Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 15
September 25, 2011
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
1901 ASV Translation:
20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.
21 I do not make void the grace of God: for if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died for nought.
- I. Paul's Response to Hypocrisy.
- A. He "saw" that their behavior and the Gospel were in opposition.
- B. He "said" to Cephas in the presence of all... . Paul determined to address the problem in public because it was not only a distortion of the Gospel, it was also a public humiliation for all of the Gentile brethren.
- 1. If you, being a Jew, are living in the manner of a Gentile and not in the manner of a Jew, how do you compel the Gentiles to live as Jews? [See the Study Notes for July 3, 2011<097>].
- 2. We [are] by nature "Jews" and not "sinners" from among the nations [See Study Notes for July 10, 2011<099>].
- 3. But knowing that a man is not justified by works of the Law, but by faith of Jesus Christ... [See Study Notes for July 17, 2011<101>].
- 4. ...even we believed into Christ Jesus in order that we might be justified by faith of Christ and not by works of law... [See Study Notes for July 31, 2011<103>].
- 5. ...because by works of law shall no flesh be justified [See Study Notes for July 31, 2011<103>].
- 6. Now, if seeking to be justified in Christ we are found also ourselves sinners, do we conclude that Christ [is] a servant of sin? Absolutely not [See Study Notes for Aug. 7, 2011<105>].
- 7. If I build again what things I destroyed, I establish myself as a transgressor [See Study Notes for Aug. 14, 2011<107>].
- 8. For I through law died to law in order that I might live to/for God [See Study Notes for Aug. 21, 2011<109>].
- 9. I have been crucified with Christ; I live but no longer [as] I, but Christ lives in me ... [See Study Notes for Aug. 28, 2011<111>].
- 10. The "now life" that I am living in the flesh ... [See Study Notes for Sept. 4, 2011<113>].
- 11. The faith which is of the Son of God Who loved me ...
- a. The grammatical construction is deliberate and challenging. The translators of the NASB overlook it but the translators of the Authorized Version almost nail it [See Study Notes for Sept. 11, 2011<115> and Sept. 18, 2011<117>].
- b. Paul's characterization of the Son.
- 1) He loved me.
- a) This is not "He loves me". The difference is that "loved" points backward in time while "loves" points to the present. The significance is that "loved" does not mean that Paul is focused upon the Son's current attitude. Such a focus would be in harmony with the idea that I should be faithful because the Son loves me. But this is contrary to Paul's "Christ lives in me" thesis. If the bottom line of Paul's Christian Life teaching is that, when it is all said and done, it really is all about how well I "believe", the practical outworking is that we have never really been set free from law. As long as I exercise the final control, "grace" is out the window.
- b) This is "He loved me". It is a deliberate focus upon the love of the Son of God as two realities: He is the One Who set His affections upon those who receive the benefits of those affections; and He did this without any input, or basis, from them. The love of the Son is most fundamentally a gracious reality; He does not take the "merits/demerits" of His beloved into account. His love is without explanation when men begin to declare that its roots rest in what men have done or will do. The requirement of this kind of love is that it can be applied to "enemies" as well as any others. Paul declared that the essence of this "love" is revealed by this fact: "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). It was in this fact that God "commendeth His love for us".
- c) The life of the Son "in" the believer is, most fundamentally, initiated by Him because of His love. The automatic conclusion of this divine initiation is not difficult: the "faith" of the believer is a "yielding to the obvious" in terms of what the Son's "faith" brings into play. What is obvious to the Son is not obvious to the host in whom He dwells, but what happens when the Son "believes" does come into play as "obvious" to that host.
- d) Theologically, the "love" Christ had for Paul is essentially a value placed upon him above that which is placed upon Himself. In view of the surging nonsense of those whose view of the love of God is most fundamentally self-focused ("God loves Himself more than He loves you" -- John Piper, Wheaton College Chapel, Oct. 23, 1984), there may not be a more important concept for our consideration than God's "love". The problem is exacerbated by the fact that human language forms do not distinguish between the "love" that is essentially evil from the "love" that is essentially good. The man who wants to experience sexual release will often use the phrase "I love you" to manipulate a woman into acquiescing to his lust. This is evil. Alternatively, the man who seeks to enhance another's experience of Life will often say "I love you" just before he makes the ultimate sacrifice of himself for the sake of that other. This is good. It is difficult, in the face of 1 Corinthians 13:5, to see how anyone can say that it is ok for God to be fundamentally self-focused. I have seen the arguments taken out of texts which are deemed "statements of ultimacy" when, in reality, they are statements of goals that take their proper place in the chain of the pursuit of The Ultimate. Invariably the argument is self-defeating: God is supposedly ultimately focused upon Himself so that you and I can experience His life more abundantly. The "so that" clearly makes God's "self-love" a means to a greater end. Piper's mistake is in his claim, "His aim to bring praise to himself, and his aim to bring pleasure to his people, are one aim." This is absolutely untrue. There cannot be "one" aim in a declaration of "two" (or more) aims. To make such a claim is to pervert the meaning of "one", and then to use that perversion to pervert the nature of divine "love".
