Galatians 2:20 Not I But Christ

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Galatians 2:20 Manuscript

Good Morning.

Let us consider some popular sayings:

“If one does not work, let them not _______? (eat)”

            2 Th 3:10

“God helps those who ______ (help themselves)”

            Aesop’s fables: Scripture says in Dt. 10:17-18

17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.  

“Money is the root of all evil” 

What 1 Timothy 6:10 says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”


“All things work out for the best”

            maybe a trick quote: depends on your perspective:

RO 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

“Do unto others before they do unto you.”

This is a popular twist on the what is known from the Golden Rule from Luke 6:31

31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Why did I go through this exercise?  Too often we fall into worldly thought patterns.  We have been missing the focus of our faith.

Last week, Pastor Norman finished his series on Acts.  He pointed out that if Acts was a novel, it does not have an ending because God is still writing about His church.  The Holy Spirit is still at work, desiring to work through you and me.

This morning, we are going to look at Galatians 2:20. As you are turning there, let us consider the context of this passage.

This book or letter was not written to a single church, but to a group of churches in Galatia.  Now, there is some debate as to what specifically this refered to.  For there was an ethnic Galatia which was primarily in northern central Asia, while there was a Roman province of that name that was properly in the central and southern part of central Asia.  Now the date of when Paul wrote the letter is related to which Galatia Paul would be writing to.  I won’t go into all the reasons for why this is debatable.  Suffice it to say that Paul wrote this letter as early as 47 AD and as late as 57 AD.

Let’s read the passage Galatians 2:20:

I have been crucified with Christ and

I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.

The life I live in the body,

I live by faith in the Son of God,

who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Before we get into the text proper, we need to understand the context of the passage.  Paul had planted churches in Galatia.  He taught them about Jesus and how through Jesus, they could have a right relationship with their Creator, leading to eternal life. 

But at some point later, other believers came who were of the circumcision. They taught the Galatians that the more proper way of fulfilling their new faith was to become circumcised and to practice the elements of the Law.

This prompted Paul to write this letter.  Paul is clearly angered and is rather forceful in his writing. Leading up to Galatians 2:20, Paul explains why he is writing this letter, describes the basis of his authority of his apostleship, and briefly describes his relationship to the other apostles.  Paul cites his experience with Peter, who though was the pioneer in reaching the Gentiles, was hypocritical in his behavior when fellow Jews were in his presence among Gentile believers.

Immediately before this passage of Galatians 2:20, Paul states the premise that we are saved by faith alone. Indeed, look at verses 15 and 16 in chapter 2:

“We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing, because by observing the law no one will be justified.


After Galatians 2:20, Paul continues his discussion by defending the Gospel: the difference between faith and works; that faith should lead to godly living with practical direction for the Galatians to live out their faith in community.

I felt led to share this verse this morning because it expresses so concisely what our faith is about. Please note that Paul is writing to believers.  The Galatians had already come to Christ.  Now if any one here this morning has not come to a saving knowledge of Christ. That is, you have never decided that Christ took the punishment you deserved for your sin, that He died in your place, and that you have never invited Jesus into your life, to not only be Savior, but to live as He directs you through His Bible, this message is still for you, for you will hear this morning in more depth what faith in Christ means for you and how to live that life out.

Let me ask a question.  Does anyone know how the FBI and Treasury Department train their people to spot counterfeit currency?  Exactly, they don’t spend time looking at counterfeits.  They study the true currency to the point that looking at a counterfeit, it is easy to spot the lie.

That is why it is important for us to consider this passage this morning.  In preparation, I have been working through Stephen Olford’s book on this passage, entitled “Not I, But Christ.”  - hence I borrowed the title of his book for this message.  He breaks down this passage a little differently than I will this morning.

This morning we will discuss:

            Not I But Christ Crucified

            Not I But Christ Lives

                        Not I But Christ’s Faith

                        Not I But Christ’s Example/Power

                                    Not I But Christ’s Love

                                    Not I But Christ’s Sacrifice

Let’s look at Galatians 2:20:

“I have been crucified with Christ”


At first glance, especially how the verse starts out with the ‘I” and “have” – it seems to be self-focusing – but we quickly see that it is not.  “I have been”  makes it clear that I am a recipient of the action, which here is crucificixion.

