“He doesn’t want you better, He wants you deader,” wrote Robert Frazier, who’s billed as a “contemporary Christian artist, musician, and songwriter.”
In part, the lyrics go like this:
Dead people don’t mind the pain, Don’t get offended so they never complain.
They’re not concerned about personal gain, Does that sound like me or you?
The truth is rising from the mist And the word is this;
That when Jesus calls a man He calls him to come and die!
He doesn’t want you better, He wants you deader.
While I don’t agree with all of the doctrine behind all the lyrics of the song, the concept of putting to death the old man of sin is Biblical. In our Bible reading today is a very familiar passage worthy of our serious reflection.
‘I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
William Barclay observed that Paul’s life had changed so drastically that the “only way he could describe it was to say that he had been crucified with Christ so that the man he used to be was dead and the living power within him now was Christ himself.”
What does being “crucified with Christ” mean? How does it impact “the life I now live” in a practical, daily way?
#1 It involves a relationship with Christ.
Paul often uses the expression “with Christ” as well as “in Christ” to identify his relationship with the Lord.
- We have “died with Christ from the basic principles of the world” (Col. 2:20).
- We have “been made alive together with Christ”(Eph. 2:5).
- Our life is “hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:3).
- We are “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17).
- “Now that we’ve died with Christ we believe that we shall also live with Him (Rom. 6:8).
Being “in Christ” and “with Christ” is not literal, mystical, or physical, but spiritual. Being “crucified with Christ,” unlike Patrice Tamao, who literally allowed himself to be nailed to a cross, is about putting to death our carnal desires, our worldly enticements, and our fleshly lusts.
#2 It begins and is sustained by faith.
Because our faith is “in Christ”, we receive justification, experience inner peace, enjoy all spiritual blessings, and live in hope beyond this life (Rom. 5:1-2). Faith, of course, comes through hearing, receiving, and believing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). Through it, we come to know Christ, and choose to be “crucified with Christ.”
#3 It changes the way we think.
If we’re really “crucified with Christ,” it causes us to think like Him. To have “the mind of Christ” (Phil. 2:5). To think on things that are true. Noble. Right. Pure. Lovely. Admirable. Virtuous. And praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8).
#4 It affects the way we speak.
Words are important. They reveal our thoughts, attitude, and character. Jesus warned, “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:37. Speech that is harsh, critical, unkind, profane, slanderous, divisive, and untrue does not reflect the spirit of one “crucified with Christ.”
#5 It alters the way we act.
Actions follow what is in the heart, the mind, and the soul. A “crucified with Christ” person conducts and comports themselves different than worldly folks. The Bible admonishes us to “put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry”(Col.3:5).
#6 It’s the guiding principle governing all our motives.
When I’m crucified with Christ, I “seek the things that are above” (Col. 3:5). My hopes, dreams, and aspirations rise above mere material pursuits but are used as means to a greater goal, a spiritual objective, and a heavenly destination.
In the words of J. Furman Miller, “Crucified is the only really definitive adjective by which to describe the Christian life.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman