Who Is Doing The Living? - Galatians 2:20

Dr. Steve Viars July 17, 1990 Galatians 2:20


- we're studying favorite Bible passages this summer

- last week we studied Zech. 4:6 - Not by might, nor by

  power, except by my Spirit, saith the Lord

- let me ask you - did you have opportunities in the last

  week to be reminded of that verse?

- I sure did - one of of goals is that this study would add

  to our arsenol of verses that can help us in day to day


- if you had situations this week where that verse came to

  your mind, and perhaps even where that verse changed the

  way you responded to a given situation, then I think we

  could view that as a great step of victory


- As we grow, God wants us to become less and less feeling

  oriented and more and more principle or truth oriented

- Hopefully this series will help in that process


- Let mention one other goal for this series that I didn't

  mention last week

- If you haven't done so already, let me encourage you to

  memorize these verses

- I'm not talking about Bible memory as an end in itself

- but I'm not sure we're going to be able to become more

  principle oriented if we can't remember the principles

- it may be a good idea to write these verses out on index

  cards and review them and even if you don't get them

  memorized completely, at least you'll have the main thrust


- tonight's verse is one that will probably be more familiar

  than last weeks

- but what stands out in my mind about this verse is that it

  is potentially one of the most misunderstood verses in the

  Bible, and while it is a favorite of many--misunderstanding

  it has caused many to go astray


- Read Gal. 2:20

- (read from the NASB - most gramarians agree that the NASB

  trans. is a better trans

    - actually it doesn't affect the meaning of the verse

      very much


- would you agree with me that that is not an easy verse to


- there are a number of questions we need to answer about

  this verse:

    1) what does it mean to be crucified with Christ?

    2) in what sense is Christ living me?

    3) what does it mean to live by the faith in the Son of


         - faith in what?

    4) if I'm dead and Christ is living in me, why do I have

       to live by faith anyway?

- I'm sure that you would agree that the way we answer these

  questions has implications to the way we grow and change

  and live as believers


  I.  A Common Misconception



    A.  The goal of the Christian life should be to stop

        "self" from running it.


        - Quotes and Diagrams are from Charles Solomon, Grace

          Fellowship International, movement known as



        - many other believers view the Christian life the

          same way even though they aren't connected to

          Solomon in any way






        "At Grace Fellowship the first thing we tell people

         after they accept Jesus is, 'Don't try to live the

         Christian life!  You have invited the Lord Jesus

         Christ into your life, let Him live it through you"

         (Handbook of Happiness, p.57)


        - in other words, they would say that our problems or

          our sinfulness is because we are trying to live the

          Christian life.  I need to dethrone myself and let

          Christ live in me.


        B.  This goal takes place at a point in time

            subsequent to salvation.


            - even try to demonstrate that exegetically


            FALSE DOCTRINE



        - so the question in spirituotherapy is, Who's living

          your life, you or Christ?  Are you closer to the

          Jordan River or the Red Sea?


        - now, I think you can see how a person could read

          Gal. 2:20 in an isolated way and come up with this

          system.  Now let's talk about:


II.  Why This Position Can't Be True


    A. Violates the grammar of the verse


        - INPUT - how is this true?


            - and the life which I now live in the flesh, I

              live by faith in the Son of God


        - if this position were accurate, Paul wouldn't have

          continued to use personal pronouns


    B. The first "I" in Gal. 2:20 (and "self" in passages

       like Rom. 6:11, Matt. 16:24, etc.) is not my whole

       person or personality

            - couldn't substitute your name or my name in the

              first blank and say "Steve Viars" in total was

              crucified at the point of salvation

            - when Jesus says - deny yourself and take up

              your cross - He's not saying - deny your entire

              being, your entire personality


            - we'll talk about what that means in a minute


    C. God wouldn't have made me a new man if I was supposed

       to turn around and deny it.


       - II Cor. 5:17 - If any man be in Christ, he is a new



       - why would God make me a new man if I supposed to

         crucify that.  It seems to me that thats a little

         ineffecient.  Its like digging a hole and filling it

         back up.


       - Eph. 4:24 - Put off the old man (v.22) and put on

         the new man.  Why put on the new man if I'm supposed

         to crucify it?


        - the point is that we make a great error if we view

          the first "I" in Gal. 2:20 or the "self" in Jesus'

          command to deny yourself as our whole person


        - it doesn't fit the grammar of the rest of the verse

          and it doesn't fit it with the concept of the new

          birth, or the new man


    D. Inconsistent with the many metaphors that indicate

       human effort in the Christian life.


