NO LONGER I WHO LIVE, BUT CHRIST WHO LIVES IN ME
Galatians 2:20 says, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” Religion, ethics, or any kind of philosophical concept requires us to become perfect people who are without sins or transgressions. Only the biblical concept is superior to the human concept; its highest goal is not for man to be a perfect man without any sin or transgression, but for man to live God’s life that God may live in man. Such a concept is clearly revealed in Galatians 2:20.
“I am crucified with Christ.” We have already pointed out that the meaning of crucifixion is not suffering but termination. However, most Christians have the wrong understanding—that to take up the cross is to suffer. This is altogether a natural concept and not the pure revelation of the Bible. The cross referred to in the Bible is not for us to suffer but for us to be terminated. In John 19:15 when the Jews pointed to the Lord Jesus who was standing before Pilate and said, “Crucify Him,” what they meant was, “Get rid of Him.” Their purpose for putting the Lord on the cross was not that He would suffer but that they would get rid of Him.
The meaning of “I am crucified with Christ” is that in Christ I have been annihilated, terminated, together with Him. Whether I am good or bad, I have been terminated. Whether I am moral or immoral, I have been terminated. Whether I hate or love others, I have been terminated. Moreover, whether I disobey my parents or honor them, I have been terminated. Paul, the one who wrote this word, said that before he was saved, before he received Christ, he became blameless “as to the righteousness which is in the law” (Phil. 3:6). He could be considered a perfect man according to the law. Nevertheless, he still repented. Humanly speaking, he was proven to be one who was truly blameless, a perfect man, without sin or transgression; but such a man was still not what God wants. It was not until after Paul repented that he could say that it was not the righteousness of the law that would be manifested in his body, but as always Christ would be magnified in his body, whether through life or through death (Phil. 1:20b). The rendering of as always is very meaningful. It is not a short-lived matter but always. Paul did not magnify Christ in a short-lived way like the night-blooming flowers which are beautiful for a moment but wither at the blink of an eye. Rather, he always magnified Christ whether through life or through death. Instead of ethics, it was Christ who was magnified in his body. He said, “For to me, to live is Christ” (v. 21a).
Dear brothers and sisters, we all need to see that we are very much governed by our natural concepts. Each time we read the Bible, we bring in our natural concepts. Every time we speak about abiding in the Lord, we think that this refers to being blameless, to sinless perfection. We think that to abide in the Lord is to be a perfect person. Actually this is not so. To abide in the Lord means that in all things it is not you who are doing and living, but it is the Lord who is doing and living. In my life I have had many experiences, but what I have experienced the most is that when we Christians do not live by the Lord but by ourselves, that is the most dangerous moment. Any time you live by yourself, you may feel very good and that you do not have any problems, but actually this is the most dangerous time.
I often say that you can never hate those whom you did not once love. You would not bother to hate the people on the streets whom you do not know and who are not related to you. Have you ever hated anyone whom you did not love previously? In like manner, those who have the worst temper are not those who easily lose their temper. Those who frequently lose their temper are in the habit of losing their temper, so they do not readily go into a rage. Rather, it is those who are very gentle, who are the most like lambs, that when they explode with anger, they become altogether uncontrollable. Why is this? This is because they have been living by the self. If you love by your self and you are gentle by your self, eventually, you will hate by your self and explode with anger by your self.
The Bible tells us at the outset that there were two trees in the garden of Eden: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil comprises not only the knowledge of good but also the knowledge of evil. Good and evil are joined together; they are of the same nature. Where there is good, there is also evil; evil always accompanies good. This is the truth in the Bible. When good comes, evil will certainly follow. For example, the date trees in North China have thorns. If there are dates, there are thorns. There is not one tree that bears dates that is without thorns. In the same way, evil always comes with good.
A certain Christian said that if you have the knowledge of evil, actually that knowledge is sin. It would be best that in our thoughts and in our concepts there is no such thing as sin, for then it is guaranteed that we will not sin. If we know both good and evil, the result will be that we do both good and evil. However, the Bible does not tell us to get rid of evil and to do good. The Bible tells us to live wholly by the Lord. When we live by the Lord, not only will we not hate others, but we will also not love others in ourselves. We will simply live by the Lord.
(Abiding in the Lord to Enjoy His Life, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)