. When he died, our sins died with him, were buried with him, and when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, death, hell and Satan. In his death and resurrection he delivered us from the curse of sin and from the power (control) of sin, and he set us free to walk in his holiness and righteousness. As well, he gave us eternal life with God, beginning now and forevermore. This is his gift of grace to us, yet we must receive this gift of grace by faith. And, that is where crucified with Christ comes into play.

When we believe in Jesus Christ, we die with Christ to sin, and we are raised with him to new life in Christ Jesus, our Lord. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, but by faith we submit to that work of grace, and we yield control of our lives over to God. “Our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin” (Ro. 6:6). Jesus Christ died to sin once for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God (v. 10). In the same way, we are to count ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus, and we are to not let sin reign (have control) in our mortal body so that we obey its evil desires. Sin shall no longer be our master (vv. 11-14). Jesus Christ came to set us free, not just from the punishment of sin, but from the control (power, rule) of sin over our lives.

God sent his Son Jesus Christ to earth to be a sin offering for us. “And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit” (Ro. 8:3-4). This is what it means to believe in Jesus. It means we die with Christ to sin, and sin is no longer our master, and now we no longer conduct our lives according to our sinful flesh, but we live by the Spirit. “By the Spirit” is not works-based salvation. It can’t be “by the Spirit” and be by the flesh at the same time. “By the Spirit” is also not the freedom to live however you want now that you have been saved by grace. It is not freedom to continue in sin, “for if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death” (present tense, not just past) “the misdeeds of the body, you will live” (v. 13).

So, when it says that I am crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me, what this is saying is the sinful flesh has been put to death, and now my flesh no longer reigns (rules) in my life, but Jesus Christ is now my Lord (master). I now live by faith, which means I now live according to the Spirit, which means according to the ways of God, and the ways of his holiness and righteousness, but all in the power of the Spirit living within me, and not in my own flesh. I can’t do this in my own flesh, for my flesh is diametrically opposed to the Spirit. If I obey Christ and his teachings, this can’t be works-based salvation. Otherwise it would not be obedience. If we try to earn our salvation by following a set of religious rites, and we don’t submit to Christ’s righteousness, then it is not obedience.

Not of The Flesh

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

So many people today are confusing death to sin and living to righteousness with works-based salvation. They are not one and the same, otherwise scripture would not teach us that faith in Christ means death to sin and living to righteousness, and that Christ was crucified in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Jesus Christ did not die that painful death on a cross, and take upon himself the sins of the entire world, and put them to death, so that sin could continue to reign in our mortal bodies. He did not die just so we could escape hell and have eternal life with God. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us. This is what it means to be crucified with Christ. This is what it means to believe in Jesus Christ to be our Savior from sin. He died to free us from slavery to sin, too.

So, when Paul speaks of the Galatians as being bewitched, and as being foolish, he is not addressing the matter of them having died to sin and now living under the control of righteousness, or of them believing that walking no longer according to the flesh, but walking according to the Spirit affects our eternal salvation. He is addressing the fact that, after having received Christ Jesus by faith, in death to sin and in being given new lives in Christ to be lived in his righteousness and holiness, they were returning to trying to earn their salvation by works of the flesh. What are works of the flesh? For them it had to do with circumcision and following a set of religious rites and rituals, thinking they had to do these external things, which God did not require, in order to be saved. Therefore, it was not Christ living in them, and it was not living by the Spirit, but it was them doing what they wanted to do, thinking that somehow this would make them more righteous. They were not finding their righteousness in Christ, but in the flesh of humans. And, that is where they erred.

In our world today, many people are trying to earn their way to heaven by good works, or by religious performance, by attending certain religious services, or by being involved in certain ministries, and they often see themselves as better than others because they go through these religious forms of worship of God. Many of these have prayed a prayer to receive Christ or have made a public confession of faith in Jesus Christ, but they never died to sin, and they are not living to righteousness in the power of the Spirit within them. They think they can decide what they do or don’t do for God, and so they do all these good deeds, thinking that God is pleased with them, but they are still walking according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit, because they have not submitted to the cross of Christ, and they have not surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ in death to sin and in living to righteousness, all in the power and working of the Spirit within them. Abraham was justified by faith, but his faith was proved by what he did in obedience to God (See: Jas. 2).

We Live by Faith

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

We cannot be saved by keeping all of God’s laws, because not one of us could keep the law perfectly. That is why Jesus Christ became sin for us, so that he would put our sin to death on the cross, so that we could made righteous through faith in him. Our righteousness is as filthy rags in God’s sight. So, if we are relying upon our own good deeds or religious performance to get us into heaven, we are wrong. As well, if we are relying upon some prayer we prayed or some acknowledgement of what Christ did for us in dying for our sins, but we have not come to the cross and died with Christ to sin so that we can be resurrected with him to new life in Christ, in the Spirit and by the Spirit, then we also do not have eternal life with God. This is what the Bible teaches. These are not my own thoughts.

So, if the righteous live by faith, and faith means death to sin and living to righteousness, then it means we conduct our lives no longer after the flesh but now after the Spirit, yet not of the works of our flesh, but in the power and working of the Spirit within us as we submit to God’s work of grace in our lives. Basically it means each day we say “yes” to Jesus and “no” to sin. Yet, if we do sin, we repent of it humbly before God, and we put it to death, by the Spirit. Living by faith means holiness, godliness, submission and obedience to Christ Jesus, our Lord, because we love him, and we desire to please him above all else.

The Lord’s Anointed / An Original Work / December 16, 2011
Based off Isaiah 61

The Spirit of the Sov’reign Lord on me;
Anointed to preach the Good News;
Sent me to bind up the brokenhearted;
Proclaim freedom for the captives.
He sent me to preach release for pris’ners
Who are walking in sin’s darkness;
Proclaim God’s grace to all men who’ll listen;
And tell them about God’s judgments;
Comfort all who mourn;
Give crowns of beauty;
Oil of gladness and thanksgiving.

They will be called oaks of God’s righteousness,
A planting of our Savior, God,
For the display of our Lord’s splendor, and
They will rebuild God’s holy church.
God will renew them, and will restore them,
And you’ll be called priests of the Lord.
You will be ministers of our God, and
You will rejoice in salvation.
The Lord loves justice;
He is faithful to
Reward those who are seeking Him.

I delight greatly in the Lord;
My soul rejoices in my Savior, God.
He has clothed me with His salvation,
And in a robe of His righteousness.
He has given me priestly garments to
Wear, as the bride of Jesus Christ.
As the garden of our Lord and Savior,
He causes us to grow in Him.
He makes righteousness,
Praise, and thanksgiving
Spring up before all the nations.