1319. NOT I BUT CHRIST Part 3

Join in Paul’s discovery of just what was that “new creation” he had become.

IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING

Not I But Christ
Part 3

Replacement

This is Part 3 in our series, Not I But Christ. Click Here for Part 1 and here for Part 2. Today we continue looking at the apostle Paul as he struggles to understand the gospel that had been entrusted to him. With another option made available (besides the flesh), Paul now had two choices. He could live in the flesh where indwelling sin had made its home, or he could live in the Spirit, allowing the risen Christ to live His life through him. What a revelation! What joy! Then, as before, a further conundrum arose for Paul. Was Jesus there to help him? No, that didn’t seem right, for God had shown Paul what a miserable wretch he (and the entire human race) really was (Rom. 3:10-18). From what he learned about himself, he knew he was beyond help or hope. He needed a do-over. He had to die and be replaced with something better, much better.

Crucified with Christ

It was at this point that he learned of his co-crucifixion with Christ (his identification with Christ in His death). As the diagram below illustrates, at the moment Paul had been saved and placed “in Christ,” he became united with the eternal life of Christ. He was sharing Christ’s life. They had been made one. This meant that whatever happened to Christ in the past also happened to Paul. When Christ died, so did Paul’s old life (his “old man”). When Christ was buried, so was the old Paul. Then came the glorious truth that when Christ was resurrected to newness of life, so was Paul!

Another Issue

With each new revelation came yet another issue to be resolved. It didn’t take long for Paul to learn that his old man hadn’t disappeared, never to be heard from again. While it had been crucified with Christ, it still lived on in his flesh, but its power over Paul had been annulled (put out of business). Everything about the old man was sinful and the sinful old man still resided in his flesh, but sin no longer had the power it once had over him. Suddenly, Christ’s death on the cross took on a new meaning. He didn’t just bear Paul’s sins. He became sin at the cross (2 Cor. 5:21). When He died, sin’s power (over believers) died. Paul realized that he was no longer chained to sin. Those chains had been broken, and he was free to serve another-the risen Christ. Paul still had his body and his soul with its unique personality and gifting. Every day he simply had to choose his “life source.” The flesh would bring the same godless results as his former life, while the Spirit would bring love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22).

The Solution

All that was needed for him (and us) to lead a life pleasing to God would come simply by walking in the Spirit. No more rules to follow or lists of tasks to check off. God had made it so simple! Finally realizing that he had nothing to offer, Paul gladly accepted everything God had already done for Him. Paul had been made complete because the Perfect One (with His perfect righteousness) had become his new life! He was free at last!

Paul Struggles with the Law

Once again, Romans 7 presents the struggle Paul went through on his way to victory. Then we see Paul battling against the flesh as he tries in vain to continue to obey the Law as a good Jew (for the Law provided no power to keep it). Once he learned that he had died to sin and that sin was using the Law to assume power over Paul, he saw that he had been released from the Law to serve the risen Christ. What a revelation!

He also saw that indwelling sin had actually served a purpose. It killed off all his hopes in himself-his “flesh.” He saw the absolute necessity of continually walking in the Spirit. He and Christ had been made one. He would never again think of himself apart from Christ. Paul’s Lord had become his life. The only agenda in Paul’s life was that of his Master, Jesus. This is why it didn’t matter what happened to him as long as Jesus was having His way in and through him. With Christ as his life, Paul could rest in the certainty that God had completely transformed him.

He was a new creation, not an improved version
of his old self (2 Cor. 5:17).

He Had It All

He had already been blessed with every spiritual blessing heaven had to offer (Eph. 1:3). He had been given everything he would ever need to live a godly life (2 Peter 1:3). He had been made complete, lacking nothing (Col. 3:10). His old life and sin itself were no longer his masters. The righteousness of Christ had been accounted to Paul (2 Cor. 5:21). He received it all up front. This is why Paul was able to accomplish so much. He knew how unworthy he was to have been given so much. How could he not give his all for his Master? Yet, Paul knew that he couldn’t keep this to himself. He had been entrusted to share what he had experienced firsthand with the Gentiles (and any Jew who would listen). This was a unique message assigned to him by God. It would be known as Paul’s gospel (Rom. 2:16, 16:25; 2 Tim. 2:8). Paul’s calling was to make the truth that had set him free available to anyone who would place his or her faith in Jesus (Rom. 3:21-26).

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