You Are Fixed And Cemented To Christ By Faith

"Nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me"  - Galatians 2:20

When he says: “Nevertheless, I live,” this sounds rather personal, as though Paul were speaking of his own person. Therefore he quickly corrects it and says: “Yet not I.” That is, “I do not live in my own person now, but Christ lives in me.” The person does indeed live, but not in itself or for its own person. But who is this “I” of whom he says: “Yet not I”? It is the one that has the Law and is obliged to do works, the one that is a person separate from Christ. This “I” Paul rejects; for “I,” as a person distinct from Christ, belongs to death and hell. This is why he says: “Not I, but Christ lives in me.” Christ is my “form,” which adorns my faith as color or light adorns a wall. (This fact has to be expounded in this crude way, for there is no spiritual way for us to grasp the idea that Christ clings and dwells in us as closely and intimately as light or whiteness clings to a wall.) “Christ,” he says, “is fixed and cemented to me and abides in me. The life that I now live, He lives in me. Indeed, Christ Himself is the life that I now live. In this way, therefore, Christ and I are one.”

Living in me as He does, Christ abolishes the Law, damns sin, and kills death; for at His presence all these cannot help disappearing. Christ is eternal Peace, Comfort, Righteousness, and Life, to which the terror of the Law, sadness of mind, sin, hell, and death have to yield. Abiding and living in me, Christ removes and absorbs all the evils that torment and afflict me. This attachment to Him causes me to be liberated from the terror of the Law and of sin, pulled out of my own skin, and transferred into Christ and into His kingdom, which is a kingdom of grace, righteousness, peace, joy, life, salvation, and eternal glory. Since I am in Him, no evil can harm me.

Meanwhile my old man (Eph. 4:22) remains outside and is subject to the Law. But so far as justification is concerned, Christ and I must be so closely attached that He lives in me and I in Him. What a marvelous way of speaking! Because He lives in me, whatever grace, righteousness, life, peace, and salvation there is in me is all Christ’s; nevertheless, it is mine as well, by the cementing and attachment that are through faith, by which we become as one body in the Spirit. Since Christ lives in me, grace, righteousness, life, and eternal salvation must be present with Him; and the Law, sin, and death must be absent. Indeed, the Law must be crucified, devoured, and abolished by the Law—and sin by sin, death by death, the devil by the devil. In this way Paul seeks to withdraw us completely from ourselves, from the Law, and from works, and to transplant us into Christ and faith in Christ, so that in the area of justification we look only at grace, and separate it far from the Law and from works, which belong far away.

Paul has a peculiar phraseology—not human, but divine and heavenly. The evangelists and the other apostles do not use it, except for John, who speaks this way from time to time. If Paul had not used this way of speaking first and prescribed it for us in explicit terms, no one even among the saints would have dared use it. It is unprecedented and insolent to say: “I live, I do not live; I am dead, I am not dead; I am a sinner, I am not a sinner; I have the Law, I do not have the Law.” But this phraseology is true in Christ and through Christ. When it comes to justification, therefore, if you divide Christ’s Person from your own, you are in the Law; you remain in it and live in yourself, which means that you are dead in the sight of God and damned by the Law. For you have a faith that is, as the sophists imagine, “formed by love.” I am speaking this way for the sake of illustration. For there is no one who has such a faith; therefore what the sophists have taught about “faith formed by love” is merely a trick of Satan. But let us concede that a man could be found who had such a faith. Even if he had it, he would actually be dead, because he would have only a historical faith about Christ, something that even the devil and all the wicked have (James 2:19),

But faith must be taught correctly, namely, that by it you are so cemented to Christ that He and you are as one person, which cannot be separated but remains attached to Him forever and declares: “I am as Christ.” And Christ, in turn, says: “I am as that sinner who is attached to Me, and I to him. For by faith we are joined together into one flesh and one bone.” Thus Eph. 5:30 says: “We are members of the body of Christ, of His flesh and of His bones,” in such a way that this faith couples Christ and me more intimately than a husband is coupled to his wife. Therefore this faith is no idle quality; but it is a thing of such magnitude that it obscures and completely removes those foolish dreams of the sophists’ doctrine—the fiction of a “formed faith” and of love, of merits, our worthiness, our quality, etc. I would like to treat this at greater length if I could.

Thus far we have shown that Paul’s first argument is this: Either Christ must be an agent of sin, or the Law does not justify. When this argument was concluded, he proposed himself as an example to develop a personification: He said that he was dead to the old Law, on the basis of some sort of new Law. Now he attaches two replies to objections, or anticipations of his opponents’ objections.86 The first deals with slanders by proud men and with offense to weak men. When the free forgiveness of sins is preached, those who are malicious soon slander this preaching, as in Rom. 3:8: “Why not do evil that good may come?” For as soon as such men hear that we are not justified by the Law, they immediately infer slanderously: “Then let us forget about the Law.” Or they say: “If grace is superabundant where sin was abundant, then let us be abundant in sin, so that we may be justified and grace may be superabundant.” These are the spiteful and arrogant men who willfully distort Scripture and the sayings of the Holy Spirit, as they distorted Paul during the lifetime of the apostles, “to their own destruction,” as 2 Peter 3:16 says.

On the other hand, the weak, who are not malicious or slanderous but good, are offended when they hear that the Law and good works do not have to be done for justification. One must go to their aid and explain to them how it is that works do not justify, how works should be done, and how they should not be done. They should be done as fruits of righteousness, not in order to bring righteousness into being. Having been made righteous, we must do them; but it is not the other way around: that when we are unrighteous, we become righteous by doing them. The tree produces fruit; the fruit does not produce the tree.

Paul had said above: “I have died, etc.” Here a malicious person could easily cavil and say: “What are you saying, Paul? Are you dead? Then how is it that you are speaking and writing?” A weak person might also be easily offended and say: “Who are you anyway? Do I not see you alive and doing things?” He replies: “I do indeed live; and yet not I live, but Christ lives in me. There is a double life: my own, which is natural or animate; and an alien life, that of Christ in me. So far as my animate life is concerned, I am dead and am now living an alien life. I am not living as Paul now, for Paul is dead.” “Who, then, is living? “The Christian.” Paul, living in himself, is utterly dead through the Law but living in Christ, or rather with Christ living in him, he lives an alien life. Christ is speaking, acting, and performing all actions in him; these belong not to the Paul-life, but to the Christ-life. “You malicious person, do not slander me for saying that I am dead. And you weak person, do not be offended, but make the proper distinction. There is a double life, my life and an alien life. By my own life I am not living; for if I were, the Law would have dominion over me and would hold me captive. To keep it from holding me, I am dead to it by another Law. And this death acquires an alien life for me, namely, the life of Christ, which is not inborn in me but is granted to me in faith through Christ.”


Excerpt take from: Martin Luther, (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 26: Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 26, pp. 167–170). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

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