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If some believers are tempted to believe that they could lose their individuality when they have finally died to self with Christ on their own (spiritual) crosses, then I hope I can offer some comfort here since nothing could be further from the truth. Although the apostle Paul told us in his letter to the Galatians,          “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me,” (Gal 2:20 ESV) he had another idea in mind. Let’s read what Alexander MacLaren wrote in his Bible Commentary about this verse.

MacLaren’s Expositions


Galatians 2:20.

We have a bundle of paradoxes in this verse. First, ‘I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live.’ The Christian life is a dying life. If we are in any real sense joined to Christ, the power of His death makes us dead to self and sin and the world. In that region, as in the physical, death is the gate of life; and, inasmuch as what we die to in Christ is itself only a living death, we live because we die, and in proportion as we die.

The next paradox is, ‘Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.’ The Christian life is a life in which an indwelling Christ casts out, and therefore quickens, self. We gain ourselves when we lose ourselves. His abiding in us does not destroy but heightens our individuality. We then most truly live when we can say, ‘Not I, but Christ liveth in me’; the soul of my soul and the self of myself.

And the last paradox is that of my text, ‘The life which I live in the flesh, I live in’ {not ‘by’} ‘the faith of the Son of God.’ The true Christian life moves in two spheres at once. Externally and superficially it is ‘in the flesh,’ really it is ‘in faith.’ It belongs not to the material nor is dependent upon the physical body in which we are housed. We are strangers here, and the true region and atmosphere of the Christian life is that invisible sphere of faith.


If God has enabled us to constantly abide in Him while He dwells inside us all the time, we can eventually live the lives we always wanted to live (yet couldn’t) for then our true self has come to light. A self that is no longer compelled to react when it feels offended or wounded. Instead, we won’t have those limitations of the natural man who cannot live but after the flesh, those limitations that keep him imprisoned and force him to defend himself and his views on this and that. The new self is a merely Spirit-driven self that has been transformed into a heavenly spiritual being that is perfectly self-controlled and truly loves unconditionally, just like God loves. Or as a famous poet and author once said,

To give and not expect return, that is what lies at the heart of love. (Oscar Wilde)