How were we crucified with Christ?

"The New Testament clearly teaches that the battleground for all conflict in the Christian life takes place in the area that the Bible calls the 'sinful flesh' (Rom 8:3; Gal. 5:16-21)"..."If we fail to appropriate what it means to be dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord, then defeat in our Christian life is inevitable. We do well, then, to discover how we must die to our sinful flesh so that we will be able to affirm, 'Not I, but Christ.'  This death involves three important considerations."

Sinful Flesh was Condemned – Ro 8:3-4; 3     For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in  the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,

 Sinful Flesh was Crucified – Ro 6:4-6  Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

     5     For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,

     6     knowing this, that our old self was  crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;

     7     for he who has died is freed from sin.

It is important to note the past tense here.  Jesus died once and for all time.  He does not need to be re-crucified over and over again.  When we accept His act of sacrifice for us, we legally become right before God.  But understand, that it is not just a mental ascension of what Christ did, but entering into a relationship with Christ.  Baptism is that symbol of us identifying with Christ – relationally, we are now with Christ once and for all.

"Perhaps an illustration will help. Capt. Reginald Wallis wrote many books on the victorious life and made a tremendous impact on my life.  He tells of an incident during the American Civil War when men were drawn by lot to join the army. A man named Wyatt was called up to fight for the South. He was the sole breadwinner for his very large family.  Realizing this hardship, another young man named Pratt vounteered to go instead. He was accepted and drafted to the front, bearing the name and number of Wyatt.

"Eventually Pratt was killed in battle, and having died as the substitue and in the name of the other man, the full name of Wyatt was recorded as killed in action.  At a later date Wyatt was again called up for service, but at the recruiting office he calmly stated that he had died already.  When the entry was researched, it was discovered that although the real Wyatt was alive and well, he was dead in the eyes of the authorities because he was identified with his substitute. Therefore, he went free.

The Sinful Flesh was cancelled.  It has no power.  Again, look at Romans 8:6-7; “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. 

What does this mean for us?

Sin is dead to us!  The old man is dead to us!



We buy into Satan’s lie when we are tempted and succumb.  When tempted we need to resist.  If we are tired or weak, we need to call on the name of Jesus.  Let us know our weaknesses so as to not offer opportunity.  Remember 1 Cor. 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

·  Past FACT of united with Jesus

·  FACT of no power of the flesh

            Our Old Self, Sinful Flesh, was defeated because we were united with Christ. AND IT IS THE


·  Present Fact of united with Christ we are able to stand against the sinful flesh.  Do not be fooled.  And if you struggle, call on Jesus.  Be sure that you do not stand alone, call a close brother or sister to come along side to help.


“Paul says, “If you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you [go on putting] to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom 8:13). This is both simple and powerful!  It affirms that whenever we deliberately count on our union with Christ in His Death, the Holy Spirit instantly applies the crucifying force of the cross to the ever-reviving flesh, thus making the life of reality in our experience.

“This is the start of the Gospel lived out in our lives. Recognizing our union with Christ in His crucifixion, and that the old self, the sinful flesh is dead. The old self no longer lives.  And when it tries to raise its ugly head, we look back at our union with Christ on the cross through the power of the Holy Spirit, the flesh is put down.  Look at Gal. 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me

These words mean more than Christ’s initial entrance.

It is true that the old self has been replaced by the indwelling of Christ, often known as the Holy Spirit.


Not I But Christ Lives

Where we noted the past tense of crucified, please note the present tense here. Jesus LIVES.  He is a live here and now. And where does Paul say Jesus lives? In me. 

In this section, I want to ask three questions.

Where does Jesus live in?

How does Jesus live in?

What does Jesus live in?

First, where Christ live in? Now you may think I have lost it, because here Paul is saying where Christ lives. Well, let’s turn to Revelation 3:20.

‘Behold, I stand aat the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

We are may be familiar with this verse.  It is often used in evangelism with non-believers as a witness that Christ wants to come into their lives.  But in the context of this passage, who is Jesus speaking to? He is speaking to the church of Laeodicea.  This is the church that Jesus charged: I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.”  Jesus was ready to spit this church out of his mouth.  Do you see, we may have asked Jesus to be our Savior.  But have we invited Jesus into the home of our lives?

