With Jesus on the cross
In order to understand this part we have to keep in mind that the Jews of old did not believe that all people were sinners. They believed that only those people who did live strictly according to the law were sinners. Paul wanted to explain to them that no one is acquitted on the basis of obeying the law, but for believing in Jesus Christ.
19… So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me.
Paul wanted to paint a picture of hope in which your salvation does not depend on you, but on your faith in what Jesus did for you and me.
You see, if you believe that Jesus died for your sin, you are free. Free of all the do’s and don’ts before being acquitted. Verse 16 puts it beautifully and simply: … Convinced that no human being can please God by self-improvement, we believed in Jesus as the Messiah so that we might be set right before God by trusting in the Messiah, not by trying to be good.
Wow! This is what grace looks like.
But this does not mean that Jesus’ death on the cross was easy. Try and imagine how He suffered emotionally and physically while struggling along the Via Dolorosa. He suffered so much that He simply became too weak to carry his own cross. The thorns pushed into his flesh. The lashes, which He endured, cut into his body, causing even more damage.
And then on the cross when the nails bore through his hands and feet …
We caused Jesus’ death on the cross. Our deeds necessitated the coming of a Saviour. Yes, we should have died on that cross, but Jesus died in our place so that we can live for Him today.
But we must also remember: Our salvation is simply the starting point of our journey of faith with God. Jesus had died in our place so that we can be saved, but it also transformed us into new a new person. Someone whose sins have been forgiven through grace, a person who no longer has to drag the baggage of sin along. Yes, we are no longer slaves of sin. We have been freed from the yoke of sin from which we could not escape.
What awesome news! We simply cannot keep it to ourselves! There are so many people out there who still need to hear it. There are so many Christians who miss out on the truth of salvation by thinking that their good deeds will get them into heaven.
Let us proclaim the truth of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone. And afterwards let us align our deeds with the example set by Jesus so that our obedience to Him can attest to our love and gratitude.
Does Jesus live in you?
Can others see it?
Who do you have to help?
Father, we can never say thank you enough for the fact that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. His blood gave new life to us. Your grace is indescribably great. Take my hand and walk with me on my journey of faith with you. Lead me on the road of obedience, not to be saved, but out of gratitude for what You have done for me. Amen