The Victorious Christian Life

A Lesson Series for the Earnest Christian

© 2002 by Thomas W. Finley, 2013 Revised Edition

Lesson Six: The Totality of our Death and Resurrection

Here we wish to point out the totality of our personal identification with Christ. This identification impacts our understanding of the Christian life. Let us begin with some quotes from Paul’s writings. I have inserted some commentary in brackets in order to highlight a point.

“I [the old I] have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I [the old I] who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I [the new I] now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20)

This verse shows us that the old Paul, all that he was in the flesh, was put to death with Christ. The new life that Paul is living is the life Paul received in his resurrection with Christ, and it consists of Christ living in Paul. Paul is now living a new life, and the source of that life is not Paul, but Christ. This does not mean that Paul has lost his distinctive personality. It means that the faculties of his soul (his mind, emotion and will) are under the enlightenment, direction and empowerment of the Spirit of Christ, not the self-direction and self-empowerment of his old, natural life.

“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21)

This verse in Philippians again shows that Paul’s living had a source that was just Christ.

“For you have died [the old you] and your life [the new you] is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” (Col. 3:3-4)

The verses above comprise a statement of positional truth, describing our lives in Christ as seen from God’s perspective. This passage makes it clear that the entire old Adamic life of ours has died with Christ, and now Christ Himself is our very life. Christ is our life “positionally,” and He can be our life in experience. Now note the following passage where Paul speaks of his experience.

For we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh [the natural life, the old I], although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more; circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him , not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death. (Phil. 3:3-10)

In this passage we see that Paul did not put any confidence in the flesh, his natural life. His flesh here was “good” flesh, of a respected pedigree, well trained and well disciplined to do God’s will, as he understood it before conversion. But, Paul rejected all of that. His desire to be “found in Him” without his own righteousness, based upon his efforts, was a post conversion desire. Such a desire may represent how Paul wished to be found by the Lord at His return.

Paul knew that he should put away himself as a source for any goodness, and trust Christ on a minute by minute basis to be a supply to him for practical righteous living. Paul rejected himself as a source of living. His goal was to be fully conformed to Christ’s death (a complete end to the old I), in order to attain to a special resurrection reward.

Here is an example that shows us the mistakes believers can make in trying to live the Christian life. Let’s say that a teenage girl gets saved. As she seeks the Lord she will begin to realize that there are certain things in her life that displease the Lord. For instance, maybe she is not very self-disciplined and so she doesn’t get her school work done until the last minute. Perhaps she is also sloppy in the way she keeps her room and she realizes that this is not godly. On the other hand, suppose she is a kind person, who has a heart to help others and take care of abandoned animals.

The young girl’s natural thought will be that God wants her to improve on the “bad” areas of her life, like self-discipline and sloppiness, but she is “okay” on matters of kindness and mercy. Therefore, she may pray, “Lord, help me to be more disciplined.” She may have some measure of success since she is conscious of the need to “improve,” but then she may slip back into her old ways again, leading her once again to pray for the Lord’s “help” to improve herself.

The girl does not understand the Christian life at all. The Lord does not want to improve our old self. Nor does the Lord approve of the “good” old self. All that we were in Adam, our entire old self, according to God’s evaluation, needed to be judged, condemned with Christ on the cross. God only desires to see the new creation we are in Christ lived out. This new creation is Christ Himself, living in me as my life source. You and I are to be just branches in Christ the vine, drawing upon Him for everything.

Therefore, when an impatient person prays, “Lord, help me to be patient,” he prays a prayer that has no basis in Scriptural truth. Instead, the person should pray, “Lord, thank you that the old impatient me was crucified with you. Now, Lord Jesus, I take You by faith as my patience. I have died and now You are my life. Hallelujah! I do not have to improve or do anything except to trust in You as my very life and all that I need.” In the same way, we should reject any reliance upon our good points (“put no confidence in the flesh,” Phil. 3:3), but instead seek to take the living Christ as all of our ability and strength.

The crux of the matter is the source of our living. God’s plan and way was to judge and crucify all that we were in Adam and to replace that with Christ. The old life is just us as the source. The new life is just Christ as the source of our living.

Whenever we try to live the Christian life by obeying God from ourselves, or whenever we do not fully agree to the death of the old life in order to take Christ alone as our source, we frustrate the flow of God’s enlivening grace towards us to live that life. Immediately after Gal. 2:20, Paul declares that, “I do not nullify the grace of God” (Gal. 2:21). In the preceding verses Paul stated that he had died to the Law (involving man’s effort to obey God), and that he had been crucified with Christ and now Christ lived in him. Based upon such a practice, Paul could state that he “did not nullify God’s grace.”

WWe must place our trust in the truth that our old man was crucified and brought to an end before God. This implies that we agree to ourselves being put to death, even allthat we were naturally in our Adamic life. By such a trust and agreement we open the way for the Spirit to put things to death in us in our daily walk (Rom. 8:13). More will be said about the details of this matter later. At the same time, we must also place our faith in God’s resurrection work. We have been raised with Christ to “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). We cannot trust our feelings. We must place our faith in the word of God.

Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13, NASB)