How Christ Lives In me

Let’s look again at Revelation 3:20.  ‘Behold, I stand at the door and  knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

Notice the change of roles in the verse.  Where at the beginning of the verse, Christ is outside the life of the believer, he asks to come in to dine with them. If we stop here, we would say Jesus is a guest.  He can be in our living room, perhaps the kitchen or even family room.  But not in our closets, or cellars, where ever we may have a mess. But Jesus goes further. What does He say? He finishes His statement by saying that the believer will dine with Jesus.  Stephen Olford suggests that this is a role change.  Jesus is now the host.  Dare I say, that as the host, it presumes ownership of the home. This is perhaps the area where most of us are challenged in.  It is a life long commitment to give Jesus total reign and rule of our lives.

The question for you today is not only where Jesus lives in your life, but how He lives in your life.  Is He not only Savior, but also Lord, free to direct your life as He sees fit?

But there is third question to ask:

What Christ Lives In?

1 Cor. 15:57, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. 

Why do we not experience the power of Christ in our lives?

“You may be wondering why so many Christians aren’t rejoicing in the wonder of an indwelling Christ. They are afraid to make Jesus absolute Lord. They hesitate to throw open every door of the house life in which they dwell. Yes, He can come through the front door and go into the living room. He can go into the dining room and kitchen, but there are other rooms of the house they don’t want Him to enter. So they keep those doors locked – the doors to those last inner recesses of the human personality. They don’t want Him to be at home in their hearts.  This is why they need the miraculous operation of the Holy Spirit in their lives. 

We do not experience victory because we do overcome the world.  The world is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life”  1 John 2:15-17

Men and women – how are you doing overcoming the lust of the flesh, or the lust of affections?  How do you look at the opposite sex?  Whether it is driving down the street or in a crowd, or what you see on tv or movie?  What goes through your mind?

Also, how are you doing with the lust of the eyes, or the lust of attraction?  How do you spend your time versus your time with the Lord?  What captures your attention?  What can’t you live without?  TV? Sports?  Shopping?

What about the pride of life, or lustful ambitions?  Are you putting getting ahead over living a life in Christ?  Are you trying to impress others with what you have, what you know, or who you are?

When we think about the things we do, think, or expose ourselves to, don’t you realize that as believers, we are doing, thinking, and exposing Christ who is in us to these very same things?  Are you overcoming the world or are you overcome by the world?  If we have been crucified with Christ, then it is no longer us who live, but Christ who lives in us.  The sinful flesh has been condemned, crucified and cancelled.  It has no power over us, for the power of Christ now lives in us.  Let us be sure to invite Christ fully, as Host and Lord of our lives so that through Jesus living in us, we can overcome the lustful affections, attractions, and ambitions of the world.

Look at Revelation 3:21,  ‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

Now we need to talk about Not I, But Christ’s faith.

I have been crucified with Christ and

I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.

The life I live in the body,


I live by faith in the Son of God,

I mentioned it before, but at this point it is important to repeat it.  Paul is speaking about his old self that was crucifed with Christ.  We know this because he now says, ‘the life I live’.  So we do live in Christ.  Note also, that though the sinful flesh is dead with respect to being crucified with Christ, we do still live in the body.  The Christian faith does not exist soley in the spirit realm.  It is lived out in the body, and the body should be subject to Christ living in us. But want I want to focus now is on Christ’s faith.  You see, a better rendering of the line would be “I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God.”

What does living in faith in Christ mean for us.


 “Two aspets of this distinctive life are spelled out for us. As the Son of God, our Lord in His perfect humanity chose to live a dependent life. He live by faith (see John 5:19, 30; 6:57; 8:28; and 14:10). We also must live by faith (Rom. 1:17; Heb 11:6). This life of dependence should be our distinctive. Anything less than this is to live in sin, “ for whatever is not [of] faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23).”

There is much more I could speak of with respect to faith. But what we need to remember that our faith

Focuses:  Our faith in the Son of God is not fake nor is it unwavering. 

Lives:  Our faith in Christ is living; leading us to take in His promises, obey His commandments, and rest in Christ as we wait on Him.