- 2) He gave Himself for me.
- a) This is the functional definition of "He loved me". He did not give "of Himself"; He gave Himself. We call it "love" when we give a portion of our material holdings to someone in need, but Jesus said that was a "small" form of love; the greater form is giving oneself unto death (John 15:13). Can anyone imagine a scenario in which God "loves" with only a lesser love? Since God is the greatest of all who "love", His "laying down His life" has to include more than what it means for a mere man to deliberately die physically on the behalf of another. The death Jesus died was, at the physical level, no greater than countless victims of Roman crucifixion. In fact, it was significantly less if one considers the duration of the agony in the mix, for He only suffered the physical pains for a few hours in contrast to many whose death took days. It can easily be argued that physical pain has its limits. For most of us who have understood the death of Jesus, the searing pain was in the realms above the physical and His Love is mocked by those who relegate His sacrifice to a minimalist position of even a short three days. There is an "eternal" aspect to the death of Jesus "for us", and it is here that the heresy of His ultimate self-focus is revealed for what it is.
- b) This is Calvary. This is "exchange". This is the Son of God taking my place under the wrath of God as decreed by the Justice of God and revealed by the Law of God. This is "love" doing what it does -- sacrificing the "self" for the sake of the beloved.
- c) This is not life from the outside looking in hoping to find a responsible lover in there. This is life from the inside working out because the Lover is still in the process of "exchanging". His Spirit for mine. His Love for mine. His Faith for mine. His Life for mine. 1 Corinthians 15:10.
- d) The issues of His "Love" and His "Giving" are two: we "love" back (1 John 4:19); and we "give" back (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). His inner work requires only that we "yield" to it. In other words, He is the One Who is at work in our bodies and His work arises out of His own "faith" and we either let Him or resist. Clearly, however, there is, of necessity, something that drives this permission/resistance. What is that "something"? Faith. Our own. In Him. In His faith. When the Son of God takes up residence and makes Himself known in our bodies, we are the first to be changed by what He does. And this change is in the realms of our own love/faith complex. The more He does, the more we are changed. When the Spirit of Christ first burst upon the scene, He did not wait for the indwelt to react. He simply took over their brains and vocal cords and spoke in languages those brains had never learned and those vocal cords had never uttered. As a consequence, those initial "believers" experienced "life" in their bodies in a way never before experienced and they learned from it to simply "permit" and not "resist". What if, after all, our lives were actually tied to the degree of our love and faith? How poverty stricken we would be. In fact, an argument can be made that our current poverty of experience is actually driven by our insistence that we have the love and faith required by the Father for His work. If we were, instead, to rest in the truth of His indwelling presence and interest in producing out of us what He chooses, would we not "rest"?
- 3) Conclusions.
- a) Paul is not primarily describing the process of current living; he is describing the basis for current living. In spite of all of the discussion above, the issue is that Paul is saying that his current life is firmly rooted in the fact that, by the Gospel, he was made alive at the point of "faith" in the faithfulness of the Son of God. This is revealed by these facts: 1) Paul deliberately used the past tense facts of the Gospel of Christ's death on our behalf as his argument as to how he now lives; 2) as soon as he makes his point, he immediately turned back to the issue -- how righteousness comes to a man (2:21); and 3) Paul actually goes ahead and says that IF there was a law that could "make alive", righteousness would be by law (3:21). What this demands is that we understand that Paul is not describing a method of current living so much as describing how he came alive.
- b) There are, obviously, direct connections between "coming to life" and "living" after the fact, but the point is not Paul's method of living so much as method of coming to life. Having said that, I need to point out that the next paragraph in Paul's letter is totally focused upon the linkage between how a person comes alive and how, after that, he/she continues to live ... and the methodology is exactly the same. In fact, Paul is stunned by the foolishness of those who "began" by the Spirit but are now "made perfect" by the flesh.