Commentary: The believer can say, 'Not I, but Christ'


The renowned preacher R. G. Lee, pastor of Bellevue Baptist in Memphis for over 30 years, stood at the site in Jerusalem where it is believed Jesus was crucified. When it came time for his tour group to move on, Lee told his guide he wanted to walk to the top of the hill. The man tried to discourage him, yet could see that the preacher was determined to go. Reaching the crest of the hill, Lee removed his hat, bowed, and lowered his head, obviously greatly moved. “Sir," inquired the guide, “have you been here before?” “Yes,” replied the preacher, “2,000 years ago.”

Lee clearly understood what Paul wrote to the first-century churches of Galatia: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live; but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20, NASB). Obviously, Paul wasn't referring to literal death. Rather, he makes this claim from a spiritual standpoint. In other words, the old Paul, or Saul as he was known, bound under the law by sin and death, died when Jesus died.

Gloriously, you can make the same claim if you’ve placed your faith in Christ and become a born again believer. For example, consider an encounter from the life of earthly church father Augustine. Early in his Christian life, one of his prostitute companions from his days of lostness saw him on the street, smiled, and said, “Augustine, it is I.” Augustine turned away, saying, “But it is not I.” The old Augustine, licentious and promiscuous, died when he found new life in Christ.

An obvious word of caution is called for here. Just because the unsaved version of us died doesn’t mean we’re out of harm’s way. In fact, it often seems the heat from the world, devil, and flesh gets turned up once we pledge our allegiance to Jesus. Though Christ is on the throne of our lives, self continues to vie for supremacy.

That’s where the “Christ in me” part of Galatians 2:20 enters the equation. “Dying” with Christ leaves a void in our lives, one filled by the Holy Spirit upon conversion. Paul pointed this out in another one of his epistles by saying, “Christ in me, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27, NASB). 

Unfortunately, many believers aren’t enjoying the fruit of this hope. They’re at peace with God (Romans 5:1) but don’t have the peace of God (Philippians 4:7). The Spirit is resident, but not president. Jesus not only died and rose so that we might receive eternal life in the sweet by and by, but also that we might experience abundant life in the vital here and now. 

Measuring an amazing 55.232 carats, the famed Sancy Diamond is a part of the French Grand Jewel collection at the Louvre in Paris. Once the largest diamond in the Western world, the stone’s history is filled with mystery, tragedy, and intrigue. In the 16th century, a courier representing France’s King Henry IV was killed by thieves while en route with the precious gem. When the body was later interred, the stone was discovered in the stomach of the murdered messenger. He chose to swallow the diamond rather than give it up to robbers. 

If you have a personal relationship with Christ, you have something, Someone who is in fact infinitely more valuable than the Sancy diamond--Christ in you, the hope of glory!


Todd Gaddis is a semi-retired minister living in Athens. He continues to serve as an interim pastor and can be reached at