Not I, But Christ’s Example/Power

I do not think that it is by accident that Paul changes his reference to Jesus from Christ to ‘the Son of God’ here. 

I am not sure how to put this without being misunderstood.  Though every step of the way, our emphasis has been on Christ’s activity.  It is because Christ was crucified, I am able to overcome the sinful flesh.  Only because Jesus lives, can I live, with Christ in me.

Only because Jesus lived by faith in the Father, can I live by faith in him.  I believe that by referring to Jesus as the ‘Son of God’ here, Paul is beginning to point out our part in this relationship to Christ. But our part is mirrored and empowered by the Son of God.  In John 5:19, Jesus said, ““Truly, truly, I say to you,  the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.”

Paul told the Corinthians to follow his example as he followed the example of Christ. (1 Cor. 11:1)

Not only is Jesus our example, He is also our source to follow His example.  Indeed, in John 14:6, Jesus said ““I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Indeed in this passage, as Jesus has his final words with the disciples lays out how He is the source in fulfilling His example, “7     “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”

     8     Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”

     9     Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

     10     “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.

     11     “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.

     12     “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.

     13     “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

     14     “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

     15     “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

Please grasp what Jesus is saying here.  If you know the right thing to do, but lack the wisdom or strength to do it, ask Jesus to help you.  Note also the call for obedience wrapped in the promise.

Jesus is our example and the source of our ability to fulfill this new life.

But what example is that? As you can see, Paul has given us that answer:  I have been crucified with Christ and

I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.

The life I live in the body,


I live by faith in the Son of God,

who loved me and gave Himself for me.


Not I, But Christ’s Love

John writes in 1 John 3:14 that , “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.”

Now I want to be clear here. Jesus does not want helpers. He desires to work through us.  That love flows out of the indwelling Christ in us.

The challenge for us in this question is are we loving? Do we have out of our relationship with Christ a desire to help in very real ways, each other?  Or are we wrapped up in ourselves?  Have you had an opportunity to help others this week and turned it down?  Now, I will throw a caution here.  There are some who help because they only believe they have value to help, but their efforts are in their own strength and for a wrong motivation.  We will need to say no at times, but how do we say it?  Can we help them at least get to someone who can help?

But as John writes, loving is life giving.  Not only as a sign of Christ working through us, but such love ministers life to the recipient.


Not I, But Christ’s Sacrifice


Also notice what Paul writes about Jesus: “Who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  This act of loving is sacrificial.  Now some, as I mentioned earlier, serve either to the detriment of themselves or for their own glory.  They use helping others as a means to fulfill ‘the sacrifice’ they believe they need to perform.

We cannot force the sacrifice. That is using the point made about being crucified with Christ, we cannot crucify ourselves.  The sacrifice comes, and we need to discern the Spirit’s will.  We cannot help everyone on our own.  Jesus did not heal everyone.  In that sense we need to be at peace.

But even with what we can do, we will be stretched.  We will be fatigued.  Often, the opportunities for sacrificial love come at inopportune times.  It may be just when we got done (or not done) with a home project and you get the phone call.  Or you are trying to get your work done, and a co-worker asks if you can help them. Perhaps you felt glad that you have a few extra bucks in the bank account, and you find out someone is in financial need, or the car broke down.

Note that when Jesus said we need to pick up our cross daily, that is giving the image of crucifying our old self daily.  This is life forming.  We begin to conform more and more into the image of Christ.  But the source of power to do this daily dying is from the beginning of this verse.  We need to recall that we have died to our old selves.

Brothers, sister, I know this was a lot this morning. Indeed, I believe I have probably broken every rule there is in sermonizing this morning.  As I felt the burden to remind each of us of our Life in Christ, I felt a message coming.  Obviously, I would have loved to preach about something I have total command of.  But in many respects, I have preached an unfinished message.  As I prepared this message, I can see that in many ways, I have not fulfilled or lived in a manner that gave Christ full reign in every area of my life.  I have forgotten the truth that my old self is dead, that sin is no longer my master.  I have sometimes loved, not out of Christ’s leading, but to ensure I would look good.

But I will not give up.  He who began a good work in me is able to complete it. How about you this morning.  As you look over the outline, or should I say maze, what is the Spirit saying to you. 


a Matt 24:33; James 5:9

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