I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
The danger in being saved “by grace … through faith” as a “gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8) is that it can easily become “cheap grace.” It is true that salvation is “Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:9). It is also true “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9). Salvation is all the work of God and none of our own doing. Far too often this is mistaken to mean that we are absolved of any responsibility. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid” (Romans 6:1-2).
So there is now this tension between the grace-gift of salvation and the Christian’s responsibility to “continue in the faith grounded and settled, and [to] be not moved away from the hope of the gospel” (Colossians 1:23). Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ.” The Greek verb, sunestauroomai, is a perfect, passive, indicative verb indicating that this action, which was done to Paul, occurred in the past with continuing effects into the present, and the action was certain – a fact. Paul was not literally crucified along with Christ, but by the fact he has placed his faith in the resurrected Christ, he considers himself dead, having taken upon himself the crucifixion of Christ. He is now not only “dead to the law” (v. 19), but he is also dead to himself.
Dying to oneself is not easy. “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I” (Romans 7:15). Even though he considers himself “crucified with Christ” Paul says, “nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” Just as salvation is solely the work of God, so the Christian life is solely the work of Christ. The Christian life is impossible to live in one’s own strength. The Christian’s responsibility then is to “live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” – crucified with Christ, dead to self, but alive through the power of Christ within us.