        - If I can't do anything in the Christian Life and

          Jesus does it all through me, why did God liken the

          Christian the life to a race?


        - why did He tell us to exercise ourselves unto

          Godliness, using the Greek word gymnazo?


        - why did he liken the Christian life to a war?

          Pastor mentioned the battle at Normandy Sunday

          morning - Can you imagine what it would have been

          like if our soldiers had that view of warfare?

          ("sorry General, this war will be spoiled if we

            expend any effort")



        - Do you know where we'd be today? Ein, Zwie, Drie,

          Vier...  (we'd all be speaking German!)


        - point is - this verse does not teach that I can't

          live the Christian life but that Jesus somehow

          mystically lives it through me.


        - now we're going to talk about what the verse means

          in one minute, but I think there's a danger of

          going through exercises like this one and that is

          that we become proud because we could say how

          someone else is wrong.  Thats not the goal.


        - its important to do what we just did because:

            1) it helps us sharpen what we believe.  Thats

               why Paul said in I Cor. 11:19 that there must

               be heresies among you so that those who are

               approved may become evident.


            2) also important because it helps us make more

               pointed applications - and we'll be doing that

               in a little bit as well.


- now let's move into:


III.  The Meaning Of Galatians 2:20


    A. Input from the context


        - this verse is actually part of a larger section

          that began back in chapter 1:6

        - I'm only going to discuss that to the degree to

          which it affects this passage


        - Paul is upset with the Galatians (has the shortest

          introduction of any of his letters

        - read 1:6


        - The Galatians are being swept away by Judaism

        - the grammar Paul uses doesn't indicate that they

          have totally bought it up, but that they are in the

          process of doing so


        - Judaism is essentially this:

           - salvation by grace through faith alone was not


           - a person also needed to be circumcised, obey

             Jewish dietary laws




        - Paul is obviously very upset, but writes this

          book around the theme of the grace of God

        - 1:6 - "I marvel that you are so soon removed from

           Him that called you into the grace of Christ..."

        - 2:21 - we can't make void the grace of God


        - the point, at least for our purposes of

          understanding Gal. 2:20 is:


            - the Galatians were still trying to determine

              how to please God and how to get favor from Him


        - Paul is saying – that’s what you did as unbelievers

          - you tried to conjur up ways that you could please

            Him by obeying the law


          (by the way, thats exactly what we did - we thought

           we would go to heaven because we had kept some

           arbitrary standard - we hadn't murdered anyone, we

           tried to be good...)


         - Paul is saying – that’s what you did as unbelievers

            - you thought you had the ability to please God

              by following the law

            - but that wasn't the purpose of the law

            - the law was supposed to be your schoolmaster,

              showing you that you couldn't please God on

              your own and therefore you needed a Savior


         - and now, after being saved by grace through faith

           in Christ, you are thinking about going back to

           your old ways of trying to conjur up ways to

           satisfy God, please God, placate God, earn merit

           from God, on your own


        - Paul summarizes his position in the verse right

          after the one we're studying, READ 2:21


        - Now, I realize that was a mouthful, so let me give

          you "the short version"


        - for the purposes of understanding this verse, we

          need to know - Paul was upset with the Galatians

          because they had fallen back into their old habit

          of doing things their way, even when it came to

          living for God


    - now, with that context in mind, we need to determine 3


        - what died (or what truly was crucified) - we said

          it wasn't my sum personality, but obviously

          something died

        - what does "Christ in me" mean

        - what does it mean to live "by faith"


    B.  Determine What Died


        - the question is - what did Paul have in mind when

          he said "I am crucified with Christ?"




        - in line with the context, the answer has to be:

            - my way of doing things

            - my goals

            - my ambitions

            - my view of right and wrong

            - even my view of how to serve God and please him



        - thats a very important concept in Scripture

        - My way of doing things was such a powerful force

          that it had to be crucified - put to death


        - Paul made that same point in Romans 6:3 - "Know ye

          not that, as many of us as were baptized into Jesus

          Christ were baptized into His death?"


        - So its not my whole personality that was crucified,

          its not that as a new man I can't do anything

        - But those old habits of doing it my way had to die


        - thats why we baptize the way we do

        - to picture that we have died to our old selfish

          ways, and we are being raised to a new life


        - that really needed to be killed, didn't it

        - remember some of your "ways" before you were saved?

        - Is there any question that they needed to be put to



        - hockey illus. - before saved, going to church,

             Sunday practice, maybe I can be a help to



        - Just my ways of doing things


        - so in that sense, I was crucified and needed to be


    C.  Determine What "Christ In Me" Means


      - we said earlier that the Bible uses all these

        metaphors to describe the human effort involved in

        the Christian life--then you do we explain this part

        of the verse?


