What’s it Mean to Be Crucified with Christ?

When Paul calls readers in Galatians to be "crucified with Christ," he's calling them to something radical yet life-giving. Here's what it means for us today.

Contributing Writer
Updated Jun 24, 2022
What’s it Mean to Be Crucified with Christ?

“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” (Galatians 2:20).

When you meditate on God’s word, you can get so much life and meaning—sometimes even from a single verse. Because of the truth in his word, you can often return to a verse repeatedly and receive new insights as the Holy Spirit reveals them to you. Galatians 2:20 is one of those verses. A few months ago, I wrote an article titled “How can we be crucified with Christ?” based on Galatians 2:20. This verse’s weightiness makes it worth examining again because there is so much more truth to be discovered. As we revisit this verse what I want you to think about today is what does it mean to be crucified with Christ? 

How Can We Be Crucified with Christ?

Sometimes when you read or hear a verse so many times, it is easy to gloss over the words. In some cases, because you are familiar with the words, they begin to lose their meaning or impact on your life. I don’t want to fall for that mistake here. As we look at the term “crucified with Christ,” let’s first understand what it means to be crucified. Crucifixion was one of the most brutal ways to die. This was not instant death—some people took hours or even days to die in some instances. I want you to consider just the phrase “crucified with Christ,” because some realities in this phrase are relevant to this text and your life.

To Be Crucified with Christ Is a Willing Act

One thing we must remember about Christ being crucified is that he was willing to do it. He said so himself:

“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father” (John 10:17-18).

Jesus chose to be crucified; he was not forced. If you and I are to be crucified with Christ, this same reality must also hold true in our lives. We must be willing. The decision to follow Christ is not one where someone can twist your arm or drag you kicking and screaming. You must be willing to do it because no one can force you. You have the authority to be crucified with Christ, and you have the authority to not be crucified with him. The decision is yours. However, if you are going to be a follower of Christ, you must come to the place of being crucified with him. It comes with the territory.

To Be Crucified with Christ Is Living to Die

The second aspect of being crucified with Christ is you are living to die. While we will all die physically one day, this is a different type of death. This is a death of surrender and submission. When Jesus was crucified, he was surrendering his will and submitting to the will of the Father. This might be the hardest part of walking with Jesus, learning to crucify your will and taking up his. Surrendering means you give up what you want and trust what God wants is better for you. Submission to God’s will means you recognize his plan is the best thing for your life. As much as we know this to be true, this is not always easy to walk in, especially because the heartbeat of surrender and submission is trust. Trust would be easy if we saw the whole plan before us, but often, what we see is only the next step. To be crucified with Christ means you are willing to surrender your whole life even though you are only sure of the next step, and sometimes you are not even sure of that. This is living to die, and you must do this daily. You must resist the temptation to lay down your cross and go another way—because, in all honesty, there is no other way.

To Be Crucified with Christ Is Dying to Live

Another aspect to consider is being crucified with Christ is dying to live. Surrender and submission are not all doom and gloom; there is a brighter side filled with God’s blessing. By “blessing,” I am not referring to material things but the blessing of God’s peace and joy dwelling in your heart. The blessing of fulfillment—knowing you are walking in the purpose God has established for you. The blessing of knowing your sacrifice of being crucified with Christ is making an eternal impact in others’ lives, whether you see it on this side of heaven or not. Jesus had this mindset when he faced the cross.

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

Jesus endured the cross, not just so that he could live, but that we could live. It was his death that brought life. It will be the same with you. When you are crucified with Christ and die to yourself, that death will bring life to others. Here is how Jesus put it.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?’” (Matthew 16:24-26)

To Be Crucified with Christ Means Christ Can Live in You

Let’s look at this verse again:

“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” (Galatians 2:20).

I want you to see the benefit that Paul mentions from being crucified with Christ. In short, Christ lived in him. This is the ultimate goal of being crucified with Christ: that you would decrease, and he would increase. Here is a wonderful truth about walking with Jesus. God wants to develop the character of Christ in your life. He wants you to be a living reflection of Jesus Christ for all the world to see. What is exciting about this is how he gets you there. He doesn’t leave you to your own devices to figure it out yourself. Instead, he allows Christ to live in you and through you by the power of the Holy Spirit. The goal of being crucified with Christ is not to bring you down but to lift you up and position you so that more of Christ can be seen in you. As you yield to Him (crucified), more of you dies, giving room for more of Him to be seen. I can’t imagine a better testimony than for someone to say they see Christ in you. This will only happen when you are willing to be crucified with Christ.

Will You Be Crucified with Christ?

I want to take this back to where it all began. Are you willing? As great as it is to be crucified with Christ, we must be willing to take up that cross and lay our lives down on it. No one can do it for you; it must be your decision. I know this is not the easy road, and sometimes we don’t talk about these things enough in our faith, but this is necessary if you want Christ to live in you and through you. I will ask you again and want you to allow this thought to be what you ponder on throughout the rest of your day. Are you willing to be crucified with Christ?

Photo Credit: Getty Images/paseven

Clarence Haynes 1200x1200Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club.  He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. His most recent book is The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. Clarence is also committed to helping 10,000 people learn how to study the Bible and has just released his first Bible study course called Bible Study Basics. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com

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