I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Paul’s description of his life as a believer is profound. We are in awe of the death to self that Paul so confidently states, and the New Testament gives proof that he lived this out. Yet I am so aware that although this is the true reality for every believer who trusts in Jesus Christ, I am not as capable or confident as Paul to state that I have died to self in my own life. I am so aware of the battles that go on in my heart and mind, grappling with my selfish desires, constantly checking my not-so-pure motives for the things I say and do. This I think is the reality of any Christian who is living in the flesh, this side of heaven, and yet who has the Holy Spirit at work in us. The grappling and battling is in that sense a good thing! I take such confidence in the fact that what Paul is describing is the objective reality for each believer. We are dead to self, although our daily experience may be better described as a dying to self (a difficult process) and we have Christ living in us. It’s His Spirit that is at work in us, making us able to start the process, and giving us the surety that we will one day be perfected in Christ in the end. As Paul has said elsewhere: ‘ being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 1:6).
Knowing this, that Christ lives in us, should motivate us to keep dying to self, to keep seeking to live lives that reflect the reality that He is living in us. On those days where our experience seems far from the reality of our lives in Christ, we need to trust in our faithful God.