        1.  not absolute control where the person has no



            - some folks want to discuss this verse like a

              young person in a driver's ed. car - that has

              two steering wheels, gas pedals, brake pedals


            - so when things get tough, temptation comes,

              somehow the believer says, here Lord--you do it

              through me, closes his eyes, takes the wheel

              back over after they've rounded the sharp



            - that just can't be

            - a critical element of personhood is that we are

              volitional - we have the freedom to choose



            - this verse is not describing a situation like

              on the wizard of Oz, where there's a man

              inside, franticlly working the controls


            - so "Christ in You" is not absolute control

              where the person has no choice


            - so what did Paul mean when he said, I am

              crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but

              Christ lives in me


        2.  opposite of what had to be crucified


            - instead of my way, I have Christ's way

            - instead of my power, I have Christ's power


            - Christ is now living in me

            - His ways of doing things

            - His ways of pleasing God

            - His ways of handling situations


        - understanding this verse this way makes it much

          easier to understand the last part


    D.  Determine What It Means To Live By Faith


        - living by faith means believing that his way is

          right even when it is radically different than my




IV.  Implications


    A. Ask God's Forgiveness If You've Had A Wrong View of



       - I realize that you may be here tonight and have just

         been coming to our church a little while and the

         charts we talked about at the beginning may be very

         close to the way you have operated your Christian



       - perhaps the best thing that would come out of this

         study for you would be to spend some time with the

         Lord talking about how you want to change your view

         of growth


        - maybe you haven't been putting the right amount of

          effort into it because you thought you weren't

          supposed to


        - a committment to grow in a way that is consistent

          with this passage may be just what you need to see

          some significant steps of growth




    B.  Become More Adept At Recognizing His Ways & My Ways


        - the tricky part of the process is that even though

          our ways have been crucified, the nature of then

          crucifixion is this:

        - I'm no longer a slave to following those ways

        - I'm no longer bound up to that way of thinking

          about life

        - I'm no longer bound up to behaving that way


        - I don't have to be that way - but I'm still

          fighting against those habits, and I have to put

          them to death daily

        - thats why Paul said - "I die daily"

        - thats why he called us "living sacrifices"


        - those concepts sound somewhat paradoxical

        - its somewhat of a good news/bad news proposition

          - good news is -you're no longer a slave to those

                        sinful way, those sinful habits

          - bad news is - you've still got to wrestle with

                              them and put them to death


        - see the problem with a living sacrifice is our

          tendency to want to crawl off the altar!


        - because of that we need to become much more adept

          at reconcognizing our ways and his ways


        - thats hard to do


        - situation recently - someone hurt someone thats

          close to me

            - some of those old habits come back

            - I'd like to go punch him out, or worse

            - let me get even with this guy


        - need to remember - I am crucified with Christ and I

          no longer live, but Christ lives in me, and the

          life that I now live in the flesh I live by faith

          in the Son of God who loved me, and gave Himself

          for me


        - thats the kind of thing we were talking about

          Sunday night

        - contrasting Christ's ways concerning sexual

          relations and our ways

        - those 2 ideas don't always go together


        - His ways don't always make sense


        - makes more sense to use our bodies to satisfy


        - makes more sense to seek as much sexual pleasure as


            - but thats not Christ's way


        - repeat verse





        - I wonder if we would have individuals who would

          say, I can see that part of my problem in a present

          situation I'm wrestling with is that I'm very much

          like the Galatians - I've been going at it my way,

           - I've fallen into some of those same habits of my

             solutions, my tricks, my methods


           - I need to change because of this verse


    C.  Be Thankful For His Way


        - Jesus said, I am the way...


        - this passage should make us much more thankful for

          Christ's direction in our lives through his Word

          and His principles

        - the situation I mentioned earlier also has an

          unbeliever involved


        - its obvious that this person doesn't know how to


        - there's talk of beating people up and all kinds of



        - but we'd all be there if it wasn't for Christ

          living in me


    D.  Live By Faith


        - the bottom line evidence of a person who

          understands and is applying this verse would be

          that he/she could point to situations where they

          are doing something different than how they would

          normally do it only because they know its what the

          Lord would want them to do

        - maybe they are returning good for evil

        - maybe they are seeking forgiveness even though the

          other person also sinned

        - but its clear that this person is living by faith -

           living in a way that demonstrates that they

           believe God's way is best


        - perhaps a good question to conclude with - could

          you come up with any evidences of how you are

          living by faith in the way that we've discussed it tonight?


    - I am crucified with Christ...




Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video