“I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
The Christian life isn’t a self-help program. We aren’t given a set of exercises to perform in order to achieve results. Instead, God works in our hearts and changes us from the inside, out, transforming our desires and motives so that our new choices in behavior will be genuine and not contrived.
Our role in this transformation though isn’t completely passive. Paul reminds us that the first step in this transformation process is a fresh perspective on death and life. He considered himself to be “crucified with Christ” which means that he applied Christ’s sacrifice on the cross to his own selfish sins and, as many times as necessary, counted his selfish desires as dead. In place of Paul’s selfish desires in residence, Christ Himself lived in his heart, transforming him little by little, day after day.
Even though Christ transforms our hearts, we take responsibility to organize selfish motives and actions, consider them to be dead, and replace them with God-honoring thoughts and behaviors. The Christian life, then, is lived at the moment of choice when we pick life over death and Christ over our selfish demands.
We may be confused from time to time and we may be disappointed that we aren’t changing as fast as we like, but we can take heart that Christ Himself has taken up residence inside us. As we pay closer attention to His instructions and trust Him to use us, well gradually take on more of His character. We’ll love people with His love, serve with His humility and stand strong in hope of the future because we remember the promise of the Ressurection.