“For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 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” (Galatians 2:19-20 ESV).
Galatians 2:20 is one of my “life verses”. It is to me an ever-present reminder of my status. I am dead; dead to my old way of living; dead to my own desires; too dead to sit on the throne of my own life.
In many cultures, when someone saves another’s life, the person who is saved is indebted to the one who did the saving, living as a servant to their savior (little “s”) until the debt is repaid.
But this is a different situation. I nailed myself to the cross.
Allow me to explain. When I surrendered my life to God, who I am changed; I was born again. There can be no re-birth without a death. The act of baptism teaches us that this is true. We are buried beneath the waters and raised with a new life.
In my old life I was the center of my universe. I sat on my throne; I was the ultimate authority in all things Tim. But my royalty came with a severe cost: I would have to pay for my kingdom with eternal spiritual death in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15). While I made my own decisions and lived life on my terms, I was still under the penalty for sin. “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23 ESV).
But when I understood that my so-called freedom was actually a life sentence bound by the chains of sin, and that by abdicating my throne and surrendering my life to Jesus, I would be free to not sin, I willingly made the choice to die. I made the choice to allow God to use me as He sees fit for the glory of His kingdom. I decided that what He wants would become what I want. My freedom from the bondage to sin would be my freedom to serve.
Some would argue that giving up my right to live as I want, choosing to do whatever I desire, to become a servant is just plain stupid. And if I were to do so to to enslave myself to another selfish person they would be absolutely correct! But I have given my life to One who has my best interests at heart. And in doing so my eternal death sentence was commuted to time served!
Some would say that only a fool would give up the right to choose his own path. But I believe, with the psalmists, that “a day in [God’s] courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Psalms 84:10 ESV).
Salvation is so much more than “fire insurance” or a “get-out-of-jail-free card”. Yes, it means death. But where there is no death there can be no resurrection!